Max & Iggor Cavalera, Warbringer, and Healing Magic at The Vogue, Indianapolis, June 6th 2022

Heavy metal giants Max & Iggor Cavalera brought their show to Broad Ripple on Monday. The feature act was neo-thrash metallers Warbringer and Healing Magic opened the show.

Healing Magic is a duo from Arizona comprised of Igor Amadeus Cavalera on guitar and vocals and Johnny Valles on drums. It is amazing, truly incredible in fact, that such a full and complete sound can be created live by only two people. Roaring psychedelic riffs and astonishing percussion filled the club and got the crowd whipped up for the evening ahead. I have seen two-man acts before, but none could hold a candle to Healing Magic.

Veteran thrashers Warbringer held the middle slot. Formed in 2004, Warbringer has an impressive catalogue of albums in their canon and a formidable roster of metal musicians who line the stage every night and deliver stunning performances. Front man John Kevill stalked the stage and the pit and the crowd, becoming one with the concert-goers and making the night one they would remember all summer. The hard-driving attack of the guitars along with the steady rhythm section and searing percussion had the house speakers swaying.

Max and Iggor Cavalera are luminaries in the heavy music world. Remembered first as stalwart members of Sepulchura, they continued to create new and compelling music without pause after their departure from that iconic band. As Cavalera Conspiracy, they released four riff-filled albums in ten years. Operating now as Max & Iggor Cavalera, they continue to answer the call from the legion of their fans.

On Monday at The Vogue they played Beneath The Remains and Arise straight through, and a couple of bonus tunes at the end. This tour is a celebration of the early days of Sepultura. Being there to hear it live again was an amazing experience. The influence and lasting impact of that band cannot be overstated. This tour will help keep the music alive.

The links below will connect you to more information on the bands and to photo galleries of Healing Magic and Warbringer for more snaps from the show. There are many dates remaining on the tour. Grab a ticket and go.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Max & Iggor Cavalera, https://cavaleraconspiracy.bandcamp.com/

Warbringer, https://warbringer.bandcamp.com/

Warbringer photo gallery at FFMB, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/06/11/photo-gallery-warbringer-at-the-vogue-indianapolis-june-6th-2022/

Healing Magic, https://www.facebook.com/healingmagicaz

Healing Magic photo gallery at FFMB, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/06/12/photo-gallery-healing-magic-at-the-vogue-indianapolis-june-6th-2022/

The Vogue, https://thevogue.com/calendar/

© Wayne Edwards

Max & Iggor Cavalera, Warbringer, and Healing Magic at The Vogue, Indianapolis, June 6th 2022

Gwar, The New Dark Ages (Pit Records 2022)

The mighty Gwar has returned to scorch the earth once again with their 15th album, The New Dark Ages.

Richmond, Virginia monstrosities of metal, Gwar, entered the universe in 1984. Prophetic year, wouldn’t you say? These costumed warriors have been entertaining fans with punk, hard rock, and metal music, and especially their stage performances, all these years. There have been changes along the way, including the devastating loss of founding member Dave Brockie in 2014. Through it all they have never faltered, and they continue now as strong as ever on the Black Death Rager World Tour.

What’s this band all about, you might wonder, if somehow you’ve never come across them before. Here is a snip of the bio from their Metal Blade Records page that will catch you up. “The story of GWAR is carved across the history of this barren and hopeless planet, but GWAR themselves are not of this world … their story begins in the deepest reaches of outer space. Long ago, the beings who would become the rock band GWAR were part of an elite fighting force, the Scumdogs of the Universe. For eons, they served as thralls to a supreme being known only as the Master. But one by one, each future member of the band earned a glaring reputation for being an intergalactic fuck-up. And so, they were banished, sent away on a fool’s errand to conquer an insignificant shitball floating in a dark corner of the universe: the planet Earth. Once here, GWAR shaped the face of the globe, destroying and rebuilding the natural world, and giving rise to all of human history. Aliens to some, gods and demons to others, our erstwhile Scumdogs fucked apes to create the human race, and this fateful unplanned pregnancy would prove to be truly disastrous!”

