Friday, September 3, 2010

UP FROM THE ASHES 3 ..... The Review

Up From the Ashes 3 was a celebration of 25 years of Heaven’s Metal/HM and the musical assemblage had much from the past and just as much from the modern day of heavy metal. The artists assembled had various methods of expression from thrash to punk/Goth to progressive to the melodic with Jesus Christ as the impetus for their musical expressions.

Bill Bafford of Roxx Productions was the vocal point for organizing and putting this event together. A very loud round of applause is in order because just as Roxx Records insists on quality merchandise the same can be said of Roxx Productions. This two day festival was simply a blast and just to be apart of it was very special to me.

Day One seemed to host the heavier bands and starting things off was Silent Rise. They delivered a solid brand of modern metal which started things off nicely. Their 30 minute set was tight and bristling. This was just a foretaste of what was to come when Fresno smashers Fasedown unloaded a powerful set of highly energetic and heavy modern metal.

The guitar tones of Mike Philips and company are simply brutal, period. Even though it had been mentioned that vocalist Devin Shaeffer has been suffering from vocal problems, anyone would’ve been hard pressed to find any that night. Drawing heavily from their first album (due to vocals constraints) Fasedown got the crowd and ready for what was to come.

In somewhat of a surprise move Jupiter VI played and having not heard them before it was simply stunning. With Jimmy Brown singing, George Ochoa on lead guitar and Brian Khairulah playing rhythm guitar their 70’s inspired hard rock/metal was just what the doctor ordered. I was familiar with some of the Bowie material played (Ziggy Stardust in particular), and it was wonderful. It makes you wonder why more artists don’t go back to the roots of their musical expressions.

Up next from the Bay Area was Klank. Their Rob Zombie/Marilyn Manson sounding tunes drove the crowd right up to frenzy. The energy was reciprocated between band and audience, a tight bond that just rocked hard. Playing material from their latest release NUMB….Reborn as well as earlier material Klank shows no chance of slowing down. Catch them if you can. Klank delivered a world class performance that left most of us breathless.

The audience was wound up tight and when Ultimatum took the stage it must be that the Vault simply exploded. Hair was flying, arms and fists raising in unison a true sight to behold.
Moving from One for All right into Ton of Bricks was amazing. Scott Waters moved with authority and command. Yet seeing Robert Gutierrez flays his guitar alive during tracks such as Never, World of Sin or Heart of Metal impressed even more. But mention must be given to Rob Whitlock’s bass line during Exonerate, simply unreal and watching so intently as his fingers dominated his instrument.

Not all the energy was gone when Deliverance finally hit the stage. From the opening number Flesh and Blood through Stay of Execution and the multitude of other gems The Big D made it was clear who the headliners were on this night. When Jimmy did take a moment to speak about the next song they’d perform it was always personal but done in such a way that sparked of professionalism and an unyielding passion for his art.
Hearing BellTown was a personal highlight for this listener. Songs from through out their catalog were presented, both young and old. Songs from Learn and Camelot in Smithereens came alive in ways that their original recordings probably won’t do justice. Hearing Weapons of Our Warfare was a fine encore number however the final number

The Call was the highlight of the performance as both George Ochoa and Mike Phillips handled the lead guitar duties with their extended guitar jam at the end. Trading licks back in forth as well as any other metal act in the world, the fans were in the presence of greatness; especially when Jimmy Brown decided to watch the rest of the show from the audience. He said later that to watch those two trade off like that was ‘incredible.’ Indeed.

Day 2 was a bit more on the melodic side as the opening set by Southern California’s FellGuard started. FellGuard provided pretty intense modern metal, but with a clean melodic vocal sound that really gets your attention. Troglodyte Dawn took the stage next and the word was DOOM!!! Heavy and powerful these guys sludged it out and were in marked contrast to what came before and after. Perhaps the only complaint was that their set was too short, time constraints. However these guys brought the metal and laid it down.

