Category Archives: Reviews


fairweather coverFairweather by Fairweather (Equal Vision)

It’s been eleven years since Washington DC’s Fairweather packed it up. Now the spring of 2014 and the boys show us a whole new bag full of hardcore, tight song structures, crazy guitar flourishes, powerful percussion, more forceful vocals and an overall focused and mature sound. And did I mention the grooving rhythms? Shit, their S/T comeback kicks your ass from the opening chords and hardcore tempo of Carte Blanche. Let the moshing begin. Yet the band tempers even this minute long song with a slower yet powerful second half and background vocal “oohs”.

Reset Position keeps the energy with buzzing guitars, a fast pace and Jay Littleton spitting his trebly vocals with grit. Ben Murphy’s bass and Shane Johnson’s drums set the groove for Ben Green and Peter Tsouras to lay their power chords and slashing solos within, and damned if your not banging your head and sweating already. Survival Is Not Enough sets a bigger groove, slowing the pace a bit, Littleton singing harmoniously, a hard rocking song with muscle and introspection. fairweather band photoMemoria opens with minor key guitar scratching and dramatic rhythms, Littleton singing about memories and secrets and drowning, inviting you to further interpret his lyrics as you close your eyes and nod your head to the beat.

Doubt the Doubtless is both tough and catchy, closer to their debut sound yet leaner and meaner. Johnson gives his skins and cymbals a beating on Kill the Silence, slowing down to build up tension then rocking out once again. Last Words brings out the beauty of a well-paced song, starting out slow and pretty then taking us on a roller-coaster ride up and down tempos and emotions. Still Waiting features some interesting percussive textures and searing guitar interplay between Tsouras and Green, Littleton’s vocals clean and unadorned, harmonizing with Green, creating emotional catharthis when the song slows down at the end only to rise up to a powerful crescendo of crashing cymbals and six-string flourishes. Fairweather wrap up their S/T album with No Flags To Fly. Beginining with a chugging verse the band build tension towards a thrilling and catchy chorus, the band surprise with a soulfullness in their instrumental interplay as well as a bare-it-all vocal performance by Littleton

(by Bret Miller)



Motörhead and Graveyard at Club Nokia

motorheadnokia3Motörhead, Graveyard, Club Nokia, April 11, 2014

I’m back from the dead! Anyway, let’s get started before I drop dead!” the venerable Lemmy Kilmister exclaimed at the start of Motörhead’s lively performance at the Club Nokia in Downtown L.A. It was a Friday night, and the place was packed to the rafters by an interesting cross section of music fans. There were the metal heads, the punk rockers, and the Coachella hipsters, all waiting for the legendary three piece collective from England to tear down the house with their down and dirty music. And Motörhead did so with an all-out vengeance, clearly demonstrating to all why they remain one of the greatest rock and roll bands on the planet.

graveyardnokia1Opening for Motörhead was an dynamic entity of musicians known as Graveyard – and the only thing these two bands really seemed to have in common was they were both playing Coachella for the next two weekends. Nevertheless, many in the crowd appeared to be familiar with Graveyard, and showered a good deal of respect and admiration throughout their entire show. From the opening strains of Randy through Ain’t Fit To Live Here and beyond, Graveyard presented a performance that was absolutely captivating. Hailing from the music mecca known as Gothenburg on Sweden, Graveyard channeled bands such as Deep Purple and The Sword, creating an energy that sent the room spinning. Delivering tracks culled from their Nuclear Blast release Lights Out as well as other crowd favorites, the mastery and imagination found within Graveyard’s music reached out to many in the overflow Club Nokia room. Glorious remnants of heavy rock, blues and psychedelia weaved its magic throughout, courtesy of Joakim Nilsson on guitar and vocals, Jonathan Ramm on guitar, Rikard Edlund on bass, Axel Sjöberg on drums. Many were understandable\y excited to see the main act hit the stage, but there is little doubt that Graveyard made a good deal of new fans at the Club Nokia with their absorbing live presentation.

