Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

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

Review by Rick

As we drove down the streets of Asbury Park on our way to our hotel all I could think of was "This place looked like a warzone". There were abandoned buildings everywhere that reminded me more of war torn Yugoslavia than the good ole U.S. of A. I was pleasantly surprised when we got to our hotel as it was rather classy looking!! The Convention Center was right across the street from the hotel so I was even more impressed with our accommodations. After checking in, myself, EvilG and Imginessa took a stroll over to the Convention Center to survey ground zero for Meltdown. We received our passes and went inside to check out what was going on. The convention center consisted of 3 stages, The Relapse Records stage, The Digimetal stage and The Snakenet Metal Radio stage. They were all in separate rooms so that was a great relief as many people had warned me about the infamous curtain incidents of years past. I would have to say that the set up was pretty good. We wandered around for awhile checking out the bands playing on the 3 stages. Unfortunately none of them interested me to any degree. Most were basically hardcore/deathmetal bands who all sounded the same. If I closed my eyes and walked from stage to stage I wouldnít have been able to tell the difference. I also noticed that the "uniform" was well represented.  What is the uniform you might ask? Black , black and more black!! Seems everyone was wearing as much black as was possible! Very COOL! After a round at the vendor tables we headed back to the hotel for a bite to eat and to get charged up for the nights festivities.


DAY 1 - FRIDAY APRIL 6, 2001

This is where the fun begins. Again myself, EvilG and Imginessa made our way back to the convention center where after checking the other stages we made our way to the Relapse stage where TAPPING THE VEIN were playing. They have just been signed to Nuclear Blast Records and play a style somewhat similar to The Gatheringís recent stuff. The have a female vocalist, and from the few songs I saw, put on a great show. We didnít get to see a whole lot of them because we were nabbed by Snake (from Snakenet Metal Radio) to attend the press conference which we had totally forgotten about. Some of the best bands of the show were involved in this event including VINTERSORG, Esa from AMORPHIS, Peter Tatgren from PAIN, Peter Lindgren of OPETH, members of Diecast and Ralf Scheepers of PRIMAL FEAR. The questions asked were of the usual variety but never delved into anything really deep. It was more of a photo op and a chance to hear the bands talk a bit about their music. Myself , EvilG and Imaginessa had the opportunity to meet Mikael of Opeth after the conference was over. He was a really softspoken guy who didnít fit the heavy metal image at all which was kinda cool.

We have a lot of pictures from the press conference. I picked out the best ones and put them all on the one page here.

When we left the press conference we headed straight for the Snakenet Metal Radio Stage as all the bands we wanted to see that night were appearing there. This stage had all the best bands from the weekend. Kudos to Snake!!! First one we saw was Vesperian Sorrow. They were a death metal band out of Texas. I had never heard of them before so I canít say what songs they played but I liked them.



Up next was one of the bands that I couldnít wait to see, VINTERSORG. When I had found out I was going to meltdown I started checking out some of the bands and Vintersorg immediately caught my attention. Now that I was here they did not disappoint in the least. The band was tight and put on a great show. There were a couple of songs that I was hoping they would play and of course they did! The title track from his/their latest CD "Cosmic Genesis" was awesome as was the cover of Uriah Heepís "Rainbow Demon". It was also great to see the crowd so into a band that is not yet a household name in metal.

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The next band on the bill was PAIN. Another project of the inexhaustible Peter Tatgren. Peter is not only a member of PAIN, he also has his main band HYPOCRISY and owns Abyss Studios where he has produced some great bands including Dimmu Borgir and Borknager. I must profess to not knowing much about PAIN before the show but I have become a convert. They totally blew the place apart! Peter was a whirling dervish. Decked out in leather from head to toe he flew all over the stage, banging his head at every turn and putting on one of the best shows of the weekend. The rest of the band kept up with him as the whole crew were very entertaining. I have to point out that PAIN does not have a bass player. Keyboards play a large part in their music so I didnít even miss him on stage. PAIN were my second favourite set of Meltdown!

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Here we go. One of the bands I could not wait to see. OPETH. Since meeting Peter Lindgren earlier in the night I had been even more excited to check out the band. Again I am very new to OPETH. They are one of those bands that I just never got around to getting into till lately and judging by the response of the crowd this was going to be a great set. I canít tell you what songs they played because they all began to sound alike to me. Maybe it was the energetic set that PAIN had just preformed but I found myself getting very relaxed during OPETHís set. The music itself was great but compared to PAIN their stage presence was very laid back. I think I will chalk this one up to their position in the playlist and me being exhausted after banging my head to the whole PAIN set.

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Now we hit the last band of the night and another of the bands that I had set out to see. Of course everything was running late so AMORPHIS only had time for a very short set. Since the set was very short I donít know if it is a good indication of the band live but I must say they were pretty lifeless. The vocalist, Pasi, stood at the front of the stage for most of the show striking various poses and just doing his thing while everyone else just sort of did their thing. The highlight of the set for me was "Divinity". I was hoping for" Black Winter Day" or "Against Widows" but I guess they were short on time. Oh well again the music was great. I just wish the set wasnít cut short. How can any band come all this way and play for only 20 minutes?

Well this was the end of a long day for me, Imaginessa and the Evil One. We retired to the hotel to recharge our batteries for the long day of METAL that was ahead!

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