Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holy Covers

Stryper have always been a band who has hovered above the clouds playing songs in the name of the Almighty. Their “God”-like anthems and Christian ideals are worn on their sleeves. After 25 years of being the most successful Christian metal group; the band decided to descend below the clouds for a covers album celebrating the bands they grew up listening to while putting the Stryper flavor on it.

The opener “Set Me Free” is a fast one and Michael Sweet shows his vocal chops with a blistering scream at the end. The Yellow and Black Attack are not mailing in these performances as the fluid guitar solos in the middle enhance the song originally performed by Sweet. I also find this cover superior than the one Heathen performed on their first album.

Undertaking a song like “Heaven and Hell” is no easy task, but Stryper give their take on the classic with a fast solo section at the end on the song and a heavenly performance by Sweet on the vocal front. The song also retains its brooding atmosphere in the middle, with the slow buildup to the climax of the song. This cover is perfectly executed, especially because the perfect heaviness and drone of the guitars.

Another cover that was enjoyable were “Highway Star” with Sweet showcasing his vocal range and altering the verse notes a bit. The middle section sounds just as good as when Deep Purple penned this ode to driving and Stryper gives the song its due nailing the rhythmic changes in the song. The Van Halen song “On Fire” lets Oz Fox show his shredding duties by drooping the awesome guitar solo in the middle. While the band did not change much with “Carry on Wayward Son”; the vocal performance is majestic and the lyrics also fit the ideals Stryper promotes.

Unfortunately all covers are not created equal, and the covers of “Blackout” from everybody’s favorite Germans, and “Over the Mountain” from Ozzy Osbourne fall below the mark. For whatever reason, the boys decided to slow the tempo down of both songs and they both do more of a chugging then running along like the originals. These two were very disappointing efforts, but at least they had the glass shatter at the end of “Blackout.” A final failure is “Breaking the Law.” I wish they would have picked another Priest song to tackle because this is the cliché Priest song to cover and of course they do it. It is well performed, but the conviction in Sweet’s voice is missing like when Rob Halford yells “You don’t know what’s like.” Stryper then does it again with “Immigrant Song” from Led Zeppelin. Again, it is a fine performance, but they should have tried something else.

All is forgiven though with the final song on the album. This is the one original song found here and it is simply titled “God.” This track is the highlight as it is filled with soaring vocals, catchy verse lines and desperation in the chorus that is very exciting. The fast, double solo in the middle adds icing to the cake as this song harkens back to “Soldiers Under Command.” I can only hope this is where the band is heading with its future releases.

“The Covering” is a solid covers album that is worth checking out. “Set Me Free” and “Heaven and Hell” are wonderful renditions of two classic tracks. The performances themselves are fantastic and the one original song found on here might be the best song they have written in years. With this album, Stryper not only prove they have a lot left to offer, but that angels sometimes need a slice of hell too.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Welcome to Avantasia

"Dreamers come and go, but a dream's forever/Freedom for all minds, let us go together/Neverending ways got to roam forever/Always carry on" From the Gospel of Avantasia, Book The Metal Opera Pt. II, sec. Into the Unknown

Tobias Sammet could be described as an adventurous person. After all, gathering a bunch of musicians within the power metal realm and making a huge epic spanning two albums, while dubbing it “The Metal Opera” speaks to how motivated and how creative he is. The best part is he succeeded with the concept and the combination of a cool story, great cast, and memorable songs makes this a winner. The Golden edition of these albums further adds to the aura of the epic.

The albums come in a set shaped like a book with a surface that is supposed to be weathered like one has just found a relic. Blush golden letters adorn the front, but on the inside is where the extras shine. Inside are a bunch of pages filled with Sammet commenting on all the songs found in the opera and both acts of the story written out. Furthermore, there a bunch of pictures of Sammet’s mug and also with the band, and also an extensive interview with him talking about the guest musicians and the process of making the albums. The two extra tracks are a radio edit of “Avantasia” which is pointless, but a cool live version of “Sign of the Cross” performed by Shaman with Sammet is included.

With the packaging being exemplary, the songs have to match up with it. Thankfully they do as both albums bring strong power metal that will rattle you to the bone. The first part is the strongest of the two as there a wealth of favorites. From the lighthearted, uplifting opener in “Reach Out for the Light,” to the kitschy like song with a wonderful chorus in “Farewell” there are a lot of standouts. The last song “The Tower” features some intense vocal backgrounds that flows to a wailing solo with a strategic use of the violin. It is a great closer and is the climax of the first part of the story. It is also imperative to mention how marvelous it is to hear Michael Kiske on these tracks.