OK, but there is more. Each album is a new story with more adventures. The narrative thread to The New Dark Ages is even detailed in an illustrated missive. “The album concept is tied to a companion graphic novel, GWAR In the Duoverse of Absurdity, which will also be released by Z2 Comics on June 3rd. In the graphic novel the band are sucked off into an alternate universe to do battle with their evil twins and the specter of rogue technology.”

Besides the long arc of the album, each song has a story. “Berserker Mode,” for example. This is what the lead singer himself has to say about the song. “This is my origin story, about transforming into a drug-jacked unpredictable liability on the battlefield. But like me, it has a softer side, a tale of the struggle of becoming my authentic self…a sexy, multi-donged, vajazzzled, Viking cow beast known as…The Berserker Blóthar!!”

Never at a loss for words, Blóthar has this to say about “Motherfucking Liar,” one of my favorite tracks on the album. “This song is for anybody who’s sick of all the pieces of shit talking out of both sides of their mouth. Motherfuck a motherfucking liar.” Were truer words ever spoken? You decide.

There are thirteen songs on the album altogether, including the final epic “Death Whistle Suite.” It is rousing metal that can be used to get your adrenaline flowing, or can be a model for the way you live your life. Heh heh, maybe that live-your-life approach is not such a great idea. Either way, the music is filled with satire and loaded with great riffs and hooks. It is definitely engaging and entertaining.

You can listen to Gwar and take the middle ground. Some people could, anyway. When you see them live, however, you are either in or out because you cannot escape their overwhelming presence on the stage. Neither can you elude the lavishly shared fluids. For my part, count me in. Recommended.

The New Dark Ages is out now through Pit Records. You can get it just about anywhere, and hear it through the usual services. Put it in the queue on your way to their show, because live is the best way to experience Gwar.

Live photos by Wayne Edwards, Piere’s Entertainment Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2022.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://gwar.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://gwar.net/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gwar

© Wayne Edwards

Gwar, The New Dark Ages (Pit Records 2022)

Michael Schenker Group, Universal (Atomic Fire 2022)

Michael Schenker Group follows up last year’s album Immortal with the new studio record, Universal.

If Michael Schenker doesn’t have legendary status in rock and roll then nobody does. He was one of the earliest members of the Scorpions and, past-group-wise, he is probably most frequently remembered for his work with U.F.O. But really, after all this time, he is best known for being Michael Schenker and for the group that bears his name. A tireless purveyor of riff and hook and melody, Schenker is on the short list of iconic rock guitarists. Along with Michael Schenker on guitar, of course, the band for the new album is Ronnie Romero (vocals), Bodo Schopf (drums), Steve Mann (keys, guitar), and Barend Courbois (bass).

The set starts out dramatically with “Emergency,” offering a tense riff and a warning structure. The vocals are melodic and urging, and the guitar lead is an excellent probing, exploring ranger that emerges from a classical underpinning. “Under Attack” keeps the tone but slows a touch. Sporting a memorable chorus, it is the guitar again that seals the deal.

“Calling Baal” is an intro piece for “A King Has Gone,” a song that pays tribute to Ronnie James Dio. In particular, you can hear Rainbow in these pieces, and to show even more respect, Tony Carey, Bobby Rondinelli, and Bob Daisley – like Dio, all Rainbow alum – play on the sequence. It is worth getting the album just to hear this.

Other stand-out tracks for me include “Wrecking Ball,” a growling road tune, and “Sad Is The Song” because it has such a great build and wondrous guitar work. This album is another exceptional effort by the Michael Schenker Group. They are on tour right now so make sure you go out and see them. I know I will. Recommended.

