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(Live Review) BLADES OF STEEL METAL FEST, NIGHT 2 - Club Garibaldis, Milwaukee (Apr 7/22)

Review by: Mark McQueen

Today’s review, thanks to technical difficulties yesterday, will occur in reverse order beginning with the headliners and working back to the opener. A different way to review, but you’ll still get all the pertinent information.


DRI merges thrash metal and hardcore punk of the 1980’s into their unique and famous take on the crossover genre. The lead singer looks like Sammy Zane found part time work outside the WWE, complete with army hat hairstyle and beard. Considering Sammy’s schtick is crazy conspiracy buff, and DRI's song content, this actually works.

DRI are a band I don’t “need” to hear, thus I never followed them in their prime, but I’ll happily listen through and add it to those I’ve now heard and enjoyed. After all, they’ve been doing this for 40 years now, so who am I to judge. Oh yeah, the reviewer. Ha ha. Okay then…credit to what they do. It might not be my thing, but a ridiculously packed room full of mosh pit maniacs, stage divers and multiple sing-a-longs make it clear to this reviewer that their set was well received and entertainment is after all the point here.



Realm was amazing. When older bands can still perform like that, it makes older reviewers believe in themselves too. Sporting high Rob Halford-era notes, and huge guitar shreds with great drumming, Realm played for about an hour and they could have kept going. This was a great performance and after two days and 14 bands they are best in show to date.



Defiance took a slight 30-year break from touring and I got to be honest, it showed. Good effort. There’s zero doubt of the passion up there. These guys loved being back on stage and if they commit to a full new tour, they can probably center on what they still do well and hone it. Tonight’s set though was rife with errors and foibles. One such was an ill-advised cover of Maiden’s “Killers”. Now granted Paul Dianno is infinitely easier to cover than Bruce Dickenson, but this was NOT GOOD. In conclusion, glad to see them. Loved their energy and the joy they played with, but I review the set I watched and 79 is all I can give it.



A funk/thrash crossover set was something I didn’t know how I was going to react to. I was frankly afraid I’d hate it. Well, this San Francisco band proved me totally wrong by giving the most unique and oddly enjoyable act of the day, (and after Savage Master that’s saying something). The funk progressions inside the thrash songs were often enhancements that truly took the songs somewhere they just don’t normally go, but without losing any heaviness. This one I have got to hand to that flippen genius booker Randy Kastner. I never would have picked this kind of band and I’m damn glad he’s so much smarter than I am because I loved experiencing them.



I have seen this act a couple times before. BDSM metal. Satan and sex with gimp outfits for the band and a dominatrix in the lead vocalist role. Points for effects, costumes and song lyrics, but the new singer's voice and sound were only fair, and she lacked the snarl of the original Stacy Savage. This is bondage AC/DC.



Opening for DRI on their current nationwide tour, Intent is well practiced and gives a great set.

Good intense old school thrash. Synchronization between the members was something that just looks professional, and it does resonate. Loved the energy and the show. Very good songs for a newer full time touring act. My only knock was a little too much time wasted between songs. Otherwise, high grade was well deserved.



Solid act. This was speed metal rather than thrash. Clean lyrics. Lots of hair flying around the stage. Basically good songs, but nothing quite took it over the top. I enjoyed watching it while it happened, but chances are I won’t remember a single song in a couple days.



Where yesterday SQUIDHAMMER was a terrific opener, today was…an opener. These guys tried hard and it’s tough to play for 20-30 early attendees when you know in a few hours it’s going to be hundreds. Still, I review what I see and at best this was fair.


Okay, that was day number two of Blades of Steel.


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