Live Photos: Judas Priest & Deep Purple in Atlanta August 14

On August 14, Judas Priest and Deep Purple, brought The Firepower Tour 2018 to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

TAM Photographer Chuck Holloway was on hand to capture the evening.

For more tour dates, visit Judas Priest’s or Deep Purple’s websites.


Judas Priest – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – 2018


Deep Purple – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – 2018

CD Review: “Steppin’ Out” by Beauregard and the Downright

This summer, Beauregard and the Downright released their album Steppin’ Out, a ten track masterpiece that embodies the obscure balance between grit and grace. If you are not familiar with these guys, Beauregard and the Downright is a refreshing blend of folk and reggae with truly soulful southern undertones. These music craftsmen put their heart and soul into each of their performances and did no less for their first album. Steppin’ Out starts out with it’s cover art, as all albums do, but in this case the art houses its known capacity of a thousand words. The front of the album shows a young, tattered survivor shielding his vision away from a post-apocalyptic scene of exploding missiles wiping away any remains of civilization. But that’s just one perspective, which never yields the full picture. On the back of the album, we can see what has captured the lone survivor’s gaze, a scene of tranquility that escaped the self-destruction of mankind, a scene where peace has prevailed and the wonderment of nature roams free. The artwork foreshadows what is found within the tracks of the album, which is a brief, blissful escape from the crazy, chaotic life we all struggle with at the snail’s pace that is the ticking away of time.

Steppin Out starts off strong with the track “Death & Destruction”, a well composed reggae tango where the lead switches between an extremely catchy horn chorus and mellow vocals that capture the chiaroscuro of humanity with each passing verse. Following this solid start, there is a drastic shift in tone with the second track called “Falling in Love”, As done with their album art, Beauregard and the Downright shows that there is more than one perspective on life. From here, the album goes into some very soulful jams that keep it real with some more sick horn melodies and groovy yet gritty guitar rhythms that pair perfectly with the truth found in each songs’ lyrics. Holding down the middle of the album is the ballad “Atlanta Anthem”, a true look into the depths of Atlanta with the unexpected yet delightful strummings of a ukulele. The band even gives some shoutouts to some of the city’s hotspots such as the Old Fourth Ward and local venues that the band frequents, such as the iconic 529 in East Atlanta Village. However, these shoutouts aren’t just an homage to our wonderful city but help spin the tale that is Atlanta, a city of hustlers and players where sorrows are lost in the bottom of glasses and bliss is found within a night out on the town. More bumping tunes follow in the album, with each song full of new surprises to the ears, really showing the dedication that Beauregard and the Downright put into their first big impression in the music scene. There is even a skit thrown in about the ordinary struggles of ordering some good pizza. To close out Steppin’ Out, the band did a cover of “I Wanna Be Like You”, as best known from the movie The Jungle Book, with all of this track being a live studio session with portions that are stark tributes to the aforementioned movie. These guys can definitely say they went out swinging on this album.

Check out Steppin’ Out for yourself to see what all this hype is about. I really am looking forward to seeing, rather hearing, how Beauregard and the Downright tops their sophomore release.

Live Review: Sublime Tribute Band Wrong Way with The Taj Motel Trio at Smith’s Olde Bar

Photos by Stephanie Heath (Facebook/Instagram) – Gallery Found Below

On August 17th Smith’s Olde Bar was bustling with the usual bar flies and concert goers that were partaking in their decompression from a stressful work week. Small hurdles of people crowded the stoop, getting their nicotine and breath of fresh air between shots and sets. Friends gathered around tables of libations, trading conversations of their weekly plights. Patrons were already queueing up to enter Smith’s iconic Music Room before the doors were even open for the night. And there was just cause for this pile up of music enthusiasts. Slated to play that night were Georgia’s own Wrong Way, a seasoned tribute band to Sublime,  and The Taj Motel Trio, a ska band slated to play at this year’s DragonCon.

