By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
We are now in March, and it has begun to rain, finally! Better late than never is the way I see it. Whether it is rain or shine, both Matt and myself are going to be banging our heads to some heavy rock ‘n’ roll. Coming into Anaheim this time around, was a veteran heavy metal group, whose most recent album, Incorruptible, ended up being one of my top album picks of 2017. Of course, I am talking about Iced Earth. They, along with Sanctuary and Kill Ritual, have come to conquer the House of Blues in the Parish Room. It is a smaller side room, just like the Constellation Room, at the Observatory. I was there last August, to see Marty Friedman shred up some mean-ass riffs. The room is intimate and small, but it was packed to the brim with metalheads.
Coming from the Bay Area of San Francisco, Calif., Kill Ritual hit the stage to warm up the fans, starting with “Medusa.” This is a band that has taken the traditional heavy metal sound and juiced it up, with their guitar-driven edge. Shredder Steven D. Rice was melting faces, with his scorching solos. Backing him up, with meritorious singing, was frontman David Watson. Despite the fact of being crammed up there on a tiny stage, Watson made the most of it, to connect with the audience. He even went as far as to get on the floor with the metalheads, even sharing the mic with one of his fans. That is showing appreciation for the fans. Classic metal was in the atmosphere with songs like “Megalomaniac,” “Heart Collector,” and “Lights Out.” Kill Ritual killed it on stage. I will see them again down the road.
Full Kill Ritual slideshow below:
Up next was Seattle’s own Sanctuary. This is a progressive metal group that has been going through some turbulent times. Founding member and singer Warrel Dane recently passed away, leaving a void in the group. However, guest vocalist Joseph Michael stepped up and nailed the set list. He had an amazing set of pipes, that reminded me a little of Rob Halford, and I imagine that is not always an easy thing to do. From songs like “Die for My Sins” to “Arise and Purify,” “Soldiers of Steel,” and “Future Tense,” the Parish Room became a music sanctuary thanks to Sanctuary. Lead guitarist Rutledge laid siege with his solos, while touring guitarist, Joey Concepcion crushed the riffs. Bassist George Hernandez and founding drummer Dave Budbill, made an excellent pair, giving the songs a much needed metallic crunch. I have read that this is their farewell tour, so seeing them for the first and last time, was bittersweet, especially hearing the closing number “The Year the Sun Died.” Wherever Dane is, I am sure he was smiling that night.
Full Sanctuary slideshow below:
Iced Earth finally hit the stage to fire up the fans even more on that cold, rainy evening. With their 12th album under their belt, they did not look like a band entering their twilight years. As soon as the first chord to “Great Heathen Army,” was struck, fans went crazy. When you add Stu Block’s melodic vocals to the awesome riffs of Jon Schaffer and Jake Dreyer, they create a recipe for heavy metal success. Block was not able to move around the small stage a lot, but he did let his incredible voice serenade the crowd. Each song they threw at the crowd, ranged from fast-paced to mid tempo. Dreyer is the newest member to join, and his raging solos made the hairs on my arms stand at attention. He is a natural talent that Iced Earth was lucky to recruit into their fold. Along with the thumping plucks of bassist Luke Appleton, and the crashing drum work of Brent Smedley, the band was on cue the entire set.
A majority of their songs came from Incorruptible, including “Raven Wing,” “Seven Headed Whore,” and my personal favorite, “Black Flag.” This record is only a few months old, and the fans are singing the words, treating the songs as if they are already Iced Earth classics. Of course, they did play a few of their classic hits, like “Angels Holocaust,” “Burning Times,” “Dracula,” and the ferocious “Vengeance Is Mine.” Fans old and young, were in awe to hear their metal heroes, some of which decided to create the circle of death. Even with all the pushing and banging, they all came together once “Brothers” was sung. That is pure brotherhood. For an encore, they decided to play one of their newest songs, “Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862),” which is a rare thing, because most encores involve classic hits. Schaffer told me, that approach has worked well for them. Finishing the night with “Watching Over Me,” Iced Earth dominated the evening.
Full Iced Earth slideshow below:
Despite the rain, metalheads were so happy to make the trip. I have only been to the Parish Room twice now, but that night was better for me personally than the previous one. Hearing most of the songs from Incorruptible being played live was staggering for me, as well as for the fans. Sanctuary soldiered on to bring joy to metalheads, while Kill Ritual kicked ass. Also to note, it was Matt’s birthday as well. As far as birthdays go, it was not a bad way to celebrate, so happy birthday Matt! To Iced Earth, Sanctuary, and Kill Ritual, I salute you. Horns up!!!