motorheadnokia4And then it was time for the almighty Motörhead – with Lemmy and company opening the set with the ironically titled I Know How To Die from their The World Is Yours magnum opus. Circle pits ensued through the entire venue, as well as fans jumping up and down frenetically, all enraptured by the massive sounds of Motörhead. Damage Case and Stay Clean continued the raging assault to the senses, showing a rejuvenated Motörhead at the very height of their musical prowess. Although Aftershock is their latest release on UDR – a true masterpiece possessing many future Motörhead classics, it was interesting that the only track they played from it was the magnificently smoky Lost Woman Blues. The Chase Is Better Than The Catch and Rock It maintained our trip into the sweeping Motörhead catalog of classics, with the audience singing along with fiendish glee. Killed By Death was a definitive highlight- the track Motörhead would close with right before a well-deserved encore. And speaking of an encore for the ages, Motörhead was joined onstage by none other than Slash of Guns N Roses fame – unleashing rousing renditions of Ace Of Spades and Overkill.

motorheadnokia5Although Lemmy has been dealing with health issues, the legendary front man was in tip-top form, exuding his classic stage presence and acerbic wit throughout the entire show – not to mention his trademark vocals and pulsating bass work that has rendered him a rock and roll icon for the ages. At 68, Lemmy still tears up the stage like no other rocker on this earth. Phil Campbell on guitar and Mikkey Dee on drums unleashed magnificent performances, and manifested some thunderous solos throughout the set. Motörhead has been in your face with their sonic reveries since 1975, and judging by what was on display at the Club Nokia, there shall be no stopping this truly great collective. As the affable Lemmy stated at the conclusion of their set, “Don’t forget us. We are Motörhead and we play and roll!” And may they do so for the many years ahead!

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

Motörhead on Facebook
Graveyard on Facebook


Various Artists

Album Artwork by Mark Sasso

Album Artwork by Mark Sasso

Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life by Various Artists (Rhino Records)

Ronnie James Dio went from clean-cut boy band to hard rocking singer for the likes of Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and his own band Dio.  His multi-octave singing and fantastic and humanistic lyrics always thrilled and comforted.  Dio may have left this plane in 2010 but his spirit lives on in the talents of thousands of musicians and the hearts of fans the world over.

Ronnie James Dio – This is Your Life begins with the fist-raising juggernaut Neon Knights.  Anthrax don’t hold back and Joey Belladonna knows how to belt and though he doesn’t hit the notes up high, his powerful vocals give tribute to the man that paved the way for him.  While anyone that knows Tenacious D is well aware of their absolute adoration of RJD, their cover of Last In  Line is rather odd with Jack Black’s vocals mixed too far above the rather generic metal instrumentation, making the song seem like karaoke, yet one with great vocals and a strange flute solo. It grows on you though.   I confess to knowing nothing of Adrenaline Mob but their take on Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules is killer.  I mean, this song wails, kicks ass, all those metal clichés.  The song was Sabbath’s attempt to remain relavent in the punk era is clear in the fast pace and raw power and the suitably named band distill all the fury of the original and spit out flames. Amazing guitars at the end too. Slipknot and Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor bellows like a titan along with Steel Panther guitarist Satchel and Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga for a stunning cover of Rainbow in the Dark.

Along with raising money for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund listening to this tribute album should make some new fans for the respective musicians.  Case in point, Pennsylvania Grammy winners Halestorm.  Led by singer Lzzy Hale and drumming brother Arejay, on Straight Through The Heart the band hit all the notes with muscle and ease, playing close to the original yet showcasing the epic guitars and voice of Lzzy as a fresh new voice in metal. “Unleash the hounds!” Indeed.  Some guys named Lemmy and Saxon‘s Biff Byford follow with Biff and Motorhead‘s take on  Rainbow’s Starstruck, the titans trading lines like lions fighting for dominance of the pride, with that electrical wall of sound Motorhead are famous for.  Scorpions make  Temple of the King their own, sounding exactly like themselves, with soulful guitars and a nostalgic feel, as fantastic as when it first came out on Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow’s S/T debut in late 1974.  Doro and band put their own stamp on Dio’s Egypt (The Chains Were On), making a mysterious and powerful song even more epic with her beautiful and muscular delivery and the dense instrumentation of the band. Visions of Doro as an armored and sword-wielding warrior come to mind.  You don’t have to be a fan of Killswitch Engage to appreciate their buzzing and brash version of Holy Diver.  Except for the breakdown the song would seem right at home if played on the Sunset Strip in the mid-80′s.