While the second part is not as strong as the first; it may very well have the best song and that would be “The Seven Angels.” This 14 minute epic boasts many ebbs and flows with a strong chorus in the first part to the scolding choirs in the middle, and then they have an uplifting piano output which would not sound out of place on a Savatage record. All the vocalists can be heard on this track too from Sammet to Kiske to Kai Hansen and also Andre Matos. The most sinister riffs are featured on too with the “The Final Sacrifice” as Sammet sounds as vicious as he ever does and “Memory” also has a great driving riff that will stick in your head for days. Another song worth mentioning is “The Looking Glass” which has a cool guitar melody and sounds like you just entered an ancient temple. Unfortunately, the ballad “In Quest For” is not special, while “Neverland” and “Anywhere” fall on the generic side and do live up to how special the concept is.

In the end, the operas are full of twists and turns musically and this is essential for any power metal fan or anybody who enjoys a huge concept with thoughtful vocal lines to wrap their head around. These records are certainly pompous, self-indulgent, and pretentious, but Sammet had a huge vision and it paid off. The mysticism is added with reading the “book” the albums come in and following along as the music plays. The extras added are worth the cost and plus it looks good. So sit back, and go on an adventure to Avantasia.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Epitaph? Not Really

Judas Priest

Venue:Quicken Loans Arena
Date: November 15, 2011

"A lonely grave and soon forgot/Only wind and leaves lament this mournful song/Yet they shout his epitaph out clear for anyone" From the Gospel of Judas Priest, Book Sad Wings of Destiny, sec. Epitaph

Metal forefathers Judas Priest are in the midst of their final world tour that they have dubbed “Epitaph.” While the morbid title gives a feeling of dreariness and sadness, the band is not coming to an end and their performance shows they have a lot left in the tank. The best part is they covered their whole 40 year history as they showcased songs from all of their albums (minus the ones with front man Tim “Ripper” Owens).

The set opened with the hammering “Rapid Fire”, which flowed right into “Metal Gods” both from the album where Priest found stardom “British Steel.” Rob Halford has been belting out the high notes for decades and he has not slowed one bit. He let out the most ear-piercing screams anyone could imagine. Just a like a wolf to the moon, the Metal God brought out the intensity to tracks like “Painkiller” and “Beyond the Realms of Death.”

Judas Priest also showed why they are one of the greatest metal bands ever because of their ability to write head-banging songs and also the fist-pumping, sing-along songs. The band pumped out “Heading Out to the Highway” and then followed it up with the screeching “Judas Rising.” Stalwarts in guitarist Glen Tipton, drummer Scot Travis, and bassist Ian Hill still had the vigor as if they were still in their twenties. The Priest stayed on fire all night and the stage set backed it up with smoke screens and a video screen to compliment the songs. On a closer look at the group though, one of the main members was missing.

Original guitarist K.K Downing left the band just before the start of the tour and a replacement was found in young-blood Richie Faulkner. Faulkner did not disappoint as he looked the part decked out in studs and was very energetic rousing the crowd to sing or clap their hands. The guys definitely found a great replacement to Downing. Faulkner brought his acoustic chops also doing a slower, more emotional version of “Diamonds and Rust”, which erupted to the electric outburst. The different arrangement to the song was very effective and one of the many highlights of the night.

After a whopping 140 minute set, Judas Priest closed the grave after reading their epitaph to Cleveland. With crowd favorites like “Living After Midnight,” “Breaking the Law,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” and the lesser known songs like “Starbreaker,” “Never Satisfied,” and “Nightcrawler”; any casual or devout Priest follower is sure to not be disappointed because after 40 years they can still deliver the goods.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Aces High

Ace Frehley

Venue: House of Blues Cleveland
Date: November 8, 2011

"Rock soldiers come/Rock soldiers go/Some hear the drum/Some never know/Rock soldiers, how do we know?/Ace is back and he told ya' so." From the Gospel of Ace Frehley, Book Frehley's Comet, sec. Rock Soldiers

Ace Frehley has just released a new book entitled No Regrets and this writer had no regrets seeing him in concert this past Tuesday. Lame jokes aside, Frehley has found new life after overcoming a long battle with alcoholism and his live performance shows he‘s still “got“ it. The best part is he played tunes to catch everyone’s attention from his KISS songs, solo songs, and some KISS songs fans haven’t heard live in a long time.

