Sep 102019


(Our Seattle-based contributor Gonzo re-joins us with another lively concert review, this time reporting on Iron Maiden‘s performance in Tacoma, Washington, on September 5, 2019.)

“It’s only gonna get better from here,” bellows a spry Bruce Dickinson, addressing the Tacoma Dome crowd while standing under a replica Spitfire plane. Dickinson and his band of merry men in Iron Maiden had just torn through iconic opener “Aces High,” complete with said plane dangling from the top of the stage like a marionette during the song’s entirety. This alone would be an impressive spectacle for any live act to pull off, but for Iron Maiden, it’s the warmup.

At this point in the band’s storied career, to expect anything less than this from Iron Maiden would be silly. At 61, Dickinson is as energetic as someone half his age, and Steve Harris and the rest of his bandmates in the indispensable UK metal crew aren’t far behind. Not surprisingly, then, would the band’s 2019 Legacy of the Beast tour be anything less than spectacular? Continue reading »

Sep 032019


(Our Atlanta-based contributor Tør was fortunate to attend the 2019 edition of the Beyond the Gates festival in Bergen, Norway (headlined by Watain, Mayhem, Emperor, and Abbath), which took place on August 21-24, and he provides the following thoughts about the experience, and a treasure-trove of his own wonderful photos.)

Beyond The Gates VIII has just wrapped up and I am back in my Airbnb room — the cool Bergen breeze is coming in through the open window. It has been one hell of a festival with all three days providing quality entertainment for all who were lucky to witness it. I have lots of things to say about the festival itself, the city of Bergen, the country of Norway, and the friends I met along the way: things about why Norway is one of the happiest countries in the world, how Bergen is one of the liveliest cities I have visited, and why metal has become such an international phenomenon. However, those are heavy subjects for my tired soul and best left for another time. For now, a brief overview of the last three days will suffice. Continue reading »

Jul 262019


(A Seattle-based writer who we’ll call Gonzo ventured to Denmark for the 2019 edition of the Copenhell festival, which ran from June 19th through June 22nd. Today’s post covers performances on the fourth and final day of the fest. To read about Gonzo‘s experiences during the first three days, go here, here, and here.)

According to a poll on Copenhell’s Instagram story as of 10:21 a.m. Saturday morning, 64% of festival goers are tired as fuck. I counted myself among them. With a good night’s rest and wearing enough sunscreen to make myself flame retardant, though, we set a course on the 666 express to Refshaleøen once again. If we weren’t tired by this point, we’d be the exception.

Today was the final day of Copenhell 2019. The executive decision to eat something healthy for breakfast, I think, ended up being a wise choice. More fried food was wolfed down at lunch, just as While She Sleeps were getting ready to rock the Pandemonium stage. When we walked in, we could hear Candlebox closing out their set with the unmistakable chorus of “You,” but that would be all we’d get of our hometown grunge rockers. Continue reading »

Jul 252019

BAEST – photo by Bransholm Photography


(A Seattle-based writer who we’ll call Gonzo ventured to Denmark for the 2019 edition of the Copenhell festival, which ran from June 19th through June 22nd. Today’s post covers performances at the third day of the fest. To read about Gonzo‘s experiences during the first two days, go here and here. The wrap-up comes tomorrow.)

After a rough start to the morning due to the sun’s fiendishly bright rays at a truly ungodly hour, coffee began replacing the hope of getting any more sleep. A risky endeavor, especially since the day would be pretty warm, and I am not built for the heat. My hope was that it would be cooler by the harbor at Refshaleøen, but we’d soon find out. Once more into the breach.

The unmistakable smell of barbecued meat and fried food on our way into the festival welcomed us once again. If I wasn’t busy watching bands today, I’d be rolling down the hill after eating my way through this place. Today would be the day I would eat several of whatever these “flying pancakes from hell” were. I didn’t know what made them special, but what I did know was that I didn’t want to have any other type of pancake ever again. Continue reading »

Jul 242019


(A Seattle-based writer who we’ll call Gonzo ventured to Denmark for the 2019 edition of the Copenhell festival, which ran from June 19th through June 22nd. Beginning yesterday (here), and continuing today and for the following two days, we’re sharing his entertaining stories from that adventure.)

I woke up and saw highlights from Katatonia’s much-hyped performance of Night is the New Day all the way through, and sure, it looked like a fun time. I also would’ve likely passed out and fallen over in a ditch somewhere in the harbor if I had gone, so I called it a win and cut my losses. Fuck it. The good news? It wasThursday morning, and three whole days of Copenhell were, at long last, only a few hours and a few kilometers away.

Jumping on the festival bus was easy enough for out-of-towners – the route number changed from its usual operating of “9A” to “666.” The quick ride to the harbor from the city center was full of death growls, beer, and very loud Danes. It was almost enough to make me pity the bus drivers in charge of this route, but they were dealing with the ruckus amazingly well. In fact, negativity just didn’t seem to be a thing in Denmark. You could really say everyone here was… hell-bent…on having a good time. (I also can’t promise that’ll be the last of my “hell” puns through the duration of this. No, I’m not even a little bit sorry.) Continue reading »

Jul 232019


(A Seattle-based writer who we’ll call Gonzo ventured to Denmark for the 2019 edition of the Copenhell festival, which ran from June 19th through June 22nd. Beginning today, and continuing for the next three consecutive days, we’re sharing his entertaining stories from that adventure — though as you’ll discover, the Day One coverage didn’t turn out as planned.)

