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Review: Various Artists - True Metal America
Various Artists
True Metal America
Venue: Dingbatz
City: Clifton, New Jersey

Show date: July 21, 2006
Guests: Midnight Angel, Attacker, Elixir and Halloween

Review online: July 30, 2006
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
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True Metal America

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Review


"True Metal America" is a series of concerts put together by the bands, for the fans. What this means is that you get a good number of good bands for a more than reasonable price, and no bullshit. I attended the TMA show in Clifton, New Jersey on July 21st. Lucky for me, I wasn't turned away at the US border, but I was worried for a few minutes. Apparently it's close to being a crime to travel alone nowadays. Of course, everybody is a fucking terrorist, right? Hopefully this was just a case of a border guard with an attitude, and not official policy. End rant.

The bands scheduled to play were Midnight Angel, Magus Beast, Attacker, Elixir and Halloween (that's with an "a".) Unfortunately Magus Beast had to cancel at the last minute - I don't have the details but apparently their drummer had a health issue. The result of this is that the show started a bit later, which is probably a good idea because it took a while for people to start arriving at Dingbatz (which, thankfully, has air conditioning.) First on stage were Pennsylvania's Midnight Angel. This band is a bit of a mix of heavy metal and hard rock, and I'd say they're influenced by early Motley Crue - something confirmed by their cool cover of "Red Hot". Their original songs are very catchy, mostly "party" kind of material. The guys put on a very good performance, with the vocalist especially having a good stage presence. Unfortunately I forgot to check whether they had any CDs for sale.

The mighty Attacker were next. I had only seen the band live once, at Classic Metal Fest in Chicago in 2004, not very long after their reunion. The stage then was so low and there were so many people that it was difficult to really appreciate the performance. Things were different here - the stage was at a good height, and there were much less people so I was able to get much closer to the stage. One thing that was immediately noticeable is that the guys were even more seasoned on stage now, having played several shows together since their reunion (and I guess a stage where they can move around doesn't hurt either.) It's Attacker's habit to destroy the place, and they lived up to that. Very energetic performance, and obviously the crowd was familiar with their material (Attacker are from the area) and that added to the whole experience. Every band member is a show in his own right, with of course the charismatic singer Bob Mitchell taking centre stage. Hidden behind the drum kit was Mike Sabatini who thundered away so much that I often found myself focusing on his performance. The band played several of their classics, but also a few songs from their excellent new album "The Unknown", much to the crowd's pleasure. Attacker may have disappeared for several years, but they're back and I guarantee you that performance-wise, they have nothing to envy younger bands.

Elixir were next, all the way from the UK. Many, including myself, had never heard them. It was the band's first time in North America. Even though the band formed circa 1986, they are commonly associated with the NWOBHM period (or call it "late-period" NWOBHM.) Well, no surprise there because their material is very reminiscent of the best NWOBHM stuff. As soon as I saw the singer, my first thought was "oh, he's British alright!" :) As soon as they hit the stage the crowd started cheering, no doubt appreciating the band crossing the Atlantic for what is essentially a "bar show". Once again, good stage presence and great performance by the band. Even though most people present didn't know the material much (if at all), it didn't take long for people to really get into the set. It's just downright good traditional heavy metal, and that was the perfect crowd for it. Now, my shoulder had been hurting like hell for a while (stick a big knife in your shoulder and twist it slowly if you want to know how I was feeling), so I missed a few moments, but I'm pretty sure they played some kind of medley of their first album. Not being familiar with their material, it was difficult to confirm and I just forgot to ask after the set. Oh well. :) Anyway, once they were done I went over to the merchandise booth and bought the two studio albums they had for sale.

Now after massive rearrangement of the stage, and getting late into the night (1:15am, if I recall correctly), Detroit's Halloween came on stage. The guys (or at the very least the singer) had friends and family in the crowd so the reception was even more enthusiastic (not that the rest of the crowd wasn't, mind you!) The band has quite a few albums under its belt and they performed what could be considered some of their classics, plus some new songs off the new album "Horror Fire". The one based on Amityville, "Nobody's Home" is quite something - effective both live and on CD. It's already one of my favourite songs by the band and it was my first time hearing it. The singer was particularly charismatic, chatting between songs and doing a good job with props and such (I'm told they were better able to use their props the next day in Brooklyn.) Along with Attacker, they gave the best performance of the evening, followed very closely by Elixir. They came back for a one song encore, with the singer now dressed differently and with a mask on his face - unfortunately both sets of batteries I had brought over had decided to give up on me so I wasn't able to take more shots of the band...

Overall, a great show. It was a relatively small crowd, but the bar isn't that big anyway so it wasn't too bad. Lots of old schoolers there, the kind of people who don't mind driving or flying to see a few underground bands. Always a pleasure to meet such people, rather than the type who only attend shows with some "big name" headliner. The same lineup, save for Midnight Angel, was playing the next day in Brooklyn, just a few kilometers away. Apparently things were even better there, which kind of made me regret not sticking around (but a crapped out shoulder, shitty weather, and paying too much for a crappy hotel room kind of killed the idea of sticking around...)

There are still some True Metal America shows planned in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, all with different lineups (Attacker being the only repeating performers.) I strongly suggest attending one if you can.

Click here for more pictures

Links:

Midnight Angel
Attacker
Elixir
Halloween


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