Metal Allegiance @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)

METAL ALLEGIANCE / WEAPONS OF ANEW / METALFIER

Date: 31st October, 2019
Venue: The Bottom Lounge
Ticket: $25/€22.50
Promoter: n/a


It was Halloween alright but the one who was deep into trick or treating was the weather... That’s right; the weather decided to wear its harsh winter outfit and brought snow with record low temperatures to top off this year’s celebration. However, everything looks 666 times better with a Metal show that in this case was super special having METAL ALLEGIANCE dressed like BLACK SABBATH with OVERKILL’s Bobby behind the mic. Did we need any more convincing to get off the couch and d(r)ive headfirst into the “Game Of Thrones” “the winter is coming” weather conditions?

METALFIER were already onstage when we entered the venue and were trying to get everyone out of the fridge and into the concert mood. The attendance was rather weak but totally expected when considering how this Halloween felt weather-wise. Sure, the Chicagoan metalheads are used to this, but not in Halloween if you get what I am saying. Well, the JUDAS PRIEST cover on “Breaking The Law” did get the gathered people going as more and more were crossing the Bottom Lounge’s doors, hinting that the audience would soon be of the appropriate size the closer we got to the headliners.

I had no prior knowledge of WEAPONS OF ANEW before this show but I did make sure to educate myself with their musical whereabouts through the internet’s “all seeing eye”. Checking some studio recordings taught me that the New Jersey band roams around the modern Hard Rock territory without providing any info on the onstage energy. Oh yeah, the band seemed to have lots of onstage confidence, meaning that there was no warming up period with the four piece lineup stepping hard on the gas pedal determined to win lots of fans that night. WEAPONS OF ANEW’s groove is in the house”, said Ray West who soon enough proved his worth as a frontman with a powerful set of pipes, mixing melodic and hard singing. His singing style combined with the groovy Hard Rock reminded me of VELVET REVOLVER, maybe BUCKCHERRY, all the way to SIXX:A.M. with catchy hooks and lots of in-your-face attitude. Although after the nice melodies of “Killshot”, “Sundown” pushed the scales towards Metal and I will blame it to Freddy Ordine’s guitar action (loved the solo here) and the smashing rhythm section courtesy of Chris Manfre and Stefan Reno Cutrupi on drums and bass, respectively. It was no surprise that WEAPONS OF ANEW did manage to change the mood inside the venue that had more bodies in and a couple of Halloween dressed ones... Ok, the beer was flowing and that helped to nudge the spirits on the same direction the band was inviting us.

“Happy Halloween, everybody - it was good to take a break from the studio because we are writing our new album”, said Ray before “Undone” that although comes from the same album, “The Collision Of Love And Hate” sounds heavier than the rest showcasing that this lineup is still searching of its musical character. But yeah, the musicianship and performance skills are there, so the next release should be really interesting listening. And don’t forget the onstage chemistry because great musicians do not always make great bands... “I wanna thank you guys for coming out early for this show”, acknowledged Ray stating the obvious because of the already described crazy-of-a-weather. If I were to choose a song from the 8-song setlist as an instant favorite, I would go with “Blood From A Stone” that came last before the end with the opening riff being one of the main reasons for this choice. It was always great to meet a new band after watching a great performance that is extremely important in this digital infested days where everyone can sound (and look) amazing just by using a couple of apps… Give WEAPONS OF ANEW a listen and keep your eyes and ears peeled for their next album - I will definitely do this.

WEAPONS OF ANEW setlist:

01. “Brave”
02. “Killshot”
03. “Sundown”
04. “Undone”
05. “Heart Of An Angel”
06. “This Moment”
07. “Blood From Stone”
08. “Speed”

WEAPONS OF ANEW

Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weapons Of Anew @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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In the intro I pretended to know beforehand what METAL ALLEGIANCE would do on Halloween but in reality I tried to stay away from any online spoilers as I wanted to really enjoy myself and be surprised by what this fine lineup had planned for that night. Ok, the between-bands break took more time than it should have, but judging by the stage cred, there must have been an issue with Alex Skolnick’s guitar amp because all the “action” was happening there. Well, this delay helped the audience to grow up in regular numbers and did boost the beer consumption making it feel like a real party despite the “misplaced winter” that was waiting outside...

