STRYPER – To Hell With The Devil tour 2016 – 10/23/16 Albuquerque, NM

     It was a perfect Sunday afternoon as I pulled up to the Lobo Theater for the Stryper show. I was pleasantly surprised to see a line had already formed in front of the building. I made my way towards the door and sorted out my entry so I could prepare to shoot the evening’s festivities.  

     The people who had purchased the pre show meet and greet (there were quite a few of them) were finishing up and allowed to form a line in the lobby. The sound check was starting up and I decided to walk around and visit with the fans. I was shown various items that had been signed (one cool item was an original vinyl copy of To Hell With The Devil.


Steve Civerolo with his dad Paul

      Overall there was a sense of love for Stryper. I found it very cool to see people I knew to be fans of various Hard Rock bands that one usually does not associate with Stryper, telling me how much they meant to them. One special moment for me was seeing my good friend Derek Leyba be given the opportunity to help with load in for the band. The joy in his eyes was immensely satisfying. 


Derek Leyba

     I went back in and found the band taking their time with the sound check to get it right. The thing that impressed me was the fact that they were willing to take that extra time to give their fans a high-quality show. Eventually everyone was satisfied with the sound check and whisked off to don the Black and Yellow.


     I began my set up in the photo pit and waited for the crush of the crowd when the doors were opened. Funny thing, that didn’t happen. People were kind and civil as they packed in. I saw many friends of mine and many hugs were given. Then, the lights went down and business was about to begin.

     The show began with a cool video history of Stryper which led into a countdown. When the lights came there they were, in their Black and Yellow glory, STRYPER!!!



Michael Sweet


Robert Sweet


Oz Fox


Tim Gaines

     They took us back to 1986 instantly as they played through To Hell With The Devil in its entirety. The band was spot on not missing a lick of the album they had created so many years ago. Song after song was delivered and it seemed the band grew more energetic as did the crowd. After completing the album To Hell With The Devil Stryper ran through some of their crowd favorites and some more current songs. I can definitely say that they left the crowd satisfied.   There was a very cool moment during the set when Michael was talking to the crowd and one guy professed his love of the band and you could hear it in his voice.

     For moments here and there I actually felt like I was a 22-year-old again watching them for the first time. The playing, the vocals, the stage and the costumes were perfect. I am so very pleased to see that the years have only made them a better, stronger band. If you have the chance do yourself a favor and catch Stryper on this tour, you will NOT be disappointed!

     Thanks Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Oz Fox, and Tim Gaines for a great time and a reminder of how the music community should treat each other.

   it’s the Yellow and Black Attack, it’s STRYPER!!!

     – the Hellion

Adam Joad talks Swamp Rebel Machine!!


Grab a cold one, crank up the volume, and enjoy my conversation with the one, the only, Appalachian Apostle: ADAM JOAD from Scattered Hamlet.

After listening go to  and preorder Swamp Rebel Machine!!!

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it Scattered Hamlet!!!

-the Hellion

Talking with vocalist Frank DiMino


It’s not every day you get to talk to a legend. I recently had that privilege when I had a conversation with former Angel vocalist Frank DiMino. So break out your best glam rags, grab a cold beverage, crank it up and listen. It was a great chat, here’s the link:

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!!!

-the Hellion

Here’s what’s up with Justin Manning


Had the chance to chat with Justin Manning about some stuff…so check it out:

     -the Hellion

Monte Pittman releases Inverted Grasp Of Balance



    I recently received the new Monte Pittman record Inverted Grasp Of Balance for review. Little did I know that it would cause me to have a profound revelation to a question I have been seeking an answer to.  Over the years of recorded music people have been trying to answer the question: What makes a record good? There has been a myriad of answers that run the gamut of the music industry. The problem is most of the answers that have been provided are subjective to the answerer and biased to their own opinions. For me, at least, I feel that I have finally answered said question. A good record is one that when you put it on you find yourself turning it up, tapping your foot or nodding your head to the beat, and when it’s over you find yourself feeling as if you just got back from…somewhere.

