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MEGADETH, Suicidal Tendencies, Children of Bodom & Havok Live in Phoenix, Ariz. – 2/27/16

This time last year, the future of Megadeth was uncertain to the public. Guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover had left the band within hours of each other in November. Bandleader, lead singer, and guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson were auditioning replacements.

There were rumors of a Rust in Peace (1990) lineup reunion. It was attempted, but it didn’t happen.

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Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler were officially announced as Megadeth’s newest members in Spring 2015.

The band’s latest effort, Dystopia, was released this January. Widely acclaimed, it hit #3 on the Billboard Top 200. It beat Adele and Justin Bieber for the #1 iTunes spot in Canada and has been regarded by many as Megadeth’s finest album in decades (or at least since Endgame).

Fresh on the heels of Dystopia‘s success, Megadeth set out on the killing road with a killer set of supporting bands in tow: legendary crossover punks Suicidal Tendencies, Finnish melodeath virtuosos Children of Bodom, and emerging Colorado thrashers, Havok. I am a fan of all the bands on the bill and had seen them all previously, which made me particularly excited for this show.

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Havok opened with four songs. Among those were “D.O.A.” and “Give Me Liberty… Or Give Me Death”. On my side of the pit, you couldn’t hear David Sanchez’s vocals very well, but the band put on a hell of a show, as was expected of them. Considering I had seen them play to packed smaller venues, I was surprised that more people in the crowd did not know who they were. I was also slightly disappointed that they only played four songs. But even though most of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with the band at first, Havok was given hearty applause once they finished their set.

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Children of Bodom played another short set, which included songs from their newest album, I Worship Chaos (2015), and classic material like “Hate Me” and “Angels Don’t Kill.” The guitars were nearly inaudible on my side, which saddened me, because I really admire Alexi Laiho’s guitar work. The sound levels were fixed about halfway through their set. Regardless, Bodom shredded.

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Up to this point, the crowd was mostly calm in my area, with a few people moshing and one girl crowdsurfing during Bodom’s set. But once Suicidal took the stage, all hell broke loose.

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Suicidal Tendencies opened with a ripping version of “You Can’t Bring Me Down,” and singer Mike Muir was running and jumping all over the stage throughout their whole set. None other than Slayer’s Dave Lombardo was behind S.T.’s kit. Their dynamic seven-song set was filled with hits like “Institutionalized” and “I Saw Your Mommy”. The crowd was going wild, with plenty of people headbanging, moshing, and crowd-surfing. Even though they had small rigs (the guitarists only had half-stacks), they were the best-sounding band of the night so far, and definitely the most energetic.

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Next up was the band everyone was waiting for.

Suicidal quickly tore down their equipment, and a curtain dropped, revealing the massive futuristic apparatus Megadeth would be playing in front of. It was nice surprise to see Mustaine’s guitar tech, Willie Gee, setting up. From what I knew, he had retired last year.

About twenty minutes later, the lights went down. An intro animation of Megadeth’s logo danced on the video screen as “Prince of Darkness” played in the background. Then, the band launched into “The Threat Is Real,” strutting onstage as lights flashed and smoke machines went off.

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Dave Mustaine may not be the most flamboyant frontman in metal, but he strode all over the stage throughout the band’s set, bobbing his fiery mane up and down while his fingers danced all over the fretboard. His voice sounded in particularly great condition tonight. Even though the band was tuned down to D to accommodate his vocals, it gave the songs an added darkness.

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David Ellefson and Kiko Loureiro also walked up and down the stage as they played, heading back to their microphones in time to sing backing vocals. Even as they sang, they smiled and interacted with the crowd, throwing us picks in between songs. To say Kiko nailed Marty Friedman’s solos would be an understatement.

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Chris Adler was situated atop a massive drum riser embedded into their futuristic stage prop. I couldn’t see his face much during the actual show, but the pictures I took show him smiling.

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Their setlist spanned 30 years; they played material off most of their albums from Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? (1986) to Dystopia (2016). It was awesome to hear some deeper cuts from Rust In Peace like “Dawn Patrol” and “Poison Was The Cure,” as well as their hits like “A Tout Le Monde”.

What struck me as odd was that the Phoenix crowd did not seem to know the “Megadeth, Megadeth, aguante Megadeth” chant that Argentina had pioneered for “Symphony Of Destruction”. Not only do the Argentinian crowds chant it, but so do the crowds in other Latin countries. Fellow Latino Kiko Loureiro came to my side of the venue and saw me mouthing those words, then he smiled at me.

As the four members united at center stage to take their final bow and throw picks and wristbands into the audience, my only thought was, “Why did it have to end?”

I had seen Megadeth before. Not once, but three times, and those three shows paled in comparison to this one. It was like I had seen a different band, and in a sense, I had. All the members seemed legitimately happy to belong to the same group, and you could feel their radiance beaming from the stage.

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Catch this tour if you can. You won’t regret it.