Eventually the issues were resolved and rain sounds blasting off the venue PAs revealed METAL ALLEGIANCE’s BLACK SABBATH intentions. Alex showed up wearing ‘70s looking bell-bottoms that were a great match to his Iommi-styled fake moustache... That’s right; with a Gibson SG in hand, Alex made sure to bring all the BLACK SABBATH flavors in. On stage left a familiar silhouette was patiently waiting for his turn to show standing in his trademark “runner’s” pose ready to spring into action. In case this sounds familiar, then know that your hunch is right; uncle Bobby was ready to play Ozzy for us, wearing an all-black suit. Wait, what? Oh yeah, Bobby was all dressed up for the occasion and I think at some point he joked about this revealing that he stole the suit from his uncle…

I did not take much effort to realize that the sound of sound hitting on tombstones meant “Black Sabbath”. Even though Bobby sounds nothing like Ozzy, the OVERKILL frontman did give us the chills with his vocals grinding on hard rocks. Bassist Mark Menghi wore a fitting wig with the appropriate ‘70s bandana, while drummer Brann Dailor was wearing a tight leopard shirt… Yeah, I know this was not BLACK SABBATH-y but it was definitely a tongue in cheek Halloween-y. The harmonica sounds “opened” the door for “The Wizard” and the groove this lineup was delivering was awesome. Ok, Bobby had a tablet strategically placed as teleprompter and Alex’s moustache did not want to stay glued, but hey, there is no concert without technical difficulties, right?

“Happy Halloween, fucking morherfuckers. I see you all wear your ugly masks”, said Bobby with his trademark humor on his trademark one foot on the stage monitor stance. It was funny to see him feel a bit restrained by the tablet without being 100% able to be his usual super-pumped self like in every frickin’ OVERKILL show. It was fitting to introduce Mark before the next one, since the trademark bass action of “Bassically” basically introduced “N.I.B.” (I couldn’t escape making this pun). For this one, Bobby got a tambourine in hand that he later confessed: “this was the first time I used one of these; I will keep this motherfucker”. As you understand, the party mood was on all through the night and we had a couple of good laughs. I mean, watching Alex searching for his moustache looking around the stage while this thing was glued to his hair was priceless... It was extremely enjoyable seeing these seasoned musicians having as much fun playing these hymns as we did headbanging and singing along. Damn, “Wicked World” sounded awesome with Alex doing some Iommi-styled magic before letting the hammer fall upon us with the bleak “Electric Funeral”. This one sounded amazingly heavy and I believe made a wicked pairing with “Hand Of Doom”. It is impossible to sing like Ozzy so a singer needs to possess a unique timbre to make these songs work and Mr. Bobby did exactly that, adding some Blitz-iness into the mix. “Let’s get heavy, let’s get loud! You know this motherfucker, I know you know it”, he said and the audience’s reaction proved him right. Oh yeah, the guitar chords marked the time to headbang appropriately hard for “Symptom Of The Universe” and for this, Bobby needed no tablet to show him the lyrics. The statement regarding the tambourine Bobby used was along these hilarious lines: “After 45 years, I finally found my fucking bells. I am keeping this motherfucker”... And with the moustache back on Alex’s face, this version of METAL ALLEGIANCE granted us with “Into The Void”.

The singing-along kept going strong during “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and was combined with intense headbanging for “Children Of The Grave”, and despite the freezing temperatures outside, inside the venue there was a lot of sweating, on and off stage. For the encore, I am sure no one needs a PhD on BLACK SABBATH to know what song it was next. “We are gonna do something else that you know it”, said Bobby before letting Alex lay down one of the most characteristic riffs in Metal; oh yeah, beauty lies in simplicity with “Paranoid” being the proper send-off of this party / concert. This was an extremely special event and we should thank these musicians for giving us the perfect Halloween celebrations. Cheers!

METAL ALLEGIANCE setlist:

01. “Black Sabbath”
02. “The Wizard”
03. “Behind The Walls Of Sleep”
04. “Bassically”
05. “N.I.B.”
06. “Wicked World”
07. “Electric Funeral”
08. “Hand Of Doom”
09. “Rat Salad”
10. “Symptom Of The Universe”
11. “Into The Void”
12. “Supernaut”
13. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
14. “Children Of The Grave”
15. “Paranoid”

METAL ALLEGIANCE

Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Allegiance @ The Bottom Lounge (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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