Epigram for the last straw - PowerMad99 Report WWW0.ORG / PROG Last Update: 12 Feb 2002


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PowerMad99 Report
By Larry Daglieri and Joe Kruger
(Visit Mindcage.com)

"Here are my rebuttals to Joe's great review of the show.  I didn't have notes, just a memory, and I wasn't as sober as he was, but I remember ........
   Joe I hope you don't mind me stealing your post and adding to it,  I thought it would make some fine counterpoints, if any.

Friday -

Zandelle (~6:00 PM)
    These guys sounded musically like QR during The Warning era. The vocals were slighter higher and screechier than tate - with some very high-pitched screams. The screams were mostly in control as was much of his vocals. They had great chugging rhythm guitar work. It was good fast-tempo POWER progressive metal. The overall tone struck me as "evil" sounding. They played fairly loosely. The band featured pointed head-stocks and a pointy guitar body! They had decent hair aerobics focusing mostly on spin moves. Overall - decent and entertaining enough, but I probably wouldn't buy it.

   I thought for the opening act of Powermad, this band did a great job overall.  I agree with your assessment of the sound, and I thought that the singer / bass player did a wonderful job of keeping it together.  I figured that even though the band was a derivative of early Queensryche, they didn't try to be anything else and have honed their craft well.
What a disadvantage of being THE first band to open Powermad, and they handled it well.

Twisted Tower Dire (~7:00 PM)
   These guys seemed unusually loud. They started out sounding kinda Sabbathy/doomy then switched to mostly pounding aggressive NWOBHM styled metal sounding like older Maiden. They just screamed Testosterone. Musically they were very good individually. The bassist was a crazy slapping fucking madman. The compositions were somewhat chaotic - shifting between straight ahead galloping metal and mildly progressive metal. Their playing was very loose, so I'm not sure the progressiveness of the times was really intended or not. There was really too much unstructured movement in the music to grab my interest. The singer had a cool shaved head and sang seriously high. He had a very cool Halford like vocal banter going on between songs. They did a They were seriously concentrating on their instruments so did no real hair aerobics. Overall - their style isn't my favorite, and the song-writing was lacking. They had great chops but little else to compel me to purchase their stuff.

   This band didn't grab me much either.  I thought that the playing was a bit sloppy and loose, and trying to cover a Mercyful Fate song is just not for any old band to try to pull off. 

Talamasca (8:00 PM)
   The guys played an early Fates type of music complete with a shrieky John Arch style singer. The song-writing was pretty decent with good time changes. The single guitarist was a real fretburner and had a pointy headstock. He had great control and fairly decent solos. He is a serious concentrator on the stage. Another Powerful band. Their playing was fairly loose. A side highlight was watching Mike C. trying to peel the agenda sticker off the tablecloth. All that weightlifting didn't do him any good. Other than some mild head bobs by the guitarist, the band did no hair aerobics. Overall - the musical style was good, but the singing was a little high for my liking. I briefly considered buying the disc anyway just to check it out but was give the "real poor production" warning by two different people.

   As on the disc, the singer was just too much over the top and abuses his high pitched voice too much.  When the voice is that high, it doesn't make sense to waver the pitch because it starts to sound liked a warped LP after awhile.  I found the music to be very cold and empty.  I used to liken this band to a more technical Queensryche influenced band,  but after seeing them live I'll go with the FW comparison to move on.

Division (8:45 PM)
    These guys are extremely entertaining. They really know how to bring in the crowd. They were the fourth straight POWER band with some serious chugga chugga and their amps were cranked to 11. They had great dual guitar work - both with pointy headstocks! The drummer did as well as possible with the little bit of practice that he had with the material. He is very capable, but missed quite a few times. The normal full-time core of the band was reasonably tight. The band got a very loud and positive crowd reaction - they had a VERY big crowd on the floor. They have a big local and internet draw. They had great metal attire - Mike Blevins was wearing a cool t-shirt that read "All I ever needed to know I learned from porno" or something amusing like that. They had a very big sound with a cool Savatage - Power of the Night cover. They had some excellent hair gymnastics - swinging, flailing, tossing, and bobbing. Even Dan was doing it. Overall - an excellent live band - very entertaining. Crushes the powermad audience for the third straight year. More of a straight-ahead power metal style which isn't really my thing, so although I completely enjoyed their live energy, wouldn't be likely to buy their disc.

