Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Metal Meltdown III
Asbury Park Convention Center - NJ, USA
Friday April 6th, Saturday April 7th 2001

Review by EvilG
Photos by Imaginessa & EvilG

DAY 2 - SATURDAY APRIL 7, 2001

Saturday began much the same as Friday - wandering between stages for a bit and getting annoying with noisy bands followed by looking through the vendor booths and CD's again. One band that caught my ear was NECROCIDE. I didn't catch their full set, but I stuck around and watched what was left of it. They played what sounded like raw old school thrash...and I mean RAW. I think they could do with some improvement but they have the right things happening and hopefully will stick around!

 

TEMPERED STEEL (www.temperedsteel.net)
Late in the afternoon we got to see this band. We wanted to see them based on the band name alone. I know you can't judge a band based on it's name but with the word "steel" in the name I figured it had to be METAL and not some hardcore band. Tempered Steel do not sound like a power metal band to me though, that was kind of disappointing. They play melodic thrashy traditional heavy metal. Their strong point is the vocals which are clear, strong and melodic. He doesn't sing very high, but he can go up there in places. Since this was my first time checking them out I didn't know any of the songs at all. I managed to get a copy of their newest self-produced release IN YOUR FACE. When I put it on I recognized many of the songs from their setlist such as "My Disease", "In Your Face", "In My Hour of Freedom" and "The Shadow People." The band has apparently opened up for a number of bigger bands across the States so if you see their name on the bill for a band you are going to check out make sure you catch them live.


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IMPALER
This band has been around and has remained underground for years. Their sound mixes punk with rock and traditional metal. The band's image is like a more bloody/gory Alice Cooper. While their music is not exactly my style seeing them live was entertaining! The show began with two "mascots" bringing out a body bag. The music for the first song was cranking away while this was happening. One mascot was dressed like a doctor (after a bloody surgery) and the other dude looked like a mental patient. Anyway, they unzipped the body bag and the doctor proceeded to pound on the chest of the person inside. Thus arose the lead singer from Impaler form the dead once again. He gets off the stage floor and kicks and beats the two mascots and then grabs the microphone and cuts into the song. All the while singing he continued to beat on the mascots and while he wasn't doing that they were attacking one another. The show continued on like this with punk tinged traditional metal roaring away. A memorable moment was when the singer introduced the song "In Won't Die." He got everyone to give the "metal salute" \m/ and proclaimed that metal will never die! Near the end of Impaler's set the the "mental patent" looking mascot held the up "the doctor" and the singer chewed open his stomach and hauled out his "liver." SICK!  He then goes to the edge of the stage and sprays blood over all the people in front of him and those in the photo pit. He holds up the liver and chews a couple pieces off and spits them into the crowd. A couple of what must of been diehard Imapaler fans were right in front of the stage. This one guy leans back with open mouth and the singer spits some raw meat into his mouth. YUCK! haha. After that he threw the dripping wet liver way out into the crowd - thankfully nowhere near me!

 

GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME (Featuring Jack Starr - www.jackstarr.com)
This band features on guitar a founding member of Virgin Steele. As well, Guardians of the Flame is the name of Virgin Steele's second album. Jack proved himself to be a good player and even did a short solo! The problem with this band was that something or another had happened and their vocalist could not make the show. They therefore had a friend of theirs on stage with a lyric sheet struggling his way through many of the songs. I felt bad for the guy when he would get lost in the song. He was not a bad singer and the band was not that bad it was just hard to enjoy with that distraction. I guess I also expected a little more in the way of flash and professionalism from Jack Starr considering he's been in the US metal scene since about 1982!

 

RED RIGHT HAND
Basically the only reason I sat through this band was because I didn't want to lose my seats. If it wasn't for that, I would not of watched them. They were not horrible, just too plain sounding. I can't remember a thing about them except for their shaved head singer who looked pretty intense. The music came off to me as a cross of hardcore and metal and left no impression upon me whatsoever.

