'Alehorn Of Power VII' @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

MANILLA ROAD / HIGH SPIRITS / BIBLE OF THE DEVIL / HARBINGER / ANCIENT DREAMS

Date: 02nd November, 2013
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$20 (€15)
Promoter: n/a


DimK: The Metal shows market in Chicago is really tough, especially during the weekends where there are many lives/events taking place at the same time and that nice Saturday night was no exception. Still, the seventh edition of the ‘Alehorn Of Power’ festival was a strong competitor for claiming the lion’s share of the show-goers due to the killer billing featuring the epic metallers MANILLA ROAD on the headliners spot. Personally, I had some second thoughts about the attendance, but I was relieved the moment I set foot inside Reggies where there were more than 100 pairs of eyes watching ANCIENT DREAMS delivering their NWOBHM-influenced traditional Metal.

I am always impressed when I see young bands playing the nowadays called ‘old-school’ Metal. Yeah, in ANCIENT DREAMS menu there were MAIDEN-esque double guitar harmonies, solid galloping bass action and a very good singer who worked hard for his money. In fact, Al walked off-stage for a while and sang among the audience spicing things up drawing the attention of all those who were present but rather disconnected with the show. For the last three songs of the setlist I had the chance to watch I saw a well-rehearsed and confident band which paid homage to traditional Metal sound. The six minutes MAIDEN-epic long “Through The Ages” closed the half an hour set leaving the best of impressions for a band that clearly has the potential to grow. That was a real nice way to open the festival!

ANCIENT DREAMS

Ancient Dreams @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ancient Dreams @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ancient Dreams @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ancient Dreams @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ancient Dreams @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: I was unprepared for HARBINGER since I hadn’t done any research prior to this show, so I had absolutely no idea what the US band had in store for us and, honestly, the tongue in the cheek “Death Stalker II” intro did not help me at all. Anyway, there was an old-school atmosphere in their looks and attitude, so I dug my heels waiting for the real music to kick in. “Drivers To Hell” took the fun away with in-your-face guitar/bass action, the Speed Metal tempo and a Punk pinch that is always perfect for live shows. Yeah, this is the way to get the audience’s attention, although it was obvious that HARBINGER had some fans in the front rows. The band did not waste time at all and put the pedal to the Metal leaving on the side the chit-chat, taking fully advantage of the time given. Ok, the loud volume did not let me to distinguish the vocal melodies as much as I wanted but I definitely had a blast with the guitars while extra credits go to bassist Jason Tipton and drummer Sean Cyriis for keeping the rhythm section granite solid. The guitar leads in “Black-Hearted Woman” had that early MAIDEN attitude we all love and cherish, “Blood Of Heroes” was a good headbanger, while “Harbinger” dropped the set’s curtain with a bang as it was very much anticipated by the band’s fans who joined the band singing the simple chorus lines. Yeah, ANCIENT DREAMS and HARBINGER were the best omens for this year’s ‘Alehorn Of Power’ so I was very sure things would go uphill from there.

HARBINGER setlist:

01. “Deathstalker II”
02. “Drivers To Hell”
03. “Black-Hearted Woman”
04. “Dark Ages”
05. “Blood Of Heroes”
06. “Morning Star”
07. “Poser Patrol”
08. “Harbinger”

HARBINGER

Harbinger @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Harbinger @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Harbinger @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Harbinger @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Harbinger @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: Next on the billing was BIBLE OF THE DEVIL that happened to be responsible for organizing this festival and if you don’t know it, this is a really tough task, especially during these economically hectic days. There is a lot of stress and a lot of effort only if the promoters want to do a really good festival by respecting the bands on the billing and most importantly, those who pay their hard-earned money to get there. And for ‘Alehorn Of Power’ please tick both requirements without thinking much.

Anyway, this was BIBLE OF THE DEVIL’s first appearance with the new lineup after Mark Hoffman’s departure, so I had no idea how the band would be (and sound) onstage. All the vocals were taken care by Nate Perry and even though his singing was not that smooth, the entire band looked more energetic and kind of refreshed. Of course and I know nothing about the split, so I am just describing what I saw and how the setlist felt and sounded to my ears. The new-comer Chris Grubbs, wearing his shy face, did a hell of a job delivering with Nate the double guitar harmonies and I was pleasantly surprised watching the BIBLE OF THE DEVIL veteran helping the rookie to get rid of the first-time stage-fright. Yes, “Can’t Turn Off The Sun” sounded amazing guitar-wise and it was more than refreshing watching the four Chicagoan dudes having the time of their life onstage.

