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In October of last year, golden-throated warrior angel Deb Levine appeared at Ventura, California’s fourth annual Frost and Fire Festival as a performer with her remarkable band Lady Beast. It gave her an idea for a throwback metal festival to be held in the Pittsburgh area, one where the sounds of early thrash, power, speed, and New Wave of British Heavy Metal would be celebrated and elevated a la Germany’s Keep It True or Chicago’s...

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Did you know that one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds? There is probably a good chance that someone you know has been impacted by this tragedy. It’s predicted that by the end of 2020, this number will increase to a person every 20 seconds. This concert at the Spirit in Pittsburgh was to raise awareness about this rising epidemic. These five talented groups of artists entertained the crowd with their diverse styles of...

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Robert Collins is equal parts Angry Anderson, Bon Scott, and Howard Stern, and the ex-Dirty Charms crooner has a new joint you need to be schooled on. They’re called Royal Honey, and if you like your rock hard, a little red, sleazy, greasy, and vintage, I regret to inform you that you missed a right corker of a homegrown jam if you didn’t catch their record release shindig at Howler’s this past Saturday night. The...

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  The morbid Yakuza known as Church of Misery have been at large for around 24 years, with only bassist Tatsu Mikami remaining since the day they were born in blood and decided to dedicate their careers to musically documenting the lives and crimes of the very real ghouls that have walked among us. These samurai of doom were to play Pittsburgh once before in 2013 only to be halted by visa restrictions, making this...

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On the seventh of June, the greater Pittsburgh area gained a new concert venue tailored towards locals. The inaugural show at Broken Plow combined the efforts of First Angel Media, Three Rivers Music Therapy, Creatures and Creep Rods, and Broken Plow Western Martial Arts, and acted as a benefit for Soothing Sensations Music Therapy Groups. The venue itself is located off of route 28 in Creighton, PA. The building was once used as a church,...

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  When the spidery riffage and bombast of Coheed and Cambria’s “The Dark Sentencer” clashed with the spiraling mist and blustery wind of an unseasonably gloomy and crisp June evening, I was reminded of how formidable this prog-metal band is and how ferocious and proud they are as a live act as they eschewed their lighter, more syrupy material almost completely. Even poppier fare such as “A Favor House Atlantic” possessed tremendous bite as leader...

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Slough Feg have no parallel in modern metal. They take the obscure gems of the NWOBHM and use them to build new suits of armor while lead by a philosopher/axe warrior/brainac cult leader. I was both mesmerized and astonished by Slough Feg at 2014’s edition of the Alehorn of Power festival in Chicago. Meeting frontman/guitarist Mike Scalzi was like having a brush with a hero of myth. Trying to photograph him was like trying to...

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For forty years on, since the halcyon New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era, a movement that spawned only a handful of superstars, there has been a English-borne act plying their trade sporadically through touring or recording like errant paladins searching for honor more than fortune. They never reached the heights of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon, or even Diamond Head, and their line-ups have been too numerous to keep track of, bassist Lee Payne...

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One must bathe in blood every so often to find purity of purpose. Such was this encounter… Hulking vocalist/guitarist/leader Ethan Lee McCarthy sees demons. As the leader of Relapse alumni Denver sludge/doom act Primitive Man, he has seen visions of hell and is only…an early man, a Neanderthal blessed with high intelligence and immortality from a meteorite. Those horrors danced before his eyes at Brillobox, a Lawrenceville bar/club/hipster haven that was once a darkened neighborhood...

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Heads old and young were bobbing blissfully on a wet, unseasonably chilly Monday evening in Baldwin, a quiet Pittsburgh suburb, to the tunes of progressive, power, and thrash, Metal Church leading the brigade with their fusion of all. Ellwood City’s spray paint vandals Whitethrash cast the first rock with a sardonic and fun set of Nuclear Assault/S.O.D. cherrybomb worship that sufficiently stoked appetites. Locals Storm Dragon were hampered a bit by a bad mix, but...

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Cattivo, an almost unnoticeable bar in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood was the site of a punk/metal uprising the other evening. Call it “crossover” or thrash or plain old punk, this Friday night gig was one of the most unhinged I’ve ever attended. Iron Reagan, a side project formed by alumni of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour, came barreling out of Richmond, Virginia’s hotbed of a metal scene in 2012, and since then have been burning it...

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  This was a night for those who miss hooks, clean vocals, and melodies in their metal, the curmudgeons who gripe about the supposed drought of “good” current bands. In 2014, some friends and I managed to catch Chicago’s High Spirits; once in Pittsburgh and again in their hometown as part of the Alehorn Of Power festival, which was headlined by Slough Feg, who drop in next month. The festival is where I also first...

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  I needed to step away from everything, to take a moment to breathe, because what I had just seen had me on the verge of tears… It’s not often that you discover a band as soon as they form and have the opportunity to watch them every step of the way. You become invested emotionally in the things they do, you take the journey with them. Through their music and social media you watch...

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  When Overkill skinsman Jason Bittner played the intro to Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” as a warm-up exercise, I knew we were about to be pummeled into oblivion. Despite having seen this grizzled band of streetwise avengers numerous times over the years, a feeling of unpreparedness overcame me. It was as if I were a teenager once more, and this was my first gig ever. The sold-out crowd that filled The Rex Theater in Pittsburgh were...

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It’s funny how when I meet and speak with musicians, I end up discussing bands they’re not in more than the band they’re in currently, and the bands that come up in conversation are surprising sometimes until they themselves take the stage. That’s when it all comes together and makes sense. Smoke Wizzard began things with a short set of humorous, harmless stoner metal. Think Primus and Sleep getting together for munchies after a few...

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OK, so “tragedy” might be too strong of a word, but there was certainly some bad luck flowing. We’ve all been the butt of an April Fool’s joke here or there, but what happens when the joke isn’t a joke?  Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and make things happen! On April 1st, the guitarist and bassist for the Wire Riots decided to quit the band over the phone. The next day, the drummer quit,...