Taking a slight departure arrived Souljourners with their epic brand of melodic prog/metal. Clearly a crowd came specifically for them and didn’t leave disappointed. On first listen it was obvious Souljourners were tight, polished and was having a great time. The performance of the song ‘Mind Control’ was simply awe inspiring. Melodic passages coupled with amazing passages of progressive whimsy. Yet the goose bumps arouse on the back of my legs as they tore through Rush’s Tom Sawyer. An extremely difficult song to pull off and Souljourners were up to the task.

A musical left turn came next with The Altar Billies. Mike Stand from The Altar Boys and a couple of co-horts offered up reworked Altar Boys songs done rockabilly fashion. So much energy arrived during this set that the crowd continued to grow and grow. An unexpected highlight to say the least, sensational. Using the least amount of gear than any other act they proceeded to blow the doors off this wagon train.

The touring cohorts of Grave Robber, Leper, were up next with their gothic style music, eerie and dark. Lots of atmosphere for the late afternoon.

However it was Grave Robber that this reviewer was eagerly awaiting for. This being their first ever West Coast jaunt, I crossed my fingers that they’d be as good as my expectations. As Ultimatum surpassed mine the day before, Grave Robber blew my preconceptions out of the water. From the intro to start and finish, Grave Robber showed me again that there is world class talent abounding in the scene. The stage presence, the musicianship, the atmosphere and more importantly the songs showed Wretched, Lamentor, Carcass and Plague in top form. The audience in particular kept their distance in reverent respect, wouldn’t you if a six foot tall talking corpse came your way?????

Bloodgood elected to play one slot earlier and brought the house down. Michael Bloodgood, Les Carlson, Oz Fox, Paul Jackson and Mark Welling delivered a staggering show. Pulling material from throughout their storied career, the packed house lapped it up one song at a time. From Out of the Darkness to Crucify to Killing the Beast and Seven it was evident that Bloodgood still has an abundant amount of ability and passion in the tank. Seeing Oz and Paul trade off guitar solos was fantastic not to mention hearing Les Carlson award us such a terrific performance. His vocal control had many of us turning our heads in disbelief at his ability to hold a note. A professional singer that knows his instrument, there just aren’t that many out there these days, or so it seems. Their hour and twenty minute set was a sheer adrenaline rush. Not to be missed.

Closing the show was Neon Cross and they delivered sensational performances of such songs as Run into the Light, Son of God and Buy My Record. The vocal harmonies were crisp and sharp, only exceeded by the tightness of the band itself, it was clear that Neon Cross still had the chops to bring the hammer down.

Two day events used to be very common back in the day, however it seems they don’t occur as much these. Especially for the ‘traditional’ sounding metal bands, the bands that in many ways paved the way for the current crop of metal acts such as Demon Hunter, Norma Jean, As I Lay Dying ect. The fans who attended left deaf and happy. The sound production was above adequate through out with a room that had decent acoustics and a proper p.a.(better lighting would've been nice tho) Hopefully it won’t be the last event of it’s kind on the West Coast, the Economy will most assuredly dictate that. In closing it must be said that Jesus was praised through the music arts and the performing artists were allowed to share their hearts passion.


Anonymous said...

Fellguard was absolutely mind blowing.
The vocalist was a bit like Bruce Dickinson meets Mr. Halford.
Strong Vocals for such a young Lad.

The music was great and the Bass player ripped it up.

Mr.Electric40 said...

Up From the Ashes 3 was a highlight of 2010

ultmetal said...

Thanks for the review. Glad you enjoyed our performance. We were honored to be on the bill with Deliverance and Klank on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

I watched the first 4 or 5 bands on day two.
I've gone back and listened to a couple bands on the net and myspace after seeing them live. I'm excited about Fellguard and what they're putting out. I agree a bit like Iron Maiden. We really need more bands like them. Can't stand the bubblegum metal that is out these days. Fellguard has a bright future ahead of them.

Mick Stanford