I was saddened to hear the news yesterday about the passing of guitarist Matthew LaPorte who played lead guitar in Jon Oliva’s Pain. Having enjoyed the music of Savatage for many years I always liked what Oliva had been doing with Pain as this was essentially the closest that fans were ever going to come to this sound in today’s music world. As a guitarist LaPorte was a great fit in the lineup and did real justice to the songs that had originally been done by the late great Criss Oliva. He was forty years old at the time of his passing.
Jon Oliva’s Pain didn’t make it to NYC all that much but the one time that they played in Brooklyn, NY at a club called Brooklyn Music Terminal, my friends and I were there to support the Mountain King and his at the time new band. They had just released the “Tage Mahal” album and were doing a short tour with Chris Caffery and Tim Ripper Owens’ band Beyond Fear. The show was amazing, but the venue was an abysmal place that was not missed at all when it closed its doors. They returned a couple of years ago to a place in Yonkers but that was it to my knowledge. There is a ton of Jon Oliva’s Pain footage on YouTube.com which you can enjoy Matt’s playing in. He was a really gifted axe-slinger and we send condolences out to his family and friends at this time.
As I’ve previously noted, we’ve always aimed to deliver a year end “Best Of” list and with the end of the decade just having happened, it’s time to continue our thoughts about what was the “Best Of The Decade” from 2000-2009 – I’ve already doled out the Music and Video picks and now it’s time to get into the live concerts that we found the most enjoyable over the past ten years.
I was not really planning on doing a decade spanning concert “best of” but many of the readers of the site had sent me emails after the list posted inquiring about those events which I thought were the biggest highlights to me. Based on the interest, I figured that it was better to append the article to also feature this information of be stuck answering emails over and over. I’ve been fortunate as a writer and photographer to get to enjoy a large number of shows and I hope that you enjoy the list I came up with.
Van Halen @ Madison Square Garden (Warner Music Group): The Brothers Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth made this one of the highlights of my decade. Yes Michael Anthony was no longer a part of the band but I could live with that since it gave me back Dave. The hits were non-stop at the show and I think I watched it five feet above the floor where my seat was. Everyone in NYC was dancing the night away that’s for sure.
Iron Maiden @ Madison Square Garden (EMI Music): This show was for the “Brave New World” CD that many loved for bringing back Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith into the fold. I loved it for its amazing level of energy and how it showed just how good Maiden was and the fact that it had Rob Halford as the opener and Queensryche. OK I admit that I didn’t feel the Ryche were all that good that night and were rather slow after the Halford set. It was fantastic seeing Rob’s then new band in action of course as he was still years away from rejoining Judas Priest.
The Gathering @ The Knitting Factory (The End Records): I was a casual fan of The Gathering and my buddies who went to the show with me were much more into them, but seeing them in this smaller space was fantastic. Very moody and atmospheric stuff and done well in the live sense. Anneke sang like a siren and one of the openers was an unknown group called Unexpect. I’ve been a supporter of theirs since that night and feel that this appearance gave me a heads up on a terrific band many years before the rest of the folks would catch on.
HIM @ The Bowery Ballroom (Universal Music): While working at one of the investment banks from hell I scanned a video for HIM which was “Join Me In Death” and I was hooked and did my best to find a couple of the bands albums. Their first show on US soil in NYC would be at The Bowery Ballroom and the two nights were close to sold out. We caught the first show I believe but its been awhile and in any case it was amazing to see HIM in such an intimate room. Going forward we would watch the band play larger places each time and having all of the shows sell out well in advance.
Kamelot @ B.B. King Blues Club (SPV Records): I am referring to the first time that I ever caught Kamelot performing at B.B. King Blues Club and not one of the other four times. I was very new to the band and how they did things but it was a smoking show and one that made many fans for the guys who would rally to their cause in the future. They continue to impress the masses and we love them for it.
Ozzfest 2004 @ Jones Beach Ampitheater (Epic Records): This particular Ozzfest was one that would find a reunited Black Sabbath once again and Judas Priest who were now back in action with Rob Halford on vocals. The show also featured Slayer and the mighty Dimmu Borgir which brought the heaviness and the darkness into play. A dramatic night that had a thunderstorm looming over our heads and definitely making the atmosphere electric. My companion and I arrived during the Superjoint Ritual set and honestly hated the way they sounded. We were fine in picking up the musical night from the Dimmu set and onward.
Nightwish @ L’Amour’s (Century Media Records): Back when this show took place I had been listening to Nightwish casually but steadily and while I expected no one to be in the club it was jam packed like the old days. Turns out they had a lot more support over here than I realized. I commented about the show on the Bravewords site and ended up with the words posted online. This led me to receive an email asking for more information about the show and I gladly complied to those folks over at the Metal Circus. I’ve been writing concert and product reviews ever since.
Ozzfest 2007 @ PNC Bank Arts Center (Epic Records): The free Ozzfest was very appealing to me as a fan of Metal and as a growing in scope music journalist because of the bands that it presented to the audience. Ozzy would headline of course but opening up for him would be Lamb Of God, Static X, Lordi and Behemoth along with up and comers like In This Moment and Chthonic. It would be perhaps the heaviest of this festival yet when it came down to it and those who wisely got their early enough never forgot the show. Continue reading PiercingMetal’s “Best Of Decade”: 2000-2009: The Concerts→
These album overviews were originally written for Metal Edge Magazine when I was a contributor to their “Hear Us Out” CD reviews section back in 2006-2007. With the magazine wrapping up publication a few months ago, I decided to add them to the context of our PiercingMetal presentation. I felt that by doing this I would not only be raising the horns in remembrance of the magazine but would also be able to showcase just how different writing for a major publication was when it all came down to it. Since “Hear Us Out” notations were usually “100” words in length, these posts will feature several reviews each until we run out of them. The freelance writing tenure at Metal Edge Magazine was discussed on THIS LINK so please check that out when done. Here are the reviews, so “Hear Us Out”.
