Metal All Stars
5th April, 2014
Arena Riga, Latvia
Review by Anna Dumpe
Photography by Vladislavs Punculs
When Metal All Stars tour was first announced, many people had doubts about the quality and legitimacy about this specific project simply because of how impressive the line-up was. In the very beginning Metal All Stars was a tour that would take many musicians, like Zakk Wylde, Tom Araya, Vince Neil, Cronos, Phil Anselmo and many more on a tour across Eastern and Northern Europe, but after few artists cancelling or denying their appearances on Metal All Stars tour, it was questioned by even more people.
The truth is, until the actual day of the show, many heavy metals fans of Latvia really had no clue if the performance is actually going to happen due to lack of advertisement and news about artists, like Vince Neil, Phil Anselmo, Cronos, etc cancelling their appearances just days before the tour kicks off. However the show DID happen and we were there to see it all for ourselves.
The opening band Death Dealer are greeted by a rather small, yet enthusiastic Latvian crowd.
From sharp riffs and epic power metal chords to Sean Peck sporting and outfit that he might have just borrowed from Rob Halford himself – Death Dealer have it all.
To someone who has no clue what World Of Warcraft stands for or is not into dragon-slaying themed songs, Death Dealer might be a bit of a disappointment, but, luckily, Latvians are way too excited about tonight actually happening to get into much detail.
Due to lack of advertisement and artist cancellations, the Arena Riga is not even close to packed-out tonight, because most metal fans of Latvia would probably choose not to invest their 30 Euros in Metal All Stars not knowing if the show is actually going to happen. No one is to blame, however, those who did miss out on Metal All Stars, also missed out on a killer show that not only brought some of the greatest musicians of metal together on one stage, but also delivered a truly entertaining show.
Death Dealer put on an energetic performance and show great commitment and enthusiasm towards the crowd. Being a super group in their own way, Death Dealer lads are no beginners, as Ross the Boss (Manowar) and Sean Peck prepare the crowd for a night of heavy fucking metal. And the best is yet to come…
Kobra Paige might not be a commercially known artist over in Latvia, but within only seconds into her performance, she manages to own the crowd thanks to her feminine, yet full-on stage presence.
Accompanied by the one and only Ross The Boss, Kobra kick things off with Kings Of Metal originally by Manowar showing off her perfect-for-power metal vocals hitting all the high notes like a pro.
Pulling off “Fear Of the Dark” might seem like quite a challenge for a female vocalist, but Kobra does not fear such task and delivers her version of the song that’s refreshing, melodic, yet heavy enough to get those heads banging. Kobra definitely proves that there IS room for chicks in heavy metal.
Throwing in „50 Shades Of Evil” by her own band Kobra and The Lotus, Kobra Paige make the best of those few minutes given to her to let her own music be heard and appreciated.
Finishing things off with a bang that is „Symphony Of Destruction” originally by Megadeth really gets those rather excited and slightly drunk Latvians move around when the first moshpits of the night break out in the middle of the room.
Kobra Paige perfectly manage to capture great energy that she delivers within such short, yet dynamic performance of four songs. Don’t be fooled by that pretty face – Kobra’s got some balls and she’s on her way to ultimate heavy metal stardom.
Next up is the crazy dreadlock rasta Brian Fair from Shadows Fall bringing explosive energy to the stage and ready to show how things are supposed to be done at a heavy metal show kicking things off with his own „Light That Blinds” off Shadows Fall catalog.
Again, the Latvian crowd might not be too familiar with Shadows Fall material, as they’ve not yet reached such global commercial status as other musicians on this tour, but his approach and enthusiasm speaks for itself. It does not take long until he’s got the whole room do a ‘hands-down’ the biggest circle pit this sports arena has ever seen.
After watching Brian perform for few minutes, it’s not hard to say that you’re a fan of his already, as his dynamic and somehow ridiculously positive energy seems simply unstoppable.
Being privileged enough to perform three songs off Shadows Fall repertoire, Brian presents „What Drives the Weak” and ”Thoughts Without Words” while throwing himself all over the stage and giving his best to make this performance count.
Saving best for later, Brian is joined on stage by the one and only Father B. (Blasko) who is better knows as a bassist for Ozzy Osbourne to perform „Bark At the Moon”, which literally blows the roof off. Latvians love their ‘greatest hits’ and a good song that they can sing along to, so „Bark At the Moon” is a definite win.
Metal All Stars show is an unstoppable and dynamic experience that only gets better with each song where you can’t predict what’s about to happen next. And this time it is no one else, but Max Cavelera joining Brian Fair on stage to jam „Reign In Blood” originally by Slayer. Does it get any better than seeing this song performed live by two dreadlock-enthusiasts that also happen to be heavy metal legends?
