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

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HIGH SPIRITS / BIBLE OF THE DEVIL / MEGA COLOSSUS / IGNITOR / OWL / ZÜÜL

Date: 28th July, 2018
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$15/€13 (in advance) - $18/€15.5 (day of)
Promoter: n/a


The ‘Alehorn Of Power’ festival has secured a non-negotiable spot in our calendar and, in fact, it is a great gathering of bands and friends each and every year. This time around it was the 10th edition and I will say this in the beginning of this commentary; nobody said a word about the festival becoming 10 years old and should have, because these days having a constant presence in the market is a huge milestone on its own. Anyways, I hope the 20th anniversary will give this festival the celebrations it totally deserves.

The evening commute turned out to be a bitch, and this may had to do with a Soldier Field non-Metal event which came back to bite us with a $60 fine for parking at the ‘event parking’ areas, even though we had fed the meter. Apparently, this would have been avoided if we had done our homework, but the hard lessons are those one never forgets, right? To be honest, missing more than half of the ZÜÜL set was what hurt us the most. I mean, watching these guys already breaking a sweat with “Guillotine” assured me that we had missed a killer performance. On the other hand, this was a great way to kick off the festival, although having ZÜÜL a bit deeper into the program would have been nicer - although I am not sure it would have been a great idea making bassist Bob Scott and guitarist Mike Bushur pulling double duties with a short resting time in between. These two gentlemen would be storming the stage on the side of Chris Black at the headlining spot later that night, so we can definitely let this pass... Anyways, ZÜÜL proved to be in a top form with “Waste Of Time” making me wonder if they are going into the studio any time soon. Well, I hope they do.

ZÜÜL

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

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It was time to completely change the sound with California’s OWL being the responsible ones to do so. I had not checked the band prior to the show, and in some cases I like staying unprepared before a set because I have no expectations and my ears and mind are open to all possibilities. It was always fun to try to guess a band’s sound by the looks of the musicians the moment they start prepping their gear, but OWL turned out to be a tough shell to crack, so I just had to wait for showtime. Without any bells and whistles (I don’t think they introduced themselves), the band kicked of the set with the double guitar harmonies of “Atlantean Key” which turned out to be a fast one and the best way to skip any warming up period. Yeah, OWL were on a high gear and their high energy turned out to be addictive, and the best way to introduce us their strange mix of Retro Hard Rock / groovy Stoner soaked into guitar effects and the type of psychedelia that creeps under your skin without noticing it. “Awaken The Mountain” sounded more confusing than what I put together in my last sentence and even heavier to such a point that it sounded like a different band when compared to the show opener. Still, the groove had not abandoned us, even when there were too many things happening in OWL’s music, so I will go ahead and add the term Progressive in a futile attempt to describe what my ears were being exposed to.

“We are OWL from California and we’ll play some stuff from our fist record”, said drummer Clint Baechle and I think the duo “Gypsy River” and “Medicine Mirror” did register in my mind having a strong Retro footprint than the first ones had. This is definitely interesting bunch and right there I promised to myself to check OWL’s studio doings and see where that may take me. Axell, the third of the three Baechle brothers, introduced the setlist closer “Remover” as a dedication to the recently departed Mark Shelton who entered Valhalla the day before.

OWL setlist:

01. “Atlantean Key”
02. “Awaken The Mountain”
03. “Gypsy River” / “Medicine Mirror”
04. “Jupiterian Ocean”
05. “Stygian Ark”
06. “Remover”

OWL

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

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IGNITOR were ready to push the scales all the way towards Thrash with Power Metal twist, hitting the ignition button with the fast “To Brave The Way” that I think has some FLOTSAM AND JETSAM flair in it. In other words, it was thrashin’ without the foot off the breaks but it did not feel that the audience inside Reggies was up to it. In fact, this year the audience seemed a bit stingy as far as being energetic and responsive, and I have no idea why, because onstage things were looking and sounding awesome. “Thank you, BIBLE OF THE DEVIL and whoever’s gear we are messing up with here” joked singer Jason McMaster watching drummer Pat Doyle fighting with his gear to make it stand where he wanted. Things were quickly settled and the “Hail And Kill”-esque riff introduced the hard-pounding “Throw Them From The Cliff” making me think the number of (mainly) politicians I would like to see them going down a cliff. Despite the so and so response from the audience, IGNITOR kept raising the heat and I think by the time “Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Crown” from the band’s latest LP (I need to check it out) hit us, the Texans had reached the operating temperature firing in all cylinders. Oh yeah, the in-your-face “No Sanctuary” came out as aggressive as this type of Thrash requires while the lyrics of “Heavy Metal” almost stole the thunder from this mid-tempo headbanger. The song that gave a run for my money was the riff-driven “Beast In Black” which also reminded how awesome this type of Metal works in concert. And yes, I was among the ones who shouted amen in response to how Jason thanked everyone for showing up and for “coming to the church” just before closing his Metal sermon with another thrasher, titled “Shadow Of The Needle”. This set a definite neck warmer and I will have a second listen to the “Haunted by Rock & Roll” for sure.

