AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: SATAN @ The Garrison, Toronto, October 17, 2014

All hail Satan!  The NWOBHM cult icons’ original lineup reunited 28 years after the release of their seminal Court in the Act album and have since recorded a comeback effort, along with playing Wacken and whatnot.  But this was their first time in Toronto–probably in Canada, for that matter–and man, I dunno who they’ve got doing sound on this tour, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t just as good as the record…both records, at that!

Let’s just say I might have been too busy headbanging to take too many pictures.  I musta been possessed by Satan. ;)

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CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED: Satan – Court in the Act (Neat/Roadrunner, 1983)

We break from your regularly-scheduled King Diamond programming to bring you…Satan! No, not the Dark Lord Lucifer himself, but rather the recently reformed British heavy metal band, whose debut album, Court in the Act, remains one of the NWOBHM’s semi-lost classics. (And hey, comeback effort Life Sentence ain’t too shabby, either!) Just for the record, these guys aren’t Satanic, nor do they crank out concept albums about the British legal system …

After instrumental intro “Into the Fire,” the succeeding “Trial by Fire” cranks out a fast-paced piece of proto-speed metal, surprisingly melodic vocals soaring overtop. “Blades of Steel” slice and dice with some steady chuggage, though things get surprisingly slow and mellow for a little while there. “No Turning Back” is another vintage speedster, with a bass-heavy verse alternating between vocals and riffs. “Broken Treaties” ends side A with some speedy, soaring riffs, shades of early Maiden and mid-80’s Priest, though the vocal style is distinctly Satan.

“Break Free” opens Side B with a flourish, launching into a jaunty speed-metal romp that snaps skulls and breaks necks. “Hunt You Down” throws some stop-start action into a vicious chorus, another vintage tune that just screams “Metaaaaal!” Extended instrumental “The Ritual” maintains a brisk, galloping pace, not unlike Maiden’s “Losfer Words,” before the album ends with a bit of jailhouse humour. “Alone in the Dock” features a slow, plodding verse that builds up to a more mid-paced metal anthem. Many repressings mislabel this one as “Alone in the Dark”—much to Chuck Billy’s behest, I’m certain!

KING DIAMOND REVISITED: Give Me Your Soul… Please (Metal Blade, 2007)

King Diamond’s most recent recording actually dates back over seven years—this tour is actually in support of a two-CD greatest hits set that hits stores next month. Coincidentally, this record came out right when WWE wrestler Chris Benoit killed his kids and then himself…as it’s a ghastly tale of double-infanticide/suicide and the undead spirits that linger as a result.

Organ-backed spoken-word intro “The Dead” makes it clear these kids are no longer among the living, before “Never Ending Hill” picks up the pace, a pretty standard speed-metal opener that I swear I’ve heard on two or three different KD records already. “Is Anybody Here?” is a pretty decent piece of power metal, with a serpentine riff slithering throughout, while “Black of Night” finally sees King let loose his falsetto on a sword-wielding stomper without much fanfare.

“Mirror Mirror” is more of that slightly more than mid-paced stomp ‘n chug, solid but unspectacular. “The Cellar” actually sounds sorta like Dokken, with some very Lynchian guitar flourishes interspersed within a throwback 80’s romp. Whispered-word interlude “Pictures in Red” leads into “Give Me Your Soul,” only this time, King doesn’t say please on this rather stock stomper with a child-sung chorus. Maybe if I paid more attention to the lyrics, I could comment on the character development, but the fact is, this album isn’t all that interesting.

“Floating Head” only sounds like it has a guest riff by Dimebag, a staccato chugging that sounds sorta nu-metal. Kinda makes ya wanna snap yer fingers, snap yer neck… “Cold As Ice” also leans pretty heavy towards the bottom end, though this one’s more of a power-metal dragon-rider. Let’s just say the chorus is slightly heavier than Foreigner.

“Shapes of Black” actually begins with some old-timey piano trading off with the guitars, a meandering number that never quite moves away from the fun-house feel. “The Girl in the Bloody Dress” is also pretty synth-heavy, this one giving off a bit of a new-wave/gothic feel. OK, so maybe more goth than new wave. “Moving On” actually starts off like some new-age meditation soundtrack, though it eventually progresses to metal-ballad territory. That said, I feel like I mentally moved on six or seven songs ago…

KING DIAMOND REVISITED: The Puppet Master (Metal Blade, 2003)

Though this isn’t the best King Diamond album, it is the first to come with a bonus DVD, in which King explains the entire concept, for those who can’t hear high-pitched noises that generally only register with dogs. Suffice to say this is not a children’s story; but rather, one that involves taking souls out of people and putting them into puppets. So basically, it’s a love story—or the closest that King comes to one, anyways.