From the get-go Frehley was on a mission as he attacked the guitar with a spaced-out opener in “Rocket Ride” and then followed it up with the speedy and scrambling “Parasite.” The crowd was frenzied with Frehley’s stage presence and seeing him play the guitar up close. He also had the perfect backing band to suit him.

The three supporting members brought new energy to classic KISS songs and also had vocal chops to pull off some numbers. Drummer Scot Coogan delivered a great rendition of the bombastic “Love Gun” and brought the force with “Lover Her All I Can.” Bassist Anthony Esposito gave a devilish and more aggressive approach to “Strange Ways” from KISS’s second album “Hotter than Hell.” Newcomer guitarist Todd Youth gave a sterling performance of “Flaming Youth” and if there was any "Destroyer" song Frehley was going to play; one would think that song would be on the bottom of the list. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that track.

Frehley would keep the surprises coming with a rocking version of “Hard Times” from “Dynasty.” However, before that he proclaimed he would be playing a song that had never been played live. That song would be “What’s on Your Mind” from the 78’ solo record. Not to be outdone with that, he dusted off “She” and the riff driven song shined in the live setting. Old favorites still littered the set with “Shock Me” providing the electricity to the crowd and the audience clapped their hands to "2000 Man” which while a cover song; the lyrics kind of define the Spaceman.

The best part of this concert was hearing Frehley pull out “Rock Soldiers” from his first Frehley’s Comet record. The thumping and pounding drums makes this song an instant classic, and the crowd delivered every word. Hearing Frehley say “Ace is back and he told ya so” was awesome and a personal highlight. The other major positives was the band bringing energy and heaviness to songs of old like “Snowblind,” “Rip it Out,” “Shout It Out Loud,” and especially “Deuce.” Hearing the ending solo to the song live was awesome and they also played added a solo section to “New York Groove,” which Frehley changed to “Cleveland Groove.”

Without a doubt, this is one the best shows I have seen and it is great to see Frehley bring the goods and being back on track since becoming clean and sober. Near the end of the show he joked with the crowd “As Paul Stanley would say ’give yourselves a round of applause’.” Frehley was laughing as he said it because he knew that the statement is as goofy as it sounds. Rest assured I gave an applause, but it was not for myself; it was for seeing one of the greats on stage giving a performance one would never forget.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guns, Drugs, and Megadeth

“At thirteen I started down this path/fueled with anger, music was my wrath/Years of clawing at scars that never healed/Drowning my mind, the thoughts are too real” From the Gospel of Megadeth, Book Th1rt3en, sec. 13.


Since Dave Mustaine regrouped his baby in Megadeth in 2004, they have released a steady string of albums which has been seen as a return to form for the band since the majestic days of the 80s and early 90s. Their last output, “Endgame”, saw the band go back to their speedier side, but also strong songwriting which made it a great effort. “Th1rt3en” has a tough act to follow, but luckily it stands up to the groups name.

“Th1rt3een” sounds mostly like a cross between “Countdown to Extinction” and “Youthanasia.” There are more hard-pounding guitars surrounded by dark melodies that resonated in those releases. It is no coincidence either seeing as two tracks from those sessions made it on this album in “New World Order” and “Millennium of the Blind.” Both of these songs could be found on the “Youthanasia” remastered edition as extra tracks. Hearing these songs receiving their proper release is a great to hear, especially “New World Order” with its awesome lead guitar part before the chorus and the thrashing ending at the end, but I actually like the demoed version of this song better. A grittier, raw sound fit this song perfectly, but the clean version on here takes away from the destructive nature of this song. “Millenium of the Blind” has been built to a full song and the chorus songs like zombies marching towards slowly. I’m not sure if that is a good thing, so I’ll leave it at that.

The production on here is too clean, too polished. Everything sounds too neat. There is nothing that resembles the chaos of “This Day We Fight!” or “Burnt Ice” from the past two Megadeth albums. “Th1rt3en” could benefit more from a more dangerous, more chaotic sound.

