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(Live Review) LEGIONS OF METAL FESTIVAL (DAY 2) - Reggie's, Chicago (6/3/23)

By The Beard & Little Johnny

Today, the Beard and Little Johnny once more brave the city of Chicago and the roaming hordes of Taylor Swift fans, in order to get to day two of promoter Bob Byrne’s yearly masterpiece, The Legions of Metal.

Today shall also mark event 23 and bands 109-116 on our yearlong The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023.

On tap for today’s 9 hours of metal (in running order), the Main Stage brings us:

Shield of Wings

Serpent Rider




Spread Eagle

Legions of Doom

Metal Church

After yesterday’s (day one odyssey), just getting TO Reggie’s with the heat, traffic, and roaming Swifties (as her fans are known), was akin to trying to get the One Ring all the way from Rivendell to Mt. Doom.

Today, we are approaching it differently. A train ride into Chicago eliminates both the driving and parking, but still left us about 2.5 miles away. Fortunately, our feet worked. So, this seemed a better solution. The walk was long and hot, but the beer at the end was cold and refreshing.

Let the mountain of metal mayhem commence.

Day Two of: Legions of Metal

First up today was Chicago’s symphonic death folk band ...


Symphonic death folk? Somewhere in Florida, my brother’s head just exploded.

Shield of Wings presents a lot like Nightwish. Operatic vocalist in a long black dress, guitarist that looks like he was formerly in Black Label Society, and another female at keyboards who handled the death voice. Now, THAT last one I did not expect.

Nightwish has a million-dollar touring rig that goes with them, Shield of Wings on the other hand is opening day two of Legions and has house lights and sound. If you provided them with a million-dollar budget for effects, the comparison would be close. The further into the set they got, the stronger Lara Mordians voice got, and the Beard quickly had to grant that lady can definitely go full on opera up there, and Aliyah Daye spitting out the death vocals from behind her keyboard back in the corner was the perfect complement to the ethereal voiced Mordian.

The Beard had to say Shield of Wings delivered everything necessary to be exactly what they were shooting for, and I’ll grant them everything they just earned with that set.

90/100 out of the gate and I generally NEVER give an opener that high. Being from the Chicago area, I fully plan to catch this act again.

Johnny even came up afterwards and said, “Man, if Church was like that, I would seriously go every single week”. After the set, Lara graciously consented to a photo with the Beard. That lady is tall.

Second up was the West coast doom act ...


Now right off Johnny was a little disappointed since the band came onstage and had no actual dragons, let alone were riding them.

Musically Serpent Riders also had a female lead (R. Villar) but although she could sing, after following Lara Mordian, it was a downgrade. Instrumentally, they seemed a little choppy the first few numbers, but did get in synch by about the third. The drumming was strong. Drake Graves had it down.

I think in another place on the bill, they might have gotten higher, but slotting hurt them after that killer Shield of Wings set and the lighter vocals of Villar seemed at odds with that more Cirith Ungol sound from the rest of the band.


Third up today was Carbondale, Illinois rockers ...


There are several bands using that name, including an intense German death metal act. Sorry Johnny, it’s not them.

This Zuul (from the demigod of the first Ghostbusters movie), was local and hadn’t released anything since To the Frontlines in 2012. They were straight clean sounding NWOBHM style. Guitar driven, clean vocals solid rhythm. And seemed completely capable of producing Judas Priest’s style of songs, even if not the Halfordesque vocals.

The Beard is not certain why the ten-year gap in releases for this band. They played well together, and their brand of metal was fun to listen to. One negative was the crowd never really popped for them. Personally though, The Beard enjoyed this set and so far, the day is three for three good acts.

Going 83/100

Marking the midpoint of today’s event was power metal from the East coast ...


Their last/only full release was 2020’s Far Flung Realm, but new material from what will be a 2023 release was played tonight, along with older numbers. Adamantis is power metal. Epic singing, multiple layered guitars and booming drums.

Johnny dug these guys and said they sounded like Metal Military. I’m not entirely certain what he meant by that. The Beard was finally lukewarm on a band today finding Adamantis kind of average. Energetic certainly, but just like eating candy, it seemed a lot of empty musical calories and what they do, I’ve heard better from Hellion Prime, Twisted Tower, and even Adjudicator, although on that last one I could go either way. Overall, with four more bands to go, I was not filling up on Adamantis.

Fifth up tonight was Chicago doom act ...


Originally formed in the mid 1980’s, these guys may have just picked the wrong era to try to gain an audience for their style of music, so like a super cicada, they went underground for almost four decades, emerging with a 2020 self-titled full-length album. Tonight, marked the first live show in their hometown in an exceptionally long time.

