Why "Scene Festivals" Are Really Bad for Bands

It's that season again. It's time for Houston to be inundated with touring metal, punk and hardcore festivals, from Warped Tour to the All-Stars Tour to the upcoming Summer Slaughter Tour. It's an opportunity for kids to see all their favorite bands from those scenes all crammed together on one massive bill.

I, however, have a bone to pick with these festivals. While the lineups can range from amazing to spotty, they all have one problem in common: their focus. Sure, it's great for some fans to see all their favorites in one place, but what of outsiders? I personally feel this could be a hindrance for the bands themselves, and here's why.

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Lost '93 Show Reveals "Dio of the Future"

Photo by Diego Torres Silvestre via Flickr
Note: the above Dio show is not the one depicted in the review.
Live in London -- Hammersmith Apollo 1993
Eagle Rock Entertainment, 114 min., $14.98 DVD/$19.98 Blu-Ray

This concert film will be something of a lost treasure to Dio fans. Not only has it never actually been released, but it showcases the group's lesser-celebrated mid-to-late-'90s lineup as well as a lot of material from the Strange Highways record, which was something of a departure in Dio's sound.

Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinny Appice had just finished their second stint with Black Sabbath, recording and touring 1982's Dehumanizer, when Dio decided to put his self-named group back together. The pair added guitarist Tracy G, bassist Jeff Pilson (ex-Dokken, currently of Foreigner) and keyboardist Scott Warren for their 1993 European tour, of which this show at London's famous Hammersmith Apollo was the last stop.

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Rock Survivor Glenn Hughes: "The Kids Went Apeshit!"

The heavy-hitting California Breed is Jason Bonham (drums), Glenn Hughes (vocals/bass), and Andrew Watt (guitar).
Legendary rocker Glenn Hughes is on the phone, ostensibly to talk about California Breed. It's the new band he has with drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Andrew Watt and who have just released a loud, crunchy, self-titled debut CD. But before he gets to that his rapid-fire mouth has something he wants Rocks Off to know.

"Look, man, you need to know this off the bat. Houston, and the reaction the city has given to my music, is the reason I'm probably talking to you now!" he offers. "Talking to anyone from Houston brings back all the love, and I'll never forget it."

As Hughes tells it over the phone, as well as in his autobiography, his band Trapeze had finished a tour in 1970 opening for the Moody Blues. But nowhere did they get the frenzied reaction they did during their set as at the Sam Houston Coliseum.

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Glenn Hughes's California Breed Redefines the Power Trio

California Breed: Jason Bonham (drums), Glenn Hughes (vocals/bass) and Andrew Watt (guitar)
It was the late summer of 2012, and hard rockers Black Country Communion had just released their third album. But the co-singer/bassist of the very successful group, the legendary Glenn Hughes, was pissed.

That's because the very future of the band featuring Hughes, co-singer/guitarist Joe Bonamassa, drummer Jason Bonham and keyboardist Derek Sherinian was in doubt. Hughes wanted to tour, but Bonamassa's thriving solo career limited their opportunities. The two traded barbs in the press and on Twitter, and a planned big concert was cancelled.

Cut to spring 2013, when Bonamassa announced his departure, officially ending the band.

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deadhorse Cock Their Latest Loaded Gun

Photos courtesy of deadhorse
Fittingly enough for a date on the calendar mostly set aside for loud, colorful explosions, today marks the release of the first new deadhorse music to be unleashed in 18 years or so. Following through on a threat they made nearly two years ago, the Houston thrash idols have delivered a new EP, Loaded Gun, that arrives fully cocked and ready to go off.

Longtime (and oftentimes long-suffering) fans will be pleased to know that the four new tracks on this record are a conscious return to the band's skate-tastic Horsecore era. Short, straightforward and speedy, the fresh material is characterized by the same head-banging riffs and whiplash-inducing tempo changes that kept hair flying and pits circling back in the day.

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Venomous Maximus Prepare for the Coming of the Firewalker

Categories: Metalocalypse

Thumbnail image for VM0730-1.jpg
Photo courtesy of Venomous Maximus
If there's a more hotly anticipated album release from a Houston band penciled in for this year than Venomous Maximus' Firewalker, you can bet that it ain't gonna rock nearly as hard. The local metal faves have been working on new music since last year, doling out bits and pieces of the record at gigs near and far. It's safe to say that fans of the group are way past ready to add the new disc (and its sure-to-be-sweet album cover) to their vinyl collections. So where is it?

It's almost done, swears guitarist Christian Larson, and it's coming soon.

"It's being mixed now," he says. "It should be done, mixed and mastered in two weeks, I'm hoping."

Two weeks? That's not so long! Excellent. So, when's it coming out? Well... no one really knows yet.

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What the Hell Has Happened to Mastodon?

Categories: Metalocalypse

Photo by Marco Torres
Mastodon in 2011
If you're a metalhead and you're on the Internet, you may have heard that there's a new Mastodon album out now called Once More 'Round the Sun. It's funny they call it that, because in my opinion it's really just once more around the block for a once-great metal band that has lost its way.

That's a pretty unpopular opinion these days, as Mastodon seems to be getting more popular than ever. I suppose they bridge the gap between extreme metal and more easily digested rock music pretty well for some people. I, however, find their directions over the last eight years intensely troubling, as I see Mastodon declining worse and worse as time goes on.

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Rap-Metal Is Back...and It's Good

Photo by Joshua Justice
Metal is an ever-turning and twisting genre, following wormholes into subgenres and melding any and all techniques and sounds along the way in a constant struggle to create something new and original. It doesn't always work, and anyone who lived through the '90s can attest that the addition of hip-hop elements like rapping and turntables was a serious low point.

Except now we have a whole generation who grew up on that music and wants to give it another whirl. You can find bands like Whitechapel and Suicide Silence admitting how much their sound is indebted to Korn and Slipknot, while others are even busting out those turntables again.

There's a difference this time though. Insane as it may sound to say it, it's working this time.

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8 Metal Bands Made Better by Switching Vocalists

Photo by Groovehouse
With all the drama that surrounds singer/screamer changes, you'd think it's the end of the world and it has never worked for any band. The reactions across the internet any time one vocalist leaves and another joins are always less than enthusiastic, thinking change is bad one hundred percent of the time.

That's not true though, especially in a genre like metal where it has worked to great success so many times for so many different bands in different subgenres. In light of the fact that we're about to hear Suicide Silence's first album with a new vocalist, as well as what As I Lay Dying can do as Wovenwar without the stigma of Tim Lambesis, let's take a look back at some of the most successful metal singer switches of all time.

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Can Crowdfunding Deliver a New deadhorse Album?

Thumbnail image for Deadhorse0813.jpg
Photo courtesy of Rich Adler
Alpo, center, with deadhorse
Sixteen years after the release of their last EP, BOIL(ing), the stunning prospect of new music from Houston thrash gods deadhorse is now tantalizingly close. Last week, the band unveiled a Kickstarter page set up to fund the recording of the third deadhorse album.

When the band reunited two years ago (without singer/guitarist Mike Haaga, it's been noted), fans were slightly flabbergasted. New music seemed almost like too much to ask. And now Kickstarter! We are truly through the looking glass here. The crowdfunding site is still looked down upon by some artists and fans as plain old begging, but longtime 'horse bassist Allen "Alpo" Price says that the idea made too much sense not to try.

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