With that being said, Mustaine delivers his signature snarl in the fashion everyone knows and love and hearing him rage about the injustices of the world, and the joys of driving fast never becomes old. It is wonderful to hear Dave Ellefson back in the fold because he just makes Megadeth be Megadeth again. His signature bass sound always held the backbone of the older releases. Tracks like “Public Enemy No. 1” and “Wrecker” relish in his grooves.

By far the best songs on here are “Never Dead” and “Public Enemy No. 1”. The brooding intro followed by the snarling riff are awesome. The verse passages and the chorus flow brilliantly and it has stuck in my head since listening. “Public Enemy No.1” resembles something from “Countdown” and has a great driving riff and Mustaine is great in the delivery of the vocals. Other standouts include “Guns, Drugs, and Money” which makes the listener imagine being in a Mexican action movie. The theme and rhythms of the song match perfectly. The other highlight is the closer “13” which is mostly a short biographical account of Mustaine’s life. The moody, mid-paced riff sticks through and is strong closer to this superstitious album. Another plug to “Whose Life (Is it Anyways?)” has a chorus that will stick in your head for days and the rocking, fast paced guitars meld with the fueled charged grievances towards people for not accepting who someone is or think they what’s best for someone.

In the end though, the songwriting is just not as memorable as “Endgame”. That album was going to be hard to beat, but still it is what it is. “Sudden Death” was taken from the Guitar Hero video game last year with blazing leads and solos, but it seems that the verse structures were just an afterthought and is a poor opener to the album. “We the People” is a politically charged rant with a flat chorus, but I suppose it is to resemble a political speech given by some candidate. However, we the people say this song is no good.

As a huge Megadeth fan, I am both pleased and somewhat disappointed with this album. I feel like the band has been stuck in neutral since “United Abominations.” While the band has hit a groove with solid metal tunes, I don’t feel that necessity to go back and listen to it like “Endgame” or the interesting and creative songwriting of “The System Has Failed.” I would like to see the band progress more in the future instead of relying on the past to illustrate its future. Overall, any Megadeth fan should like this and tracks like “Never Dead” and “Public Enemy No. 1” show the band still has the chops to be awesome. If the songs were stronger and the pacing was steadier then it would be a standout, but in the end, we have an above average, but not quite great Megadeth record.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Back on Track

Iced Earth

"torn asunder our destiny is in sight/this is the anthem to celebrate your life." From the Gospel of Iced Earth, Book Dystopia, sec. Anthem

Iced Earth has never been a band that could claim of having a stable lineup. After the release of their newest album “Dystopia”; I hope main man Jon Schaffer has found a group that will stick around for awhile. With a revolving door of members, it’s hard to imagine that happening, but anything is possible. However, new vocalist Stu Block brings an energy and fierceness to the band and brings the best of both worlds from previous vocalists Matt Barlow and Tim Owens. Lead guitar player Troy Seele utilizes some impressive lead work missing since the days of Randall Shawver.

While “Dystopia” is not a concept album, it has an underlying theme to it of resisting dominating government and to fight back against the injustices of the world. It is nowhere near the direct harsh criticisms towards the United States government in Schaffer’s side project Sons of Liberty, but this album instead uses movies such as “V for Vendetta” and “Dark City” to elaborate its point. All in all, it makes for a kick-ass heavy metal record.

Gone are the choirs, layered vocals, and the orchestral compositions that were featured on the Something Wicked saga. Iced Earth is back to sounding like Iced Earth and not Blind Guardian. Stu Block’s presence leaves a sneering imprint with his growls and piercing screams. He is also a great impressionist sounding like Barlow at times and with his deafening scream, he sounds like Owens. Its as if both morphed into one person. In fact, on the softer songs like “Anguish of Youth”, he has some Glenn Hughes come out of him in the verses.

Schaffer has been accused at times of ripping himself off and while the galloping riffs are still present; it sounds fresh and does not sound like a direct rip-off to anything he has done. “Dark City” is the best song on here because of the elongated solo section at the end courtesy of Seele and the aggression it has is remarkable. The last song “Tragedy and Triumph” is an awesome epic that has a very inspirational atmosphere to fight against the man and to stand up for what is right. It is a great closer and brings “Dystopia” to a proper end. The guitar solo parts are again really strong. It is refreshing to have good solos on an Iced Earth record again because they have been missing for awhile.

Ironically, it the fastest and thrashier songs that are the weakest. Both “Days of Rage” and “Boiling Point” are both short, to the point songs, but are given little time to develop. They are amongst the least memorable songs on here. It is also the only time where Block sounds too much like a tough guy and it is very off-putting. I can forgive that though because they are not even close to the worst found on the previous couple albums.

