Category Archives: Concert Reviews

This is where we review shows we attend.

Festival Review: Loud Park 2015 (Tokyo, Japan)

IMG_1633When I left England, I thought my days of hitting up summer festivals were over. America (my home) is not known for festivals though there are a few traveling ones here and there, but nothing on the scale of Europe’s legendary metal festivals. Now that I live in Japan, it’s great to see a three-stage major metal event called Loud Park. And, it’s in Tokyo! Lucky me! This year’s annual experience was the 10th anniversary and was well stocked with heavy-hitting brand names such as Slayer (day 1 headliner), Anthrax, Arch Enemy, Gojira, All That Remains, Testament, Children of Bodom, Metal Allegiance (featuring Big Four members and then some), Hammerfall, Royal Hunt, and Gamma Ray. Since I typically attend one day, I felt this lineup was the weaker of the two. Here is my review of day 2 featuring headliners Megadeth.

First things first though. Attire is important; at least the top half anyway. When going to a festival it makes choosing my tee more difficult. I have a general rule against wearing a shirt of a bands I am going to see. I think it is obvious I like the band if I am there. Therefore, I opted for a Machine Head shirt; one I hadn’t worn yet since I got it from their show in July. Read the rest of this entry

Show Review: Hellyeah @ Yokota Air Base, Japan

IMG_1421It isn’t too often a metal band get sponsored by the United Services Organizations (USO) to play free shows on military installations.  I am not saying it never happens, but it’s rare and even rarer that I get to be part of the event.  Hellyeah was the sponsored band of the evening and kids were not allowed at the Yokota Air Base, Japan, venue.  It was probably a good thing since it was beyond loud.  Spinal Tap would say it was #11 loud.  I couldn’t care less about all of Chad Gray’s F-bombs he was politely asked not to say, but damn it was one of the loudest shows I have ever been to.  My lovely wife was my date and I think she walked away a fan.  Yep, she just validated that statement and followed up with stating that she thought the show was well-played, Tom Maxwell did a great job with all that southern twang in his guitar, and that Chad Gray was a really good, active frontman.  I can certainly confirm that.  I got tired watching him and that says a lot about his presence on stage.  The dude is a mover! Read the rest of this entry

An Evening With Machine Head – Show Review, Tokyo, Japan

It was An Evening With Machine Head.  I think this is the fifth time I have seen An Evening With (insert band name here) and it is well worth it.  Why?  Because you get to see, Machine Head in this case, play an assortment of songs they would never have time to play during a normal 75-90 minute set on any other headlining or festival tour.  The only problem with a tour like this is that you really have to like the band a lot to want to go see just them.  Sometimes a strong headlining act supported by decent bands is a nice package that makes the trip worth it.  Machine Head proved plenty capable of going it alone.  They rocked Tokyo’s Club O-East in the Shibuya district on 6 July 2015 for 2 ½ hours.

Surprisingly, Flynn and Co. did not open the set with a song from Bloodstone & Diamonds.  I kind of expected Now We die to start the show.  It seems the song was built for that with its intro and thrashy cadence.  I mean, they are supporting their new album; it makes sense to kick things off with a new song.  Instead, they began the night with Imperium, which worked out quite well.  It wasn’t until the third song we were treated to new material in the form of Now We Die…another crowd pleaser.  Read the rest of this entry

Show Review: Opeth in Tokyo 30 April 15: The Full Report

IMG_0582If you have been following A Metal State of Mind, you may have noticed that Opeth gets mentioned quite a bit for one reason or another.  I guess you could say, as a whole, we like them here.  Just putting the bias up front.  This time it’s yet another show review; my first from the island nation of Japan.  The Roppongi district of Tokyo was the setting for the show; my third time seeing Opeth and my first ever concert that actually ended at a very reasonable time.  In short, it was a great night for many reasons and here is a rundown of the evening.

