Live Reviews

Max Cavalera appears with teenage band Ironkill at Alice Cooper Teen Center

Max Cavalera appears with teenage band Ironkill at Alice Cooper Teen Center

By Phoenix Romero

Photo by Phoenix 1

The Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock teen center is described by Alice himself as “A creative sanctuary for teens, allowing them to build confidence and discover their passion through music, dance, self-expression and creativity”. Unfortunately now is a time where public schools are cutting funding for empowering programs like music and dance, The Rock cultivates a love of the arts to inspire teens to embrace artistic excellence and avoid drugs, guns, and gangs. It was through Alice’s Solid Rock Teen Center, when 5 young guys in a band called Ironkill tried out for Christmas pudding contest of 2013 and 2014, that they met their coach and mentor Court Stumpf. Court Stumpf just happens to be the guitarist of the band Co-op headed by Alice’s son Dash Cooper.


Photo by El- Jay Beats1

Those five young men of Ironkill are; Michael Montana (guitarist age 17), Reilly Mikus (guitarist age 16), Hayden Fiedler (bass age 17), Steven Montana (drums age 14), or Joel Rodriguez (vocals age 16). How could they have known that being involved with The Rock and working with Court would one day lead to them actually playing on stage with the legendary Max Cavlera, their idol? Ironkill was quoted as saying” Court approached us at our weekly practice and told us that Max Cavalera would be playing the opening night of the pudding competition and needed a band. Court felt we were the best choice because of our playing ability and style of metal that we play. He also knew we had been HUGE fans of Max’s for many years! We also know Randy Spencer at the teen center was a big part of arranging this great opportunity for us.” During the evening Ironkill played a total of five songs with Max, ranging from Soulfly to AC/DC to Pantera. Remember you heard it here first; Ironkill kicked some major METAL ass. There was even a mosh pit right in the middle of the center.

Alice Cooper Picture by Roxanne Cavalera

Photo by Roxanne Cavalera

Alice himself, broke away from the Motley Crue tour, to be on hand to kick off the evening by further defining the vision he and his wife Sheryl have for their faith based organization citing that their primary mission is to make an everlasting difference in the lives of teens by helping them meet the spiritual, economical, physical, and social needs of at-risk teens (we believe all teens are at risk) in the community by offering a safe, engaging environment during non-school hours a time when they are most vulnerable to drugs, violence, and gangs. Here are just a few staggering facts: 135 children take a gun to school every day in the United States, 1640 children died in 2012 of neglect or abuse, 50% of teens in shelters said their parent told them to go away, and the most shocking statistic of all suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States in teens between 15 and 24 years old.

Max and Court photo by Phoenix

Photo by Phoenix

After playing with Ironkill to a tremendously packed teen center, Max graciously did and question and answer session with Court Stumpf. As I looked around the room I saw the kids listening intensely as Max spoke of what it was like to grow up in Brazil. He told stories of his childhood, and what it was like to work to be an aspiring metal artist in the Brazilian culture and the difference of the music industry in America.
When the question and answer session was over, Max made his way into the audience, he spoke to and took pictures with every single person in the entire building, including me( see below) He did not rush anyone he patiently stood and engaged in conversation with all of the teens, that adore him, perhaps the next generation of the tribe.

Photo by Mercedes Romero

Photo by Mercedes Romero

In fact by the time Max actually began to make his way out, the chairs were literally being folded up and put away, the stage set was being torn down, the hall was slowly emptying out completely. There is no “Elvis has left the building” when it comes to Max and meeting his fans. He is as loyal and dedicated to ‘The Soulfy Tribe” as they are to him.

Dover Trench: 25 year Reunion

Dover Trench: 25 year Reunion

By Phoenix Romero

As we pulled up outside The Rock in Tucson, the memories all came flooding back upon me, the club may now be called The Rock, but the familiarity of Mudd Buggs lingered at every turn. The moment I walked through the door it was as if I took a step back 25 years in time, yet how could that be when at my side accompanying me for this event was my 23 year old daughter.

