SATAN / CAULDRON / SATAN'S HALLOW
Date: 26th October, 2016
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $18 (€14) in advance - $20 (€16) day of show
Let’s see; UK’s finest NWOBHM SATAN, energy-pumped Heavy metalers CAULDRON and the unknown SATAN’S HALLOW on the same billing was nothing to be missed, even though it was right in the middle of a ridiculously busy week. Or should I say this was the best occasion to let it loose, recharge and be ready to face round two with the relentless schedules? Yep, as you will soon read, this billing not only met our expectations, but gave us a great run for our money.
I have to admit that this was my first encounter with Chicago's SATAN'S HALLOW. I hadn't heard a single note of these guys (and gal) prior this show, and let me tell you what; this was the perfect occasion to break that unfortunate fact. In case you have missed them like I had, then I should say this band steps on NWOBHM / traditional Metal territories, and on top of this, Mandy Martillo's reading and overall performance fits this sound like a hand in glove. So, the minute we entered Reggies after finishing the interview with the always friendly SATAN guys, “Hot Passion” got us in the right mood for a night full of pure Heavy Metal, and also proved to be the perfect warmer for what was about to follow. Track “Beyond” continued with the same attitude, but then it was about time for the final song of SATAN'S HALLOW's set, and that was my now favorite “The Horror”. Yeah, the entire band seemed (and looked) seriously pumped up, and with everybody onstage being that highly energetic was a true sight for sore eyes for every metalhead inside Reggies that night, passing properly the baton to CAULDRON who were up next. So, judging by the 3-song excerpt I witnessed that night, I'm sure SATAN'S HALLOW will bring big things to the scene in the near future. Hails, guys!
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With SATAN’S HALLOW, we were off to a good start, and I knew that CAULDRON would add to the already gathered momentum, even though I had previously lost all my chances to see the Canadians onstage. And that was a shame considering their backcatalogue and the always really good albums they have been putting out. The band kicked off the set with the almost mid-tempo “Frozen Fire” and without pausing, “Empress” from CAULDRON’s latest full length offering. I love the melody in the vocal lines CAULDRON have in their music in songs like the sing-along “Burning At Both Ends” paying homage to the '80s NWOBHM and keeping the spirits high inside Reggies. “Play louder and faster” someone joked but Jason responded in the same having-fun way: “I think you have the wrong band; this is CAULDRON from Toronto”. I know, this does not sound that funny on paper, but from the stage, it was a nice smile breaker. The fist-pumpin’ and extremely catchy “Hold Your Fire” sounded great and got a great reaction from the audience, something that was acknowledged by the band’s drummer who said: “this was the best response we had for this song on this tour” before getting back on the setlist with the fast and riff-based “Nitebreaker”. CAULDRON used most of their onstage time playing music with minimum talking, so we got ten energy-pumped songs, and judging by the audience’s response, everyone was absolutely satisfied and on the right Heavy Metal mood for the headliners. By the way, the Hard Rock doses CAULDRON have in their music as it happens in the grooving almost Hair Metal-esque “Chains Up In Chains” is an absolute delight. And yes, ending the show saying “Thanks a lot and go Cubs” is the best way to go when in Chicago.
01. “Frozen Fire”
03. “Burning At Both Ends”
04. “Hold Your Fire”
06. “Miss You To Death”
07. “No Return/In Ruin”
08. “Burning Fortune”
09. “Chains Up In Chains”
10. “All Or Nothing”
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So far, the night has been absolutely awesome and things were about to climax because SATAN is a band that delivers the good no matter what. I am saying this because meeting the band some hours before showtime, I saw tired faces and on top of everything Brian Ross was already fighting a cold. Could the Brits overcome the fatigue and the creeping cold and deliver another killer set in front of the Chicago audience? Of course they would, so please allow me to tell you how...