First, I will say that the cost of a show in Japan is more than I have ever paid to see one band.  As a result I will have to pick and choose my future shows carefully.  ¥7,500 ($62.41, €55.75, kr524.30) seems to be the average price from what I have been seeing lately.  The cost was for a standing ticket.  If I wanted a seat it would have cost ¥2,000 extra.  Seems to me being closer to the action would cost more, but I am sure there is a reason to price tickets that way.  Anyway, throw in train tickets (took about an hour to get there), a shirt for ¥3,500 and it adds up to an expensive night out…for one band.  There was also a pre-show dinner for about ¥2,800.  But, for metalheads it’s always worth it to see a band you love. I don’t have to explain this, you know…

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Concert Review: UK Tech Metal Fest 2014, part 3. Kodeks, Aeolist, Alaya, The Ocean, SikTh.



Remember, this festival review won’t cover all the bands playing, I’ve chosen the ones I personally liked the best.
Part 1 can be found here.     
And Part 2 here.


dsasddd_zps42a2dffaKodeks – More bands should write lyrics in their own language, it’s something I really appreciate. Especially if they, like this Norwegian band, have a vocalist with a forceful and intriguing voice, infusing the music with powerful energy and mysterious words. His singing often reminded me of Vintersorg’s dark, emotional voice. During their set, all the members in Kodeks performs with confidence and joy and it’s highly entertaining to watch them play their hard-hitting, melodic style of progressive metal with big smiles on their faces. I’ve never heard anything quite like it before. The electronic noises in the background is a fun contrast to the catchy riffs and harsh vocals, it’s clear that this is a band with huge potential and I hope they continue to write music of the same style. Debut EP is downloaded and paid for, the gloriously infectious chorus from the first track now stuck in my head forever!


downloadAeolist – I’ve had this proggy jazz-core band recommended to me before and I’ve heard only good things about them. Unfortunately the songs on their EP failed to catch my interest. Despite this, I still wanted to hear them live, and much to my surprise I became completely and utterly absorbed by their music. It made a huge difference to actually see the band members lose themselves to the passion and dynamics in the flowing songs, to feel the sincere atmosphere created by stellar musicians and an exceptionally good vocalist who wasn’t afraid to dance, with the help of a big, appreciative crowd. The sound mix and the acoustics of the building wasn’t the best, but it didn’t matter much. I love that they played their songs without breaks, as the experience becomes so much more powerful. After the last song had ended I left the place with tears in my eyes. So. Damn. Beautiful.


Alaya-ThronesAlaya – My cheering didn’t know any limits when I saw that Alaya had been added to the line up! I fell hopelessly in love while reviewing their thrilling debut album earlier this year, but had no idea I would get to see them live so soon, considering they are from far away (Chicago). A large number of Tech Fest-goers mentioned Alaya as the band they were most looking forward to this year and the crowd during their set grew to an impressive size. The songs sounded notably heavier and more beefy live than on album, with the same irresistibly energetic and emotional vibe. It was an incredibly tight performance, if there’s anything to complain about it was the vocals being a bit too low in the mix during most of the set, which is a shame when you have a singer with such an outstanding voice belting out soaring melodies and spine-chilling screams over the wonderfully complex drums and intricate riffing. They played through their material with great ease and enthusiasm, the crowd giving them excessive amounts of love throughout the show. I was standing in the front row smiling from ear to ear; to see these three handsome guys play my favourite tracks “White Noise”, “Day Of The Dead” (that scream!) and “Haunted Pt. III” was just amazing. “I haven’t seen you this happy since Skyharbor last year”, said my friend. I think he might be right about that! Alaya ended up in my top 3 of Tech Fest 2014, together with SikTh and Jon Gomm. It was a “transdimensional space goat”- moment for me and now I appreciate their album even more.