I instantly remembered my first encounter with Dover Trench, it was on a metal show I promoting in Phoenix around the late 80’s. At first I was reluctant to use them sight unseen, however they were one of the top drawing Tucson metal bands, and I did want to build relationships with metal bands in different areas for future show. So…. I gave them a slot on a Metal Monday show. From the first second I heard the crunch of the Bianchino /Hembree guitars, playing in unison with the thundering bass playing of Dave Chaney, grinding in complete collaboration with the ferocious pounding of Matt Pimple’s drums, heavily seasoned with the gut wrenching, high piercing screams of Elijah Freeman,…. I was completely sold. Dover Trench soon became one of my favorite METAL delicacies. MMMMMMMMM \m/

I vividly remember when Exhibition of Speed was released, every track on it, literally defined the term… FACE MELTING METAL! The song Acid Test still echoes through the corridors of many metal venues. At that time Dover Trench was at a peak in their career, the Metal Masters hailing from Tucson guaranteed to pack every single show they played.

When you soar that high sometimes it is hard to go back……especially 25 years later.

Keep in mind this band of brothers had not seriously played together for over two decades, in fact although they’ve kept in touch, they physically have scattered outside of Tucson ,even as far away as Germany. Some of the members continue to play in bands and create music. While others have moved onward and upward in different career paths.
The Dover Boys finally reunited musically a week before the reunion show to begin song selections and rehearsals.DT2
As I made my way through the club, chuckling to myself when I walked past the chain link fence that STILL divides the under 21 crowd from the alcohol drinking adults, of course I was heading straight to the bar. On my way to the bar, I began to recognize many fellow musicians had gathered from all over Arizona, they had made a point to be in attendance for the Dover Reunion show. Musicians are an interesting breed; they tend to only venture out to support other bands that they have a true musical respect for.

The anticipation was starting to build in the club as the time for the Dover Boys to take the stage was drawing closer. I grabbed my daughter, and drug her to the absolute front of the stage. I figured if I was in danger of getting killed by the mosh pit I would have someone close to report my very metal demise. From the moment the house lights dropped down and the Dover Boys Cartoon began, to the very last scorching note of the final encore….. DOVER TRENCH ABSOLUTELY KILLED IT!! The music was powerful, and as all conquering as it ever was. Leaving only one question on everyone’s mind, “Could the vocals be duplicated after all this time had passed?” The answer came almost immediately, when the first glass shattering scream was heard, clearly the vocals of Dover Trench were back just a dynamic as we remembered. Another interesting and potentially new fact about Dover is they seem to be able to transcend through generations with ease, so noted as I glanced over at my daughter who was head banging like she had been listening to Dover Trench all her life, and not for the very first time! In all seriousness, this was a STELLAR PERFORMANCE, by each and every member on stage. Speaking of members on stage, in a Metallicaish at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame kind of way, Dover had every member that has ever played in the band perform during the show. Metal at its classiest!

When the band decided to reunite to do the 25 Reunion show, it was believed that this would be their Swan Song. After the show some of the band members even posted things on their face books like; “Going out in a blaze of Glory, what a perfect description of last night’s show.” Another member posted this, “Last night was the culmination of 7 kindred spirits with the unbreakable fraternal bond of music and tireless unified effort to present for one last time the legacy we created in a relatively short amount of time”.

Sometimes what is perceived to be the end of a journey, in fact turns out to be an awakening, and the journey simply changes paths.

Dover Trench has decided to go into the studio and record new material in the fall of 2015.

Flotsam and Jetsam Live 5-8-15


By Phoenix Romero

In my lifetime I have probably seen Flotsam and Jetsam, several thousand times. A.K. and I grew up together; I met the rest of the original guys in high School or shortly after. I was there at the first Flots show ever, and also present at the last show they have played in the U.S. so far for 2015. So hear me when I say…. Flotsam’s live show was spot on. Thirty years into it and still kicking Metal ass. The sound was run incredibly…crystal clear….. hats off to Mr. Scott Goody.