Universal is out today, Friday, May 27th through Atomic Fire Records on digital, CD, vinyl, and earbook. You can get it just about anywhere.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://michaelschenkergroup.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://michaelschenkerhimself.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MichaelSchenkerRocks

Atomic Fire Records, https://label.atomicfire-records.com/project/michael-schenker/

© Wayne Edwards

Michael Schenker Group, Universal (Atomic Fire 2022)

Halestorm, Back From The Dead (Atlantic 2022)

The new album from Halestorm will help you shake off ghosts of the past: Back From The Dead.

Halestorm is a hard rock band with an alt rock approach that includes elements of metal, grunge, and beyond. Their self-titled album came out more than ten years ago and aroused immediate widespread interest. Growing in popularity steadily over the years, their most recent album, Vicious (2018), set the high water at the time. For me, Back From The Dead is even better. Halestorm is Lzzy Hale (vocals, guitar), Arejay Hale (drums), Joe Hottinger (guitar), and Josh Smith (bass).

Any chance to see Halestorm is one you can’t let go by. I last saw them at Aftershock just before the pandemic and they were absolutely great. They are all energy, intensity, and fun in a hard-edge rock setting. There might be a couple other bands in this lane but there is only one Halestorm.

The title track kicks things off and it is a heavy player. Powerful guitars and Lzzy Hale’s soulful voice combine for rock and roll perfection. I am expecting to hear this one a lot as summer comes on. It is an excellent set opener for live shows and a good radio call as well. “Wicked Ways” seesaws in next with a gruffer leading edge. “Strange Girl” has a sinisterly playful tinge to it with an effervescent aggression that cannot be ignored.

The harder rock songs are the ones I think of first but of course there are a lot of different things to hear on the album. “The Steeple” is the second single from the record, and it is filled with stadium vibes and an eminently singable chorus, and “Terrible Things” is a thought-provoking ballad. “I Come First” is a gritty declaration and “Psycho Crazy” is a ferocious pushback. And then there is “Raise Your Horns,” which, from the title, sounds like it would speaks for itself, but it is not what you might expect.

Fans of Halestrom are going to be glad for this new one. It compares well to their earlier albums, and this one is more fervent, I would say, very vibrant. Recommended.

Out now through Atlantic Records, you can get Back From The Dead anywhere. And you should. Links below.

Live photos by Wayne Edwards at Aftershock 2019.

Links.

Halestorm Store, https://store.halestormrocks.com/

Halestorm Website, https://www.halestormrocks.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/halestormrocks

Atlantic Records, https://www.atlanticrecords.com/halestorm

© Wayne Edwards

Halestorm, Back From The Dead (Atlantic 2022)

Motor Sister, Get Off (Metal Blade 2022)

Motor Sister is back with a dozen original tracks on the band’s second album, Get Off.

If you haven’t heard who Motor Sister is yet, this line-up will be an eye-opener: Jim Wilson (vocals, guitar), Scott Ian (guitar), Pearl Aday (vocals), Joey Vera (bass), and John Tempesta (drums). Name those bands! Originally formed as a tribute band playing a special set of Mother Superior music, they released an album of just such covers in 2015 called Ride. The band sometimes calls the music they play “no bullshit hard rock and roll” and that label does indeed fit. The new album follows this course with twelve original tracks and one cover to put a bow on it.

Most of the songs are up-tempo rushes that will flush your face with nostalgia. Witness the opener, “Can’t Get High Enough.” That one goes right along with the cover art, doesn’t it? Charging guitar, great hooks, and the incredible pairing of two fantastic rock voices is a recipe for success. You can tear another one of those off for me any time and I will be ready to listen to it. “Coming For You” follows hot on its heels, and it is a blood boiling fever maker. There is speed and energy here, more than enough to go around; enough to spare.

