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Metal/Prog Metal Concert Reviews

Primal Fear

Live in Chicago, 2003

Review by Mike Korn

For this reviewer, this was the tour of the year...a chance to see the Metal God himself, Rob Halford, accompanied by a sextet of topnotch metal bands of various stripe. In short, the tour is like a stripped-down Milwaukee Metalfest of all beef, no filler. And what better place to start than Chicago, the most metal city in the USA?

So I bravely donned my battle garb (Motorhead T-shirt, leather biker hat, leather vest and my trusty spikes that have dented the forehead of many an orc) and ventured forth in downtown Chicago to bask in the warmth of high volume and screaming guitar. I was not disappointed, but several incidents marred the overall effect of the show.

After having a devil of a time finding parking, I managed to get to my seat about half way through what I think was the opening number, a surprising rendition of Fight's "Into the Pit'". One track in and it was already clear that Rob's voice has never been better. What a pleasure to hear this man scream again!

First, arriving at 4:00 sharp, I was told that opening band Painmuseum had already played their set? What? You mean metal bands have to take the stage at an hour when the Teletubbies are still on the tube? Yup, apparently the House of Blues had booked a private dance party for 10:00 that evening, forcing a change in schedule. Now I knew every band would be under the gun with an eye on the clock. I wasn't happy about missing Painmuseum, because the band features Halford guitarist Metal Mike Chlasciak and Metal Mike rocks.

I entered the venue about a third of the way through Carnal Forge's set. Now this is a band I've never really given a hoot about, but I was quite impressed by their vicious brand of thrash. It came across like a tribute to old timers such as Slayer, Kreator and Nuclear Assault but totally mixed with that modern more death metal feel. Not quite death but not far off. I'll have to do some investigation of Carnal Forge. Poland's Behemoth was up next, substituting for a missing Amon Amarth. Boy, these guys just came out and slaughtered the crowd with their Morbid Angelish death metal. They were the heaviest and most overtly "death" of all the bands on the bill. Extremely precise and technical playing marks their style and their drummer Inferno is a MONSTER! I'd say he gave Halford's Bobby Jarzombek a run as the best drummer of the evening.

I must say I was slightly disappointed in Primal Fear's set. After telling several fellow bangers at the show that they are the closest you will ever get to Judas Priest, they proceeded to open with a terrible "Angel In Black". Everything sounded off...the lead guitar sound and even Ralf Scheepers' usual great vocals. The next couple of tracks found the band still waffling but with fourth tune "Fear" (the best song from their recent "Black Sun" album), things finally settled down and clicked, and we could relax and headbang to Primal Fear's strong Priest-influenced power metal. Ralf's vocals were back on track and their portion of the show was saved...but barely. I still would have preferred the originally scheduled Symphony X to play, but Primal Fear showed their metal hearts are still beating strongly. By the way, Ralf should really go into wrestling full time because this sucker is HUGE! His arms must be 22 inches at least! He would have made a terrifying German heel back in the old days of wrestling!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 3 at
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