     I was excited to review this record as I have spoken with Monte before and have enjoyed his previous work. I didn’t realize that I would spend the rest of the day and the next listening to it on repeat and still humming the songs long after. There is a level of craftsmanship to this record that is hard to find these days (one other is the work of Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza). There is no doubt that music flows through the soul of Monte Pittman and I hear nods to so many musicians in his playing and writing.  When a record is made for the purpose of sharing what one feels in their minds ear, it is profound and beautiful.

      Inverted Grasp Of Balance  features Monte on guitars and vocals, Richard Christy (Charred Walls Of The Damned, Iced Earth, Death) on drums, and…..wait for it….Billy Sheehan, yes I said Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, Winery Dogs, just to name a few) on bass. Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) handled the production duties and the record sounds clean and crisp. I read somewhere that Monte recorded his guitar parts while on the road, but this record feels so organic to me and it feels like someone turned on a mic in a jam room and captured some live magic.

     Inverted Grasp Of Balance gives us twelve tracks which flow together beautifully and I guarantee you will NOT find yourself reaching for the skip button, in fact you WILL find yourself reaching for the repeat button.

     If you have to pin me down for stand out tracks I would have to say “Skeleton Key” just reaches out to me the most. This track, in my opinion should be on every radio station across the planet, period. It’s just good rock n’ roll that gets in your head.I find myself just humming throughout the day.  “California” opens with bass that just drips with cool and is pure Billy Sheehan and then paints a picture in your mind of being on a cool road trip with the radio blasting, the wind in your hair, and your best friends at your side.  “New Blood Keeps Us Alive” is an epic track that, again, I feel should be blasting out of every speaker across the world. It begins with some wonderfully beautiful acoustic work that grows to some powerful rock n’ roll worthy of note. This song opens up the mind and makes you reflect on life.

      Monte’s guitar work is across the map on Inverted Grasp Of Balance, taking from gentle acoustic to balls out shredding, and it all works in connection with each other. Not only is there stellar guitar work here Monte’s vocal work is strong and epic as well. The songwriting on  Inverted Grasp Of Balance is something else. Monte has reached deep within and written some deep compositions that I believe were truly from the point of artistry.  Combine all of that with great drumming and legendary bass playing this is a music lovers wet-dream.

          Inverted Grasp Of Balance drops on Sept 23 on Metal Blade Records make sure you do NOT miss out on this record.


 Inverted Grasp Of Balance track-listing
1. Panic Attack
2. Arisen in Broad Daylight
3. Guilty Pleasure
4. The Times Are Changing
5. Double Edged Sword
6. Cadabra
7. Pride Comes Before the Fall
8. California
9. Be Very Afraid
10. Obliterated
11. Skeleton Key
12. New Blood Keeps Us Alive

Pre-order “Inverted Grasp of Balance” at

Monte Pittman online:

     it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s Monte Pittman

     -the Hellion

The Genius of DEVO

DEVO logo


A very long time ago a friend of mine who was always on the cutting edge of music played a for me called “Jocko Homo”. I asked him “what the hell did I just listen to?” He said, “it’s a band called DEVO, take the record and really listen to it.”

I listened to the record which was Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! And I grew to love it and appreciate it. Keep in mind this album came out in 1978 and songs like “Jocko Homo”, “Uncontrollable Urge”, “Gut Feeling”/ “(Slap Your Mammy)” and their cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” were so off the normal track.

I kept listening and watching the “evolution” of DEVO throughout the years maintaining a constant affair with them. It was kind of like a guilty pleasure for me. My then current flock of metal heads would have revoked my metal card at that time.

Eventually the love of music outweighed being “cool” or “accepted” and I learned to just embrace the music I loved and throw away the genres.

DEVO continued to deliver eclectic music and imagery that attracted me. The music was complex and interesting in its composure. Electronic, analog, all mixed together with often times frantic vocals, it was all in there.  The world caught up with DEVO with the success of “Whip It” and other tracks like “Freedom of Choice”, “Beautiful World”. I continued to listen and appreciate their diversity. And then they fell off of my radar. There was no reason they had just got away from me.

I found myself a parent for the first time in 1990 when my son was born. One of the first television shows I watched with him was the Rugrats. I was completely surprised to see that Mark Mothersbaugh from DEVO was involved with the music of Rugrats. I then realized the genius of Mark and DEVO.

