ICED EARTH, ANVIL, JAG PANZER, THE QUIET ROOM I-Rock, Detroit 2-20-99
If it were to be totaled there was probably a century’s worth of musical experience spread across the I-Rock stage this evening. Unfortunately, only about a hundred or so metal heads actually made it in to see the gig due mostly to the complete lack of any advance promotion from the club owners. Equally as unfortunate is the fact that there are not a lot of clubs in the Detroit area that would stage a metal show like this in the first place so, for now, metro Detroit metal mavens must keep a keen ear out for shows of this nature. Still, a hundred people did get a show full of the best that the underground has yet produced.
THE QUIET ROOM is a progressive metal unit who has recently released their debut disc, “INTROSPECT” on Metal Blade Records. The disc, as was their show, is filled with all the trappings of Dream Theater styled progressive metal but with a distinctively harder edge. They had but twenty-five minutes of stage time due to the sheer bulk of the bill but did manage to impress all who attended with numbers like “Grudge” and “A Different Scene.” Mike Rice, the group’s drummer, is a phenomenal talent and certainly made his presence felt with his astoundingly “in the pocket” performance.
JAG PANZER was, and remains, the true reason for my attendance this night. I love what the rest of the bands are doing but JAG PANZER is the single most exciting band to have caught my attention in recent years. They have a history dating back to the early eighties, coinciding with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (the standard by which most metal is now measured) yet it has been their two most recent records, “THE FOURTH JUDGEMENT” and “THE AGE OF MASTERY” that have cemented their position in the metal pantheon. Aggressive and technical music performed with a sense of spirit that is inescapably infectious.
From the instant that Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin led his PANZER division to the stage it was obvious that this was a “true” metal band. No rapping or homeboy posing, just leather and studs music to bang your head to for the next hour.
Just as they should have, JAG PANZER presented some of their most recent material first. “Iron Eagle” and the incomparable, “Black” greased the wheels while “Twilight Years” stoked the engine up to full speed. Occasionally I had to remind myself that we have just entered the final throws of the nineties but it felt like 1982 in here. One could nearly see an early IRON MAIDEN on stage, just before their full metal explosion. Conklin is also a dead ringer for Paul Dianno. No need for nostalgia when you have the real thing right here in front of you so, back to the future.
JAG PANZER continued on through songs new and old, “Shadow Thief,” “Viper” and a selection from the bands embryonic stage (can’t recall the name just now, sorry) were followed by set closer “The Moors.” The latter number coming from the current “AGE OF MASTERY” record, do get this one if you consider yourself any kind of metal fan. ANVIL brought their title of “Wildest band in Canada” with them on this short tour of the States. These guys were one of those bands that, amazingly, never quite happened when they made their first run at it in
the eighties. They did manage a bit more acceptance in Europe where, I was told, that they still have a very faithful and expanding following. After watching these veterans bash it out for nearly an hour it is very easy to see why bands like METALLICA, PANTERA and MONSTER MAGNET have all cited ANVIL as an influence. I would have liked to have heard “Mad Dog” but with all the other golden nuggets cast from the stage who could complain?
ICED EARTH put on their usual classic metal inspired set complete with all of the audience request regulars intermeshed with their own personal favorites. The group managed to completely reinvent the BLACK SABBATH classic, “Electric Funeral” which is not an easy task to conceive let alone attempt. The result was a respectable approximation of the original yet every ounce an ICED EARTH song. These fellows have been through town so often that their set is fairly well known so I won’t repeat it again here but I will say that it was another above par performance for the band!
Four bands and four hours of some of the best independent metal that can be seen on any stage in the world and only one hundred people to see it. Shame on the club for being so passive in their promotions and cheers to the next wave of power metal both foreign and domestic!