After attendees got lubed up on drinks and conversation, the curtains in the Music Room drew back to reveal the first act of the night, The Taj Motel Trio. A band hailing from Habersham County, these guys are comprised of the standard trio of a vocalist and guitarist, bassist, and drummer but with the addition of two trumpets, two trombones, and a baritone sax. These guys boast the largest brass section I have even seen in a ska band. And if you didn’t notice, The Taj Motel Trio is not a trio, as their name comes from an inside joke with roots in the band’s hometown. However, names and jokes aside, these guys are the real deal when it comes to performing. Although they are stacked on the brass side, The Taj Motel Trio played a balanced set between all their musicians, with each member of the band given a chance at the spotlight.  Their songs had strong brass intros with harmonies that were sweet on the ears followed by wicked guitar melodies paired with an aligned drum and bass beat. On top of the technical expertise of the band to create a full sound, they show their nerdy side with what they sing about, including video games and Star Wars, with one of their songs literally called “Vader”. Overall, The Taj Motel Trio has the charisma and energy that embodies the spirit of ska music. I give a heavy stamp of approval and look forward to their debut at this year’s Dragon Con.

To continue the night, Atlanta’s own Wrong Way took to the stage with a cool vibe that holds true to their inspiration for their music, Sublime. A classic three piece act, with their lead guitarist on vocals, the band instantly stole the spotlight from the moment the curtains were drawn back, revealing a packed house. This being Wrong Way’s first show in Atlanta in a good while, as the band is constantly touring the southeast, the crowd in attendance really was a testament to the talent behind the band. Each musician had distinct melodies you could pick out in each of their songs that came together in a dovetail of pure delight to the ears. Their drummer has a timeshare in the pocket that he checked into from the first song of the night. He both held the set down and played around with complex melodies to give his drumming more character, something only seen with true masters of the kit. Wrong Way’s bassist kept it real with his impeccable taste in rhythmic beats that rock the soul. His groove could not be derailed by anything other than the occasional sip of a beer to keep his playing loose. The band’s front man guitarist, the last piece of this puzzle that forms a picture of true talent, killed it with his showmanship not to mention his talent on vocals or on guitar. He truly does Sublime’s original front man Brad Nowell justice allowing him to rest easy knowing Wrong Way does his music right. The band played through a full set that consisted of fan favorites of Sublime such as “Santeria” and “Smoke Two Joints” that got the entire venue up in a sing-a-long and even an acoustic break in the middle where their front man got intimate with the audience. Each song had the crowd up in a dance party even with some flow art involved. It was a truly uplifting vibe all around, which is a mark of true connection between a band and it’s audience. Finishing out the night with “Caress Me Down” there was only a room of smiles remaining with the occasional cheering from a patron for more. Wrong Way is definitely a band not to miss if you are looking to get your fix on some good music.

Smith’s Music Room once again hosted some of the best musicians and music fans of today’s scene. As this was my first time visiting this magical venue, I look forward to the next show I catch here, and the next 20 or more after that.

Photo Gallery – Taj Motel Trio

 

Photo Gallery – Wrong Way

Live Review: Hush Money, Magnolia Moon, and Whiskey Tango at Smith’s Olde Bar

Photos by Tori Radcliffe (Gallery at the Bottom)

The evening of August 15th hosted a slew of events in Atlanta that pulled people out of their weekly routines to venture out into the city. Dave Chappelle was in town causing a ruckus of laughter as is his style. Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling were also gracing Atlanta with their talents in a joint tour. However, the right place to be was at Smith’s Olde Bar for their showcase of some of Georgia’s own rock and roll acts. The lineup, consisting of Hush Money, Magnolia Moon, and Whiskey Tango, brought down the house as each band put years of practice into action to entertain their fans. Even some of the usual barflies drifted over to Smith’s venue to witness the talent that took the stage that night.  

First up was Hush Money, a band hailing from Ellijay. These guys played some solid hard southern rock and really showcased their talents in their performance. Hush Money is your classic four-piece band with two guitarists, a bassist with a five string bass, something that adds extra depth to their music, and a drummer. However, they don’t just have one lead singer, as that would be too dull for these good old boys. During their set, the band switched between their two guitarists and drummer taking the vocals on different songs. Yes, Hush Money has three lead singers, each with a different register. These guys are definitely a band to check out as they bring their unique multitude of talents to the Georgia music scene.