 

EINHERJER (www.einherjer.com)
Hailing from Norway, Einherjer put on an amazing live show! Sadly, I had not even heard of the band prior to seeing them on the line-up list for the festival. That however was not the case with a devout contingent of Einherjer fans! As for the style of metal these guys play - imagine Manowar traditional metal mixed with black metal. Some call Einherjer "Viking Metal." The majority of the songs they played live were mid tempo and the vocals were mainly clean yet gruff sounding in a Sentenced kind of way, thus the black metal influence is minimal. The strongest element that impressed upon me after watching them play, besides their stage show, was the melody. The lead singer had everyone into it, people standing up everywhere, fists pumping, heads banging, etc. The singer, guitarist and bassist were continually coming to the edge of the stage and swinging their 2 foot mops in circles...insane looking and what made them look even more insane was the blood smeared and running down their faces - KILLER!!! This is a band I'd love to see live again and one who's CD's I have got to track down!

 
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PRIMAL FEAR (primalfearr.rocks.de)
Anyone who knows me knows that Primal Fear are one of my favorite bands. They also know that I've never really seen one of my favorite bands live before...until now! Watching Primal Fear on stage was THE highlight of the entire festival. The theatre was pretty packed for Primal Fear and when the lights went down you could feel the excitement in the air. Then the apocalyptic intro "Angel In Black" began rumbling through the speakers. People were cheering everywhere. The short drum intro was about to kick in, the drummer (Klaus Sperling) took to his seat then bang - the intro...finally! Next the guitars and bass come in and out onto the stage bursts Mat Sinner (bass), Stefan Leibing (guitar) and Henny Wolter (guitar). Seconds later Ralf Scheepers himself struts out onto the stage and lets rip the mighty scream that introduces "Angel In Black."  "Feeling the anger inside me...." OH MY GOD! The band was totally on, every note, every double kick, every scream, pure heavy metal ecstasy!!!!!! :-)~~~~

After the first or second song Ralf said something about how it was good to be in the USA for the FIRST time to which someone shouted out "it's about fucking time" - AMEN!!! Three albums after the band began they have finally made it and I was there thank the metal gods. Even if it was only for one gig - it's one I will remember forever. Crowd response to the band was awesome. I think the band might have been a bit surprised. Ralf peered out into the crowd with a big grin and gave the thumbs-up a number of times. I'm sure he was grinned back at by countless power metal maniacs! After the first couple songs I made my way into the photo pit...standing mere feet away from metal gods I was freaking out!!! I should of wrote down their setlist, but I probably would of been to excited to bother writing anything down. So what else did they play? Well this isn't in order and for sure I'm leaving something out but these are the ones that stuck in my mind. From their 1998 self-titled CD they played "Chainbreaker" and "Silver and Gold." From 1999's JAWS OF DEATH they played "Final Embrace" and from 2001's NUCLEAR FIRE they played "Angel In Black", "Eye of an Eagle" and "Nuclear Fire." At the end of their set they seamlessly jumped pack into the chorus for "Angel In Black" to close off. People were screaming, myself included...the band exited the stage for about 20secs - the screaming continued. Some big dude strut out and said "do you wanna hear one more?" - D'uh!! Ralf walked out and said "this is a song from a band from the UK." One guess who it was? JUDAS PRIEST! They did a kick ass cover of "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" A fitting way to end what was about one hour of godly metal. Although the following bands were good, I knew it was going be all downhill from there.

  
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EXCITER
This Canadian band has been around since the early 80's and are cited by many bands as an influence. That said they are not as well known as you'd expect. Of course I was hoping that Exciter would bring out the the classic "Violence and Force" which they thankfully played! The guy on vocals now is not their original singer, but to a casual listener of Exciter's music the differences are minor. The vocalist had a wicked Halford vibrato laden scream which he put to good use in most songs. For a bunch of relatively older metalheads these guys still have an energy and fire about them that was great to witness live. Their no nonsense brand of traditional metal was well executed and appreciated by many!

 

 
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HOLOCAUST
This band traveled all the way from Scotland to be at Metal Meltdown. However, it seemed as if only a few people knew much about them. I myself don't know anything about them except for the fact that Metallica covered their song "The Small Hours" on GARAGE DAYS RE-REVISITED. So of course Holocaust played that song and it was the only song I hard heard by them. As for their other stuff - well it didn't grab one way or the other. Its was decent, but pretty much standard NWOBHM. I think if I had been more familiar with their stuff I could of appreciated them much more!!