Gilby Clarke: “Gilby Clarke” (Spitfire Records)
For those of you who only know of Gilby Clarke’s name from the blockbuster television show “Rockstar: Supernova” then this CD offers you the perfect chance to see just where the performer comes from and what he has brought to the table musically for many years. Clarke’s resume reads most prominently with his contributions to the music of Guns ‘N Roses where he replaced Izzy Stradlin while the group was on tour back in 1991. He left in 1994 and proceeded to record and produce on his own which brings us to this tasty compilation release. Musically the best way to define the songs that Clarke usually delivers is by saying its a little bit Black Crowes and a lot of Rock attitude. Listeners will find this collection as a cool treasure chest since it covers his solo releases (Pawnshop Guitars, The Hangover, Rubber, ’99 Live and Swag) which cover 1994-2002 along with some other trinkets. From start to finish, this is solid Rock & Roll and even if you were never a fan of his the diversity and groove of the tracks offers you the chance to try him once again. In 2006, Clarke was a prominent figure in the public eye as the guitarist for a Tommy Lee fueled show and band that would feature Jason Newsted (Metallica/Voivod) as well. The show was an instant hit as singers vied for the coveted position that ended up with Lukas Rossi winning out. Despite his winning, there was another worthy contestant in Dilana and she is featured on the song “Black”. It is a good track but far too Janis Joplin, as opposed to the unique style that she possessed on her own. Other treats here are selections from Col. Parker, the group he had with Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats). They were a good band that sadly failed to generate the interest that was deserved. Clarke is also a strong Producer who has worked with both L.A. Guns and Crash Kelly. The material on the CD finds its strongest tunes in lead track “Cure Me Or Kill Me” which while one of the oldest inclusions is still a fresh dose of Rock. As one of the core creators of the music of RSN, you can see the developments offered here that come to fruition on the new vehicle. This is a great sampler of a very productive career.
Grave Digger: “Liberty Or Death” (Locomotive Records)
For over two decades Grave Digger has continued to dole out Heavy Metal that is still pure, solid and delivers exactly what you desire of this music. The premise of the release is all battle related themes and the band charges through every track like heroic warriors that are certain of victory against staggering odds. GD plays Metal that many of us grew up on and yet manage to remain consistently interesting and not “dated” in any manner. The blood pumps with the drumming and the riffs hand out the air guitars as the listener joins the band in glorious combat. Continue reading Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 5→
I’ve been a Savatage fan for many, many years and when the chance arose to speak to one of the bands founding members I eagerly jumped at the chance. Jon Oliva is very simply “The Mountain King” and as leader of the band Savatage for many years, he delivered epic and influential Metal that is still relevant in today’s scene. In 1996 he co-founded The Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Paul O’Neill and is one of the group’s core composers of material that keep this juggernaut propelling forward each and every year. In 2003 he would form a band of his own design to carry his musical ideas forward. The band would be called “Jon Oliva’s Pain”, and include former members of Circle II Circle. In November of 2006 I had the chance to speak with Jon on behalf of Metal Edge magazine; the article appeared in the June 2007 edition and with this off the stands I am able to present the complete and unedited text as it happened. Enjoy.
PiercingMetal: Jon I am not sure you recall this, but you and I met a couple of years ago when you were in New York City to record some new Doctor Butcher stuff with Chris Caffery. We ended up hanging out together at Chris’ Superbowl Party in Queens.
Oliva: Oh that’s right at the bar. I remember.
PiercingMetal: Ok, so essentially we are going to do this for Metal Edge magazine and we are going to get some of your feelings on a couple of things. First of all congratulations on the new album “Maniacal Renderings” – I have to say that this record is a hell of a piece of Metal. Has the release met your expectations and approval?
Another exciting year in Metal music has gone by and as a member of the music press, I’m tasked with not only doing reviews here on the website but also in lining out what releases that I felt were the years very best. Initially, this post was going to feature the whole gamut of the years in terms of the music, the videos and the concerts but when my album list went on and on and on I decided to give it a post of its own to go easier on you. Let’s go.
The Best Albums Of 2006
Mercenary “The Hours That Remain” (Century Media Records): A great follow up to “11 Dreams”, this band shows that they are taking chances in Metal.
Mastodon “Blood Mountain” (Warner Brothers): Jazz Fusion Metal? I dunno, but the new Mastodon sure kicks your ass around the block.
Amorphis “Eclipse” (Nuclear Blast Records): Finnish boys return and do more good. Lots of feels on this one.
Scar Symmetry “Pitch Black Effects” (Nuclear Blast Records): Raging guitar solos, soaring clean vocals, brutal death metal growls-brilliant!
Lamb of God “Sacrament” (Epic Records): Their best yet. Future legends. The first four songs are instant classics and if you don’t find your fist in the air for this release you don’t have one. Go watch American Idol
Iron Maiden “A Matter of Life and Death” (EMI Music): Up the Irons, pure and simple. Some bad press from some people who don’t see the return to form. They are idiots.
I “Between Two Worlds” (Nuclear Blast Records): Great project from members of Immortal, Enslaved, and Gorgoroth.
Enslaved “RUUN” (Candlelight Records): The Black Metal titans get even more progressive and this is an incredible listen from start to finish
Satyricon “Now, Diabolical” (Century Media Records): More Metal needs to be like this. A resounding effort that lays waste to that which tries to come close.