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

THOR / PROFESSOR BLACK / ARGUS / BIBLE OF THE DEVIL / THE LURKING CORPSES / SEAMSTRESS

Date: 12th November, 2016
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$20 (€15)
Promoter: n/a


To be honest, I didn’t think much to get to the ninth edition of Chicago’s finest Metal festival ‘Alehorn Of Power’, simply because the previous billings always delivered the goods. In case you have totally missed this festival, it’s of the ‘true’ type ones, meaning that it attracts all those obscure bands which – believe it or not – are still able to gather metalheads in the nearest venue(s).

The first band out for me was BIBLE OF THE DEVIL who is always present in the ‘Alehorn Of Power’ billings, since the band’s drummer happens to be the organizer of the fest. The attendance was really good but distribution of the bodies inside Reggies was titled closer to the merch and the bar, leaving a rather large gap in front of the stage. “Come up in front, so I can see all your beautiful faces” guitarist and singer Nate Perry said wearing a huge smile on his face but he already knew that the music would do the trick. And damn, it did! Setlist opener and hardhittin’ (love the double guitar action) “Flee” backed up with the loud and at the same time clean sound broke up the conversations and steadily started packing the front lines. Feeling the energy and getting first taste of the BIBLE OF THE DEVIL trademark this loud and clear made me quickly decide that this was the best set from the Chicagoan band I’d seen. Not that their previous shows were not as good but for sure were not this good. So, the party mood was on, and having two songs starting off the show back to back, helped a lot getting everyone out of the drinking and into the rocking... After all, this was a Saturday night out, right? “This is ‘Alehorn Of Power nine’ and BIBLE OF THE DEVIL still go strong after all these years” Nate said, while getting a loud round of applause as a response among the usual shouting / teasing from friends and fans of this fine establishment.

“We have the mighty ARGUS coming up next; they are so good and some of you may know this” was the short introduction for “Judas Ships” which was greeted with enthusiasm and even more singing-along; yeah, the band’s energy was definitely contagious. That energy pumped and definitely tight set ended on a high note with the BIBLE OF THE DEVIL hit “Hijack The Night” and it was extremely fun seeing people singing along (or screaming, if you like) with fists and beers in the air. Yeah, everything was back on track and in the festival mode, so ARGUS would play in front of a really warmed up audience.

BIBLE OF THE DEVIL setlist:

01. “Flee”
02. “Lord”
03. Legions Of The Oriflamme
04. “Downtown”
05.Night Oath
06. “Speed Of The Night”
07. Judas Ships
08. “Hijack The Night”

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) 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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When running a festival, it is really important to follow the time schedule because otherwise there is a very good chance for the headliner to run out of time facing the always present curfew. So, bearing that in mind, BIBLE OF THE DEVIL cut a bit their set in order to give ARGUS enough time to set up their gear before laying down their epic Heavy Metal with a touch of traditional Doom. Singer Butch Balich set up his DIY teleprompter (this was just a taped-on-stage monitor smartphone illuminating the handwritten lyrics), and after doing some final adjustments, ARGUS were ready to rock our socks off. The lineup with the two newest additions (guitarist Dave Watson and bassist Justin Campbell) kicked starting up the set with the galloping “By Endurance We Conquer” pushing the warming-up period aside. Damn, this sounded amazing! Yeah, ARGUS were in top form with Butch spearheading the show with his always killer vocals (the anthemic chorus helped a lot getting us in the singing-along mood). The faster and shorter than the previous “Boldly Stride The Doomed”, with the “Piece Of Mind”-esque rhythm section which I think has become an almost trademark characteristic in ARGUS’ music.

Once again I got shivers down my spine with the way Butch delivered the massive and epic “Durendal”. There was some singing-along action during this awesome song, proving that ARGUS have steadily created a solid fanbase here in the US, something that has already be done in the other side of the Atlantic. After the traditional Doom piece “Curse On The Word”, (Doom indeed can be this fast), we were up for a treat; you see, the band is already in the process of recording the fourth ARGUS LP, “Fields Of Fire” (if I got this right), so we got the brand new song “You Are Curse”. During almost half of the song, the bass was off (there was some issue with the wireless transmitter) but soon enough this was fixed and we got a good scoop of what this band is cooking in the studio.

Just before “Devils, Devils”, Butch said “We’d like to thank Greg from BIBLE OF THE DEVIL for having us on one of the greatest festivals” and I am sure everyone agreed with him, considering the consistency of the “Alehorn Of Power’ editions. The set ended with “Cast Out" and really it felt rather short but I guess having long songs and festival’s slots worth of time, will always leave you wanting more - especially if a band plays as well as ARGUS did. Yeah, after this set I had developed a strong appetite for the band's upcoming LP.

