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.

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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. 

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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.

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     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!!!

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Michael Sweet

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Robert Sweet

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Oz Fox

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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!!

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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 www.scatteredhamlet.com  and preorder Swamp Rebel Machine!!!

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

-the Hellion

Here’s what’s up with Justin Manning

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

     -the Hellion

Monte Pittman releases Inverted Grasp Of Balance

 

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    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.

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 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 metalblade.com/montepittman/

Monte Pittman online:
http://www.montepittman.com
https://www.facebook.com/MontePittman
http://www.youtube.com/MontePittmanMusic
https://soundcloud.com/montepittman
http://twitter.com/montepittman
http://www.instagram.com/montepittman
https://montepittman.bandpage.com
https://myspace.com/montepittman

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

     -the Hellion

Metallica: Hardwired…to…

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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 

ABBA to ZZ Top – Appreciating Diversity

 

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My mom introduced me to music at a very young age. There was always some kind of music playing somewhere in the house. One of my earliest musical memories is running around with my cousins screaming in our tiny off key voices “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles.

The music my mom listened to was across the map, but mostly rock oriented. My stepfather, however, was a country man and there was no alternative. I learned to appreciate the sounds I was hearing from songs that they both listened to. I felt the stories they were telling, and that was how I interpreted them, as stories. These “stories” would end up becoming my best friends as my childhood took some nasty turns. They were always there and wouldn’t ever let me down. I ultimately developed an affinity for rock and that became my preferred style of music. I never did lose my appreciation for classic country music though.

The 70’s were a great time for music on the radio. I could hear a broad spectrum of artists on one rock station from ABBA to ZZ Top. I LISTENED and devoured all of the music that I could, often staying up until the wee hours with a small radio under my pillow. I remember a conversation with my mom once where I asked her why she liked music so much her reply was “Because the songs take me away to different places.” I got it, and found myself taking the same journeys. The music was fresh and entertaining and never ever seemed to go stale for me. There was no sub, sub, sub genres, just good music.

This was a time when it was cool to one day wear a Bee Gees shirt and a KISS one the next. We just loved the music. We were clueless and we loved it. We used our imaginations to think about what our favorite musicians were doing and what they would do next, there was bliss in our ignorance.

 

…it was just music and we simply loved it.

-the Hellion

Was Chris DeGarmo Queensrÿche?

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I remember now…

This writing will probably piss off and alienate some of my friends and readers, but it is my thoughts and feelings and I will not apologize for that.

In the early 80’s a track caught my ear one day and wormed its way into my brain, “Queen of the Reich”. It was Iron Maiden meets Judas Priest and yet somehow…not. I didn’t catch the band name but a quick phone call to the DJ, yes I said DJ, and found it was a band named Queensrÿche and I was hooked.

Album after album came out and my love for the band and appreciation for their music grew and grew. In the midst of all of this I met and married my wife and she, in turn, grew to like  Queensrÿche as well.

The years gave us great albums and music to share. We were fortunate to catch them on the Hear in the Now Frontier tour and then Chris DeGarmo left the band.

I thought to myself surely the departure of Chris wouldn’t be the end of  Queensrÿche and I stood by patiently to see the results. Q2K was released and it was ok, but something seemed lacking in the song structure. I then heard some rumors that Chris was working with  Queensrÿche again on a new record. Tribe was released in 2003 and it gave me the magic I felt before from open to close. The “reunion”, however, was short-lived. Chris faded away again.

2006 to 2011 brought us Operation: Mindcrime II, Take Cover, American Soldier, and Dedicated to Chaos, all decent efforts but still lacking that je ne sais quoi. Then, the Taterÿche Wars (as I like to refer to them) began.

While I refuse to take sides in the whole fiasco (I am not nor will I ever be a part of their internal business matters, and was not included in any discussions so everything we read or hear is hearsay.) I kept an open mind as to the outcome.

I then heard that Geoff Tate and the band had split. Rumors of a new band called Rising West featuring Todd La Torre surfaced and I was impressed and glad they had decided to move on. As for Geoff I was hoping that he would pursue a solo career and Queensrÿche would be put to rest in an honorable way.

Needless to say that did not happen. Like a bad political campaign there was name calling and mudslinging galore. Eventually it settled, Geoff gave up the name Queensrÿche and named his new endeavor Operation: Mindcrime.

Both camps have continued to make new music and yet have failed to reach me on the level that Queensrÿche once did. Don’t get me wrong, Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield, and Eddie Jackson, are all stellar musicians and were critical to the Queensrÿche sound. Parker Lundgren and Todd La Torre are great additions as well, I just wish they would have stuck to the Rising West name and let Queensrÿche die an honorable death. Todd is a phenomenal vocalist and front man but he’s no Geoff Tate and neither should he be.   Was Chris DeGarmo Queensrÿche? Maybe not but he certainly was a big part to me.

-the Hellion