This was the first show with new drummer Jason Bittner, who reigns from Shadows Fall. When I heard Kelly Smith was leaving Flotsam (again), I was instantly concerned about who would fill his shoes. Truth be told I never was very impressed with previous drummer Craig Neilson, and was hoping they would find a better fit for their music this time. During the show it dawned on me Jason’s live performance fits Flotsam like a glove, familiar and comfortable. I had to actually remind myself that Kelly Smith was not playing. It will be interesting to see once the writing/ recording begins for the new album, what metal inspiration Mr. Bittner will bring to the Flots table. For now what would be great to see at the next Flotsam show would be a killer drum solo.

Eric A.K.’s vocals were literally mind blowing from start to finish, including his little impromptu a cappella song to occupy the audience, while they suffered through a small amount of technical problems. I would like to insert a request here…. Can we hear an a cappella version of Trash, next time? The mark of a true performer is someone who doesn’t miss a beat in keeping the audience entertained, regardless of what issues are going on, AK is that quality of a performer. “She took an Axe” kicked major vocal ass, this song has an extremely difficult vocal range at the end, so to be able to nail it 30 years later was quite impressive to witness.

Guitarist Steve Conley keeps a nice rhythmic balance going throughout the show. I think the future possesses room for Steve to grow within Flots. But for now while they are still touring to support Ugly Noise, which features original guitarist Ed Carlson ,coupled with the fact that fans are still grieving the loss of Ed leaving the band, it is tough for Steve to shine through the shadow of Mr. Carlson entirely. Perhaps when the new album is made, and it is a musical compilation of the current members of Flots, then it will be Steve’s time in the spotlight.

Bass Player Michael Spencer is going for round 2 in the Flotsam ring. He is by far a more subdued bass player musically then the (threw his neck out head banging so hard while playing) Jason Newsted or the (play until my fingers are shredded and bleeding profusely) Jason Ward. Michael’s playing and command of the bass has undeniably matured from the first time he was in the band.

Guitarist Michael Gilbert is undeniably phenomenal, a Master Chef in the kitchen of guitar playing. Watching him play I was simply in awe that the seasoned exquisitely talented guitarist on stage tonight is the same guy, I first saw play at age 16 for a high school desert party. Don’t get me wrong he was great at 16, but now he’s a black belt in guitar.

Their Live performance had every audience member singing along, head banging, moshing, and thrashing. Desecrator, Hammerhead, I Live You Die, Iron tears, Der Furer, and Doomsday all played from the infamous Doomsday for the Deceiver album, and orchestrated flawlessly. In fact they played many fan favorites spanning their 3 decades of music including No Place for Disgrace, Escape from Within, Suffer the Masses, and from the new album Giddy-Up, and Ugly noise.
Again it will be interesting to see what will musically develop on the new Flots album coming out end of 2015, with only 2/5 of the original line up remaining. The new music will now encompass a wide variety of input from Mr. Bittner, Mr. Spencer and Mr. Conley, perhaps Flotsam is about to evolve into a new musical level. All I know is the suspense is killing me and I can’t wait to wrap it around my ears around it as it debuts.


Sabaton Live 5-2-15

sabaton live
Sabaton Live 5-2-15
By Phoenix Romero

Swedish band Sabaton is on tour sandwiched in between Delain from the Netherlands and headling the show at The Marquee Theatre Nightwish hailing from Finland. As we were entering the building I took note that the unbelievably long line of fans waiting for entrance seemed to be clothed in Nightwish attire.

After Delain left the stage and the crew was striking the set, the crowd began to move closer to the barricade. As the set was closer to getting ready, house lights still up; the crowd began to chant “Sabaton…..Sabaton”. You could feel the mood of the crowd change from the light whimsical melodic music of Delain to anticipation of the powerful music of Sabaton that at any moment was going to be unleashed upon them. Still the crowd chanted … “Sabaton…Sabaton.”

Then in a second, the house lights dropped and Sabaton fiercely roared out on the stage, lights flashing, guitars screaming, and their anthem like sound filling the entire theatre. Sabaton’s live performance is robust, and commanding, of its audience’s attention. Even though you may not know the details of every warrior or battle they sing about you can feel the passion and the history in every story their songs tell.

Joakim is mesmerizing in his performance you are completely compelled to watch his every move because he is the story teller. His vocals paint the visual picture of story that the song is written about. The musicianship creates the feeling of the era or time in which the song takes place. Sabaton is so much more than simply watching a band live.