Former Deep Purple and Black Sabbath singer Glenn Hughes, along with former Dio band members drummer Simon Wright, guitarist Craig Goldy, bassist Rudy Sarzo and keyboardist Scott Warren perform a super soulful and quietly powerful rendition of  Catch the Rainbow from the Richie Blackmore’s  Rainbow album.  Current Dio Disciples and former Lynch Mob singer  Oni Logan, former Dio bassist  Himmy Bain,  former Dio and current DC4 guitarist Rowan Robertson and drummer Brian Tichy (Foreigner, Whitesnake) take on Black Sabbath’s “I” as a gritty, bluesy bonfire, putting their own modern touch on an already excellent song. Rob Halford’s growl and roar is always a thrill to hear with Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren, all former members of Dio ripping it up on The Man on the Silver Mountain, from Rainbow’s debut, the roaring guitars as well as Appice’s thundering drums more than a match for Halford’s energy.  In the first fiery chords of Metallica‘s Ronnie Rising Medley you’ll be yelling “hell yes!” They sample from A Light In The Black, Stargazer, Tarot Woman and Kill The King proving they still have that metal fire in them, sounding fresh and going for broke.  Closing the album is Mr. Ronnie James Dio himself, performing This is Your Life.  A tear-jerking piano ballad, strings swell, Dio singing  “This is your here/ This is your now/ Let it be magical”.

Listening to  Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life you’ll understand Dio’s message was always one of hope, faith and friendship, of perseverance in the face of adversity, of beauty and inclusiveness.  He was the Godfather of Metal and has touched so many lives.  So sing along with these songs and remember, the best days are still ahead. Raise the metal “V” and rock on.

(by Bret Miller)

Buy Ronnie James Dio – This is Your Life on Amazon



bookletI Döden by Skogen (Nordvis Produktion)

I Döden by the prodigious Skogen is their fourth dark and melancholic magnum opus, a wondrous collage of sonic artistry that is sure to intrigue the metal masses all across the world. Based out of Sweden, Skogen present thrilling tapestries that will stir the senses and set your imagination in flight. With a striking combination of Black and Folk Metal, the soundscapes found within are nothing short of mesmerizing.

The adventure commences with a brief yet ominous introduction entitled Vargher, setting the stage for the triumphant reveries ahead. The majestic title cut I Döden then crashes through your senses, sweeping you away for the journey of a lifetime. När Himlen Svartnar continues the intensive path into Northern darkness, grim and icy to the core. Solarvore is lush and dynamic with its exhilarating atmospherics sending this track into the stratosphere.

skogen2013A somber reprieve arrives in the acoustic instrumental refrains Livets Ruin, followed by the spiraling inflections of Griftenatt. Midvintergraven pummels the senses with its chilly intensity raging out, meshing superbly with clean singing, haunting chants, and ferociously unclean vocal inflections. Svartskogen arrives with its melodic overtures enveloping the frozen recesses of your mind. The grand finale Sleep clocks in at over 13 minutes, an all-out epic exhibiting Skogen at their most resourceful and ambitious.

With a running time of one hour in length, I Döden by Skogen leaves an indelible impression on all whom encounter this obscure yet captivating masterpiece. The musicianship found within Skogen is visionary and immense, featuring the grand participation of Joakim Svensson on bass, guitar and vocals, Mathias Nilsson on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals, and L. Larsson on drums. Fans of bands such as Agalloch, Kampfar, or Drudkh should uncover the astounding mysteries contained throughout I Döden and prepare to be dazzled by a true genre classic!