Summers in the north are great, right up until you want to get some fucking sleep.

I pulled into Copenhagen at around noon, after the requisite transatlantic flight that forced me to stay awake for almost 24 consecutive hours because no way can I ever sleep in a pressurized fart tube at 35,000 feet. It’s been almost 7 years since I’ve been here – the last visit was basically a fly-by on the way to do completely stupid shit to my liver in Munich. So, my recollection of being here is admittedly not great.

Why have I returned, you ask? There’s a festival I’d been curious about for a while called Copenhell that happens every summer in Copenhagen, billing itself audaciously as “the wildest party in the north.” Admittedly, my partying days aren’t quite on the level they used to be, but like some kind of suicidal cat with a tendency to find itself haphazardly swinging from a chandelier after getting into the stash of catnip hidden on top of the fridge, curiosity gets the better of me a bit too often. And why not? I have long fantasized about going to a proper, full-on European festival, and the metal gods seemed to all but conspire this year to usher me to this magical place. Continue reading »

Jun 192019


Yesterday I wrote about almost everything that mattered to me about the recently concluded Ascension Festival MMXIX in Mosfellsbær, Iceland, EXCEPT the music. If you happened to wade through that long post, you’ll know that a lot of things mattered to me besides the music — and I think most other people who attended the event experienced the same extremely positive feelings about what surrounded the sounds. But I suspect all that enthusiasm would have been diminished significantly if the music hadn’t also been great.

Fortunately, it was. With very few exceptions, my own reactions to the bands’ performances ranged from pleasantly happy to wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and aghast in wonder. All that good feeling easily carried over into conversations with friends and new acquaintances in between sets, in beautiful surroundings and sustained by good food and drink. In turn, the fun of that camaraderie carried right back over into the music hall for the next set, in a kind of thrilling feedback loop. Continue reading »

Jun 182019


(It is Monday as I write this, though it will be Tuesday before you see it, as I agreed with Mr. Synn to post his own reminiscences about Ascension Festival on Monday. All the photos are my own, unless otherwise noted.)

I had a restless period of half-sleep on Sunday night. In part that was due to the sweltering conditions in my Reykjavik hotel room. The sun, which briefly dims in Iceland this time of year but never sets, had warmed it up during the afternoon and the two small windows were restricted in how far they would open, rationing the amount of cool air that could come in. I missed my second-floor room at the Hotel Laxnes in Mosfellsbær where I could keep the door to a balcony wide open, and all the windows gaping, and enjoy the breeze ruffling the gauzy curtains until the land of Nod fully took me.

But mainly my restlessness derived from the fact that I couldn’t shut off my brain. It was still flooded with memories of Ascension Festival MMXIX, which ended in glorious fashion at roughly 2 a.m. on Sunday morning in Mosfellsbær. Of course, many of those memories were re-playing the music that had bombarded and mesmerized the senses over three days, but an equal number that continuously flashed through my mind in that half-waking, half-dreaming state were of other aspects of the experience that had become just as indelible as the sights and sounds from the stage. Continue reading »

Jun 172019


(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of three posts we will publish in as many days about the recently completed Ascension Festival MMXIX, which took place in Mosfellsbær, Iceland, on June 13-15, 2019. These are Andy Synn‘s impressions of the event, and the next two are being written by Islander., who took the photos included here, unless otherwise noted)

As the title above indicates, I recently celebrated my birthday (all presents and donations will be graciously accepted), and this year decided to celebrate it in style by attending Ascension Festival in Iceland, where the brooding darkness and overall brilliance of the music was matched only by the brightness of the ever-present sunshine and the brilliance of the company.

So what you’re about to read is a few random thoughts about the experience which, while not totally comprehensive (although I made sure to see something of every band, I’ve decided only to write about the ones which really stood out), should hopefully convince one or two of you to join us at next year’s edition! Continue reading »

Jun 122019


(Our Atlanta-based contributor Tør was in the audience at The Loft on June 6th when the Devastation on the Nation Tour made its stop in Atlanta, and he provides these impressions, with his own excellent photos following the text.)

I have been looking forward to this night for months. The Devastation On The Nation Tour is in full swing, and co-headliners Dark Funeral and Belphegor are being supported by a host of bands including legends Incantation, HATE, Vale of Pnath, Nightmarer, and Malformity.

I make it to The Loft and have to walk up the stairs past some teeny-bopper event going on in the first-floor lounge area. Yes, I am a metal snob. I walk in the middle of HATE’s set, and Sinner’s vocals hit me like a brick. After a short setup, death metal legends Incantation take over the stage. With every riff and groove, I’m reminded of why this band has such a cult following. Incantation embody American death metal in the most imaginative way possible and I have a total blast watching their set. Continue reading »