“We are not asking for a circle pit, we are asking for shaking your ass” added Nate as a short preamble for the THIN LIZZY-esque “I Know What Is Right (In The Night)” and it was fun watching many young ladies dancing and fist-pumping following the groove of this one. “Night Oath” and the super-hit “The Turning Stone” saw the majority of Reggies participating in the headbanging and horns-raising festivities, driven by the band’s onstage energy and party-like mood. “Thank you very much, it feels good to be back” Nate simply said right before “Judas Ships”, and even if I heard a couple of requests asking for “Ol’ Girl”, the BIBLE OF THE DEVIL boys hit us with “Yer Boy” and “Cocaine Years, Cocaine Tears”, ready to pass the baton to their fellow-citizens HIGH SPIRITS.

As I said, this was the first show with the new lineup, so I am sure there was a lot of stress going on, but everything worked out great. I think the band felt the same, so at the end Greg Spalding opened up a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion and flush the stress out of their system. Now, I am really curious to listen what this lineup is capable of doing in the studio.

BIBLE OF THE DEVIL setlist:

01. “Sepulchre”
02. “Flee”
03. “The Auld Dirt Road”
04. “Can't Turn Off The Sun”
05. “I Know What Is Right (In The Night)”
06. “Night Oath”
07. “The Turning Stone”
08. “Judas Ships”
09. “Yer Boy”
10. “Cocaine Years, Cocaine Tears”

BIBLE OF THE DEVIL

Bible Of The Devil @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Bible Of The Devil @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Bible Of The Devil @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Bible Of The Devil @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Bible Of The Devil @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Bible Of The Devil @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Bible Of The Devil @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Bible Of The Devil @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: As strange as it may sound, my first time watching a HIGH SPIRITS show was in Germany and I was very much impressed. I mean, the Chicago-based band had a strong response from the ‘Keep It True’ audience, something that was unexpected considering HIGH SPIRITS’ traditional Metal sound and the overall old-school attitude of the German fest. Having said this, I didn’t expect to see a great response from the Chicago audience, although the fact that HIGH SPIRITS were before the headliners was a strong indication that my hunch was wrong. And I am happy to say I was absolutely mistaken since HIGH SPIRITS were enthusiastically welcomed as they opened their set with the up-tempo and riff driven “When The Lights Go Down” totally skipping the warming part. The band was on fire and roamed the stage with impressive confidence, so I guess the European live dates had something to do with that. Bon Scott was the first to approach the front rows and did his think provoking everybody to join the onstage festivities. Spending most of the time in front of stage right, I had the chance to enjoy Scott Hoffman’s excellent guitar work who seemed equally pumped with Bon and Chris who is fronting HIGH SPIRITS in a way different way than DAWNBRINGER. Having those three gentlemen highly energized, Mike Bushur looked kind of detached, although his guitar-work was equally high-skilled and precise as Scott’s, so I guess it’s a matter of character.

The party was on from the very beginning and songs like – my personal favorite “Midnight Sun” – got everyone singing, fist-pumping and a lot of headbanging convincing Chris to say that this was the best audience ever. There is magic in HIGH SPIRITS hidden in the old-school feeling of the songs that are simple in structure but most effective in terms of vocal melodies and guitar riffs that – as I like to say – speak to the heart just like “Going Up” with a lot of singing along. “If you think this one had a lot of choruses, wait to hear the next one” said Chris introducing “High Spirits” that turned to be one of the many highlights of the night. “Don’t Look Down” was the last song of a set that felt like it lasted not more than 10 minutes… really, the time flew by so quickly, so I hope these guys will soon book a headlining gig and – why not? – play their entire songlist. Even if I had a great time, I have also one complain: why “Never Going Back” was not included in the set? If that happened because of lack of time, even I could not decide which song to leave out of this 'top-ten' setlist...