   This band always brings the crowd to their feet - I believe it's their energy and enthusiasm toward their craft, but I have to admit ( and always have ) that they have one of the finest singers in metal with Scott Stewart, and there is no mistaking his unique voice.  The twin guitar approach between Matt Crooks and Mike Blevins is among the tightest I've seen, and Mike Blevins just slips into his alter ego and abuses himself while playing so hard.  I had no problems with the drummer, although as some of us heard, he missed cued a bit ( I'm sure the band noticed too ) but his style is a death / thrash style I'm told.  Their cover of Savatage's "Power of the Night" was mind boggling to these ears,  and every show I've seen this band just gets better and tighter. 

Antithesis (9:50 PM)
   A fifth consecutive POWER metal band, baby. Power fatigue beginning to set in for this listener. These guys were bonecrushingly heavy with a very 80's styled sound with some mild thrash elements thrown in at times. They had the first singer of the night who sang in the mid-range - he occasionally did some growly stuff and some high stuff. They had two guitarists who were both very good - they traded leads. Both did some major shredding. I didn't notice the shape of their headstocks. The bass guitarist was also quite good. Their playing was also pretty loose. The writing tends to favor aggression over melody, so the band struck me as heavy, but little else. The bass guitarist had some major hair gymnastics as did one of the guitarists - but he needs to let it grow a little longer. Dweeb was in major fan boy mode thru their set. Overall - as heavy as it gets and very good instrumentalists, but the writing just didn't grab me. I'm not likely to purchase.

   Despite the poor production on the disc that people are hearing, the band assured me that their performance would be worlds apart from that sound, and they were RIGHT.  Armed with a new guitarist that smokes, and a singer who can go from a high pitch to a growl, which he mostly used,  the band could do some damage if they stay on track.  The disc is being re-mixed with the new guitarist and this should produce some quality metal if it pans out.

Nightmare's End (11:00 PM)
   I saw these guys last year and wasn't really too keen on them. When some of the crowd suggested a fast food run, I offered to drive. Although I missed a lot of their set, when I returned I found myself liking them. They were mostly doomy & Sabbathy with a strong NWOBHM sound in the bridges. I had kicked myself for not giving them another chance. They were the least dressed band of the night. Two of the members were wearing leather shorts - one of which had some kind of a fringe on it. Didn't see a lot of hair gymnastics. Overall - far better than I had remembered from last year and adequately entertaining. I'll have to check them out further.

   No offense to the band -  I had seen them 3 times before, and they are not my thing so  I headed out for some barbecued pork sandwiches.

Ion Vein (12:00 AM)
   Ion FUCKING vein is what I wrote as the first line of my notes. This was the first band to keep me up on the floor for the whole show. They were fantastic with a great style of melodic power metal. The new songs seem to show good growth. They were the first band of the night that I would describe as tight. Russ's vocals live are much more powerful and in control than they were on the disc? The band had a cool black jean only except for the drummer dress code and definitely the best hair gymnastics of the evening. An interesting side note is that they had a spotlight on the various band members, but couldn't quite figure out who to put into the spotlight at any given time. Overall - these guys put on a great set and were the highlight of the evening. I already have and enjoy their disc, but it does the band no justice compared to their live show. 

   Let me first say that I totally agree with everything you said here.  Most of all about the translation from live show to disc which just loses some in the transfer.  However, like Joe, I ( and everyone else in the place ) headed up to the stage for what an expected great show.  The band delivered even moreso than last year, and I love the guitar interplay between the two players.  Agreed, the singer seems to have more leverage with his voice on stage than he does in a studio and I'd like to see this captured someday on an upcoming disc by the band.  Maybe it's a comfort thing for him ?  He seems VERY comfortable on stage and really lets loose -  and that Midnight / Tate cross in his voice is astounding.  The drummer stands out here - outstanding - and I have to be a bit biased here and admit that Chris Lotesto's guitar playing is as classy as his personality.  This guys brings a certain flair to the guitar that I can't describe, but class just seems to fly from this guy no matter what he does. The band is destined for great things.

Tiles (1:00 AM)
   I suppose every time I think of these guys I have to think of Ken's description of them in his last catalog: "bad rush clone. free sticker" These guys play a very Rush sounding like style of progressive hard and heavy rock with Geddy like vocals and Lifeson like guitar work. In short... I love it. The band lacked the metal band stage antic mentality so they pretty much just stood up there and did their thing. I think everybody was too tired at this point and their rock sound was too different from what had been a POWER evening. I actually thought it was a nice break and would have liked to see them play a little earlier in the evening to kinda break up the power monotony. These guys were incredibly tight. Glenn said that even dweeb could kick the singer's ass. I had planned on purchasing this disc first thing the next day, but they apparently packed up and took all their CDs before I remembered. Overall - the best band of the night for me and a certain purchase. A big step up from their previously recorded works that I own. 

