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March 12, 2004

Rob, Chris, Shannon, and I made our way to metalfest this year late. I had to work until 6:15, so we assumed we would arrive around 7:00. We actually arrived by 8:00; we made a few wrong turns & had difficulty finding the club. Unfortunately, RAVEN, ATTACKER, and TWISTED TOWER DIRE had already played, so I felt a little upset before the night had even started for myself. This was only the beginning…
Jack Koshick had emailed me to “meet him at the door”, for POSSIBLE photo passes and back-stage access. None of the security guards knew where he was or how to get in touch with him. Nonetheless, I managed to meet up with Rob Grohle, who is ALWAYS nice and accommodating; he helped me get a lot of things done that night, which made up for a lot of the disappointments I was about to face. Meeting Al Atkins, Dennis Straton, and the NWOBHM All Star group was a thrill, thanks to Rob introducing me to them. They were all very nice individuals; I especially enjoyed speaking with Atkins, as he is a nice, funny, and interesting person.
It winds up that Joey Belladonna, Mantis, and John Oliva had all canceled for some reason. This was a HUGE upset for me, as it seemed all the bands I came to see either canceled or I had missed. Upon our arrival to the upstairs stage, which hosted most of the power metal, my friends and I caught the opening set of MACABRE, which I wasn’t too thrilled with. My friend Rob Mitchell LOVES this band; I think they suck.
During my bored minutes while MACABRE played, I coincidentally met RAVEN, and spoke with them about missing their show, expressing concern for Mark‘s foot, and making funny jokes. This band has talent and personality, which cannot be said for many other bands. It’s always a pleasure to be around RAVEN…on or off stage.
FOZZY played next, and although he had GREAT stage presence, his vocals sucked!! He can’t sing for sh!t…plain and simple. His appetite for metal intrigued me, and he is a cool guy, so I took some photos of his performance. Here’s where more disappointment settles in…
It winds up that the GOTHIC KNIGHTS played the other stage while FOZZY was performing, and I knew nothing of it!! I LOVE this band, so this obviously pissed me off BIG TIME, especially since I felt FOZZY sucked. Added salt to my wounds was the fact that I missed this band called WIND WRAITH, which is an AWESOME power metal band.
I managed to be up front for SEVEN WITCHES, featuring James Rivera on vocals. This would be the first time I would be able to properly photograph Jack Frost, who is an amazing guitar player. WITCHES simply kicked ass; James Rivera is probably one of the most underrated vocalists. He has KILLER stage presence, a phenomenal range, and just looks fucking cool!!! Their set list included a KILLER live version of “Passage To The Other Side”, which absolutely blew me away.
The NWOBHM All Stars group was up next. It was surreal to see Al Atkins sing his original PRIEST songs. Opening with “Victim Of Changes”, the all stars put on a great show. James Rivera joined Atkins on vocals for “Victim”, which was cool. “Never Satisfied” was also performed, along with solo material & some new songs from Atkin’s work. Dennis Straton later came on stage and played “Running Free”, in which he sang & played guitar. It almost seemed like Di’Anno was up there (or should have been). The set was closed out with Jess Cox playing some TYGERS OF PAN TAN material, which kind of dragged. I mainly enjoyed this group.
I didn’t stay for SYMPHONY X; I’m sure they did well.

Overall, attendance was minimal, venue sucked, and some of the top bands didn’t even play. If I hadn’t seen the NWOBHM All Start, Seven Witches, and…(that’s all…LOL), this would have been a COMPLETE disaster. I managed to meet James Rivera on my way out; he fucking rules. I wish him nothing but the VERY BEST in all he does.

Look for possible interviews with Al Atkins & James Rivera.

Thanks to Rob Grohle for all his help & for being a cool guy. Remember, if it wasn’t for him, the NWOBHM bands would never come to New Jersey. Let’s hope metalfest will return to Asbury Park next year…we can only hope.

-Anthony DeLuca

February 28, 2004

After driving for almost two hours, my friends, girlfriend, and I finally arrived in Browns Mills, New Jersey to see Mastermind. The only other performance of theirs I had seen was several years ago, when they opened for Symphony X. I was VERY excited to get to see them again, plus I have been in contact with Bill, their guitarist; it was nice to finally meet in person.
Although I had missed their first set, Mastermind played an additional two other sets, which were energetic and crowd-pleasing. Included in the set list were “A Million Miles Away”, “Queen Of Shieba”, and some cover tunes from Tool and other well-known bands. Songs off their “Angels Of The Apocalypse” album were executed nicely by vocalist Tracy McShane, who has replaced Lisa Bouchelle. Tracy handled Lisa’s vocal lines with ease and added stage presence. If Tracy’s performance tonight was any indication of how the new album will sound, then we are all in for a nice surprise!! Guitarist Bill Berends can really play…plain and to the point. For a band with one guitarist, Mastermind really delivers the goods, as Bill handled ALL the guitar work with ease, style, and passion. Drummer Rich Berends is an amazing drummer, keeping the beat going along side Bill’s fast & slow guitar work. Bassist Greg Hagen played along with Rich’s drum work very closely. Playing his bass by finger only (no pick), Greg makes a nice addition to Mastermind, appearing to have a lot of potential.
I will be at the next Mastermind show…you should too. Take advantage of the opportunity to see this band while they are playing around New Jersey…you won’t regret it.