HIGH SPIRITS setlist:

01. “When The Lights Go Down”
02. “Full Power”
03. “I Need To Know”
04. “Another Night In The City”
05. “Midnight Sun”
06. “Torture”
07. “Nights In Black”
08. “Going Up”
09. “High Spirits”
10. “Don’t Look Down”

HIGH SPIRITS

High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) High Spirits @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: I cannot for the life of me think of a solid reason for never seeing MANILLA ROAD live. I am sure there were some chances in the past but it was my destiny to see this great band for the first time here in the States. Anyway, no one cares about my concert-going bio, so I will stick to the facts by saying that MANILLA ROAD delivered a solid-as-Hell setlist hitting us non-stop for more than two hours. Yeah, are there many +30 years old bands able to play such long setlists? I don’t think so…

Without bells and whistles, the Kansas-raised band took over the small stage of Reggies with the face-melting riff of “Masque Of The Red Death”. To my surprise, the audiences rose up to the occasion and greeted the veteran musicians with explosive enthusiasm. Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick had the lion’s share on the lead vocals leaving The Shark to do his magic with his crimson red guitar, especially during the solos that sounded amazing. Without stopping, “Death By The Hammer” hit us with an amazing heaviness seeing the youngest member of the lineup, Josh Castillo, following at ease the bass-lead rhythm section having Neudi, the crazy German drummer, as the perfect partner in crime. By the way, Neudi watched all the supporting bands from the front-rows and took a lot of photos, proving something everyone knows that he is still a fan of this music.

The clean guitar intro of “Witches Brew” brought along the Lovecraft-ian atmosphere or if you prefer the mysticism that MANILLA ROAD have in their music and then passed the baton to the distortion and the accompanying heaviness. I have to give kudos to the sound-technician for delivering the sound of the guitar as close as possible to the studio recordings as heard on “Only The Brave” that happened to be the first track from the latest MANILLA ROAD LP. Ok, Neudi started with the wrong drum-tempo but as Mark said “He is just a crazy German” taking away any possible awkwardness that an average band would have. “This is a song for Joan Of ArcMark said as a short preamble for “Divine Victory” that was also the perfect excuse for some mosh-pit action (love the epic vocal lines in this one). Apart from the short introductions, Mark, before almost every song, used to do a minimum talking, so the show was focused on nothing else than the music itself.  Hellroadie stepped off the stage letting Mark handle the singing and serve us with the hearty artificial harmonics intro of the strange-sounding “Cage Of Mirrors” that sent shivers down my spine as it switched from being melodic to ton-heavy and fast.

For “Necropolis”, Mark invited the original MANILLA ROAD drummer, Rick Fisher, onstage to celebrate the 30th anniversary of “Crystal Logic” making this night even more special along with some additional singing along. And this was the end of the regular MANILLA ROAD set and even though we were served with almost two hour of music, no one moved an inch and started chanting for “one more song”. Of course, the band returned and Neudi started a drum intro but Mark requested to do this a little faster until he reached the in-your-face tempo of “Heavy Metal To The World” getting Reggies back to the moshing business. The three-song encore saw everyone giving the last drop of energy that MANILLA ROAD consumed in an instance leaving everyone soaked in sweat but wearing the biggest of smiles and honestly, it felt very strange having Mark asking us if we liked the show… No, we did not like it; we loved it and we are already excited because the band is currently putting the finishing touches of the next album, so hopefully more live dates will be booked. I cannot stretch enough how moved I feel each time I watch such performances from bands that have been around for so long, but still work hard for their money. The moment a band stops thinking of the fans and stops bouncing back the love and the respect is getting from them it’s time to enter the retirement door. And for MANILLA ROAD, that time has not yet arrived and I am sure Hell will freeze before this happens.

UP the hammers and DOWN the nails!

MANILLA ROAD setlist:

01. “Masque Of The Red Death”
02. “Death By The Hammer”
03. “Hammer Of The Witches”
04. “Witches Brew”
05. “Only The Brave”
06. “Open The Gates”
07. “Divine Victim”
08. “Road Of Kings”
09. “Haunted Palace”
10. “The Ninth Wave”
11. “The Grey God Passes”
12. “Stand Your Ground”
13. “Mystification”
14. “Cage Of Mirrors”
15. “The Ram”
16. “The Riddle Master”
17. Guitar Solo
18. “Flaming Metal Systems”
19. “Crystal Logic”
20. “Necropolis”
21. “Heavy Metal To The World”
22. “Metal Storm”
23. “Up From The Crypt”

MANILLA ROAD

Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Manilla Road @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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