Megadeth Setlist:

  1. The Threat Is Real
  2. Hangar 18
  3. Kingmaker
  4. Wake Up Dead
  5. In My Darkest Hour
  6. Sweating Bullets
  7. Dystopia
  8. Dawn Patrol
  9. Poison Was The Cure
  10. She-Wolf
  11. Trust
  12. Skin O’ My Teeth
  13. Fatal Illusion
  14. A Tout Le Monde
  15. Symphony Of Destruction
  16. Peace Sells
  17. Holy Wars…The Punishment Due

Other setlists: Suicidal Tendencies, Children of Bodom

 

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Video

Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe Acquitted in Manslaughter Case (vlog)

Thoughts on Randy Blythe’s manslaughter trial.


This Week In Metal: Slayer, Machine Head, Mayhem Fest and more

  • In what came as as a shock to metalheads everywhere, Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo was allegedly fired for questioning contractual matters. You can read the full statement on his Facebook page.

Slayer released a statement shortly afterward, confirming that John Dette from Testament will be replacing Lombardo on the upcoming Australian tour. It is unclear when or if Lombardo will be readmitted into the band.

  • Another shocking lineup change. Machine Head bassist Adam Duce has left the band. Robb Flynn remains the sole original member. An official statement released on the band’s website describes the split as “amicable,” and they wish Duce the best in his future endeavors.
  • Loudwire premiered Anthrax’s new cover of AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” Their covers album, “Anthems,” will be released March 19.

In other Anthrax news, former guitarist Rob Caggiano performed onstage with Volbeat for the first time.

(link from Blabbermouth.net)

  • Ghost B.C. (formerly known as Ghost) released the music video for their single “Secular Haze”. They also released the album artwork for “Infestissumam,” which goes onsale April 19.

Ghost Artwork

  • A new TV commercial was unveiled to promote the 2013 Revolver Golden God Awards, which will take place May 2. The video features Chris Jericho, Zakk Wylde, Sebastian Bach and others. Metallica is headlining the show. You can vote for the award recipients here.
  • Skid Row debuted a preview of their new single, “Kings of Demolition” and announced that they have signed a deal with Megaforce Records. Their new EP, “United World Rebellion – Chapter One,” will be released in North America April 16.
  • Other bands that have released studio updates this week: Megadeth, Children of Bodom, Steel Panther, Deep Purple.
  • The official Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival lineup for 2013 will be released on March 18. A rumored lineup includes Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Lamb of God, Children of Bodom and Amon Amarth.

Thus concludes this week in metal.


Why the Grammys Are Clueless About Metal

Unless you’ve been away from the headbanging world, you are aware that Halestorm won the 2013 Grammy for “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance”. This win is historic in the sense that singer Lzzy Hale is the first female singer to ever be nominated for that category and win.

By all means, congrats to Halestorm. They are a hard working band and “Love Bites (So Do I)” is a great song.

But once again, this decision reflects the cluelessness of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), the head of the Grammys, when it comes to metal.

The hard rock/metal category has undergone several changes.

The first and only “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental” Grammy was awarded in 1989. It was expected that Metallica would win. Their album “…And Justice For All” had spawned the hit “One” and was their best-selling album to date.

But non-metal band Jethro Tull won.

Jethro Tull released an ad in Billboard Magazine showing a picture of a flute and the line, “The flute is a real, heavy metal instrument!” Subsequent editions of Metallica’s “…And Justice For All” contained a sticker reading “Grammy Award LOSERS.”

Metallica: Grammy award LOSERS. Photo courtesy frenk tatranky on Flickr.

Metallica: 1989 Grammy award LOSERS. Photo courtesy frenk tatranky on Flickr.

Entertainment Weekly called it one of the biggest upsets in Grammy history.

Due to criticism of the academy, separate hard rock and metal categories were created (though the two genres were recombined into one category for the 2012 awards.)

Here are some more examples of the board’s knowledge:

  • Metallica won the 1991 metal Grammy for their cover of Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy,” though Queen itself was never nominated.
  • Motörhead won the 2005 metal Grammy for a cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash”.
  • The 2009 metal Grammy was awarded to Judas Priest for a live version of “Dissident Aggressor,” a song originally released in 1977.

Now it’s 2013, and though the board appears to have made progress, there are still changes to be made.

Up against Halestorm were Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Anthrax, Marilyn Manson and Lamb Of God.

Iron Maiden has one Grammy to their legendary name. They are often credited as one of the pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and are regarded as one of the most successful metal bands of all time.

Anthrax and Megadeth are two of the Big Four of Thrash Metal, which were credited with popularizing the genre. Neither have won a Grammy. Megadeth holds the record for the most Grammy nominations (eleven) in the metal category without a win.

The hard rock/metal category is the still the only one dedicated to this art form and the award is not televised. Eddie Trunk and other metal journalists have complained about the outright disrespect for these musical genres by the board.

Though the talent of all this year’s nominees is unmistakable, Halestorm’s win is reminiscent of actions by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Winners and inductees are not chosen according to a band’s record sales or influence, but according to politics.

While KISS, Deep Purple (“Smoke on the Water”), Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and countless other influential rock and metal bands have yet to be inducted, newer bands like Guns N’ Roses and non-rock acts like Madonna are in there.

With all due respect to Halestorm, the proponents of “Music’s Biggest Night” have a lot of explaining to do.