Sacred Reich/The Gramercy Theatre/September 24, 2017
Until age 12, Phil Rind lived in Brooklyn, New York. His family then moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he met rhythm guitarist Jason Rainey in high school. Rainey had formed Sacred Reich as a thrash metal band, but was unsatisfied with his original musicians. In 1985, Rainey fired the drummer and recruited Greg Hall, then fired the bassist and recruited Rind. They fired the vocalist and Rind became the singer as well. The guitarist quit and Wiley Arnett joined in 1986. This would become the classic Sacred Reich lineup. Sacred Reich started by playing Megadeth and Exodus covers, but then recorded five albums of original works, including socially conscious and political speed metal, before splitting in 2000. The band reunited 2006, but has not written, performed or recorded new music. Sacred Reich’s most recent album is 2012’s, Live at Wacken.
Sacred Reich’s first North American tour in 21 years came to the Gramercy Theatre. Dubbed the “30 Years Of Ignorance” tour, the concert celebrated the 30th anniversary of the band’s debut album, Ignorance, which was recorded when most of the band members were still in high school. Despite the title of the tour, however, the band did not play the Ignorance album in its entirety, but rather mixed only four of its nine cuts among songs from other albums. With a no-frills stage set that featured only banners and flashing lights, Sacred Reich retained its characteristic speed and thrash, much of it too fast for head-banging. Rind grunted and shouted, Arnett churned out the lightning leads and rolling riffs, and the band as a whole successfully revived a sound rooted in pre-grunge metal. There were no forays into unfamiliar territory, though. If the band hopes to move forward, the musicians may want to explore and expand into new vistas.
Accept/Irving Plaza/September 26, 2017
Band X formed in 1968 in Solingen, Germany, changing its name to Accept early on. Largely due to many personnel changes, Accept did not become a professional band until 1976. By the 1980s, the band was gaining worldwide traction, striking gold in the United States with 1983’s, Balls to the Wall. Accept went into hiatus in 1989, reassembled in 1992, took a break again in 1997, regrouped briefly in 2005 and then reformed again in 2010. The band presently consists of guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes, both of whom date back to 1976, along with for T.T. Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo, guitarist Uwe Lulis and drummer Christopher Williams. Accept’s 15th and most recent album, The Rise of Chaos, was released on Aug. 4, 2017.
At Irving Plaza, Accept proved that it was progressing rather than resting on its classic hard rock and heavy metal laurels. For two hours, the quintet balanced its catalogue from the 1980s evenly with songs recorded in this decade. Granted, the audience anticipated “Balls to the Wall,” an iconic rocker about slaves revolting against oppressing masters, but the wait was made pleasant because the 20 songs preceding it were filled solidly with soaring vocals and head-spinning guitar solos. Hoffman also performed a three-minute solo on stage by himself, blending snippets of classical compositions with metal feedback and distortion, until the band rejoined him for the bluesy “Neon Nights.” In the end, Accept accomplished a daunting goal; by playing classic metal and modernizing it with a very sharp edge, the band performed a powerful set that elevated the band to new heights and rivaled its glory days.
Epica/The PlayStation Theater/September 29, 2017
Guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen left the Netherlands-based symphonic metal band After Forever in 2002 to form a similar band, initially called Sahara Dust and later naming itself Epica after a Kamelot album. Epica’s popularity grew first in their country and then internationally. By 2015, Epica was awarded the Music Export Awards, given to the Dutch act with the most international success in the past year. Epica’s seventh and most recent studio album, The Holographic Principle, was released on Sept. 30, 2016. The band presently consists of Jansen, vocalist Simone Simons, keyboardist Coen Janssen, lead guitarist Isaac Delahaye, bassist Rob van der Loo, and drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek.
Headlining at the PlayStation Theater, Epica performed densely layered and complex compositions, weaving symphonic rock with elements of black metal, progressive metal and power metal. The band’s music axis pivoted on sudden contrasts, from Jansen’s death metal growls to Simons’ operatic soprano, and from djent guitar riffs to folk metal melodies. The songs were grandiose wall-of-sound affairs with strong melodies and counter-melodies, often interrupted with an unexpected, softer interlude. Simons commanded the most attention, however, with her flawless soprano elevating to high sonic registers while the band pummeled with elephantine brutality. There was light and dark in most songs, a duality with deep intricacies that created tensions that were then released into the air. The music was ambitious, neat and remarkably clever.
Marilyn Manson/The Hammerstein Ballroom/September 30, 2017
Brian Warner was born in Canton, Ohio, but after graduating high school he relocated with his parents in 1989 to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There he studied journalism and theater at the local community college, and feeling lonely in a new place, he wrote poems and short stories. Fired from his job at a record store, he became an entertainment journalist for a local magazine while working towards a degree in journalism. He soon created his own band, taking on the name Marilyn Manson (Marilyn as in movie star Monroe, Manson as in psycho killer Charles). Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids formed in 1989, soon shortening the name of the band to Marilyn Manson. In the U.S. alone, three of the band’s albums went platinum and three more went gold. Marilyn Manson’s 10th studio album, Heaven Upside Down, will be released on Oct. 6, 2017. Marilyn Manson the person is the only remaining original member of the band Marilyn Manson.
Photographers at the Hammerstein Ballroom were told they could shoot only the first song rather than the usual three from the pit in front of the stage. Well into the first song, Manson started throwing things around, including his microphone stand, and photographers were cleared out even before the first song ended. The band members wore whiteface with black markings and played tight, energetic industrial metal as the vocalist roamed the stage and played to the audience. Between songs, Manson rambled, at one point speaking about drugs. About 45 minutes into the concert, during a slow cover of the Eurhythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” Manson placed his right foot on the first rung of a tall stage prop behind the band and attempted to step up but immediately fell backwards off the prop. Moments later, the structure toppled on top of him, knocking him cold. The band stopped playing, and all lights were turned off. People attended to Manson, but he did not seem to regain consciousness. The set list showed that there were four more songs to be performed. A few minutes later, the audience was told over the public address system what was already presumed, that due to Manson’s injury, the concert was ended. It was fun while it lasted.