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Archive for the ‘Voivod’ Category

[ATTENDED: June 11, 2019] Baroness

Baroness is, for the most part, the work of John Baizley.  There are others in the band, but there hasn’t really been any consecutive albums with the same lineup.  I first heard of John Baizley on March 10, 2017 when he was brought out as as special guest at a Strand of Oaks concert.

I thought Baizley was great at that show and I really liked his voice.  So I investigated and I discovered the wonder that is the prog metal of Baroness.  Baizley writes beautiful passages and tacks them onto brutally heavy metal.  His voice is a rich baritone and it all works perfectly.  I later found out that all of the art is done by him and that he has crafted some amazing heavy metal covers as well (here’s his art site).

In 2017, Baroness was between albums (their previous one came out in 2015, their new one is coming out in a couple of days).  But I listened to his older records and really liked them a lot.

They have recently toured for this new album, but the two shows they played near me were not ones I wanted to see.  In April they played the Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest which sounded like a terrible thing to go to, quite frankly (even if they were the headliners) –7 bands and all that beer, no thanks.  A few days earlier they were playing Starland Ballroom with Deafheaven.  A double bill I would have liked to see, but I was already seeing Voivod that night.

They announced a tour of the rest of the lands and I was a little bummed.  But then they announced this little acoustic tour to coincide with their new album.  I was planning on getting the album anyway, so to travel to Fords to get that record and to have Baroness play an acoustic show was a no brainer. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 20, 2019] Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets

While I, like many people my age, love Pink Floyd, (I mean Dark Side of the Moon is the most popular album in history or whatever), I have always really enjoyed their early stuff.  Not the Syd Barrett stuff, exactly, but the stuff from that era: Ummagumma, Meddle, Atom Heart Mother.

When I saw that Nick Mason was touring with some non-Pink Floyd guys, I was intrigued.  I’ve always thought that Mason was an underrated dude (when the rest of the band has huge personalities it’s easy to get overlooked).  He also seems like just a nice fella.

Then I read that this tour, dubbed Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, would focus on the pre-Dark Side of the Moon era of psychedelia and experimentation. Mason says he wished to revisit songs that were staples of early Pink Floyd shows from 1969–1972, as well as other songs that were never performed live by Pink Floyd during this era. Mason said the group was not a tribute band, but that they wanted to “capture the spirit” of the era.  And they were going to play some of “Atom Heart Mother,” my personal favorite.

The band would consist of Dom Beken on keys, Lee Harris and Gary Kemp on guitars and vocals, and long time Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt (man, he has played with EVERYBODY) on bass and vocals. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 12, 2019] The Claypool Lennon Delirium

Nearly two years and a half years ago I saw The Claypool Lennon Delirium at the Fillmore.  Once again, this year they were playing the Fillmore.  But it was on a night that T. was doing a school play.  There is no way I would choose Les Claypool over my daughter, so I didn’t get tickets.  Then they moved her play to Thursday instead.  I could go!

But then WXPN announced that The Claypool Lennon Delirium would be doing a Free at Noon.  And that seemed like the best of both worlds–I’d get to see the band and it wouldn’t be a) at night or b) at the Fillmore (which was too big and crowded for me when I saw them).  I said I’d never do another Free at Noon because I basically had to take off four hours of work to do it, but for these guys it was a no-brainer and totally worth it.

And really, who doesn’t like to take off four hours of work. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2019] And the Kids

Almost exactly one year ago I saw And the Kids open for Lucy Dacus.  They put on a great show, but I had heard that they would be even more wild if they didn’t have the time constraints of that show (there were two full sets that night, so the earlier one was kind of rushed).  Back in November they opened another show that I wanted to get to but couldn’t.  But here they were headlining, which is what I really wanted to see.

I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale.  But then I found out that Voivod was playing the same night across town.  Voivod is a band I have loved and never saw live.  So I chose Voivod.  During the headliners, YOB, I decided if I left I could get over to Johnny Brenda’s (about 10 minutes away) in time before And the Kids started.  I listened to one heavy YOB song and then took off.  I got on street parking a block away from Johnny Brenda’s and walked in a few minutes before And the Kids were to go on.  All signs indicated that I had made the right choice.