Once again, watching the musicians setting up their own gear, reminded me the level of dedication bands like SATAN have and driven by their (still going strong) passion to play live and give back to the ones who are supporting them. Some minutes after 11pm, the lights went out and the taped intro “Into The Fire” saw the British band entering stage in front of an already-excited Chicago audience. I guess the news about SATAN’s smashing show two years ago in Chicago had something to do about this, aside from the fantastic “Atom By Atom” LP released almost a year ago. The drum roll and the galloping guitars of the massive “Trial By Fire” blew away the band’s fatigue and it was pedal to the Metal from the get-go. I have no idea how he did it, but Brian managed to hit almost all the higher notes as if he was lying about having a cold. No matter how many shows I have been at, it still gives me goosebumps seeing a band following the saying “the show must go on” to the T. At the same time, it feels a bit sad seeing mostly the older bands being this loyal to their fans and being humbled by their support. “Blades Of Steel” followed back-to-back running on high octane fuel, and it was before “The Devil’s Infantry” when Brian Ross said: “We are going to try to do as many songs as we can” because the curfew was threatening to cut the setlist short. By the way, I have no idea and I cannot imagine why he’s getting life threats about the way he introduces that song, but considering the mental turmoil this world is, this can be almost expected...
Even though the band was running on a tight schedule, there was still some time for Brian’s words of wisdom and for some British humor, even though the latter does not always resonate with US ears. It was a nice piece of trivia to learn that he had been a school teacher and it is impossible not to imagine how it would have been watching him in front of class in his onstage attire explaining what are the lyrics about “Twenty Twenty Five” - just priceless. Jokes aside this song came out absolutely fantastic and it was sight for sore eyes watching the guitar duo of Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins exchanging guitar leads with their quite different way of performing. I mean, Steve likes to add some sweat to this guitar playing with lots of movement and headbanging while Russ has this '70s cool attitude that goes hand-in-hand with his smooth six-string magic. Put those two together and you get a visual representation why the British '80s Heavy Metal looks and sounds so amazing.
Yeah, I am sure SATAN considered of making a video for “Break Free” like QUEEN did for “I Want To Break Free”... Just imagining this will make you at least crack a smile. During the a-tad-slower “Ruination”, I had the chance to watch Sean Taylor hitting the drum skins like there was no tomorrow, something that made a nice antithesis with his rhythm section wingman and bassist Graeme English who was wearing his trademark smile showcasing in the best way the great form this band is. The small introduction gave some time to regroup because “Siege Mentality” got us into headbanging once more and later on made me think a bit more about the lyrics and how many of us have adopted such mentality... Think about it...
“Incantations” came out once more amazing and it is borderline shocking to realize how SATAN continued exactly from where “Suspended Sentenced” had left things, almost three decades ago. “I have to shorten my introductions” Brian semi-joked and, to be honest, having a curfew hanging above the band’s head like the Sword of Damocles and forbidden the musicians to do their thing undistracted, seems like a tough thing to handle. Normally, I don’t like long talks between songs, but in this case, with that humor and that articulation, it is impossible not to enjoy what Mr. Brian Ross is saying. Anyway, rules are rules, but at least “Farewell Evolution”, “Oppression” and the longer “The Fall Of Perephone” kept feeding us with NWOBHM in its purest form. “This is about a guy who sits inside a tower in London waiting to die” was Brian’s way to introduce “Testimony” with the knocking-your-socks-off guitar leads. Unfortunately, this song marked the end of the setlist before-the-encore, and even though I hate using clichés, I cannot but admit that time flew by, because it felt like the show had just started. SATAN were quickly back onstage (remember the curfew) and hit us with the old-meets-the-new two-song encore; yeah, “Time To Die” worked with “Kiss Of Death” (you’ve got to love that riff) as if they came from the same time period, and dropped the curtain on the highest of notes.
I cannot stretch much how lucky we were to see once again SATAN live, and witness first-hand how strong this band is (still) going. Now, I am super-excited to see what they have in store for us because a new LP is on the making, as Steve told METAL KAOZ.
01. “Into The Fire” (Intro) / “Trial By Fire”
02. “Blades Of Steel”
03. “The Devil's Infantry”
04. “Twenty Twenty Five”
05. “Break Free”
07. Intro / “Siege Of Mentality”
09. “Farewell Evolution”
11. “The Fall Of Persephone”
13. “Time To Die”
14. “Kiss Of Death”
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