This is easily the best since “Horror Show” with its quality and having a running theme with the songs like on HS is awesome. I highly recommend buying the deluxe edition with the three bonus songs because “Soylent Green” and “Iron Will” are good tracks. However the string mix of “Anthem” is unnecessary and barely sounds different. The packaging is also stellar with artwork that fit’s the different songs and the poster of the cover art and the sticker are solid extras that come with the deluxe edition. If you did not enjoy the Something Wicked saga and were yearning for Iced Earth to get back to basics, then you will be happy with this record. Tracks like “Dark City”, “Dystopia”, and “Tragedy and Triumph” show that the band still have what it takes to bring some quality metal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Kind of Temple

Michael Schenker
Temple of Rock

“…I run but there’s no escape/ heading out for better days, lights all over me/ all that I do is hanging on…” From the Gospel of Michael Schenker, Book Temple of Rock, sec. Hanging On

The great guitar mind of Michael Schenker is back with an all-star cast in “Temple of Rock”. This was not released under the MSG moniker because this is separate from that band as this is more of a collaboration with some of the greats and some of Schenker’s old working mates like Pete Way, his brother Rudolf Schenker, and Paul Raymond. “Temple of Rock” succeeds not because of the great cast, but because this album has something for everybody.

Right away it scores points with the opening speech performed by none other than William Shatner. The cover art is something to behold as well, with a bust of Michael being set upon a temple. It is something that would surely make the ancient Egyptians blush. While sounding quite serious, it bombards to the first salvo of “How Long.” It is a solid opener with strong guitar work from Michael and basically sets the tone for what the album is going to be: heavy hitting hard rock. Fortunately, there is a bit variation for how they attack.

One of the stronger numbers on here is “Hanging On”, with its ‘keep on fighting’ mentality. It’s a bit inspiring in a way and the underlying keyboards are a nice touch while vocalist Michael Voss does a great job delivering the urgency the track is trying to project. This song sounds like something that could have been in a “Rocky” movie, and that is a good thing. The up-tempo, fast volleys of “The End of an Era” changes the pace up a bit and the keyboard and guitar solo duel harkens back to the greatness of bands such as Deep Purple. This is one the strongest aspects of the record because with 13 songs, no two sound alike.

The band shows their softer side in “With You”. The soft ballad is a bit on the cheesy side, but the beautiful guitar makes up for it and the vocal delivery by Voss is touching. The use of violins is also a nice addition and adds to the mood of the song. When it seems like the listener is headed to the softer part of the temple, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” kicks in full blast. This is definitely the most metallic track and former Rainbow singer Doogie White makes his presence felt with bombastic guitar and also an orchestral attack. This takes the cake for being my favorite song.

Unfortunately, not everything is crisp. With a lot of tracks, there is bound to be some missteps and there are. “Fallen Angel” is one of the few tracks that show little inspiration the standard rocking falls short of being interesting or good. “Scene of Crime” has loads of potential. A nice acoustic intro followed by some nice riffing, but the vocals do not catch on with. There is some weird background voice during parts of the verse and I can’t stand it. The final thing is while Voss does a good job and his rasp adds edge to the songs; I can’t help, but think that Gary Barden would have done a better job. He could have given these songs an extra character and he is a reason why the first two MSG records are excellent.

With that being said, this is a great rock record. Clocking in at just under an hour, the album does not hold on too long. Thankfully the all-star cast did not falter. The standouts include “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”, “The End of An Era”, and “Storming In.” Those three are also the most metallic songs. This temple is one I will be visiting often.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Look Back...

Iced Earth
Crucible of Man: Something Wicked Part II

“…I am the weapon that strikes in the hearts of man I thrive, feeding their fear with lies; I will devour I will divide…”-From the Gospel of Iced Earth, Book The Crucible of Man, sec. Divide Devour

With the dawn of a new Iced Earth album coming next week; let’s take a look back at the previous release “The Crucible of Man.” This is something I will be doing regularly with bands about to put out new albums. Anyways, this is the last album to feature the great Matt Barlow on vocals. He replaced Tim Owens after the first part of the Something Wicked saga and basically every fan received the news with great enthusiasm. It’s not that there was anything wrong with Owens, but Barlow IS the voice of Iced Earth.