I went on a musical history trip through the halls of DEVO and fully came to appreciate their creativity and tongue-in-cheek and yet somehow, not, humor. There were messages woven into the tapestry of their songs that you could pick up on if you were really paying attention. There are a lot of bands out there whose music just doesn’t stand up over time and grows old and tiresome to me, DEVO is not one of those bands. I still find new things to enjoy from their rich musical history.

Never be ashamed of the music you like, period.

“He’s a man with a plan

His finger is pointed at Devo

Now we must sacrifice ourselves

That many others may live

Okay we’ve got a lot to give” …DEVO

-the Hellion

Metallica: Hardwired…to…


Hit The Lights” was the first track I ever heard from Metallica. I liked the energy and aggression I heard. I thought myself “These guys have something here.”

Well, we all know how that turned out. Metallica, for me at least, has had its ups and downs. But this is something to expect when people grow and their life situations change around them. In the beginning there was a hunger in them, a drive, a sense of angry passion to be heard, they had something to prove.

Over time Metallica went through some changes that like it or not affected the direction of the band.

By the time Kill ‘Em All was released the lineup consisted of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Cliff Burton. The kings of thrash were ready to kick ass and take names.

We got two more fantastic records from this lineup Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets before the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton. This is where I feel the first chapter closed and the band began to undergo some changes.

The hard choice for them at this time was to find someone who could step up and climb aboard the speeding freight train that was Metallica at this time. That someone had some seriously big shoes to fill as Cliff Burton was a fan favorite. Metallica tapped Jason Newsted to fill those shoes. We probably have all heard the stories of the hazing, the turning down of the bass during recording, blah blah blah, yada yada yada. This was band business and not fan business and we can only speculate as what really went on. This, however, I feel was the catalyst for change in Metallica.

…And Justice for All gave us a different Metallica sound than we were used to. In my opinion a more mature less frantic sound. Not all together bad, just different than before. The next release, Metallica, furthered that change and ultimately became their best-selling record to date and broadened their fan base immensely while at the same time alienating some of their hardcore fans. Suddenly people who looked at you like you were crazy for liking Metallica before were “fans”. And, again this is just my opinion, they became drunk with success.

Despite what we have all heard the members of Metallica are all human and such, subject to the limitations of that. Life experience and growth is what I attribute to the changes in style we saw with the release of Load and Reload. Less thrash and more experimental musical songs combined with image change further pushed their early hardcore fans away and thrust Metallica into the mainstream world.

I happened to respect their changes and growth. While I loved the early aggressive sound, I found an appreciation for this new sound that reflected life changes even as I found myself growing and maturing.

And then, another shakeup, Jason Newsted was out of the picture. No replacement was announced and producer Bob Rock filled in on St. Anger and we were let into the inside world of their lives and problems with the film Some Kind of Monster. The release St. Anger gave us yet another style of Metallica. People panned the writing and production, and others panned the recording. The fair-weather “fans” that came on board with Metallica silently folded their Metallica shirts and placed their CD’s and records on dusty shelves and moved on to the next flavor of the month. The hardcore fans continued to grumble and listen to the early stuff and prayed for a return to the thrash sounds of old…

I have been a longtime fan of Rob Trujillo’s work and was excited to hear of his addition to the Metallica lineup. I had to wait until Death Magnetic dropped to get that chance. While I found this to be a good, solid record I had still expected a little more. Good but not great in my opinion. I did catch them on the Death Magnetic tour and the energy and passion given to the old school tracks was fantastic to see. I refused to give up on Metallica.

I am not even going to speak on Lulu as I feel it not to be a Metallica album (maybe I’ll talk about it down the road on a collaborations article).

All of this leads us to today. Metallica broke the internet yesterday when they released the new track “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. All day long I saw back and forth postings about the track. Name calling, bashing, criticisms, speculations…. on and on. My personal thoughts on it? I liked it. Did I love it? Not really. Do I appreciate it? ABSOFRICKINGLUTELY!!!

I posed the question on Facebook yesterday asking if a band that was once relevant could once again gain said relevance in today’s day and age where people just want to hear the “hits” and only the “hits”. Yes, I was talking about Metallica and the upcoming album Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. Given the effect they had on the internet yesterday what do YOU think?


It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s METALLICA!!!

  -the Hellion