Yeah, it hardly does…
Check out our interview with Brian Fair HERE!
Next up is another veteran of all things heavy – Udo Dirkschneider, who’s better known as the front man of „Balls To the Wall” masters Accept and U.D.O.
Without wasting much time, he kicks things off with U.D.O. anthem „Animal House” to get the power metal ball rolling once more. To please all the Accept fans present tonight, Udo includes „Metal Heart,” „Fast As a Shark” and the classic „Balls To The Wall” to his set. Needless to say, the Latvian crowd simply loves the Man and „Balls to the Wall” go down as a possible highlight of the night.
Still going strong at 65, Udo is just another example that heavy metal lives and is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Few moments later and it is finally time for one of the greatest thrash metal icons to take the stage and turn this show into mayhem. It’s time for the one and only Max Cavalera.
Kicking off his Soulfly meets Sepultura set with „Refuse/Resist” Max Cavalera brings in aggressive and pounding riffs and crowd’s response to that is nothing else than some few more huge circle-pits and violent moshing causing some of the participants to lose their belongings and…. their teeth. Welcome to Eastern Europe, fellas!
The signature heaviness of Max Cavalera’s voice and performance is mind-blowing and powerful in a way he works and moves the crowd.
„Back To The Primitive” and „Eye For and Eye” go down as absolute classics proving that Max Cavalera’s still got what it takes to be a killer front man. However, the real riot kicks off within the first notes of „Roots Bloody Roots”.
By the time when Joey Belladonna of Anthrax hits the stage, it is hard to comprehend what is really going on. For a country like Latvia that hardly get big heavy metal bands passing through to perform, such show seems just a little overwhelming and quite surreal.
Joey Belladonna kicks things off with some classic Anthrax material to please all the thrash metal fans out there tonight. „Madhouse” and „Medusa” both go down a storm, yet the real crowd pleaser turns out to be „TNT” originally by AC/DC. As another proof that what Latvian crowd really need is a good old classic they can sing along to, „TNT” turns the whole place into a real Saturday night party where beer is spilled and bodies being thrown all over the place.
As Anthrax have previously recorded „TNT” as a part of their Anthems EP, Joey Belladonna couldn’t seem more comfortable performing such characteristic and significant song capturing the right feel.
Finishing his 4-song set with a tribute song to the late & great Ronnie James Dio, Joey throws in „Man on a Silver Mountain” originally by Rainbow and delivers another great classic to get the crowd raise their fists and bang their heads like nuts.
With a convincing performance Joey could not leave a better impression after his first-ever musical appearance in Latvia.
Check out our interview with Joey Belladonna HERE!
And last, but not least… It is time for the one and only… It’s time for the Man himself… It’s time for Zakk Wylde accompanied by his good friend Blasko from Ozzy Osbourne’s band. And once these two hit the stage, things just can’t get any better.
Zakk & Blasko kick off their set dedicated to the Godfathers of heavy metal Black Sabbath with „Into the Void” and within seconds it is clear that these two performing on one stage is a match made in Heaven (or Hell, whichever you prefer…), as their musical approach, energy and performance style perfectly complements each others.
Continuing his set with „Fairies Wear Boots” and „N.I.B.”, Zakk gets his fair share of attention demonstrating ‘Zakk Wylde signature guitar solos’ that normally go over few minutes at least and once again proves him to be the ultimate guitar hero of our times.
When it comes to bass guitarists, they hardly get to stand out as much as they’d like to, but Blasko seems to be a different kind of story. His charisma, presence and character prove him to be not just a bass player with Zakk Wylde, but also a significant part of this performance making it sound ridiculously heavy, deep and groovy. Plus he’s got some epic moves.
Throwing in the Black Label Society classic „Stillborn” to please those BLS admirers in the crowd and make them go a little ballistic to say the least could be a great end to the show, but that’s not just it, my dear friends.
Zakk and Blasko have chosen to end things with the ultimate classic „War Pigs” by Black Sabbath to put and end to a great show and celebration of all things heavy metal.
Aside from the strange advertisement campaigns and mysterious artist cancellations prior and throughout the tour, Metal All Stars did happen in Riga and they sure did put on a hell of a show.
Next time, if you’re not too sorry for gambling your 30 Euros or Dollars on a metal show, go for it and hope for the best! Because if it actually happens, like it did in Riga and many other European cities, you’re sure in for a treat and a show you might not be able to forget for some time.