There is a ballad on the album, “Sooner Or Later,” in the frame hard rock bands used to make them in. And there is an introspective song, “Pain.” Slower pieces are more than balanced with ragers, like “Excuse Me, Your Life Is Exposed” and “Bulletproof.” And anyway, who wants an album that sounds all the same. There is a compelling variety of compositions on the record, all of it sounding like an unearthed treasure trove of music you have never heard before that fits like a glove. The only question I have is: When does the tour start? Recommended.

You can get your hands on Get Off starting Friday, May 6th from Metal Blade Records. Examine your options at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://motorsister.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/motorsister

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/motorsister/

© Wayne Edwards

Motor Sister, Get Off (Metal Blade 2022)

Paddy and the Rats, From Wasteland To Wonderland (Napalm Records 2022)

Pirate polka punks Paddy and the Rats hit the high seas again for new adventures on From Wasteland To Wonderland.

Formed around 2008 in Hungary, Paddy and the Rats plays a type of polka punk you might expect to hear from Irish exile bands, with a specific and deliberate focus on a shanty vibe. The band is big, and it needs to be with all the instruments deployed: Paddy O’Reilly (vocals, guitar), Sam McKenzie (fiddle, bagpipe, banjo, whistles), Bernie Bellamy (accordion), Joey MacOnkay (guitar), Vince Murphy (bass), and Seamus Conelly (drums). From Wasteland To Wonderland is the band’s sixth full-length album, and it is the crest of the wave.

There are thirteen rousing tunes on the new record, appropriately beginning with “Wasteland” and ending with “Wonderland.” The opener is up-tempo and peppily scored with catchy refrains and a sing along chorus. The music is guitar driven, but there is so much more going on you can lose track of that aspect, and if you do it is because the rest is so enchanting. “Ship Will Sail” comes next in the set, and, if anything, it is more on brand than the first song. Truly, when I think of Paddy and the Rats, this is this song that will pop in my head first.

“After The Rain” and “Everybody Get Up” were released earlier as singles, and “Party Like a Pirate” was the lead at the street date for the album. The entire album is very much party music so that fits right in. There are a few slower songs, but mostly these are ale-pounding anthems. If you want to get in a good mood or if you are already in a good mood and you want to keep it rolling, this is the album for you. Recommended.

From Wasteland To Wonderland is out now through Napalm Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://paddyandtherats.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://www.paddyandtherats.hu/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/paddyrats

Napalm Records, https://label.napalmrecords.com/paddy-and-the-rats/

© Wayne Edwards

Paddy and the Rats, From Wasteland To Wonderland (Napalm Records 2022)

Brkn Love at The Vogue, April 30th

Brkn Love wrapped up their current tour this past weekend, including the penultimate stop at The Vogue in Indianapolis.

Brkn Love (฿ Ɽ ₭ ₦ ⱠØVɆ) has been on the road for the past few weeks supporting Badflower on an arc of shows that traversed a winding path, leading finally to the toe-stub stop in Broad Ripple on Saturday night. While lightning flared outside, Justin Benlolo and the band threw down their music with accustomed gusto to the swelling crowd.

My first time seeing Brkn Love was a couple years back at Aftershock in Sacramento. I was impressed by performance and the sound they put together. The music they play is hard-edged rock that sometimes gets labeled alternative. To me there is a classic vibe in it, updated and extended through the eccentricities and urgencies of the composers.

The tour has ended for now, so here are a few pictures to help remember the show at The Vogue. The follow-up to the band’s self-titled 2020 debut album can’t be too far away, and when it arrives it will be big news. Until then, stream the current single “Like A Drug” and think back to the last time you heard them play live.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

BRKN Love, https://www.brknlove.com/

Spinefarm Records, https://spinefarm.merchnow.com/catalogs/brkn-love

The Vogue, https://thevogue.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Brkn Love at The Vogue, April 30th

Nazareth, Surviving The Law (Frontiers Records 2022)

Legendary hard rock band Nazareth release their 25th studio album, Surviving The Law.