(Review by Ken Morton)

Skogen on Facebook


Erebus Enthroned

templeof1Temple Under Hell by Erebus Enthroned (Séance Records)

Erebus Enthroned is based within the vast wasteland of Sydney, Australia, and their music is just as expansive and spiraling as their country. Their recently unveiled Temple Under Hell album enraptures the listener with its thrilling reprieves and fiery lyrical content. With all the makings of a genre classic, the imagination and intrigue found within Temple Under Hell is sure to captivate minds all across this expiring planet.

The journey into the Temple Under Hell commences with the diabolical Sorathick Pentecost, a blackened doom song of epic proportions. Trisagion continues the bleak yet erebusent1intensive madness into the feral abyss. Crucible of Vitriol pummels the senses with a relentless ferocity, pushing further into the depths of madness and malevolence.

Black Swords cuts through your soul with its wickedly piercing reverberations. Void Wind unleashes a punishing gust of torment and despair that is wondrous to behold. The grand title cut The Temple Under Hell is nothing short of mesmerizing, showcasing the Erebus Enthroned clan at the very height of their wicked virtuosity. And then closing out the recording on a staggering note is the mighty Return, leaving an indelible impression destined to plague your psyche for the metal ages ahead.

The musicianship found within Erebus Enthroned is stellar beyond compare, featuring the rabid participation of N on voice, D on guitar, A on bass, and M on drums. Expect Temple Under Hell to establish Erebus Enthroned as one of the modern day Black Metal elite. A magnificent triumph to be sure – destined to become enthroned within the confines of your stereo system.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Erebus Enthroned on Facebook


Gideon on The Mosh Lives Tour

gideongh1Gideon on The Mosh Lives Tour, The Glasshouse, March 28, 2014

The Mosh Lives Tour consists of the following bands: Sworn In, Gideon, Thy Art Is Murder, Volumes, & headliner Emmure. All of the bands had a great performance in Pomona on a sold out Friday night at the Glass House. Each band except for Emmure had a short set, so it was hard to see each bands full potential on stage. Although they only played 5 songs, Gideon really did stand out. They had a fantastic set that night, not putting down any of the other bands, or thinking any less of them at all either. I have seen them before, but not when they had such a short set. They truly showed how capable they are at owning their short set time.

While being in the photo pit for 2 out of 5 songs I still paid attention to my surroundings and the crowd behind me. Photographers got kicked out early due to the amount of crowd surfers there was, it was [a] ridiculous [amount] to say the least. Gideon had people bouncing the whole time, more than any of the other bands due to the energy their grooves were giving off. Not only were people bouncing the whole set, but there was also a huge pit with hardcore dancers/moshers the whole time too. This band had a ridiculously good crowd response, better than I expected since I thought it wouldn’t be much cause of their short set time. Gideon is definitely a band to see live.

Prodigal Son
Kingdom Minded
Bad Blood

(Review and Photo by Talia Farber)

Gideon on Facebook


Memphis May Fire at House of Blues – Sunset Strip

mmflive1Memphis May Fire, House of Blues – Sunset Strip, March 26, 2014

I had the opportunity to go to the second to last night of the Unconditional Tour, Memphis May Fire’s tour in support of their new album Unconditional. The tour was supported with opening slots from The Word Alive, A Skylit Drive, Hands Like Houses, and Beartooth. The date wasn’t sold out, due to everyone attending Self Help Fest instead, but had a pretty good amount of people there. The Unconditional Tour was a success to say the least.