   Oddly, while I thought that the first Rush-like disc they produced would turn me off, I found the change in musical direction of the show quite refreshing, and Tiles had one of the better sounds of the night.  Agreed on the stage persona, but these guys can play their instruments and the singer had a great voice.  I found myself enthralled from start to finish and enjoyed every moment of the show.  The guitarist is certainly right out of the Alex Lifeson school of playing, but he was great.  I looked for their disc briefly, but by the time I decided to spring for it, they had left with the discs.  I will purchase their latest disc, "Presence of Time" I believe, as lots of the songs came from that disc.  Great show !! Class act !!!!


Saturday - 

   Scott McGill's Hand Farm (1:00 PM!!!!!)
Ken said that I had to see this show. I wasn't sure. It didn't sound like my bag, but the last time he said that - about Wyzards - I didn't and I'm still kicking myself to this day. Well, Ken was right. This was fantastic. He has a style that I can only describe as heavy jazz instrumental progressive fusion with incredible, no INCREDIBLE, groove. All three guys are fantastic musicians - probably the best of the weekend. The bassist does some serious soloing and heavy jamming. Stu Hamm would not be a fair comparison - this guy is tons more versatile, way more expressive, and loads more interesting. The drummer plays in a very traditional jazz style. His cymbal work was absolutely the best of the weekend. More interested in putting down a tight groove than wanking. Scott is amazing. His high slung playing style, extreme tone consciousness, and amazing left hand bring about inevitable comparisons to Eric Johnson. The blazing speed, fluid fretwork, and tuneful writing bring to mind the smoothness of Alan Holdsworth. He had a sweet, sweet, sweet tone. Overall - tight, shred-styled playing of fusion type music filled with heart and soul. As much as I've generally leaned away from instrumental discs lately - this one will be added to my to-get list.

  I had seen Scott play several months earlier at a college radio station, and I couldn't believe my eyes.  I had never seen playing like this before in my lifetime.  It would be difficult for me to listen to this type of music day in and day out, but if this guy is around, I'm watching.  I've said it before,  there are musicians, there's ridiculously great musicians, and then there's Scott McGill.  Budding guitarists do not watch this guy or risk giving up the career.

Midevil (2:10 PM)
   Wimps and posers leave the hall. These guys play TRUE METAL! - very traditional 80's styled US power metal. They were pounding, they were loud, they were heavy. CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA. They mixed up the tempos just enough to keep it interesting. The drummer had a serious Lars-like pounding style but tossed in quite a bit of rhythms that are atypical for metal. They all did some very serious hair gymnastics. Overall - entertaining and interesting enough, but not really my style. I probably wouldn't buy their stuff.

   I have no idea how or why I didn't catch this set.  I certainly was in the building though.

Forte (3:30 PM)
   These guys play balls to the wall grinding thrash with a whole pump your fist into the air kinda vibe. They were pretty tight and had a very unusually clean sound for this style of music - I had thought that they might have their own sound guy - I don't know. The singer basically just screamed at a very high pitch and did the "let's hear it for metal" banter. Pointy headstocks are mandatory for this type of music. The band was full of energy and probably every bit as entertaining and enthusiastic as Division. The hair gymnastics were the most impressive of the weekend - I'm talking about major neck injuries - spinning, twirling, tossing, pumping, bobbing, shaking - these guys never kept their heads still. Overall - I already own one of their CDs and that's enough. This is so much not my style of music that I left about five songs into their set for a food break. This band would have caused a Ralf Walter jean change.

  Agreed -  the thrashy, brutal approach caused me to block out the set; or was that the alcohol ?