IGNITOR setlist:

01. “To Brave The Way”
02. “Throw Them From The Cliff”
03. “Haunted By Rock And Roll”
04. “Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Crown”
05. “No Sanctuary”
06. “Heavy Metal Holocaust”
07. “Island Of The Damned”
08. “Beast In Black”
09. “Shadow Of The Needle”

IGNITOR

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

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It was time for MEGA COLOSSUS who have been touring with BIBLE OF THE DEVIL for the last week and clearly they had a killer time considering the inside jokes the constantly smiling singer Sean Buchanan was exchanging with the BOTD bassist Darren Amaya who was standing at the front row. There were a lot of band members who stayed after their set to watch the rest of the festival and this is a clear indication of the family atmosphere ‘Alehorn Of Power’ nourishes. The band from North Carolina came to change once more the musical direction of the billing, and from IGNITOR’s Thrash Power, we headed towards Heavy Metal with a powerful epic Metal injection that at some extent reminded me of ATLANTEAN KODEX. Yeah, that definitely works with my ears, but I am not sure about the majority of the audience that seemed a bit cold during the in-between songs. However, when the band was playing, the atmosphere was (fortunately) different. Yes, the “Raining Blood”-esque riff of “Jihad, Jihad!” quickly turned in a killer mid-tempo Epic Metal with awesome double guitar harmonies delivered by the restless Bill Fisher/ Stephen Cline dynamic guitar duo. Come to think of it, aside from Sean and drummer Doza, the other three MEGA COLOSSUS members were roaming around the stage making it look too small to contain their energy. The tempo gained speed with “Sea Of Stars” which brought forth the killer guitar action but also left some space for the bass to shine during the HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE-type chorus. Even though their Metal is epic and pretty straightforward, there is a level of complexity that I am sure I will enjoy more once I have spent a couple of home-listening sessions. In other words, MEGA COLOSSUS piqued my interest with the galloping “Stoneburner” and the Mad Max-inspired “Bubba Zanetti” with hearty band does the backing vocals groove kind of sealing the deal. The sole mitigating evidence I can acknowledge for the defense of the not-as-involved-as-I-was-expecting audience was the maybe ‘too-epic’ sound of  MEGA COLOSSUS which kind of deviated for the otherwise straightforward Rock ‘n’ Roll Metal with a bit of Doom / Stoner ‘Alehorn Of Metal’ usually deals with. Anyhow, I liked what I saw and heard, and even though I didn’t get the connection between zombies in an apocalyptic world and other grave stuff, I headbanged along the galloping rhythm and raised my fist during the high-pitched screaming in the chorus. Yup, MEGA COLOSSUS was added in my rather long list of bands I want to check. Great job, guys!

MEGA COLOSSUS setlist:

01. “Jihad, Jihad!”
02. “Sea Of Stars”
03. “Stoneburner”
04. “Bubba Zanetti”
05. “Swords Against Death”
06. “Kill More Better”

MEGA COLOSSUS

Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Mega Colossus @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Time had flown by and there we were waiting for the constant of the ‘Alehorn Of Power’; BIBLE OF THE DEVIL. No, this is not an inside job nor someone is getting paid under the table to have the Chicagoan band in the festival’s billing each year... In case you have been living under a rock or in a dark cave, BIBLE OF THE DEVIL is the driving force of this fine establishment and always have the role to either keep the spirits high (pun intended) or get the audience ready for the headliners. Well, in this case, it was both...

The energy is always high whenever BIBLE OF THE DEVIL hit the stage and this was no different. In fact, I would say it was a bit more than usual, and I think it was because this show was the final date on the band’s touring calendar, and this adds a bit more excitement. Yeah, “Flee” opened up the hard rockin’ festivities with Nate Perry wearing his usual wider-than-life smiles. Having listened to this one quite a few times live with Nate behind the mic, I have grown to like this version more than the studio one, since I think it has a more playful or party character which fits BIBLE OF THE DEVIL sound like a perfectly tailored suit. “Night Oath” came back to back and BIBLE OF THE DEVIL were in the zone and I think there was more action from the audience that had grown in number. During in between songs one could easily hear the music coming from Reggies Music Joint and it was a painful reminder how poor organization can screw you. You see, next door there was a killer billing with PALE DIVINE and APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE, and I would be lying if I’d say I did not give a dime about it. On the contrary, I was pissed off that no one raised any red flags and move that show on the next day...

Anyways, the BOTD setlist had a surprise in store for us and that was a new song titled “Lifeline”. I would describe this as a classic BOTD tune with the hearty serving of double guitar harmonies and a killer groove which can get even the most difficult to move butts off the couch. Unfortunately, Chris Grubbs’ guitar pedals gave him a hard time by not cooperating and refusing to accept electric juice, forcing him to connect his guitar straight to the amp to get things going. Of course this was not a biggie for us because we were still having tons of fun but I am sure Chris would object about having a smooth ride. With some pushing and shoving, the guitar pedals agreed to get back to work, so “The Speed Of Night” and “Iron Ego” hit us back loud and clear. The only complain I can make for the show and maybe for the entire festival (maybe excluding the headliners’ set) was the lights which made everything look colorful and fuzzy, but this minor hiccup has only to do with digital photo-shooting.

