(Live Review) BLADES OF STEEL METALFEST - Night Two (Wisconsin, 9/29/23)
The Beard & Little Johnny
As your tireless reviewer duo, The Beard and Little Johnny prepare to enter night two of the three-day metal classic Blades of Steel event, we will be attending stop #56 and bands #249-255 of The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023. This already eclipses 2022’s personal record of 249 bands in one year.
This evening we will be watching and reviewing: Kommand, Avenger of Blood, Solicitor, Gothic Knights, Haunt, Jag Panzer, & Vio-lence.
While last evenings Night One event was light on “pits”, that is not likely to be the case tonight as promoter Randy Kastner brought some fast ball heaters to the day two lineup. Little Johnny is fortified on our preshow breakfast and brewery stop and he is ready to let it go today. He has already turned his cap around to signify it’s “time for business”. The Beard (as-is normal), will melt into the seat near the wall hoping merely for a decent sight line and a place to take notes.
First out of the gate today Seattle Death Metal from ...
This band was a pit generator right out of the gate. Driving guitars, thunder drumming, and even with the smaller “opening band” crowd, IPA fortified Little Johnny was off and running in circles. Annnd, we are formally into day two.
Kommand hits hard and unrepentant. The lyrics are tough to understand, I think one song was about being pissed when a record store doesn’t stock Motorhead. I’m not sure that’s what it was about, but that does seem a reasonable response to that situation so there you go. For the first band, they were a good choice as “mood setters”. After the third song, the singer yelled “it’s almost five. I suggest you start drinking now to get a leg up.” We are way ahead of you dude.
Johnny and I have already been drinking for four hours. Johnny did entice some pit partners and finally he is stretching those mosh muscles. Good to see the lad smiling. I admit, I actually enjoyed Kommand. God help me, I might “finally” be learning to enjoy death metal. 83/00
Second on the stage today Thrash from sin city Las Vegas with ...
AVENGER OF BLOOD
Pretty good clarity on the vocals. A traditional thrash sound, but I can understand what the songs are about. That’s nice occasionally.
There are less pits on this one, but Johnny is banging his head pretty good. Really a decent thrash act. Guitar player was giving it his all. 83/100
Third up was Seattle power/thrash from ...
This band just played Chicago, so the Beard gets a second look in as many weeks. Fronted by the Dominatrix clad Amy Carlson, Solicitor brought no shortage of energy to the stage. These guys move around almost as much as Midnight does. Johnny admitted Amy intimidated him a bit, but he enjoyed the set. Off stage, she was very nice and politely posed for a photo with the Beard and I didn’t have to take a boot to the Little Johnny’s or anything so she’s good as far as the Beard is concerned.
Since this time they weren’t headlining, the set was abbreviated from the Chicago one, but what they gave up in time on stage, they made up in raw energy while they were there. Both Johnny and I felt Solicitor benefited from the much bigger crowd at Blades of Steel than what they had in Chicago. Their performance was stronger, harsher, and dare I say thashier.
Yes, Johnny I know that’s not a real word. Shut up and drink your beer.
Solicitor was worth a solid 87/100 today with that never slow down set. Great job.
Fourth up were Brooklyn Power Metal band ...
These guys haven’t released anything new since 2012, but have played live shows together over the last ten years. Initially, I found them “busy”. Power metal tends to be over the top anyway with soloing, epic drumming and soaring vocals. The first couple songs, I thought “too much crammed into the song.”
One aspect was drummer Kevin Dadario had a stage eater of a kit. That thing was monstrous, and it seemed when he really went to town on it, he overpowered everyone else up there. The third song “War in the Sky” from their first album back in 1990 gave some insight into the mix of power and progressive sound they were going for when they started. It seemed like Helloween-meets-Dragonforce was where they drew their influences from.
Vocally, Rick “Warlock” Sanchez did sound a bit like Kai Hansen, and the band did resemble Dragonforce with complex song structures, but I just felt like I was at a Vegas buffet. There was so much to eat I was overwhelmed. That’s how Gothic Knights made me feel, so I’m going to have to just stick with 80/100. My apologies to the great promoter and my friend Mercyful Mike Smith. I never seem to fall in love with your favorites.
Fifth up were Fresno California’s...
HAUNT (who have released seven albums in only six years)
Although really a one-man project of Trevor William Hurt, when live he (and Haunt) do employ three other musicians. Haunt is hard to define, but traditional metal works (with some elements of speed).
Technical difficulties marred a decent set (as they were doing some A.I. synth and it became uncooperative), but aside from that, it was a solid set. Trevor Hurt has a good voice and his touring guys perform well. Haunt also benefited from two other aspects: favorable slotting and an enthusiastic crowd.
I enjoyed their set and ended up purchasing some of their material so I’m going 88/100
Sixth up tonight is the band I and a lot of the crowd were there for. Colorado Power Metal act ...
Now, the Beard had certainly heard of these guys during their heyday from 1981-88, but never actually listened to them or has seen them play. Now, forty years and eleven albums later, it was my first opportunity to actually see this band perform. With three of five original members, it will be more authentic than many acts I’ve watched this year.
Their 2023 release The Hallowed is what they are currently touring behind. Original vocalist Harry Conklin still has an epic voice with ample power and range, and the rest of the guys have a natural flow and ease of performing that shows a life of touring. Songs are naturally grandiose, and the effects add to the whole. Both Johnny and I were immediately taken with them. Another big miss that I had never seen them before.
"Harder than Steel" definitely showed Conklin could not only still hit the high notes but could also hold them. Impressive after forty plus years. One small detriment, their stage banter with the audience often sounded like I was watching a set by either Spinal Tap or Steel Panther. Still, it was the most enjoyable set of day two and the Beard is cracking a cold one for a 90+ score as Jag Panzer registers a great 94/100.
Festival night two headliners were Bay Area legends ...
This was the one Johnny was most excited about tonight, and the Beard admits Vio-lence killed it in Houston at Hells Heroes back in March. Could they do it again six months later in Madison?
Now normally I don’t love the vocal lyrical style of bands like Vio-lence, but for some reason this particular band doesn’t affect me that way. I have seen them three times and, frankly, with them it works.
Johnny of course just loves being a dervish from the moment they hit the stage and yelled “Tear it up!”. A good cathartic hour long set for people to run in circles, crash into one another and basically epitomize what thrash is about.
Johnny will undoubtedly have Vio-lence higher in his rankings, but the Beard is sending them love and cracking a cold one with a 92/100 score. One of the better thrash acts going right now.
This wraps up show #56 and bands #249-255 along with night number two of Blades of Steel. 8-hours of Metal finished and only 12 hours until we start it all over again. Time to gather sweaty Johnny and head back to the hotel for at least a little sleep. If the Beard is tired just watching thirteen bands in two days, Kastners crew has to be exhausted running the show and dealing with all the requests, demands, and issues. Once again though no band started more than ten minutes off the scheduled time. RK Metal runs one of the tighter changeovers I’ve seen this year. They are a Metal Race-Pit Crew up there.
In the meantime, that’s two chapters of Blades of Steel 2023 in the books. Be sure to tune into The Mighty Decibel next week for a review of the 11-band Super Saturday Day Three and remember to check out all the videos on our TIKTOK page at.
Until next time ...