Cage (~4:45 PM)
   I think I entered about one song into their set. These guys play TRUE METAL! - very traditional 80's styled US power metal based on classic metal. They did it right. These guys would have been kings back in the day - even Misfit would probably like them. They sounded quite a bit like older Priest. They did a cover of Savatage's - Dungeons Are Calling that was excellent. The band actually reminded me of Priest in the sense that the players seemed to have all their roles down. Although they were a little loose, they were as melodic as hell. The singer seems like a bit of an odd character - apparently he's gotten some notoriety for being on TV about some football team's draft pick - but he has a great voice and great control. The guitarists do the Tipton/Downing lead trades superbly. Great crowd banter - "we're not fucking around" and "we follow the blueprint that our heavy metal forefathers laid down for us". Very little hair gymnastics. Overall - my favorite straight POWER band of the weekend, but I wouldn't buy their stuff. I've already got all the old priest stuff.

   Now, I've owned the disc for quite some time and I was impressed by their ability to re-create the Priest / Savatage thing quite well.  I was even more impressed by their live show, and I guess when you admit that you're following in someone else's footsteps, and just go for the throat, which these guys did, then the band can get on with doing the best at what they do best and it seems more enjoyable from that standpoint.   This is solid, 80's style power metal done well.

 Soundscape (~7:30 PM)
   The gap in times is a result of the Ice Age vehicle breaking down. Soundscape had earlier plans for the day, so was just arriving when they were needed on stage. These guys are gonna become known for their incredibly looooooooonnnnnnnnnggggggg sound checks at Powermad. I think that even some of the fans were getting annoyed. Despite the long wait, these guys were the best band up to that point. Thorne is a total poser, but he's such a great frontman that it doesn't bother me. His vocals and keywork are fantastic. Todd Rose was definitely the best metal guitarist present. I'd probably even consider him one of the top 5 guitarists in progressive metal right now. He is incredibly versatile - he's fantastic at shred, fantastic at rhythm, and always play the appropriate solos without wanking out. The new material contains a lot of stuff that is wah-ed stuff done right (to my liking). It sounds more like progressive metal than rock, but doesn't rely on excess dt-clonage. They have their own unique sound. Overall - great musicians & vocalists, fantastic stage show, and superb writing. I already have all their stuff, except for the new stuff that hasn't arrived in the mail yet (hint hint).

   I believe it was Alzn who came up with one of the best descriptions of this band I've ever read.  He said something to the effect of "sounds like a hybrid of techno prog rock mixed in with glam rock with a Vince Neil style singer."   Strange and it works.  On stage, I have to admit that there is more energy at a Soundscape show than most other bands can emit in a career.   Say what you want about the 2-hr soundcheck, I know it's not fair, but when you put on a show like these guys do,  at least the wait is worth it.  These are serious musicians,  and when you have a Todd Rose in the band,  it's hard not to be recognized.  Todd is absolutely one of the best guitarists I've ever seen, period.  The guy plays a style different from most in which he uses his leads as rhythm.  His humble personality and friendly approach to fans make him one of the best examples of a musician ever.   Thorne can be dramatic, as showcased at this show,  but the guy can work a crowd and play like no other front man can.  Hey,  about the hat,  I called him and asked him to bring it to the show and he said "absolutely" ....... There is no mistaking his unique vocal approach either.   With a massive bottom end behind them,  the band just smokes the stage from top to bottom, and let me just say for the record, that Soundscape has played all 3 Powermad shows, and have the distinct honor of having the crowd yell "MORE" at all 3 shows, even bringing them back for an encore last year.   When they are able to transfer this massive, thunderous energy to a disc in the future, the band will make a serious dent in the music world.

Evergrey (8:30 PM)
   I admit to not being much of a power metal fan, especially the newer German power metal kind of stuff. Unfortunately when people talk about new power metal nowadays it Helloween and their derivatives that they are talking about for the most part. Evergrey is GOOD power metal, the old fashioned original kind. They are blistering, dark, heavy, exciting, incredible. Tom's vocals are amazing. Someone needs to teach him how keep his guitar in front of his hands so that whole world doesn't see him fixing his zipper :-) I was temporarily worried that the guy fixing his wire tangle mess was gonna knock him over. As Glenn mentioned - he did a great job covering his mistake. Overall - my reaction was holy shit - they pulled it off live despite being totally annoyed with the poor monitor settings. Buy and die. Here's the set list - from the copy I snatched off the stage:
: 1. Blackened Dawn
: 2. Solitude Within
: 3. Nosferatu
: 4. Dark Discovery
: 5. She Speaks...
: 6. Shadowed
: 7. Damnation
: 8. When The River Calls
: 9. The Corey Curse