“I will need some help with the vocals”, said still smiling Nate and I think he got what he was looking for during the DEF LEPPARD cover “Lady Strange”. Yeah, that went down smooth and groovin’ like it should this deep in the set and in the Saturday night. Plus, it was kind of funny listening to Nate changing a bit the bridge lyrics... Among the audience were Nate’s parents and he gave everyone a laugh explaining how awkward it would soon be singing “Cocaine Years, Cocaine Tears” in front of them, but “that’s ok, this is just a cautionary tale” he added explaining himself in the best of ways. During this one, Nate went off stage and put the icing on the cake of another BIBLE OF THE DEVIL party / set. See you next time, guys!

BIBLE OF THE DEVIL setlist:

01. “Flee”
02. “Night Oath”
03. “Lifeline”
04. “The Speed Of Night”
05. “Iron Ego”
06. “Lady Strange” (DEF LEPPARD cover)
07. “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) 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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I am sure everyone was in high spirits (I cannot stop using this pun) as the stage was getting ready to host the headliners and Chicago’s very own, HIGH SPIRITS. I had absolutely no doubt that it would be another killer performance and, in fact, I was extremely excited to get another dose of this high-energy, mood-lifting and full of nostalgia Hard Rock that each and every time makes me feel like a teenager all over again. The white pairs of trousers were on, and HIGH SPIRITS were full on with “Flying High”. This one comes from the band’s latest LP and it is awesome how well this works with the older material. No pausing, and it was “This Is The Night” that kept us going and maybe the lyrics had some true in them because this was the night. “How are you doing? I was supposed to say something like that”, said Chris breaking his speaking silence before offering us some “Torture” and keep pushing the temperature inside Reggies at the boiling point. Oh my, how much I joy watching this band having such a great time onstage, smiling, moving around and teasing each other like teenagers, and this is exactly what this music does to you; temporarily or virtually removing some years off your shoulders while making you forget for a while whatever life is throwing at you. So, this is was not a torture at all and, in fact, it got even better with the faster “I Need To Know” and there we were, singing our lungs out like it was the ‘80s (my apologies to the younger members of the audience). Aside from Chris, who becomes a different person in his white pair of trousers, Bob Scott and Scott Hoffman were the other driving forces onstage, and especially the former with his Punk-bass-playing attitude was a constant teaser. “Demons At The Door” was followed by the a-m-a-z-i-n-g “Another Night In The City” which for some strange reason (I was not born and raised in this side of the Atlantic), it smells Chicago from miles away and I will blame Chris’ lyrics for this, and maybe the timing for us from crossing the big pond. And if the moving around was not enough, it was about time to shake our butts, following the Hard Rock tempo of “I Need You Love” and if this is not the best song for long night drives, then I don’t know what is. “Thank you for your love, I needed that”, confessed Chris and without further ado, let “Set Me Free” do the rest. Speaking of long-drives, then I should revisit what I said about the best song for this, because “Down The Endless Road” has the words and the groove to step on the gas and let the night summer air blow your troubles away and let you enjoy the now.

“You are the reason for doing this; you know that, right?”, asked Chris stating the obvious. Yes, the going-to-shows audience is what keeps this scene active, and I am sure if you have been to concerts for more than a decade, you have already witnessed the declining number of people showing up. These days when everything is at the palm of your hand and (you think) you can enjoy everything by hunching over a “smart”-phone screen, then being physically in places has become a commodity and I am not sure how long we can keep the spirits alive. Still, we need bands like HIGH SPIRITS to help us see the glass half-full and keep the flame burning. With all this in mind, adding “Thank You” to the set seemed very much appropriate because it went both ways; from the band to the audience but also from the audience to the band! So, “thank you and thank you” again times a million...

Of course, a HIGH SPIRITS set cannot end without “High Spirits” (that was dedicated to Mark Shelton who I am sure has already reached Valhalla and watching us dealing with the sadness of not having him among us) and the massive most joyful singing-along that captured the mindset every one of us was at. And (second) of course, seeing the band leaving the stage was only temporary because, indeed, we wanted more, and man, we got it! HIGH SPIRITS were back, and “Going Up” assured that we would go away wearing the same wide smile we had before the set that felt extremely short, but I will go cliché here and say: isn’t always like this when you’re having fun?

HIGH SPIRITS setlist:

01. “Flying High”
02. “This Is The Night”
03. “Torture”
04. “I Need To Know”
05. “Demons At The Door”
06. “Another Night In The City”
07. “I Need Your Love”
08. “Set Me Free”
09. “Down The Endless Road
10. “Nights In Black
11. “Thank You”
12. “High Spirits”
13. “When The Lights Go Down”
14. “Going Up”

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)
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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