Next up for the night was Magnolia Moon, another four-piece band that graced us with their presence all the way from Macon. On first look, these guys have a very southern appearance with the expectation of possibly some country or light southern rock, but Magnolia Moon is anything but light. These guys hold true to their tagline of “grit, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll” with their wicked sound of true southern rock. Imagine if Hendrix and Lynyrd Skynyrd had a baby and you might get close to the mind-blowing music of this band. Their entire performance I had a breakout of goosebumps all over, unable to turn my attention anywhere but at Magnolia Moon. Their frontman and lead guitarist Zack Horton really owns the stage when he plays. With his band behind him, these guys are going places.  As it was their first time playing at Smith’s Olde Bar, I am really looking forward to them coming back to Atlanta. At the very least I want a taste of their cover of “War Pigs” as it would give Ozzy a run for his money.

Closing out the night was Canton’s own Whiskey Tango, yet another four-piece band that is hard to nail down just what they are. To take a stab at it, they are a glam-punk-southern rock band that puts the show in showmanship. Their lead vocalist/guitarist came out on stage to an intro by his bandmates dressed in an open-front purple leotard with a stylish coat. But instead of the standard glam 80s rock sound to match this glorious introduction, Whiskey Tango went right into their set that was brimming with savage guitar riffs, stage dives, behind-the-head guitar playing, and even a backflip. The energy they put off well exceeded the needed quota for the night as the crowd kept their attention on the stage for the next antics the band would get into. And overall, Whiskey Tango looked like they were having a blast up on stage, like the band equivalent of when your favorite song comes on the car radio and you break out in a small musical number. They even threw in a cover of “Under Pressure” that got the entire venue involved in a sing-a-long. Whiskey Tango is truly an experience, not just a band, that you have to witness in person.

Photo Gallery – Magnolia Moon & Whiskey Tango

Slayer Final World Tour

Fifteen thousand metal-heads, ninety degrees of Georgia heat, five thrash bands, and one dixie storm was the formula for the Atlanta stop of Slayer’s current tour on Friday, August 10. Luckily the rain ceased before the beginning of the show, but an early afternoon downpour made sure Cellairis Amphitheater at Lakewood was a steamy cauldron of blood, sweat, beer, and metal for what could be Slayer fans’ last chance to see the band live. Slayer has announced they will be retiring following the conclusion on this tour.

No one would expect to Slayer to end their career quietly and they certainly lived up to expectations enlisting Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, and Napalm Death as opening acts to give the thrash kings a proper send off. All the bands date back to the early eighties and the origins of thrash with the exception of Lamb of God, who formed in the mid nineties.

British extreme metal band Napalm Death opened the show working the early crowd into a frenzy while still in the hottest part a Georgia August day. Bay Area thrashers Testament followed. Like most of the bands, they concentrated on fan favorites including “Over the Wall” and “Practice What You Preach,” but also worked some newer tracks into the set. Guitarist Alex Skolnick upheld his reputation as one the premiere guitar players in metal.

Somewhat surprisingly Anthrax was next on the bill. Certainly Lamb of God has been one of the most popular metal bands of the new millennium and many credit them with ushering in a new era of thrash, but as one of the original Big Four (the Big Four of thrash include the original four thrash bands: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax) many assumed Anthrax would play directly before Slayer. Some fans voiced their opinions that this was disrespectful to Anthrax, but it didn’t dampen their enthusiasm once they took the stage. With original singer Joey Belladonna back in the lineup, they ran down a list of greatest hits from that era including “Caught in the Mosh,” “ Madhouse,” “Antisocial,” “Indians,” and of course the Joe Jackson cover of “Got the Time.” It’s easy to forget that most of the musicians playing Friday are well into their fifties, but Anthrax still performs with the energy they did thirty years ago and Scott Ian is one of metal’s most iconic musicians and personalities. Anthrax has always seemed to be a band that could balance the seriousness and darkness of the music while remembering that ultimately it’s supposed to be fun. It’s good to see that hasn’t changed.

I admittedly have never followed Lamb of God closely but was told to reserve judgment until seeing them live. That was good advice. The band sounded great, but vocalist Randy Blythe commanded the stage with an intensity that could rival any. Pacing back and forth across the front of the stage like a caged lion, Blythe had the pit-faithful in full mosh mode. The front seven rows of seats were removed to make room for a general admission pit directly in front of the stage and the fans put this space to use during Lamb of God’s set.