Memphis May Fire opened up their set with an oldie-but-goodie “The Sinner” off their album The Hollow from 2011. I was somewhat surprised they opened up with that song; I’d have thought they’d start out with either a new one or “Without Walls”, which they didn’t even play. Before Memphis even went on and while they were setting up, the crowd started to chant the lyrics of “Without Walls”. It was insane how excited they were, I’d never been to a show where that has happened. The things that really surprised me about their set
was how they played some old songs like “The Unfaithful,” “The Sinner,” “The Deceived,” and “Be Careful What You Wish For”. What really shocked me of all things though was they played “You’re Lucky It’s Not 1692”, a song off their first album Sleepwalking which was released in 2009. I’ve seen Memphis a few times, but they never played a song off that album. They took it far back for their old school fans which was awesome.

mmflive2Memphis May Fire is a band that really tries as hard as they can to connect with their fans. There were a few prime examples that night that showed they care and understand. When they started playing “Miles Away,” Matty Mullins dedicated the song to any military families and the military. That was a beautiful, heartfelt moment during their set. Also, Michael Jagmin, the singer of A Skylit Drive, came out and sang Kellin Quinn’s part of the song which was pretty cool and accurate since both singers have a very similar vocal range. Another example would be when Matty dedicated their song “Sleepless Nights” to anyone with anxiety or depression. He said he understands what one goes through, and he kept saying things like a lot of us are here tonight because we need this, and we are here for you, you’re not alone, etc. At one point during their set, Cory Elder, the bassist, jumped down off the stage into the crowd and gave them a big group hug. It’s so touching to see a band care so much for their fans.

The crowd was so wild their whole set, so many crowd surfers that the photographers got kicked out of the pit after a song and a half! There was lots of connection during their set. People said it was a crazy experience, and some even said it was life changing.

The Sinner
Alive In the Lights
No Ordinary Love
The Deceived
Be Careful What You Wish For
Miles Away
You’re Lucky It’s Not 1692
Sleepless Nights
The Unfaithful

Prove Me Right

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

Memphis May Fire on Facebook



ResistXResist by Hundredth (Mediaskare Records)

Resist is the second chapter within a two-disc combination that commenced with last year’s mighty assault to the senses known as Revolt. And while Resist may be a bit more on the melodic side of the spectrum, the intensity is in full force, with spiraling melodies and impassioned vocals sending the entire project into the stratosphere. Resist presents Hundredth at their very height of their creative energies, and the result are nothing short of profound.

After a calm yet ominous introduction entitled Wake, the disc launches into the ferocious strains of Shelter. “Separation from everything” the opening lyrics scream with a mesmerizing degree of conviction. The darkness and desolation found within Shelter is sure to intrigue the listener to follow the path for the sonic confrontations ahead. The title cut Resist then follows, relentlessly tearing through the heart of the matter with its intoxicating reveries.

hundredth1No one can save me from my demons!” vocalist Chadwick Johnson screams like a man possessed on the startling Demons. Manifest then arrives, unfolding further stark introspection unto the world at large. The disc then closes with euphoric Wage, a spoken word reprieve about the human condition ending the album on a cautiously optimistic note.

Resist is a short yet thoroughly satisfying release with a ton of heart, unleashing an ultimate sense of hope and healing that is wondrous to behold. The resourceful Hundredth lineup includes the participation of Chadwick Johnson on vocals, Blake Hardman on guitar, Andrew Minervini on guitar, JP Gressman on bass, and Matt Koontz on drums. Recorded with noted producers Bill Stevenson (Rise Against, Black Flag) and Jason Livermore (Stick To Your Guns) at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado, Resist exhibits a thrilling 18-minute journey through the perilous consciousness and ultimate triumphs of the human spirit that is not to be missed.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Hundredth on Facebook


The Used at the Hollywood Palladium

theusedtalia2The Used, Hollywood Palladium, March 19, 2014

The first California date for the Taking Back Sunday & The Used tour was on Wednesday, March 19th at the Hollywood Palladium. The tour is headlined by Taking Back Sunday in debut of their new album; Happiness Is, and co-headlined by The Used. Support on the tour coming from Australian, female-fronted Jenna McDougall, Tonight Alive, and Spencer Chamberlain of Underoath’s new band, Sleepwave. The date had sold out some hours before the show, and so far, all but 7 dates of the whole tour have sold out.

