Saturday, August 28, 2010

American Carnage

What's this!? Two posts in one day!? Has the Jolly Metalhead gone mad!? It is quite possible as seeing the combined awesome of Testament, Megadeth and Slayer would have that effect on a person.

The show was held at the Dodge Theater, a place I normally associate with slightly upper class events and for Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd shows. Basically it's not a venue with metal's best interests in mind. The sound is actually really good. In fact I normally wear ear plugs to shows, but everything except for the double kick bass drums were drowned out. And you can't possibly block any sound of Megadeth or Slayer. I believe that's illegal in 47 states.

The main issue with the venue is the lack of proper standing space. Sure they quartered off a 3x3 space in the front but everything else is occupied by seating. Even though I'm not a moshing sort of guy; I prefer headbanging wildly and admiring the musicianship, there are plenty of people who want to mosh. And if it's at a Slayer show it's mandatory, much like suicide.

During the approximate one hour wait for Testament, the theater slowly filled up. War cries of Slayer were heard and echoed. I do feel that most metalheads are fairly intelligent and Slayer does have some poignant lyrical subject matters, it's just that at a show with Slayer tends to bring the level of intelligence down to pre-civilization levels. I'm really not disappointed by it, rather amused. Where else would you hear someone yell out the band of night and have it called back to them? It would never happen at a Britney Spears concert. Nor a Dave Mathews Band show. Not even an AC/DC show. Most metal shows will have the headliner's name chanted just before they take stage. With Slayer, it's heard constantly. From the moment you pull up to the venue. To the time you depart. It's a war cry. A rallying cry.

Testament put on a great show. This was my first time seeing them and admittedly I'm not totally familiar with their discography. Having only the Legacy and Souls of Black, great classic thrash albums in their own right, I didn't recognize most of their set. Regardless, they were tight and it definitely pushed me to get more of their albums rather than slack off on it. Even my girlfriend really got into them and she's determined now to get them.

Megadeth opened full force with Holy Wars and continued on with the Rust in Peace album. It's really, in my opinion, the best thrash metal album out there. Hell, it's easily in my top 5 of all time favorites for music in general. The odd thing about that album is the style was never really hinted at before and never fully replicated afterward. It was an extremely creative time in Mustaine's drug addled pissed off world. Hearing it live was quite spectacular. The only gripe I had with it was Dave's voice just didn't seem up to the task any longer. That could be attributed growing older or the history of drug and alcohol abuse or even having an off night. Other than that slight blemish, the rest of the set was phenomenal if not predictable.

The line up is Megadeth's strongest since the quintessential Rust line up. Christ Broderick is a fantastic fit for lead guitar and I really hope he stays on for more than one or two albums and brings out the creative juices that Friedman originally did on Rust. He easily nails all the songs and I know he can come up with some creative and brilliant material.

After Megadeth ended their set with a call back to Holy Wars, Slayer opened up with a couple of their new songs, World Painted Blood and Hate Worldwide. The crushed intro of War Ensemble kicked off their Seasons in Abyss full album set.

What was interesting about their set was their minimal stage. Testament had a cool high rise with a gothic haunted mansion backdrop. And Megadeth went from a Rust in Peace back drop to an Endgame after the Rust set. Slayer's was just a wall of Marshalls. With some lights. They've always kept it simple and I think that's one of the reasons why they've endured for so long even if they have been musically conservative.

Musically the band is as tight as ever and Tom really didn't seem to have a problem singing, but then again other than the fast delivery, Slayer songs are hardly demanding. Other than the lack of a ear splitting scream in Angel of Death, he hit everything flawlessly. And speaking of Angel of Death, I don't believe it's ever been out of their set list since they debuted back in '86. And honestly, I don't think it could be a Slayer show without Angel of Death.

Overall it was a great, albeit, predictable show. But then again when you have three heavyweight long lived thrash titans in the midst and two of them are playing on of their classics in its entirety, you know you're going to be in for a great time.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Autobiographies Sell...but Who's Buying?

Today is the night of the American Carnage tour, Megadeth, Slayer and Testament, for Phoenix. It was originally slated for January, but Tom Araya had to get back surgery performed. Thankfully he's made a full recovery and I'm sure they will literally slay at the show tonight.

Also today Dave Mustaine appeared for a book signed at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. I had gotten there around 8:15am, after a stop at Starbuck's to wake up dead and get a little bit of sustenance. The line was only a handful of people at the time. Most were wearing the obligatory Megadeth shirts. Some had added to the ensemble by donning Megadeth tattoos. Everyone was friendly. Conversations were generally about what Megadeth shows we've been to prior. How awesome Megadeth is. The history of Metallica and Megadeth. And just general discussion about metal.

Mustaine wasn't slated to arrive until 10am, so there was some time to kill. I had brought along Boneshaker by Cherie Priest to pass the time. I got through a couple of chapters but ended up talking with some fellow metalheads.

We were eventually corralled into orderly lines determined by what letter we had which is based on what position the book was purchased prior. I was assigned letter G. I'm not sure how far down the alphabet they went, but the line moved smoothly. This was aided by the fact he was only signing the book and no posing photos were to be taken. At first it was no photography at all, but they loosened up and allowed photos to be taken up to meeting Mustaine and after. Just no poses. That part is a bit unfortunate as I would've liked to taken a picture with him, alas it is not to be.

A disheveled musician wishing he could just relax instead of pretending to enjoy the fans.

I got to meet the man who helped give birth to the thrash metal sub-genre. I had a few words with him, and shared with him an inside joke that I have with my girlfriend. He seemed like a nice enough guy and he has done a lot for metal, despite some of his rivalries and his downfall into drugs and alcoholism. Here's to one of the greatest guitarists and songwriters in all of music. \m/

I met Dave Mustaine. I'm more metal than you!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Into the Infinity of Thoughts

I'm not a big MMO player. In fact the only online multiplayer RPGs that I've played were Diablo, Phantasy Star Online (on the Dreamcast) and Too Human. Not exactly massively. I've been curious about EVE online since I love science fiction and that game seems to have a pretty good story and some gameplay mechanics but the huge time investment shied me away from it. Not to mention the monthly fees. Well I can probably just read the novel based on the game.

Unless an MMO based on Fallout comes out, I doubt I'll pick any of them up. However, this game, Infinity, looks particularly interesting. A space faring and terrain landing MMO that's supposed to feature a procedural universe and complete seamlessness between space and planet side. In addition to real time combat, unique storyline missions (no instances here!) and open ended gameplay, the small team of developers have a lot on their plate.

Even with their ambitious goals, they seem to have a lot going on. Hopefully they'll be able to keep the game going and release it at some point. The early videos they have so far are pretty amazing.