   I'm totally biased when it comes to this band -  I'll say right off the bat that this band has taken Powermad to new heights for me, and I can't remember the last time I got so high from a show as I did when this band hit the stage. 
   From the opening notes of Blackened Dawn to the closing notes of The Corey Curse, these guys did not let up for one minute.  The band wreaks of sheer power, darkness, atmosphere and incredible melodies -  this is the main ingredient that makes this band what it is -  the dark power mixed in with the right amount of melodies make this band totally indestructible at the moment. The songs are laced with dark emotion, sadness, haunting samples and stories and yet - there is some warmth to the music.  It could be Tom's super raspy yet passionate voice, or it could be the eery keywork that accompanies the music.  The band had the keyboards, backing vocals and samples "flown in" and they were triggered exactly on cue without missing a beat.   The band also pulled in what I believe was the loudest response from the crowd -  being down in front just below Tom Englund's feet, I was caught between the loud, bombastic music and the roar of the crowd behind me.  Tom Englund, the towering singer who plays guitar, probably stood at least 15 feet over me counting the stage - and he looked down at me and dedicated "Nosferatu" to me which for me was the highlight of the entire 3 days.  The guy sang and played his ass off despite getting tangled up in some wire and had to have it removed by a stage hand.  Dan Bronell, the other guitarist, stayed quiet over in his corner but put out some serious guitar sounds the whole time.  He was the most quiet guy in the band,  and it's hard to imagine that this guy plays some of the meanest, darkest power metal around.  Daniel Nojd, the scariest dude in the band (aka "fruitboy")  managed to maintain a steady bass beat despite numerous wiring problems and monitor problems - a true professional.  Before the show, I went up Patrick Carlsson the drummer and teased him about not looking like a drummer seeing how all the other members were so much larger than he was -  but when the time came to pound away, the guy blew my mind.  Like Teddy Moller, size had no meaning when it came to being able to literally destroy a drum kit the way these guys did.  I was totally impressed. 
   Powermad will never be the same -  Evergrey flew into the United States,  stopped off at Powermad and literally laid waste to the hall.  If Evergrey and Mayadome were the only bands to have played this show, the trip alone would have been worth it for me.  My personal thanks go out to the band for allowing me to be part of the Swedish invasion, and for not listening to me when I tried to talk them out of coming here.  This band had to overcome tons of obstacles to get here, financially and physically, and when Tom said that he wanted to come to the show to meet all of the PM people,  that showed his dedication to his fans.  Thanks again Evergrey for making this the best Powermad ever, and for allowing me to be part of the Evergrey journey.........

Mayadome (10:00 PM)
   Teddy rules. Bassel rules. Mayadome rules. I had not yet listened to the new disc when these guys played, but the first disc is one of my favorites. They do a heavy DT-styled progressive metal with the aggression turned up a notch from most of the stuff in the genre. They are all great musicians- very tight, and it was fantastic to hear heavy powerful music with keyboards also. Teddy did some amazing background vocals. Everybody in the place was just glued to the band - they went over very well. A major coup for Keith Menser - to get these guys on his label, at the Mars store, and at Powermad. Well done, Keith. The only complaint about these guys is that the dry ice was simply blasting non-stop throughout their set. It was almost impossible to even see Teddy's drum work. A band heavily influenced by DT, but with their own super aggressive twist. The female vox were great also. Overall - the fourth straight extremely excellent band. Buy their stuff.

   Following Evergrey on stage might be somewhat intimidating for any band - especially after the awesome show that they put on.  I would not want to be in the position of having to try to work up the crowd again when just about everyone in the place was void and drained of energy that Evegrey sucked dry.  To show what class Mayadome has,  Teddy was up on stage helping to put together the drums for Patrick Carlsson ( Evergrey drummer ) before their set.  Teddy told me that he had been looking forward to seeing Evergrey for quite some time and that he was very excited about sharing the stage with them.  After Evergrey was finished, Mayadome hit the stage with such ferocity that the crowd came alive suddenly as if renewed with some hidden strength and the Maydome show was underway.  The power that this band displays is phenominal.  Teddy is a complete madman behind the drum kit and his stature belies the ability he has to play as well as he does.  I had trouble following his motions,  it was like he had arms and hands everywhere, and just never stopped for a moment.  In addition,  Teddy is an awesome singer,  all the while playing with such conviction without missing a note;  he is an amazing musician.  Bassel suddenly starts to sing and you'd never guess that a voice that powerful came from a guy almost as small as I am.  Minus the vocal processings on the disc, and with backing help from Teddy,  Bassel took control of the stage immediately and worked the crowd into a frenzy.  Fredrik was amazing on guitar, certainly outshining the already brilliant performance he laid down on the disc and carrying the driving, crunching sound throughout the show.  The bass and keyboards put the melodies and bottom end to this tour de force and Mayadome proved that they are not just another bunch of pretty faces.  They played songs from "Paranormal Activity", "Near Life Experience" and some newer material - and also they were recording the show for a live disc in the future.  The Swedish dynamic duo of Evergrey and Mayadome simply arrived in America and laid total waste to the Tall Cedars Lodge in Towson, MD.  I don't believe that Powermad will ever be the same after this show, and I wish Mayadome and Evergrey all the success in the world - they certainly proved that they are among the best in their respective genres and there is no doubt in my mind that people will be talking about this Powermad combination for many years to come.  Both bands paid enormous amounts of money to get here, and it was a pleasure to have been part of the nuclear blast known as the Evergrey / Mayadome explosion that rocked Maryland.