I was surprised at how crowded it was (good for them!)  But I managed to get past the drunken clumps and got right up at the edge of the stage, but to the side–near the steps where the band comes in.  It’s not a great vantage point (and the sound really isn’t as good, but it was better than standing in the middle of tall people.

Then the band came out.  Last time And the Kids were a four-piece.  But for this show they were only a duo.  I gather the core of the group has always been Rebecca Lasaponaro on drums and Hannah Mohan on guitar and vocals.  I have yet to find out why they were touring with just the two of them and not a full band.  I’m also not exactly sure how the bass and other sounds were handled.  I know it had something to do with Lasaponaro, but whether she was triggering them live or just starting them on a laptop, I don’t know.

In some ways this hindered their improvisatory nature.  But not really, because Mohan is a born entertainer and she was a ton of fun throughout the night–and made me glad I was standing where I was.

They played eleven songs in about an hour.   Five were songs from the new album, which I hadn’t heard yet. I hadn’t heard much by them when I saw them last time either, and I feel like hearing them live–even new songs–is absolutely the way to go.  The recorded versions are good, but the don’t quite capture the vitality and energy that their live set has. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2019] YOB

I hadn’t heard of YOB before this show.  I was there for Voivod.  But I assumed they must be compatible if they were playing together.

I also had a ticket to see And the Kids (a very different type of band) that night at Johnny Brenda’s.  After jumping in to see Dilly Dally upstairs in the Foundry after the Guster show in The Fillmore, I thought, well, why can’t I go to both shows if one ends early enough.  Johnny Brenda’s is about ten minutes from Union Transfer.  The Johnny Brenda’s show started later than this show, so I considered my options.

After the pummeling from Amenra and the fun but heavy set from Voivod, I was pretty wiped out.  I had read that YOB was “Epic, crushing, and heavy beyond words.”

So I decided to stay for the first song and see if I wanted to hear more. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2019] Voivod

I’ve been a fan of Voivod for decades.  But I never saw them live when I was most into them (late 80’s).  Then after Denis “Piggy” D’Amour’s death in 2005 I assumed I never would.

But amazingly they found a guy who plays guitar very much like Piggy did–a bizarre hybrid of prog, metal, dissonance and eerie harmony.  That man is Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain.  Chewy is able to play Piggy’s parts.  And his new parts are very much in the style of old Voivod, but are certainly his own (his soloing style is definitely different for instance.  And since recording songs with him in 2013, Voivod have been touring fairly regularly.  (They played Philly in 2015 and 2016–to see them at the Black Box in Underground Arts would have been amazing!)

For a band that’s been active (in one form or another) for over 30 years, they still had a lot of fun on stage.  If there’s one thing I love it’s seeing a band enjoying themselves.

Strangely, in the 30 years that they’ve been together, nearly everyone has been replaced (with some returns), and there have been a number of styles. (more…)

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ellsmere SOUNDTRACK: PROBOT-Probot (2004).

probotAfter all of the Dave Grohl love I’ve been sending his way, Grohl went and fell off a stage and broke his leg.  But, he is so badass (and such a thoughtful musician), that he went to the hospital, got his leg fixed up and went back on stage to finish the set!  Holy cow.

This is amazing (and he must have incredible endorphins (or something else) to be able to do this (the video is long because it shows his re-arrival):

Grohl has always been very open about his love of heavy metal–and the liner notes here go into pretty good detail about he bands he grew up listening to.  He wanted to create a kind of tribute/dream lineup album of metal vocalists.  As far as I can tell he was sitting around and banging away riffs and every time he got one that he liked, he recorded it.  He eventually added bass and drums and made demo tapes out of them.  Then he contacted some of his favorite metal singers from when he was a kid and asked them to write lyrics and sing.

I assume that Grohl sent the demos that sounded most like the bands to the appropriate singer, because so many of them are spot on for the original bands.  The Venom song sounds completely like Venom (Cronos’ bass certainty helps) and it’s one of the best songs here.  I don’t know Sepultura that well, but the music fits perfectly with Cavalera’s style.  And this song is just fantastic.