2Xj3yTThe Ocean – Last time, and also my first, seeing The Ocean was at Euroblast last year. That night it didn’t matter how much I love and adore their albums, their performance failed to impress me. Which I think was mainly due to them playing directly after the happy-crazy band Twelve Foot Ninja and the transition between the styles didn’t work for me, so I was excited to get another chance to see The Ocean live this summer. Their album Pelagial placed itself in my top 5 albums of 2013 and I consider it one of the most interesting concept albums ever made. It pleased me greatly that the band chose to play Pelagial from beginning to end,  despite it being on a small festival stage with the sun still shining through the roof. It didn’t take many minutes until I was completely immersed in the hypnotizing and majestic listening experience provided by five very skilled and passionate musicians. It makes it difficult to write about,  I felt like I was in a trance and didn’t pay attention to anything but the drummer’s dazzling movements enveloped in waves of blue light. Everything feels incredibly beautiful, unlike anything I’ve felt before. Towards the end of the set the songs become increasingly darker, slower, heavier.. it’s quiet, the crowd mesmerized… slower… on the floor… even slower… crushing my mind into pieces… deeper down into the dark… the last beat of the drum… and I start to cry. Unforgettable.


SikTh – The front row spot I secured before The Ocean’s set was still mine for SikTh, who came in fashionably late to take the stage (after a reprise of the famous, huge group hug from last year). The crowd was chanting, the excitement was through the roof, never have I felt an atmosphere so thick of anticipation and joy before a concert!

No one expected anything less, this was the mighty SikTh – the uncrowned kings and founders of tech metal in the UK, very recently reunited after seven year long break. They have certainly been missed and during their inactive years the tech metal scene has grown with incredible force, now being the home of many of the most impressive, upcoming bands in the world of metal. As the vocalist Mikee Goodman said, they had not expected such a development and were humbly blown away by this and the festival as a whole, bringing so many extremely devoted bands and fans together. This was the perfect audience for them to play for, this is where they belong and have their most passionate fans. Which was proven many times during the show; the venue was packed out, happy faces everywhere, friendly moshing, surfing, dancing… we were having the time of our lives. This was us saying “Thank you for all the inspiration and welcome back!”

Fucking hell, it was insane. I had so much fun, I can’t even describe it in words. It was my first time seeing them live, but certainly not the last, and SikTh sounded like they haven’t been away for more than a couple of months, engaging the lively crowd in highlights like “Bland Street Bloom”, the spoken words in “When Will The Forest Speak”, the brilliant “Pussyfoot” and “Skies Of Millennium Night”. I can’t wait to see them again at Euroblast later this year. Such a great band, giving an unbelievably fun show.


The best ending to the best festival.

And I haven’t even mentioned the after parties, the tech metal karaoke, the many workshops held by different musicians from the bands who were playing, the fact that they served lots of vegetarian food and Strongbow cider… I will save up money and book my tickets for next year as soon as they are released, without even knowing the line-up. I already know it will have fun bands, be well organized and overall absolutely fantastic.

Concert Review: UK Tech Metal Fest 2014, part 2. Kadinja, Orion, Nexilva, Meta-stasis, Jon Gomm


Remember, this festival review won’t cover all the bands playing, I’ve chosen the ones I personally liked the best.
Part 1 can be found here.

Thanks to Carrie-Anne Pollard for the lovely photos, check out more great shots from Tech Fest on Me Vs The World! Photography


coverKadinja – There is quite a buzz around this young, French band at the moment and rightfully so. They come with a breeze of fresh air and huge potential, brilliant technical skills and an uplifting sound. It was a bit unfortunate that the sound in the building didn’t do the music justice, but if you were familiar with their songs before Kadinja did not disappoint. Behind a curtain of long hair there is some incredible guitar work going on and the loud bass instantly puts a smile on my face, all coming out so playful and tasty. The singer’s strong, distinctive voice is very pleasant on the ears and particularly impressive during the clean parts in the song “Henry Call Mash Yes” (such a fun song title, and also one of my favourite singles this year). It’s great to see how everyone in the band is having a good time on stage and that their music is loved by the crowd as well. I’m hoping to see Kadinja live soon again, for now I’m (im)patiently waiting for a full album.

