Sunday, March 9, 2014

Metal Church / Martyrd / Ghost of War/ Down Society /Aries @ Empire 3/8/2014

I went to see Metal Church last night ($16) at Empire with a number of local openers. There were a TON of people I knew who rolled out for this classic metal show.  I saw Dave, Rob, Amberley, Ruby and her dad, miss Lindsey, otherLindsey, Kim, Dorothy, metalHenry, Jen P, Kris, Ariel y su Mujer, James y su mujer, Tom, Brittany and her friend, Omar y Gori, Gerber, James O, Joel, Ethan, greekgirl, AND Neil and Michelle. whew. I think the nearly 30 people there I knew made the social butterflying essential and did kind of impact on a couple band watching times.

When I got there (early) there were not many people there, but they steadily were coming in, so by around 8 or so it was actually pretty full. I think there were about 250 people there. Not a bad showing. It was crowded, but not uncomfortably so. 

Merch: Metal Church had 3 shirts- 1 new album shirt, 2 logo shirts (1 mens, 1 womans) ($25), Generation Nothing CD ($12), photo, and maybe a poster. Aries had shirts, stickers, EP. Martyrd had shirts and a CD I think. Ghost of War had a ton of merch- shirts, shot glasses, posters, CD, etc. Near the end of the show I think people were getting a bit pushy and one friend reportedly almost gave one inconsiderate female a (pardon the expression) "cunt punch."

Aries was first and went on promptly at 7.  I last saw them opening for Symphony X a while ago. They seemed to have some lineup changes (different drummer, minus a guitarist). I think the additional guitarist would have given them a fuller sound, particularly for the covers they chose (Maiden, Priest)- they still sounded good, but just not as powerful as they should have been. Minus this, the originals and covers came off without a hitch- a pretty strong opener (despite not many people being there in time :/).  Their sound is more of a hard rock rather than metal one- I think a lighter White Wizzard is what came to mind after a bit of thinking- straight ahead songs, throw some solos and soaring vocals and solid rhythm section and you're there! Toss a power ballad and it would fit right in!  There were a bit of sound issues, I wasn't sure if things were still getting dialed in, but at some points the bass would be too loud, muffling the vocals a little bit. It was odd, when isolated, each instrument sounded pretty great -drumming in particular on the "Dogs of War" was pretty intense, the solos were pretty crisp, and the vocals wailing. But like I mentioned before- at some parts things didn't seem like they were mixed as well as they should have been.

Their frontman Robert is like a cross between Meatloaf and Geoff Tate (minus the phone throwing)- stage presence and an amazing voice. I think the guitarist Sean studied the Priest video a LOT because I am pretty sure I've seen all those rock moves before (not a complaint), to go along with his solo filled performance. I think they threw in some classic metal covers for this more metallic show, to make them meld a bit more (similar to how Metanium did  at the Suffocation show recently). The crowd that was there seemed to be pretty receptive as their set went on.  I think they play more Baltimore area shows, so this one seemed a bit of an odd pairing.  I am looking forward to seeing them (perhaps with another guitarist) again.

Down Society was on next, but I only heard a little bit of a couple songs- I think I was distracted in the Alchemy Room. I can't say much other than their band included a busty female singer in a corset (not sure how she didn't fall out of it from her rock moves) and a guitarist w/ a bandana. I think I should have gone and listened to at least one song :/ (inconclusive)

I think Shadow Moses was on after that, based on the billed Sin 4 Sin and Gi9 not playing (S4S was there but didn't play due to some sickness I think, Gi9 was actually another show)- all according to bookface. I heard a bit of one song (lyrics included "Go to hell!"), but something was not quite right. I dunno what was going on, but things did not sound right, a bit out of tune even. I couldn't take much more of it (could have been some not good mixing like before, I couldn't tell).  Another thing to note, they got their name from Metal Gear Solid, not the apparent Between the Buried and Me song (just try googling these guys argh).  (inconclusive)

Ghost of War from PA was up next. Saw them last year put on a solid set before Ripper Owens. They played mostly originals and then a damngood Dream Theater cover.  They sounded better than last time (and they were very good then)- with maybe some muffled parts (sound issues?). The big boned singer wailed his sizable lungs out and encouraged the crowd to have a great time all thruout the set. Their older looking guitarist gave no one any doubt about his chops. Near the end of their set, their merch girl took the stage to toss out Jägermeister swag. I was discussing with a friend that it's a bit odd that I don't think they are signed, but they are endorsed by Jägermeister somehow. These guys easily put on the 2nd most professional performance tonight- nothing really to complain about except that some vocals were occasionally muddy. High energy, quality performance, got totally pumped after their set. Except for that we had thought they would be direct support for Metal Church- but there was one more band.