I could go on and on about Nazareth, but I have done that before in this very blog so I’ll try to keep it short this time. They are icons in the heavy music world, best known for the timeless album Hair Of The Dog (1975), they had many big albums and a few radio hits as well, like “Holiday” from Malice In Wonderland (1980). They played hard rock in the earliest days, and maintained a hard edge throughout even as the music lightened up a few notches and went through phases and evolutions. I have a physical copy of every album they ever released and, while of course I have favorites, I still pull from the entire canon when I want to hear Nazareth music.

When I started listening to them in the 1970s, the band was Dan McCafferty (vocals), Manny Charlton (guitar), Pete Agnew (bass), and Darrell Sweet (drums). Over the years the line-up changed of course, and now Pete Agnew is the only founding member still in the band. Agnew is joined by Carl Sentance (vocals), Jimmy Murrison (guitar), and Lee Agnew (drums) on the new album.

First up in the fourteen-track set is “Strange Days.” It has a gritty sound and grungy guitar line that is complemented by the ever listenable vocals of Sentance. It is a heavy song and great opener. “You Gotta Pass It Around” follows on a slower heel with a soulful lilt. “Runaway” hit me like a song from Loud ‘N’ Proud, and that is a good thing. Peppy and ever on the chase, this one is a great radio song.

“Sweet Kiss” is a great bluesy song that hooks you early and keeps you in its clutches. “Sinner” is a fast-moving rocking number that does remind you a little of Judas Priest (but not that song), and “Psycho Skies” has a feel to it that makes you want to hear it live. While the last song, “You Made Me,” is a slow one, ballads are avoided on this album. I was pleased by the pace, and there are many great cuts throughout.

I wondered before I sat down to listen to this album whether it would sound like Nazareth to me. I have gotten over Dan McCaffrey’s retirement and that was a tough for us long-time fans because his voice is iconic. No one else sounds like him. Once that idea is inculcated, you can hear Nazareth in the music. Long lived bands almost always change over time. We can, each of us, either accept that truth or not.

I don’t know how many more Nazareth albums there will be, but I can tell you this – Surviving The Law is a good one. Recommended.

Surviving The Law is out now through Frontiers Records on CD, vinyl, cassette, and digital.

Links.

Website, https://www.nazarethdirect.co.uk/website/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/nazarethofficial

Frontiers Records, https://www.frontiers.shop/nazareth/

© Wayne Edwards

Nazareth, Surviving The Law (Frontiers Records 2022)

Ruby The Hatchet, Live At EarthQuaker (Magnetic Eye Records 2022)

Ruby The Hatchet drops a 7-inch teaser – Live At EarthQuaker – anticipating a new album later this year.

Love at first listen is the way I would describe what I think of Ruby The Hatchet. The first music I heard from the band was Valley of the Snake (2015) and it sent me down the rabbit hole to find everything else that existed by them. The music is lush psychedelic rock, heavy and smooth and soulful. Jillian Taylor’s vocals are haunting and unforgettable, and the guitar-driven environment is one of a kind. The most recent long-player was Planetary Space Child (2017) and that one also still gets heavy rotation at the Shardik Media offices, I can tell you.

The new record has three songs. Two of the tracks are early versions of songs that will be on the upcoming album emerging later this year, and they were recorded live in Akron, Ohio at EarthQuaker Devices – that’s the maker of the pedals Ruby The Hatchet and so many other bands use for tone and effect. The third is a cover of the Uriah Heep standard “Easy Livin’.”

“1000 Years” opens quietly and has a steady build with endearing plateaus. The guitar line is a somber affair, urging drama toward the end. “Primitive Man” is a trippy number that lays on the smooth and rolls up a few rapid punches for you, too. Apparently, these are initial versions of songs that will be on the upcoming album, but they sound finished to me – more great Ruby The Hatchet music.

“Easy Livin’” popped up in 2019 as a stand-alone single. You know the song and, while you can probably imagine what it might sound like when Ruby The Hatchet sings it, the real thing is even better. It is nice to have this take wrapped in with the two new tracks.

