Four months went by since we last attended a show. Much too long of a wait if you ask me, but between November and early February there was nothing worth going to. Then we remembered 3 Inches of Blood and Holy Grail were touring together with “some” folk metal band named Eluveitie. Shame on me, right? Right. Good thing for us we didn’t crash on the way to the venue in the pounding Los Angeles rain, cause there would have been no pictures and videos to look at or even words to read! I forgot to mention System Divide was on this tour, but only because I didn’t go inside to see them. I was outside, paranoid at the thought of my photographer being involved in a fiery car crash and being unable to attend.
We made it in just in time to see Holy Grail take the stage. FUCK. YES. I had been wanting to see them play since their debut album Crisis in Utopia came out last October. I missed them once, but that only made the album get wayyy more spins in my car, quickly making it one of my favorite albums of 2010. They were every bit as fierce, fast, fun and whatever else starts with the letter ‘f’ as I thought they’d be. James Paul Luna’s epic voice sounded better than I thought it would and Eli Santana’s shredding was on point. Hell, even the new rhythm guitarist was a fucking riot. His stage presence was truly great and the crowd, which seemed to have quite a few fans of the band, really enjoyed the theatrics. There was plenty of horns being thrown and circle pits being formed in a show of appreciation. It made me proud to be a Pasadena native. First we had Van Halen, now we’ve got Holy Grail.
3 Inches of Blood came next, and they took the stage to the music of when Kirk had to fight Spock. That’s super Metal, right? During the sound check and setup, I wondered what their set was going to be like. I figured the absence of Jamie Hooper meant that they’d be playing more material from Here Waits Thy Doom, and less of the previous 3 albums, but I was wrong. The band kicked things off with “The Goatriders Hoarde” and went into “Destroy the Orcs,” which immediately caused a ruckus in the ol’ mosh pit. Hooper’s vocals were used on both studio recordings, but it didn’t matter because lead guitarist Justin Hagberg did an excellent job on the screams throughout the entire set. The guys were air-tight throughout, never missing a beat and playing with such great energy. Songs like “Deadly Sinners” and “Night Marauders” never sounded so intense! And Cam Pipes? In my opinion, that dude has one of the best voices in Metal. I’m talking about today, but I have to include him in the “of all time” discussion as well. I truly believe he’s up there with the likes of Halford, Dickinson, and young Anselmo. I had a lot of fun watching 3IOB play, but I was a little confused by the lack of material from their most recent album. The only song they did from Here Waits thy Doom was “Battles and Brotherhood.” They even played 2 new songs from an upcoming EP. The pit was pretty rough throughout the set, and I can only assume something like “Call of the Hammer” would have made things much more rowdy. However, even without the newer stuff, the set was still great. They played a lot of crowd favorites and everyone was having a great time. I’m glad I finally got the chance to see them shred.
I originally wasn’t going to stick around for Eluveitie because the thought of folk metal didn’t really excite me that night. I’m a fan of the genre, but only in small doses. I’m glad I did stick around, though, because they’re one of the better bands I’ve seen in the last few years. I didn’t know a single one of their lyrics. I didn’t know they have 9 members, and that two of them are attractive women. Not even by metal standards either. I’m talking truly attractive. I was also unaware that they played instruments such as the hurdy gurdy, flute, violin and bag pipes. This had the makings of a fun and unqiue set. All I needed to hear was the music.. and holy fuck was it good. They have a nice Gothenburg-y (think At the Gates) sound, with gentle flute and hurdy gurdy melodies thrown on top heavy, ripping riffs and pounding drums. I was all-in after just a couple of songs, and recorded most of their set. I think my favorite moment was vocalist Chigrel Glanzmann demanding the pit-goers to go apeshit during “Kingdom Come Undone” and ordering a Wall of Death at the start of “(Do)minion.” I think he bought a few beers for some folks in the pit that night too. What a nice guy.
It was a great night for metal aside from the pouring rain. Holy Grail set the tempo for the night. 3 Inches of Blood absolutely destroyed, and Eluveitie couldn’t have done a better job of closing out the show. I hope to see all three bands again very soon.
(More photos can be seen here)