My indifference to Lamb of God probably stems from an attitude that thrash was not just a style but an era and therefore not seeing any room for something new in genre. I may have to give their music a closer listen to see if I still feel the same way. I would recommend seeing them live and will definitely make an effort to see them perform again.

After four hours of music, the fans were primed for Slayer. They opened with “Repentless” off their most recent album. During the set, flames shot across the stage forming the shapes of pentagrams and inverted crosses. The heat could be felt from at least a hundred out from the stage. They played songs from their entire thirty-eight year career, but the latter half of their set concentrated more on the classics such “Chemical Warfare,” Seasons in the Abyss,” and “South of Heaven,” and the stadium erupted when the opening riff of  “Raining Blood” began. Slayer also paid tribute to founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who passed away in 2013.  A curtain was dropped with the words “Hanneman Angel of Death Still Reigning” written in the design of a Heineken logo, similar to the limited edition beer logo Heineken printed after his death. Knowing the set was coming to a close, Lakewood burst into a deafening roar when “Angel of Death” began. It’s a rare thing to see a band knowing it may be the last time and this was apparent to the fans as few left before the end of the show. It was clear they wanted all the Slayer they could get and Slayer gave them exactly what they wanted.

The tour continues through the end of the year. There are some European festival dates booked for 2019 and rumors of possible Big Four shows in the future, after which Slayer states they will retire. It’s difficult to imagine a metal world without Slayer. Even in my forties it seems like they’ve always been one of the defining bands in metal. Whether this will be the first on many “final” tours or the actual final tour we’ll have to wait and see. I suspect (and hope) that Slayer will continue showing professional dignity and end their career when it’s time without dragging the end out for several years. Either way, a final chance to see them live could be slipping away!

Lamb of God Photo Gallery

Naplam Death Photo Gallery

Testament Photo Gallery

Anthrax Photo Gallery

Slayer Photo Gallery

CD Review: “Bloody But Unbowed” by Halcyon Way

Atlanta metal band Halcyon Way soldiers on with its fourth release, Bloody But Unbowed. It is a fitting title for a band that formed 17 years ago and continue to wave the metal flag down South. The opening track “Deevolution” starts with a stringed section fused with industrial percussion before the guitars and drums kick in. It is a minute-long song that catches the listener off guard. Drummer Aaron Baumoel’s bass drum drives the title track and is accompanied by some thrashing riffs from guitarists Jon Bodan and Max Eve. The guitar leads are a bit weak for such a grandiose track, but overall this is a strong song that must be played live. “Blame” is the lead single on Bloody and is notable for its pulverizing riffs and mechanical drumming which contrasts with frontman Steve Braun’s soaring vocals. There is a tinge of industrial on “Slaves To Silicon” which is appropriate considering the title. This track is a bit slower than the previous songs and has a groove during the song’s verses. “Superpredator” is a bit clunky with its palm muted riffing but is saved by Baumoel’s monolithic drumming. This track is a bit cheesy, but it is still a fun song. “Primal Fear” is an aggressive, dynamic cut with some interesting guitar phrasing that weaves like a maze.

Bloody But Unbowed walks the thin line between seriousness and mirth. Power and progressive bands are known for bombastic and ostentatious musicianship and songwriting (as I have stated in other reviews) but here, the band is clearly having fun. The guitarists are throwing out some nice leads and riffs but do not get too carried away. Braun’s voice is strong and clear, yet goes over the top from time to time. There are hints of Pantera, Dream Theater and Metallica on this album. However, do not expect to hear a song like “One” “Cemetery Gates” or “Pull Me Under.” Halcyon Way does a good job of offering enough variety for everyone. The production is great and special kudos to the drumming production on this album.

Well, Halcyon Way has accomplished its mission on Bloody But Unbowed. It is the fun-loving little brother to Fates Warning and Dream Theater that deserves mention. While grizzled prog and power metal veterans may pass this up, this album is a good introduction to these subgenres. Keep marching on Halcyon Way.

Check out the band’s official Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/halcyonway