The Lemmy song sounds unmistakably Motörhead, again possibly because Lemmy plays bass, but the riff is pure Motörhead.  It’s another great song and one that the Foo Fighters have played live.

The song with Mike Dean is very punk, very C.O.C.  It’s followed by another punk/metal song from D.R.I.  This song also matches perfectly with Brecht’s style of singing on the more metal side of D.R.I..

Lee Dorrian used to sing in a guttural cookie monster growl with Napalm Death, but in Cathedral, he turned to proper singing.  I don’t know Cathedral, but the main riff coupled with the twin guitar solo notes from Thayil make a great epic song, especially that mosh section in the middle (I didn’t think Cathedral did mosh but whatever), although at 6 minutes it does go on a bit.

I also don’t know Wino, so I don’t know if this is the kind of thing he sang on, although I do hear a bit of Saint Vitus vibe from it.  There’s a really long middle section which is interesting for the backwards guitar solo, and while it’s a little long, when it comes out of that, the heaviness is really great.

Tom Warrior is a fascinating guy with all kinds of tricks up his sleeve, so the weird industrial sound on top of the heavy bass is pretty interesting.  There’s no way Grohl could hope to emulate Voivod’s Piggy, so he doesn’t even try.  Rather than playing up to Voivod’s proggy style, he goes deeper to the heavier stuff.  And, perhaps it’s Snake’s voice, the bridge sounds very Voivod.  The chorus is more poppy than what Voivod might do, and yet it’s a great song.  Voivod’s Away also designed the album cover.

I loved Trouble when I was in high school, although I don’t really remember them that well now.  This songs sounds bit more classic rock than metal (and I recall Trouble being pretty heavy), and yet Wagner’s voice works very well with the style.  I just read that Trouble went through a more psychedelic period and the middle section ties in nicely with that, so maybe this is inspired by later period Trouble.

Grohl says he was excited to get King Diamond, and who wouldn’t be.  Kim Thayil is back to create a suitable Mercyful riff (although it could never live up to the classic Fate).  But the mid section’s doom riffs are right on.  The song showcases some of the King’s vocal acrobatics, although not quite as many as I could have used (there are some excellent high-pitched notes in there though).

There’s a bonus track at the end of the disc which features Jack Black doing a suitably funny but accurate metal tribute.

This is a really solid heavy record that lets some classic metal singers back on the scene.  There won’t be a second Probot record, but there may not need to be one anyhow.  I also like that he picked some slightly more obscure singers rather than the obvious Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson type of singers, even if they would have also been interesting).

  • “Centuries of Sin” (feat. Cronos of Venom)
  • “Red War” (feat. Max Cavalera of Sepultura)
  • “Shake Your Blood” (feat. Lemmy of Motörhead)
  • “Access Babylon” (feat. Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity)
  • “Silent Spring” (feat. Kurt Brecht of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
  • “Ice Cold Man” (feat. Lee Dorrian of Cathedral and Napalm Death, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
  • “The Emerald Law” (feat. Wino)
  • “Big Sky” (feat. Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost)
  • “Dictatosaurus” (feat. Snake of Voivod)
  • “My Tortured Soul” (feat. Eric Wagner of Trouble)
  • “Sweet Dreams” (feat. King Diamond of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
  • “I Am the Warlock” (feat. Jack Black of Tenacious D)

[READ: February 13, 2015] The War at Ellsmere

I’ve enjoyed Hicks’ books in the past–both the ones she’s written and the one’s she’s simply illustrated.  In this book she does both which means you get big eyes and the dark hair.

As the book opens we meet Juniper, a girl who has just enrolled in Ellsmere Private School.   We meet the headmistress and learn the history of this beautiful school (established in 1810).  And then we find out that Juniper is there on a scholarship (merit based) and that Juniper is well aware that she will likely be there to “liven things up for the blue bloods.”

When Juniper meets her new roommate Cassie (who hears her talking to herself), Jun immediately goes on the defensive–until she sees that Cassie is actually quite a nice girl. (Nice, Jun, you just insulted Bambi).

But it’s during the orientation that we meet the real antagonist of the story–Emily, a pretty blonde girl who immediately insults Cassie and calls her “orphan.”  When Jun gets involved, it suggests that it will be an interesting year for all of them. (more…)

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