At the end of Sabaton’s set… the crowd begged for more. Of course, graciously the band came back for an encore. When they finished the second time the crowd still was left wanting more, they chanted, yelled and screamed for the band to come back. This crowd although I think not fully expecting it had been fully “Sabatonized” by the nights end.

Incite Live 4-17-15

Incite Live 4-17-15
-by Phoenix Romero

It’s a hometown show at Club Red and Incite is wrapping up the first leg of their first head lining tour of 2015. It’s just 6pm and the line has already formed down the building of concert going metal heads, wanting to make sure they get to the front of the crowd, when Incite hits the stage. The band is home for 2-3 weeks then back out still touring for the Up In Hell album, this time supporting role for Anaal Nathrakh from the UK.

If you like listening to the Up in Hell Album in your car, take note that it in no way compares to the thrashing your metal soul will experience seeing them LIVE! Be warned there will be a mosh pit and you will be in it if you are within a 20 foot radius of the stage. The fans simply cannot help themselves, they tried to obey the signs posted, but as the crushing metal notes slowly take control of them, moshing suddenly becomes mandatory and is no longer voluntary. So get in the pit or get the F**K out of the way!

Drummer Lennon Lopez takes thrash to an undiscovered new level, he is extraordinary, and that alone is an understatement! There are a lot of drummers in metal that tend to just blend in, and as long as they can keep some sort of a beat, they’ll pass. That is not the case here while Lennon’s kit maybe at the back of the stage his sound is ALWAYS front and center.

Christopher El or just EL to most is an absolute bass pounding genius…. and a complete maniac on stage, the intensity of his performance is nothing short of exhilarating. Literally you can’t take your eyes or ears off him. The foundation (Lennon and EL) of this band is so solid a 7.0 earthquake couldn’t crack it.
That leads us to the guitar team of Kevin “Dis” and Dru Tang Rome together the guitar work is brutal, precise, and crisp. LOOK out because Dru is playing a bad ass 7 string that will literally BLOW your mind!

Richie Cavalera’s thunderous vocals will captivate you from the moment his belts out the first note. The fierce energy level coming from the stage immediately intoxicates you. When Richie leans out over the audience, you will know he has you completely under the Incite spell.

Together Incite plays like a well orchestrated metal symphony.

One-Eyed Doll Live 4/24/15

One-Eyed Doll Live

One-Eyed Doll Live 4/24/15
-By Phoenix Romero

What do you get when you cross Lily Tomlin, the variety show antics of Carol Burnett, brilliant musical production and a guitarist featured as one of the Twenty Most Extraordinary Female Guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine? You get One- Eyed Doll!

Kimberlee recently stated that analytics showed One-Eyed Doll appeals to more of an all-ages group, rather than a straight over 21 bar crowd. From what I saw live this band appeals to ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE! There were parents with teenaged kids, young adults in their 20’s, people I see at all the metal shows, in fact I was at the front of the stage sandwiched in between a big buff biker metal head Slayer kind of guy on my left, and a transgender or transvestite 6’3 in heels on my right side that is pretty damn diversified if you ask me!

Instantly you got that childlike feeling of Lily Tomlin sitting in her giant oversized rocking chair(am I dating myself here?) every time Kimberlee Shouted out “It’s story time.” But also like watching Lily, you couldn’t wait to see what story Kimberlee would tell next, or what song the story would lead you into. Because as we all know every song tells a story. During the show Kimberlee would go to her giant magic trunk, and put on different hats or accessories to enhance her stories. I suddenly felt like I was in the middle of the Carol Burnett Show. One -Eyed Doll is a mixture of variety, storytelling, bad ass Nancy Wilsonish guitar playing and refreshingly new innovative music.

When I discovered this band was only a two-piece band I was quite skeptical, about their performance. Now that I have experienced a One-Eyed Doll show, allow me to clarify, this two piece band has a HUGE sound, in fact you don’t even really miss standard bass player, and 2nd guitar player not being present on stage. This show is not only a band playing music but it is true performance art live.