Holy Mother (11:40 PM)
   Fuck. These guys win the DWHITT Fuck Award. Mike Tirelli is a great singer, comparable to Dio and Jon Oliva, but is a little too strong on the "fuck" everything banter. They play straight ahead power metal. They did a fairly poor cover of Priest's You've Got Another Thing Coming. They had a song introduced as coming from a 97 release that had a total Painkiller vibe to it. A newer song called Armageddon contained a bit snipped directly from Heaven & Hell. Actually, Mike Hall and I thought they were switching to a cover, but it wasn't. I don't know if it was intentionally written into the song or tossed in live as a semi-tribute type of deal or just a plain ripoff. Randy Coven played bass - I loved his work on the disc with Al Pitrelli. Tirelli used to be in a rough bar band called Dirty Looks that I think played the Alrosa Villa here in Columbus like every other weekend back in my younger days. I didn't like him then a whole lot either. Overall - fairly uninteresting stuff to me. Admittedly I was completely POWERed out by this time. 

   You hate to see things like this happen.  From what appeared to be a very good melodic power metal band with a good, strong singer,  all of a sudden turned into lots of the crowd suddenly leaving or turning their backs on the band.  Having to follow Evergrey and Mayadome certainly would leave me scared and anxious as well, but to lash out a drained, amazed crowd didn't help Holy Mother's cause very well.  I can't say that I saw anything after about 2 songs and tons of "fuck you's", so I shot the shit with the great bartenders who handed more than one free one to me during the night ( you two rule ).

Lethal (1:00 AM)
   I own the Programmed disc from this band. I had annoyingly referred to it half jesting/half serious as a second rate clone of a second rate band. Actually, I do like the disc, but wouldn't be likely to put it into my top 100. Their set contained two songs from that disc, two songs from Poison Seed, and the rest was new stuff. I think the band was actually happier playing the new stuff, despite the crowd's demand for stuff from Programmed. Mallicoat has lost absolutely nothing over the years. They play a fairly melodic and mildly progressive style of progressive metal with a singer who sounds quite a bit like Tate. If that's your bag, this would have been THE band of the weekend for you. The playing was very tight, very competent despite being non-flashy. The band had a great stage presence and played with quite a bit of energy. They actually inspired one bold fellow to stage dive into the crowd. They had plenty of pointy headstocks and flying V guitars and were pretty decent in the bobbing category of the hair gymnastics. Overall - they were pretty durned good. I did feel sorry for their obvious desire to progress because of the fans obvious desire for them to regress. It was a shame that they had to take the stage so late and leave while they were still willing to play some more. It was amusing to see Glenn, Larry, and Mike Campbell turn into total fan boys after the show. I thought Mallicoat was a janitor prior to the show, he is probably the humblest, shyest, and most down to earth guy in progressive metal. He was really taken aback by the crowd worship.

   Well, you're right.   I've been a fan of Tom Malicoat's for about 12 years, and getting to meet him and hear Lethal play finally was one of the greatest moments ever for me.  I thought Mike Campbell was playing a nasty joke on me and told me that the short, skinny guy with the baseball cap on was Tom Malicoat.  I proceeded with caution over to this guy and mumbled "Tom" to make sure he turned around.  He did and I promptly gushed all over the poor dude and said my piece of worship to him.  Later after the show, my dear Keri was nice enough to snap a pic of me, Tom, Glenn and Mike and then Tom was besieged by the adoring crowd and disappeared among people.  The band went on late, and it was clear that Malicoat was pissed - which may have been why he sang with so much conviction - the man is awesome.  Certainly the "Programmed" material went over much better than the newer material, and I wonder if this irks a musician or not to have this happen in a crowd.  In the meantime, the band was incredibly tight and nuclear, as if they had always been together.  I'll bet that I never see Lethal play live again -  but 12 years was worth the wait for this godly singer and band.