“Midnight” sets the stage with—no, not a spoken-word intro—but rather a brief musical piece with shades of doom that begins the show. The title track is more upbeat, trad-metal with a touch of Mercyful Fate. “Magic” is notably slower, with organ strains audible in the background throughout a pretty straight-ahead chugger that’s not without its share of breakdowns and horrific (in a good way) interludes. Call me crazy, but I think this one might actually be a love song…

“Emergencia” isn’t quite so kind-hearted, as it depicts the Puppet Master’s wife pulling a Patrick Bateman on some nomad vagabond, set to a rather eerie, slightly speedy backdrop. This one even features a female vocalist—and the future Mrs. King Diamond—in Livia Zita. (I guess the only way to get your voice on a King Diamond record is to marry the guy?) “Blue Eyes” opens with some haunting synths, played by the man himself, as he tells a tale of goin’ blind…or rather, getting his eyeballs ripped out of their sockets. Like I said, it’s a love story.

“The Ritual” is about as evil as its name implies, a doomy intro leading into a rifftastic attack, the sinister chugging again somewhat reminiscent of King’s original outfit, although the power-metal flourishes and soaring guitar solo are more staples of his solo work. Really killer chorus, too! “No More Me” has a creepy carnival vibe as patient King is torn limb from limb and turned into a puppet. Because how else would you present such a sordid tale than with a carnival barker’s take on metal?

“Blood to Walk” brings back the true metal with a staccato, machine-gun riff backing a sinister verse before an awfully anthemic chorus. “Darkness” is an eerie, doomy jaunt, with a backbeat that’s almost danceable, were the subject matter not about soulless human puppets ‘n shit. Suffice to say, “So Sad” is not a happy song, with the 80’s keyboards from hell leading us into a rather morose metal ballad, somewhat reminiscent of mid-90’s Tiamat…except in the vocal department. Did I mention that it’s a duet?

“Christmas” doesn’t bring much more cheer, as a sped-up, female-fronted take on the “Little Drummer Boy” leads us into another haunting metal disasterpiece, the darkest King Diamond holiday song since “No Presents for Christmas!” Finally, “Living Dead” ends things with some classic speed metal, complete with eerie interludes and a creepy-crawly chorus. In other words, it sounds like classic King Diamond…except maybe for the female vocals.

Episode 138 of Gruesome Tunes now available for download!

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10/12/14 PLAYLIST

Sadgiqacea – False Cross (False Prism) 10:24

Stone Axe – The Skylah Rae (self-titled) 5:16

The Cutthroats 9 – Hit the Ground (Dissent) 3:38

Secret Cutter – End of Sylvan (self-titled) 3:06

Comet Control – Master (self-titled) 4:57

 

Argus – Durendal (Boldly Stride the Doomed) 7:27

Earthless – Violence of the Red Sea (From the Ages) 14:46

Magister Templi – Master of the Temple (Lucifer Leviathan Logos) 6:01

 

Buddha Sentenza – Arrested Development (Alpha) 5:04

When the Deadbolt Breaks – We are the Wolves (Drifting Towards the Edge of the Earth) 7:22

Today is the Day – Outlaw (Animal Mother) 3:49

Rabbits – So Fake It’s Real (Untoward) 2:20

Banda de la Muerte – El sol salió del sur (Pulso de una mente maldita) 0:55

Iron Claw – Falling Down (A Different Game) 4:02

Black Skies – Earth Choker (On the Wings of Time) 5:17

 

Kylesa – Drained [Buzzoven cover] (From the Vaults Vol. I) 5:04

Ogre – Soulless Woman (The Last Neanderthal) 5:10

Denizen – Sunshine of Your Love (Whispering Wild Stories) 3:08

Earthen Grave – Death on the High Seas (self-titled) 10:31

Megaton Leviathan – Guns and LSD (self-titled EP) 5:03

Ape Machine – They Want You to Bleed, They Want (Mangled by the Machine) 3:05

2014 CFL POWER RANKINGS: Week 16

The nail-biting, last-second finish between Toronto and Hamilton was hardly a harbinger of things to come on Thanksgiving weekend, which saw three of the season’s biggest blowouts, back to back to back!  We now have a logjam out east, where three teams sit at 6-8, though only two will probably make the playoffs.  That said, I’d take either the Argos, Ti-Cats or Als over the Riders, with the way things are going in Regina right now…

Preseason Predictions

Last Week’s Rankings

Rankings Archive

1. Calgary Stampeders (12-2) Last Week: 1.  Idle Calgary got to enjoy its Thanksgiving turkey with a bye this week.  With the rest of their games either against the Bombers or the Riders, it’ll only feel like they’ve got a bye from now until mid-November. ;)

2. Edmonton Eskimos (10-5) Last Week: 3.  The Esks asserted themselves as second best in the West this past weekend.  By blowing out the lowly Bombers, Edmonton has guaranteed itself a playoff spot–not bad for a team that won four games all of last season!