While Barlow’s presence is delightful to the ears, the music falls flat. The whole Set Abominae thing was enough for one album, but dragging it out for a two albums is overreaching to some extent. I mean, the guy is a cool mascot and he looks badass on the covers he is represented on, but the whole story should have rested with the previous album. The album sounds pretentious from mastermind Jon Schaeffer, but I can look past that because Set is trying to take over the world…or something like that. There are big choruses, orchestral arrangements, and middle-eastern rhythms here. There is some epic stuff going on here. It’s like as if the Russians were taking over eastern Europe or the Civil War was on its last heels. However, it is apparent Set can’t inspire awesome, crushing riffs because there are not much present here and that is sad to say because there are a whooping 15 songs on here. Some are little interludes, but still that is a lot.

It might not sound like there much positives found on here, but alas there are! Barlow for one is wonderful, bringing character to the songs as only Barlow can. The opener “In Sacred Flames” is a cool opener to “set” the tone of the album (see what I did there?) “Crucify the King” actually has some decent riffing to it and is a major part of the story as I recommend this song as well. “Harbinger of Fate” has some arrangements that go back to the original trilogy and hearing the continuity go into the songs is a perk. With what the story is about; there should be much more aggression and thankfully “Divide Devour” provides that. There are finally some driving guitar parts and a sense of serious stuff going down. Overall, the second half the album is much stronger, but that is not really saying much.

The last thing to add is this would make an awesome to learn about in history class or some music class. Imagine learning about the great Set Abominae wreaking havoc on the human race because the of the way his people were wronged by the evil humans. Damn the human race! I feel like a total ass for being human now. Having this kind of revenge story should make for awesome music like when Iced Earth attempted to do the same with Spawn for “The Dark Saga.” Unfortunately, the whole Something Wicked story would make for a better comic book than an album.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dio Disciples Come to Preach

Dio Disciples

Venue: House of Blues Cleveland
Date: September 28, 2011

“…you watch their faces, you’ll see their traces of the things they want to be, but only we can see…”-From the Gospel of Dio, Book Last in Line, sec. We Rock

It is has been about 17 months since Ronnie James Dio’s death that shook the metal community. However, his spirit and the power of his music has remained as a new venture was created by Dio’s last band members to tour and play his music from Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and of course his solo band. The singers they recruited are no slouches either as Tim “Ripper” Owens and little known Toby Jepsen joined the fold.

The band was electric right from the get-go with an energetic performance of “Stand Up and Shout” followed by “Holy Diver.” The Ripper was spot on with his vocals and did made it look effortless. Jepsen made his first appearance with the first Rainbow tune of the night in “Kill the King.” Jepsen possesses a very good vocal range and did the Dio songs justice. To add the aura of the songs, Owens and Jepsen would shoot back and forth on vocals and sometimes one would do the harmony in the background. The Rainbow classic “Stargazer” utilized this and was one the highlights of the night.

Craig Goldy was on fire all night with the guitar. Having to cover Ritchie Blackmore, Vivian Campbell, and Tony Iommi is no easy task, but he was on spot and very impressive. Whether it was the fury of “Kill the King”, the prodding of “Egypt (The Chains are On” or the majestic “Heaven and Hell”; Goldy nailed it.

The rest of the band was awesome too. Veteran bass player Rudy Sarzo still erupts energy as if he was still 25 and the way he wields the bass is fun to watch. Scott Warren provided the atmospheric keyboards and gave the amp “Rainbow in the Dark” and showed the catchier side to “Long Live Rock and Roll.” Behind the kit, Simon Wright was a beast all night pounding away like a rabid animal and was in a heap of sweat when it was all said and done.

When you get down to it though, it’s all about the songs and the expected classics were there like “We Rock”, “Mob Rules” and “Rainbow in the Dark.” A surprising omission was “Neon Knights” and that only two Sabbath songs were played. A few surprises were also included like “The Shed (Subtle)” and also the overture and “Lord of the Last Day” from Magica.

The best one-two punch of songs was “The Shed” and “Kill the King” because not only are they amongst my favorite songs of the whole Dio catalog, but the sheer ferocity and actually hearing these songs live was a true privilege. With the Holy Diver cover draped in the behind the band it was clear they were going to deliver a heavenly performance. After 90 minutes, the Disciples called it a day and I am happy to say I am a follower.