Sunday  -

Monument (1:20 PM)
   These guys were just basic mildly progressive thrash - totally not my stuff. Ralf would have creamed for these guys. They had a pounding groove, ear-piercing guitar tones, and standard rough thrash vocals. They were pure PAIN to me. They had a decent booth set up all weekend and did a good job of self-promotion. Their vocalist pointed it our during his banter - "our CD is over there. Hell, by the end of the night we might even negotiate." They were serious hair farmers with some nice bob-fling styled hair gymnastics. Overall - thrash isn't my stuff so it isn't fair for me to offer any kind of opinion, but I can't help but think that the singer doesn't say Fuck nearly enough for them to hit it big. 

  I believe that I looked over at Joe's scribbling and he was writing the word PAIN before he showed me that he was.  I believe I headed for the bar next door to the place while this set continued on as thrash is not my thing.

Andeavor (2:45 PM)
   A prog metal four piece in the standard clonage vein. The lead guitarist had a very Lifeson like tone and style. The music itself was your basic DT/FW combination with some cool guitar synth/MIDI stuff going on. Clean vocals, genre prototypical prog-metal earning a big thumbs up from the Harvester. An obvious (to me) Xian band (not cheesy obvious like stryper or Narnia though) with a spiritual message and some joyful noise if that is your bag. Very competent musically, but fairly loose live. I think it may have been one of their first live performances. No hair gymnastics at all. Overall - not the most original of bands, but still interesting to me. I bought the CD immediately. The keyboard player is also in Leger De Main, the prog rock band.

     I'm a chump for the lighter side of prog metal as I am for the heavier side and Andeavor is just that band that I had heard over and over again through the PA system wondering who the hell this band was just as I did 2 years ago with Ice Age at the first Powermad show.  The combination of almost "poppy" melodies mixed in with that guitar synth sound, outstanding melodic singer, and great guitarist left me wanting to hear more about these guys.  Jeroen and Claus prepared me that this band was coming, and sent some MP3's to whet my whistle, but it didn't do this band justice as they caught my attention immediately.   I procrastinated and lost out on the chance to grab their disc ( why do bands leave with these things ? )  and sent me on a bit of a hunt to find one which turned out to be a lost cause.   I'll be tracking this band down in the future -  and their cut on the Powermad sampler is simply riveting to these ears.  This band could catch on to the Ice Age / Aztec Jade crowd very easily.

October Thorns (4:00 PM)
   The winner of the Big O Award For Originality. They play extremely PROGRESSIVE metal with only the slightest hint of DT influence. The music is very aggressive with quite a bit of jazz tendencies - especially in the rhythm section. All very young and very talented. The singer is extremely diverse and even brought his own effects. His style is wildy varied - mostly high-pitched clean vocals with a lot of death growls, grunts, and other lower-pitched aggressive vocals. These guys were the great find of the year. Overall - very cool, very original. Looking forward to their disc. 

   Every year, there is a band that just stands out and becomes "the unanimous discovery" for everyone.  When I saw this very unknown band open the Big Bang show last month in CT,  I predicted that this would be the surprise band of the show, not including Evergrey and Mayadome.  On Sunday, when the band started playing,  the look on many faces proved my theory correct and the band proceeded to win over the crowd.  Try to describe this band in a word or two -  not happening.  With twin guitarists, one of whom is only 16 I believe,  the other a Mike Wilton style ( and look-alike  )player, and one amazing singer, the band plays some sort of a cross between melodic power metal that twinges with some death metal structures and vocal grunts amidst some interesting progressive twists and turns.  One moment the singer is playing a portable keyboard, singing in a Midnight type tone and the next he is down on his knees growling like the great goat slinger down below, but not in an irritating or lengthy way that death bands do it.  This is strictly for atmosphere within the song -  it's not written as the song.  The music is amazingly diverse and fresh, and the band certainly has a future here in the metal world.  My small complaint with this band ( and it's preference ) is that I'd like to see them incorporate their styles into one rather than take us back and forth with levels of song style changes - like from melodic to brutal.   I believe people would rather have it all mixed into one style than have 2 different, distinct styles if that makes sense.  At least Matt Johnsen and Ken Golden stated the same.   The other cool thing that this band did was that the singer greeted the Perpetual Motion Board in between the set, and showed how down to earth he is.  Great act -  much success to this band -  looking forward to their disc when it gets released.