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ANVIL (www.anvilmetalonmetal.com)
Today's line-up of Anvil consists of Ivan Hurd (lead guitar), Robb Reiner (drums), Lips (lead vocals, lead guitar) and Glenn Five (bass, backing vocals). Anvil are Canadian METAL LEGENDS! That's right, whether or not you have heard of them it's still the truth as I see it. The band has been at this since (at least) 1984!!!I So needless to say I was really looking forward to seeing these guys. Thanks to Imaginessa, who managed to meet the band prior to hitting the stage, Anvil agreed to add "Metal On Metal" to their setlist! Can you imagine an Anvil gig without that song?? I know they might be sick of it but thanks to Imaginessa they did realize there were fans in the audience who might have never seen them live and that's their favorite song by them. I met Lips earlier in the day - he was all smiles and seemed like a very easy going guy. I must say Anvil's treatment by whomever at the metalfest did not seem to be very professional. First off, they left the main house lights above the stage on during their entire set. Therefore the light show looked very lame. But the show went on and it was the music that counted. They played a newer song which Lips introduced by saying (and I am paraphrasing here!) "I have a new addiction, and that's computers. I spend so much time on the internet or in front of the computer..." etc. "This one is COMPUTER DRONE."  It was one of the better "newer" songs they played along with the killer "Speed of Sound" - way cool!  During the live set, Lips is VERY entertaining to watch. He keeps gritting his teeth and doing this silly grin looking out at you. If you have a camera held up he'll stand there and pose for it too - giving you one of his goofy grins!!  About 20mins into the set Lips was called to the side of the stage. He returned seconds later looking pretty unhappy. He said (and again I am paraphrasing) "We just had out set cut short. We were supposed to play for 45mins now were cut down to 25mins. We had all kinds of other stuff lined up to play for you, but this is going to be our last song. Thank you to those of you who came out to see Anvil play and fuck you to those that didn't and fuck you to the monitor guy because he just said fuck you to me, this is Metal On Metal." hahaha...METAL! So began the last song...during the song Lips was kicking the monitors around the stage. For a minute there I thought he was gonna lose it and shove 'em off the stage entirely...but he didn't. They did do an awesome job of the song and though they were cut short I was pretty happy to of finally seen them live.


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FLOTSAM & JETSAM
After a LONGGGG wait between bands and shouts of "YOU CUT ANVIL FOR THIS?" (referring to the long wait) Flotsam & Jetsam tore onto the stage! They played many of what I'd call there more obscure songs and they began the set off with 2-3 songs from their new album MY GOD which is coming out soon. So right away I was just watching them waiting to hear something I recognized. The new stuff was however very good and VERY heavy. When I was looking at the band I was having a hard time recognizing the guys in the band. They looked so fucking tiny! The singer with his hair and goat was easily recognizable but the 2 guitarists and bassist all had short hair. I had been used to seeing pics of them with longer hair...well most of them. Their guitarist was wearing what looked like a soccer uniform on stage...what's with that dude?! You play awesome and all, but I dunno - you don't goto a soccer game and see a player decked out out in leather and a metal shirt do ya?? I know it's a stereotype, but it was still bizarre. The two highlights of their set was the classic thrasher "Hammerhead" and the grooving "Smoked Out." I would of liked to hear more songs from CUATRO or from DRIFT but at least I was finally seeing them live! One other thing worth pointing out is the bass playing of Jason Ward. Out of the countless bass players I saw this weekend he was the only one that made me look at the bass and hear something and be impressed. Excellent tone and sound accompanied by some very fancy fretwork. 

 

 
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All Good Things...
A weekend of metal. Two days filled with some great moments, metal and new friends. I have to make just one negative comment, and that is - the Metalfest organizers should of had less death metal and hardcore(ish) bands on the bill. Of course, some of it was welcome but during the daytimes especially, the bands sounded very generic. I think there is more room for melodic and power metal bands. For those of you that don't like that style of metal please understand this. The only power metal band on the bill was PRIMAL FEAR - we could of used 3-4 others. I won't end on a sour note though. While the Metal Meltdown series is not on the same scale as the European metal festivals, it is the biggest REAL METAL event that we in North America have. I did have a great time in NJ and I don't regret flying down there for a second!! Long live metal! 

\m/  METAL FOREVER!  \m/


Me in my moment of glee...can't you tell?

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