Martyrd, from New York, was actually next- I had not seen any advertizing about them being on this tour. That, along with other bands not playing, made things a bit strange.  Regardless, I wanted to hear these guys, being direct support. I heard their first 2 songs, and they also had some sound issues- I couldn't really hear the vocalist very well.  They basically sounded like Death Angel, but kind of just generic fast thrashy songs.  I looked them up later and they seem to have a different sound than that.  I think I just wanted to hear Metal Church at that point, and the (to me) generic sounding first two songs really didn't hold my attention. I will say that the frontman reminded me of the energy, build, and long hair of the vocalist of A Cab Ride Home. He was pretty intense, which made his performance very interesting to watch. I wanted to like them, partially because about 1/2 of them looked to be Hispanic/dark (also another reason why I was thinking Death Angel Jr.), but I don't think I heard enough to decide one way or another. The crowd seemed to be OK with them (inconclusive)

Finally, around 11, the service for Metal Church begun.  Ronnie Munroe, Kurt Vanderhoof, Jeff Plate(not to be confused with Geoff Tate, wow second reference)- drummer who played with Savatage, and then a bassist who looked like Bruce Kulick, and anther guitarist rolled out to some pretty nice cheering. The first song hit like a ton of bricks, then they started the fire for generation nothing. They kept us in the dark, but showed a small light in the dark- a fake healer. Then in the badlands, the gods of wrath hung out in dead city, while we watched the children pray. Then, beyond the black, we could see the metal church, with their human factor. Then they played their sped up "Highway Star" cover- which was a bit maddening because the guitars were buried for that song, and the solos were so muffled I almost became fussy.  Pits broke out during the new songs ("...Nothing", "Dead City"), "Beyond the Black", and "Highway Star."  One patron was leaning back, wobbling, and so drunk they had one security staff member make him put his shirt back on and him from falling over.

This was the first time for me seeing Metal Church, and I'd def come back to sit in the metal pew again. Musically, Ronnie and Kurt and co. sounded pretty great.  The setlist was mainly from their first three (one from 4th), a couple of "A Light in the Dark," and a couple from their latest album. I was surprised at hearing only 2 from their latest- which they were half heartedly trying to promote. I liked it and wouldn't have minded hearing another one off of it. I def am not complaining about the set, because it was pretty great to me!  After the show, they did come out to take pictures and such, 
looking at the photos from other friends (maybe I should have stayed a bit longer argh). 

My favourite was hearing Metal Church play "Metal Church" off of their album 'Metal Church' in front of a banner that says Metal Church (and a drum kit that says Metal Church).

Also to note today was that when you got a Sam Addams (thanks Dave!), you got a free ticket to the apparently not-that-well-selling Texas Hippie Coalition show on April 1 (unless the ticket was an elaborate April Fool's Joke). AWKWARD.

Overall, a kind of slow start, but a pretty fun show. I do think I should have done a little less socializing and have tried to listen to the two bands I really didn't hear a bit more.   Other than that, it was a fun time with friends (and some new ones!) and mostly great bands.

Next Show: Queensryche (Tateryche) w/ Hurricane , Destruction, or black metal extravaganza in Hyattsville

Ghost of War
Metal Church
The Church 
metal Church sermon
Metal Church hat


Aries (7- 7:25)
  • Flight of Icarus (Iron Maiden cover)
  • Dogs of War
  • Beware the Gun
  • You Got Another Thing Comin' (Judas Priest cover)
  • The Road

Ghost of War (9- 9:30)
  • Only Death is Real
  • Heavens Burning
  • Falling Into Eternity
  • Beautiful Lies
  • Pull Me Under (Dream Theater cover)

Martyrd (9:52- 10:28)
  • ?
  • ?

Metal Church (11- 12:25)
  • Ton of Bricks
  • Start the Fire
  • Generation Nothing
  • The Dark
  • A Light in the Dark
  • Fake Healer
  • Badlands
  • Gods of Wrath
  • Dead City
  • Mirror of Lies
  • Watch the Children Pray
  • Beyond the Black
  • Metal Church
  • The Human Factor
  • Highway Star  (Deep Purple cover)

update: corrected a name, added Metal Church Sentence, revised Aries song name