Live at EarthQuaker is out now through Magnetic Eye Records in CD, vinyl, and digital. Ruby the Hatchet is on a mini tour right now, bookending with shows opening for Candlemass. See them whenever you can, and make sure you get to Las Vegas this year for Psycho Las Vegas as their performance is certain to be a highlight.

Links.

Website, http://www.rubythehatchet.com/

Bandcamp, https://thehatchet.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/rubythehatchet

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.net/us/Artists/Ruby-The-Hatchet/Ruby-the-Hatchet-Live-at-Earthquaker.html

Ruby The Hatchet at EarthQuaker, https://www.earthquakerdevices.com/ruby-the-hatchet

© Wayne Edwards

Ruby The Hatchet, Live At EarthQuaker (Magnetic Eye Records 2022)

Scorpions, Rock Believer (Spinefarm 2022)

Hard rock legends Scorpions have a new studio album out, Rock Believer.

I write a lot about the early days of my heavy music listening, but the hard rock avenue is one I have spoken less about. The three bands in this lane that meant the most to me back in the day where Judas Priest, Scorpions, and Thin Lizzy (they put out a couple of hard rock albums there in a row). Phil Lynott was lost first, and so Thin Lizzy. Judas Priest had a few rough years but they are still tearing up the stage today. Scorpions were more famous by far than the other two, and they had some killer albums I still listen to like Lovedrive (1979), Animal Magnetism (1980), and Blackout (1982). But really, it weas the earlier albums that made the biggest impression on me – Fly To The Rainbow (1974), In Trance (1975), Virgin Killer (1976), and especially Taken By Force (1977). I even have affection for the sometimes-maligned Lonesome Crow (1972). These first few albums were raw, drawn straight from the core of the musicians’ hard rock hive. The later albums are more polished and, as time went on, they became increasingly designed for a broader audience. To me, every album, all nineteen of them, sound like Scorpions music, and on that level I like them all.

After the mega-hits and mega-stardom, the world at large heard less and less about Scorpions music, but fans could tell you that the band continued to produce albums on a regular, but less frequent, cycle all the way through. It has been seven years since Return To Forever, so the universe is more than ready for Rock Believer.

The line-up is Rudolf Schenker (guitar, backing vocals), Klaus Meine (vocals), Matthias Jabs (guitar), Paweł Mąciwoda (bass), and Mikkey Dee (drums). Schenker and Meine, of course, go back to the earliest days, and Jabs has been there since the seventies. Mąciwoda seems almost like a newcomer, even though he has played with the band for nearly two decades. Legendary drummer Mikkey Dee joined a few years back after Lemmy’s passing saw the end of Motörhead. A formidable group of musicians if ever there was one.

As soon as the needle drops on “Gas In The Tank” you know you have stepped into Scorpions world. Layered guitars, catchy melodies, sharp leads, and the unmistakable voice of Klaus Meine, sounding fantastic. “Roots In My Boots” has the raw energy so much in evidence on the Blackout album, updated and refined, while “Knock ’em Dead” is a new creature altogether. There is a lot going on with the new album.

The singles released in advance of the album were the title track and “Peacemaker.” Fans have probably heard these already. The album overall leans a little more toward the “Peacemaker” kind of song with all its raucous energy. There are a few introspective, rock-ballad-type songs (and passages within songs) that serve to balance the music out – something that Scorpions have always been expert at achieving.

Nineteen is a lot of albums, but fans will always clamor for more. This one is a very good one. Recommended.

Rock Believer is out now through Spinefarm Records. You can get it everywhere. Check out the links below, and look for the deluxe edition with additional songs.

Links.

Scorpions website, https://www.the-scorpions.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Scorpions

Spinefarm Records, https://www.spinefarmrecords.com/usa/

Scorpions, Rock Believer (Spinefarm 2022)