These guys sound like Witchfinder General only a bit faster. Basically that 80’s early doom stuff. Clear lyrics and a “feel” to it. As I listened, the Beard could hear the 80’s and feel the doom. Can’t complain when I get to time travel with a band. Good stuff.


Sixth up tonight were New York metal rockers ...


“No! No! No! Johnny, you put that belt right back on. It doesn’t mean that.”

These guys are a New York metal band that formed in the early 90’s released a couple albums and then burned out and vanished until 2006, when they sort of reformed with original members Rob De Luca, (also playing in British Rock legend UFO simultaneously), and Ray West. In 2019 they released Subway to The Stars.

This band (having been around for 40+ years) knew how to deliver the show. Not just solid music but little touches like engaging the audience the right amount before launching into another song. Not over talking is a skill for a singer, but Ray West pulled it off, and Jommy Puledda can certainly play guitar like a showman. I put him just behind Rick Venture of Riot Act for the weekend, but to credit and style points, Puledda was not just flashy but tasty. He “could” do a long solo, but he could also shred it for 30 seconds or play three perfect notes and say everything he needed with that. The rhythm section was likewise tight, with Rob and Rick De Luca sounding in synch the whole set.

Overall, Spread Eagle would be a well-received opener on just about any arena rock tour. Going 86/100 for a professional touring set.

Seventh up tonight are the throw together Supergroup ...


Featuring members of Trouble, The Skull, Saint Vitus, COC, Leadfoot, Blood of the Sun, Lie Heavy, and Sacred Dawn, this band could steal night two.

The Beard has long called Saint Vitus one of the two most important doom bands of all time and seeing Scott Reagers and Henry Vasquez on stage together is a fantastic opportunity to remember the past.

Formed after the passing of Trouble and The Skull lead singer Eric Wagner, Legions of Doom had some heavy hitters up there. Right away, you could hear that Vasquez still hits the drums with a mighty hand. COC vocalist Karl Agell oversaw the Trouble/Skull numbers, but they brought out Reagers for the Saint Vitus songs.

When Reagers came on and they tore through "War is Our Destiny", it was vocally close to Saint Vitus because he actually was the singer for that portion of their catalog. The problem for the Beard was that with all respect due and accorded to The Skull guys (Lothar Kellar and Ron Holzner), nobody but Dave Chandler can do pure Dave Chandler, and the lack of that special Chandler feel, and unique tone was noticed in each Vitus number.

That said, it was still a version the Beard had never heard live and as song after song rolled out, it was clear the old men could still perform. A great hour of mash up nostalgia,

The Beard is saying 85/100

Finally, it was time for festival headliners ...


This was The Beards’ fifth time seeing Metal Church, and their third different vocalist in that span. I am of course partial to David Wayne (singer on Metal Church’s first two releases), but I had also gotten used to Steve Howe. Now, it’s Marc Lopez.

Honestly, the Beard just isn’t up on a lot of Metal Churches’ almost 50-year history. I loved the first two albums Metal Church and The Dark. To my opinion nothing since then has been as good.

Well then, shut my mouth. That was one surprisingly good set. Nine of fourteen songs from the first two albums will do that for me. Lopez has the vocal range that, to me, has been lacking a long time with Metal Church. Attempting "Gods of Wrath" requires balls because those notes will shred a voice. Lopez pretty much handled it. Now, The Beard is not saying Halford, Dio, Dickenson or Diamond is coming off Metal’s “Voice Rushmore”, (and if they did Geoff Tate’s next in line), but that was a damn good set.

Playing mostly classics from their first two releases made this the second-best Metal Church set I have personally witnessed (just behind the Mercyful Fate, Metal Church, Trouble Aragon Ballroom Chicago show in 1986)

Still, for this collection of songs that I knew, performed by a guy who could get his voice up there to do them justice, plus a good overall sound musically, The Beard awards Metal Church their highest grade of 92/100.

This wraps up Legions of Metal night two.

Just a short 2.5-mile hike back to the train station. By 1:10am Johnny and I shall be back in Elgin, then a half mile back to my car, and another twenty minutes to finally get home. The Beard may see bed before 3:00am. Readers, The Beard is getting old and is going to nap on the train. “Johnny, watch my stuff. No, we can NOT stop for a burrito.”

This wraps up event #23, but it won’t be long before we roll again because with The Beard & Little Johnny, the Reviews Never Stop. As always, remember to read all the Beard and Little Johnny reviews live each Wednesday and Thursday at your home for Metal, The Mighty Decibel. Then check out all the videos on my TikTok page.

thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny

Until we roll again

Stay Heavy and of course ...

Horns Up!!!


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