3. B.C. Lions (8-7) Last Week: 5.  The Lions also laid a lickin’ on their Week 16 opposition.  And even though they were facing the lowly REDBLACKS!!!!, their 41-3 win was still good enough to move the team up a couple spots in these rankings.

4. Montreal Alouettes (6-8) Last Week: 7.  The Als put forth their most impressive offensive effort of the season on Anthony Calvillo Day.  Methinks they might wanna leave that 13-yard marker on the field for the rest of their remaining home games…

5. Toronto Argonauts (6-8) Last Week: 6.  Although all the other games were blowouts, perhaps the most impressive performance of Week 16 was put in by the Argos, who erased a 30-13 deficit with a 21-point fourth quarter, including a game-winning TD with just over a minute left.  Offensive MOP of the week goes to Ricky Ray, hands down, who completed 74 per cent of his passes for 431 yards(!) and three TDs–including the game-winning tally.  Don’t look now, but the Argos have won three in a row, and are very much in the thick of things in the Least Division.

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-8) Last Week: 2.  In this case, losing by one point drops the Ti-Cats four spots in the standings, as the rest of the East (aside from its perennial doormat) caught up to them this week.  It’s worth noting that for all their success at Tim Hortons Field, the Tabbies are just 1-6 on the road this season–something to keep in mind come playoff time.

7. Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-6) Last Week: 4.  With nine wins on the season, the Riders have pretty much assured themselves of at least the crossover spot.  Without any inter-conference games left on the schedule, it’s highly unlikely that Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton all win three of their last four contests–only the TiCats play Ottawa more than once.  That being said, if this afternoon’s result was any indication, the Riders should be an easy pushover for whoever finishes second in the Least…unless they somehow manage to find a quarterback between now and November.  (Hint: Kerry Joseph is not the answer.  This is 2014, not 2004!)

Last (tied): Ottawa REDBLACKS!!!!! (2-12) Last Week: 8 AND Loseapeg Blue Bombers (6-9) Last Week: 9.  Between the two of them, Winnipeg and Ottawa lost by a combined score of 82-12 last weekend.  And don’t think the Bombers’ three second-half field goals give them any advantage over Ottawa, either.  These are the two teams that won’t be making the playoffs this season–it’s just a matter of seeing who else will join them on the sidelines.

OK, so you’ll just hafta picture him in a REDBLACKS!!!! jersey…

KING DIAMOND REVISITED: Abigail II: The Revenge (Metal Blade, 2002)

You know what they say about sequels, right? They’re never quite as good as the original. And while it had been 25 years after Abigail when this one came out, the plotline’s protagonist is only 18 the second time around. (It’s also set in 1863, not 2002, for what that’s worth.) Basically, Abigail goes back to her old house, where she’s mistaken for her mother and taken advantage of. But don’t worry, the bad guy gets it in the end in a death scene worthy of Rasputin. Uh, spoiler alert?

Spoken-word intro “Spare This Life” sets the scene: Abigail is the demon-child reincarnation of the Black Horseman’s half-sister…or something like that. “The Storm” gets the album off to a proper start with some Judas Priest-style speed metal, complete with King’s higher-than-Halford falsetto, natch. “Mansion in Sorrow” takes things up another notch, with some galloping true-metal riffage advancing the storyline at a brisk pace, though the chorus strikes me as more 70’s than 80’s. “Miriam” is much more mid-paced, with a solid chugging riff for maximum fist-pounding action. Pretty sure this one’s an important plot point, as well.

For the record, the little girl’s voice on “Little One” is not King; though it might be the first time there’s been a backing vocalist on a King Diamond record. “Slippery Stairs” has a winding, unsturdy riff structure that could break your neck if you’re not careful, while “The Crypt” contains some haunting interludes packed into its pure-metal puree. “Broken Glass” has a power/Viking metal feel, sorta like Sabaton, but with more emphasis on the keyboards…and I’ll be damned if there isn’t a solid stoner-doom, stop-start riff that kicks in a bit before the halfway mark. Didn’t see that one coming!

“More than Pain” has some seriously bizarre deep vocals off the bat, and continues along a horror-ful path, with King describing the first part of a gruesome murder from a first-person perspective. “The Wheelchair” also shows shades of some beer-drinking band from Finland, its interludes offering a pagan-metal break from the chugga-chugga. “Spirits” borders on power-doom, with some Candlemassian riffs mixed into a concoction that predates artists like Atlantean Kodex and Argus, but treads a somewhat-similar trail, with King’s vocals blazing the way. And speaking of blazing…check out that fancy fretwork on the all-too-brief guitar solo!

“Mommy” is equally sombre, a bleak piece of horror-doom that brings the album to a conclusion…although there is a spoken-word outro, “Sorry Dear,” that drives in the final nail. Like I said, not nearly as good as the original…but far from the worst horror sequel I’ve seen or heard!