The Used came out on stage opening with their intro and going right into their new single “Cry.” This band sounds so different from what they used to, they’ve evolved and matured. Their new single is super catchy, it has its poppy elements, but they still keep their root elements, adding some screams and some heavy riffs over those screams. I’m stoked to hear what their new album, Imaginary Enemy, has in store. I have personally been a fan of The Used ever since my sister showed me their song “Lunacy Fringe” back in 4th grade. Ever since I’ve been following them, I’ve loved everything they’ve put out and everything before In Love And Death.

theusedtalia1Anyways, as soon as they started playing everyone in the audience, and even the photo pit, started to sing along. This is the best performance I’ve ever seen live so far, by any band. They were perfectly in sync, they moved around and danced a lot, they were funny, and they were lively from what I saw. It was hard for me to find a place to watch them after my 3 songs in the photo pit, and being so short really doesn’t help. It took me a while, but I found a spot to watch them in the middle of their set. At that point, Bert McCracken, the singer, told the crowd in front of him to make a huge mosh pit. After they played “Buried Myself Alive”, Bert told the crowd to split. I think he was trying to start a wall of death, but I’m not sure, since it wasn’t too successful due to the whole floor being full.

My favorite part of their set was when they played “A Box Full of Sharp Objects”, their last song for the night. It was pretty awesome; the way they started it out was by playing the intro to Nirvana’sSmells Like Teen Spirit.” At first, I thought they were going to play a cover, but then they started playing “Box Full.” Not only did they introduce the song by playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, but they finished the song with Rage Against The Machine’sKilling in the Name.” I’ve never seen a band do something like that, only play the full song as a cover. That was super creative and very clever, superb way to finish off their set.

theusedtalia3The Used’s set was flawless, and I couldn’t have been any more pleased by it. Everything on the visuals side (rather than the music) of the set was awesome. Their lighting rig is the coolest I’ve seen, a bunch of old TV’s with random faces and a red line across their eyes on the screens, and then they light up. The way they’re placed looks just like a block of old TV’s, but when they all light up, they spell out The Used. All together, just everything was amazing, and I had never seen a better show in my life. I am so glad I got the opportunity to shoot them and see them live; they never come around anymore, at least not very often.

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

The Used on Facebook


Ruins of Elysium

ruinsofe1Prince EP (Part 1) by Ruins of Elysium (Loudr)

With members based out countries such as Brazil and Norway, Ruins of Elysium present an exotic take on the world Symphonic Rock and Metal scene that is absolutely wondrous to behold. Their ambitious first effort is entitled Prince EP, part 1 of a future second act, showing a collective at the very height of their creative energies.

Comparisons to acts such as Rhapsody, Kamelot or Dark Moor may come to mind, but the various musicians within Ruins of Elysium possess a sense of imagination and intrigue rendering the material absolutely captivating and unique. The Prince EP is a vast and glorious effort that should enrapture all types of music aficionados looking for an epic sonic adventure.

ruinsof2014The sweeping majesty commences with the stratospheric sounds of the title cut Prince, where the glorious inflections from tenor Drake Chrisdensen are gorgeously enhanced by the impassioned performances of all musicians involved. The Chronicles of Mist is then unleashed with its cinematic reverberations, thrilling the listener with its rapturous classical overtones and passionate vocals. Sentinels of the Starry Skies then lifts you off the ground and into a world of enigmatic splendor with its magnificent power balladry and poignant refrains.

The Ruins of Elysium lineup is unequivocally first rate, featuring the participation of Drake Chrisdensen on tenor vocals, Claus Hetfield on guitar, Lucas Negrisoli on guitar, Izabela Alvarenga on bass, and Iana Domingos on drums. With such a radiant introduction, it will be exciting to see what musical paths Ruins of Elysium journey upon in future days. They promise a bit of mystery and darkness to enfold within the next chapter of Prince, so judging by what’s already been unveiled, the further adventures from Ruins of Elysium should be another prodigious treat to the ears.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Ruins of Elysium on Facebook