ARGUS setlist:

01. “By Endurance We Conquer”
02. “Boldly Stride The Doomed”
03. “Durendal”
04. “Curse On The World”
05. “You Are Curse”
06. “Devils, Devils”
07. “Cast Out”

ARGUS

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

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There was not much info on what the band named PROFESSOR BLACK would deliver in the one-before the headliner billing spot. Ok, everyone knew that the HIGH SPIRITS / DAWNBRINGER mainman Professor Black (duh...) was behind this effort, but the setlist had been left with the vague description of “being something special”. Matt Johnsen wearing a fake moustache and a low cut-off jean shorts (in a weird old-school with a pinch of Glam look) was the first guest as the fast and in-your-face festivities started with the SUPERCHRIST song “Don’t Wanna Know”. To my surprise, everyone reacted to this one by singing-along in a most enthusiastic state. I guess this should be also attributed to the festival’s atmosphere with the focus on the old school sound with a great deal of nostalgia. Although, in this case, there was no nostalgia act onstage and Professor kept on with his lecture in Metal hitting almost all of the stops of his in-bands career. “Solar Flight” came out great and I think everyone agrees that Professor did an awesome job handling the vocals on this PHARAOH original. Of course, we got some DAWNBRINGER songs in the set, something that made me feel kind of sad when considering that most probably this band will not produce new music in the future. Still, “VI”, “I” and the older “Old Wizard” (no pun intended) came out fantastic, with Scott Hoffman being the guest guitarist for these. The fast and deeply influenced by the Punk / Rock ‘n’ Roll of the almighty MOTÖRHEAD “PAMPF” sounded absolutely fitting, keeping the energy in high levels, and the same goes for the other SUPERCHRIST number “Fuck With Your Boots On”, with Professor thanking all the defenders of the filth.

By keeping the in between-songs minimal, the PROFESSOR BLACK band gave us a hell of a time, and based in the audience’s reaction, this should not be a one-time event. There were songs in that setlist which will be a Heavy Metal sin to keep them in the closet and not perform them live. I hope this show will be the beginning of more...

PROFESSOR BLACK

Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Professor Black @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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After such a set by PROFESSOR BLACK, I was really sceptic whether THOR would be able to top it off, as a proper headliner should. And to make things worse, there were some people leaving the venue most probably because it was getting late... At the same time, the front rows became quite packed, so I think there were still some people wanting to see this Heavy Metal legend performing some old-school and genuine True Metal. Sure, back in the day this was labeled as cheesy, predictable etc. but after some years, there are lots of metalheads who missed the straightforward Heavy Metal that has more soul than the majority of the new bands out there.

Of course, there was no THOR original lineup and it was just the Canadian legend being backed up by the Chicagoan band KNIFE OF SIMPSON. “Ladies and gentlemen of ‘Alehorn Of Power’, are you ready for the son of Odin?” was the proper introduction to the mighty Thor who took over the stage, right at midnight, wearing the appropriate gear and kicked off the set with the fist pumping “Lightning Strikes”. Sure, the gear Thor was wearing had nothing to do with the blonde body building figure from the late '70s but, believe me, shared the same energy and onstage attitude. Clearly, Thor was being sarcastic with himself, although his vocals were super close to the original recordings. And man, those song introduction carried that '80s naivety in such a unique way that slowly got everyone hooked in Thor’s magic. “Are you ready for the thunder? Are you ready for the lightning?” Thor asked before the more melodic “Ride Of The Chariots”. By the way, lots of kudos are in order for KNIFE OF SIMPSON for performing the songs extremely close to the originals and I think it is safe to say that guitarist Nate Perry is a Thor fan. “Anger” came out awesome, even though there were no keyboards in the foot-tapping rhythm, but the sing-along chorus surely made up for this loss. Thor was constantly changing masks with the confidence of a true performer who has no idea what the words ‘stage fight’ mean (after all, he is the mighty Thor, right?).

Thor was very talkative and normally I would object to having longer breaks between songs but in this instance whatever he was saying was part of the history of the band and of his long journey in the Metal. “Want to clear one thing here” Thor said before lifting his hands above his head in the trademark move which screams MANOWAR to many; “I was the first one doing this move and not MANOWAR. When I started this in 1977, MANOWAR were young” he explained before rocking Chicago with “Rock The City”. I have no idea if this is true or not, but getting a slice of Metal history is always a plus for me. Thor thanked the band and then gave me goosebumps by saying something many young bands tend to forget: “Without you out there, there would be no show”. Yeah, this scene was created by fans for fans and we shouldn't forget it. “Let The Blood Run Red” sounded absolutely appropriate for the occasion, and believe me, watching Thor waving his fake hammer, did not look cheesy at all.

Even though it was getting late, the people who had stayed were totally into the show and with the occasional Thor, Thor chants kept the band going, especially the backing up musicians who were pulling a double duty that night. “Thunder On The Tundra” rocked us out hard, while “Live To Rock” was introduced with the best set of words with the appropriate self-sarcasm by Thor: Gene Simmons said Rock is dead; Rock is not dead and is still alive. I'm gonna rock until I'm 85 years old, 37 years from now”. The show ended on the highest of notes with the massive “Warriors Of The Universe” and with singing along the chorus with clenched fists in the air. This was the best way to drop the curtain in another successful edition of ‘Alehorn Of Power’. Thor went straight to the merch table and signed autographs, took pictures with the fans who appreciate his genuine attitude and absolute dedication to this music. I hope to see THOR live more in the future and for the next 37 years, until he gets 85.

“We are the warriors of the universe / we live by the sword / we die by the edge of the blade”

THOR setlist:

01. “Lightning Strikes”
02. “Ride Of The Chariots”
03. “Anger”
04. “Keep The Dogs Away”
05. “Sleeping Giant”
06. “Thunderhawk”
07. “Warhammer”
08. “Rock The City”
09. “Let The Blood Run Red”
10. “Thunder On The Tundra”
11. “When Gods Collide”
12. “Live To Rock”
13. “Warriors Of The Universe”

THOR

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

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