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Concert Review: UK Tech Metal Fest 2014, part 1. Valis Ablaze, The Sun Explodes, DispersE, Mountains Under Oceans

The event I was looking forward to the most this year is already over. Time goes fast when having fun! And during four days unlimited amounts of fun and hugs was had by all: bands, fans and festival crew alike. This was the third time running for UK Tech Metal Fest and once again it proved to be a festival like no other, as it felt more like a relaxed holiday together with some of your best friends and favourite musicians. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer weekend.


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Concert Review: The Sword

017A couple of months ago, I caught wind of a cool show…co-headlined by The Sword and Clutch.  If you are into that particular style of music I think you would find it to be a worthy show to attend.  They happened to be passing though Denver; my (only) choice of cities for concerts and I planned on attending.  However, when I was at Death Angel on 7 Nov, I heard that The Sword was performing in Fort Collins instead of Denver.  I thought maybe this was a one-off show to occupy a day off, but when I did the research, I realized that Clutch and The Sword split the Denver date in two…The Sword in Fort Collins while Clutch still played as scheduled.   Needless to say, based on the title of this article, I chose to see The Sword in Fort Collins which just happened to be an hour closer to home.  Also performing were Fort Collins natives Bronze and Boulder, CO natives Black Acid Devil.

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Concert Review: Death Angel, 3 Inches of Blood, Battlecross, Revocation, Diamond Plate

087It’s been a very long time since I had the opportunity to catch Death Angel in the splendor of a live setting.  If my memory serves me, it was August 19, 1990. Seven of us piled into some type of small white hatchback never meant for seven people and made our way an hour down the road to Boston, MA to this little dive called The Channel.  I am not sure if this place it still exists and there was nothing particularly exciting about the joint other than Death Angel was playing there.  They were in support of their Act III album and in tow were Forbidden along with two local bands called Cardinal Sin and Candy Striper Death Orgy…the latter was as entertaining as their name, I promise you that.  I believe this may have been the place where I got my first taste of the pit…because, well there wasn’t anywhere else to go; the entire place was a pit.  I also bought my favorite concert tee from that show and had that thing until it fell apart 10 years later.  The only things that remain from that evening are fond memories and a ticket stub which was hand-written from a local music store called Strawberries Records and Tapes.  Yeah, they are out of business now.  All in all, it was highly memorable for many reasons.  So, to see them again after more than two decades was highly anticipated to say the least.  To make the evening even better were some quality opening acts; 3 Inches of Blood, Battlecross, Revocation, Diamond Plate, and local band Artemesis.  Here is my story.

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Concert Review: UK Tech Metal Fest 2013 part 3 – TesseracT, Nexilva, Stiff Bizkit, Mask of Judas


For a general review of the festival and the bands from the first and second day, check out part 1 and part 2. I didn’t include all the bands playing, not even all of the ones I ended up watching; I’ve only chosen the ones I liked the best.


Cutest moment: The main stage crowd in a massive group hug on the last day of the festival.

Cutest moment: The main stage crowd in a massive group hug on the last day of the festival.


imagesMask of Judas

For being the first band to play on a Sunday morning, Mask Of Judas drew a very big crowd. Since they played in the same tent where breakfast was served, I couldn’t avoid hearing what was going on on stage and it didn’t take long before I realized it was something good. Their groovy, technical music had a nice rhythm with interesting, powerful riffs and the singer could perform vicious Angela Gossow-growls as well as really good clean vocals reminding me of Christina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil. I was impressed and decided to stay to experience more of this catchy but complex music. Mask of Judas’ music sounds like a mix between energetic mathcore and chugging djent, with melodic choruses and lots of aggressive growling. It’s creative and a bit different; the edgy, rhythmic guitars and bass complement the blasting drums and emotional vocals very well. This was a really nice start of the last day at Tech Fest.

Their EP ‘Axis’, released in April this year, can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp. Check it out!

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