Cipher (5:20 PM)
   I had plans to bug out about this time in order to hook up with my mom for dinner. I grew up in the Baltimore area - I come from the sludge along Bear Creek in Dundalk. These guys were difficult to categorize. They played power metal, but slowed down at times to a doom-like pace, and sped up to a thrash-like pace. The singer varied from a clean mid-ranged vocals to extremely high-pitched screams and shrieks. The guitarist added some death growled vocals as well. The band was angry and aggressive and seemed to have some modern influences as well. I think Ralf would have digged these dudes. The guitarist had a great sense of melody, but chose not to use it very often. They did a decent enough cover of Spreading the Disease. I read their bio in the book and they were supposed to have another guitarist. I also noticed that they were from Hatboro, PA a suburb of Philly. I went to high school in PA and was in the marching band. I remember that the high school in Hatboro/Horsham always had one of the best bands there every year. Very precise - almost like a drum corps. The guitarist did some good hair gymnastics. Overall - really not my style - so its difficult for me to judge. I didn't leave during their set though, so that has to say something. 

  It was here that the Dweeb and I made our traiditional journey to a fantastic Chinese restaurant around the corner with Chris and Joel from Reading Zero.  Missed this one.

The End at last.
Not quite -

New Eden -
   I believe this is one of Dennis Gulby's traditional power metal bands - except that this band was not traditional.  First off, this was one of the tightest power metal bands of the event - with their twin white Strats? I believe, the two guitarists were absolutely brilliant and reminded me of the tightness of the Mercury Rising duos of yesteryear.  Second, the singer, who had a GREAT voice,  needs to lose the black leather outfit, and tails off the microphone and get into t-shirts and jeans like the others in the band.  The black gloves need to be stored as well.  This is speedy, tight, explosive, power metal played in the traditional sense, but this twin guitar attack is quite amazing.  Somehow his band manages to sneak in speed without sounding like they are speed metal.  The drums are beating to a certain time, while the guitars chug away in a different time zone - the result is honestly something of brilliance.  The mighty warriors, metal kings, and whatever else a band of this style sings meant nothing - it was the sheer brilliance of the guitar players that made this enjoyable for me.  The singer had a VERY melodic voice, until I believe he blew it out midway -  but to his credit, continued on in that high range while obviously suffering some pain and instead of creeping down an octave, let it rip the rest of the way.  I doubt the guy could talk after the show.  I do recommend this band to serious power metal lovers, and I do not know how the disc sounds, but I'll bet those twin guitars will blow some minds regardless......  great job.

Cyrcle IX -
  Are we done yet ?  Well, not exactly, as  Cyrcle IX, a band that Michael Romeo turned Ken and I onto awhile back took the stage.  They opened with the intro to Dream Theater's "A Change of Season", and then, as many bands should not, or will not do, launched into the greatest cover of Queensryche's "Queen of the Reich" I've ever heard.   What I thought would amount to maybe a medley of cover songs, thinking that this band cannot pull this off,  ended up being the entire song sung NOTE FOR NOTE by the singer.  They were a younger bunch -  and this singer had HUGE nads for getting out in front of this crowd and making them think he would last the entire song, and he pulled it off brilliantly.  They now had my attention for the rest of the show.  In the midst of their show, they played a cover of Rush's "YYZ" and again, pulled it off brilliantly.  For the rest of the show,  they played a very melodic set of unoriginal but well done power metal that showed these guys listen to Queensryche on a regular basis.  The songs were well thought out,  and the singer's idol Geoff Tate became his alter ego and the guy never let up for a moment.  The shining part of the band was easily the guitarist, a short haired, good looking kid that KNOWS his Alex Lifeson inside and out.  Lots of people ( I counted all 48 of them including staff ) bought their 4-song EP as a tribute to these kids getting out there and playing their ass off for virtually no one.   Look for more from this band if they keep at it.

   I did not catch October 31 show - I believe that I was still munching out on Peking Duck at the Chinese restaurant with the Reading Zero  guys"

Epigram for the last straw ©2000

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