Ending 2022: Tate, Priest, weird Metallica moves, shows return, Fiadh Productions rises

We’re starting to jump into year-end roundup stuff, which it honestly feels like we just did for 2021. But no, I looked back at my calendar and the extensive notes I have taken on each release that was covered this year, and it indeed has been another 12 months that ripped past us mercilessly. There are a few things from the year I want to get off my chest, so fucking bear with us, won’t you?

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For some reason, a story I did about Geoff Tate 10 years ago must have been spread somewhere, because legions of Tate fans showed up to complain about the story. I even wrote a new intro because so many angry people could not believe I had the gall to rip his voice. Never mind the story was a review of his still really not good solo record “Kings & Thieves,” but everyone seemed fixated on me saying his voice was shot. Uh, it was. He hasn’t sounded good on a studio recording in a really long time, and I’ve watched him struggle through live shows. I’m not happy about it. I love Queensryche’s earlier material, and I’ve interviewed Tate, who could not have been nicer. But these people were basing their opinion on how Tate sounds today, not in 2012, and they insisted he sounds as good as ever. The other night, a Tate live clip showed up on my TikTok feed, and OK, FUCK, HE SOUNDS WAY BETTER NOW. Happy? It does sound like he rehabbed his voice, he’s not “Mindcrime” strong but I’ll take the form he’s in now vs . where he was a decade ago. So, I agree. Tate sounds much better on 2022. A big improvement from 2012. WHEN I WROTE THE FUCKING STORY.

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The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is one of the biggest jokes ever, and I don’t care about it. When Alex Lifeson of Rush literally blah-blah-blahed his way through his acceptance speech, it was perfect. It’s a useless institution circle jerk of fucks, and I’ll fight every person responsible for it. That said, I am happy Judas Priest finally got it, and I even watched their performance (fucking great, of course) and speeches. That’s all the credit I’ll pay it. It also was such a massive statement that a band at their age still has that kind of presence and power. They’re amazing and should have been in any legitimate rock hall years ago. And how the fuck are we only putting in Dolly Parton this year? She should have gone in year one.

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I got to see Metallica this summer at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, one of the only times that waste of a ballpark has seen enthusiasm in years. They were awesome. They still have it. Then a few weeks ago, the band announced its new record “72 Seasons” complete with some of the worst album cover art you’ll ever see and a lead single that’s … fine. It’s OK. It sounds more like a band trying to sound like Metallica, but whatever. Then they announced a tour where they’ll do two nights in a city with a totally different setlist each night, and different openers. Cool idea. Problem is that the tickets are so goddamn expensive that you’re pricing out regular fans. A friend said to get tickets for his son and himself, the cost was over $1,000. That’s insane. Plus, the openers are mostly awful (the Pantera not-a-reunion money grab, Five Finger Cop Band, that weird Led Zeppelin rip off), where they could have grabbed some good younger bands (Khemmis would do awesome in that spot, as would as would a band such as Undeath or even Blood Incantation or Ruby the Hatchet) and given worthy newer artists a big boost. I get Metallica is a business and all, but they’ve never felt more corporate than they do now.

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Speaking of live shows, it wasn’t long ago where these didn’t exist any longer. The pandemic shut down touring, and finally having things back to normal from that aspect feels so great. I’ll never take that for granted again. It was not lost on me finally getting to see Cave In after last seeing them 20 years ago was a huge moment, and a really special tour. Great night of music and energy and love. Also, there was a killer triple bill of Elder, Dreadnought, and Ruby the Hatchet that was an electric evening of musically diverse performers that gave you a little taste of something different. Also, it was nice to have back local institutions Descendants of Crom and Metal Immortal Festival that can go back to being annual events we anticipate in Pittsburgh each year.  

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Finally, I’m very excited that Bariann Tuite Smith is back running a label, the awesome Fiadh Productions. She was a driving force behind Broken Limbs Recordings (she brought awareness to bands such as the sadly dissolved Vattnet Viskar and Oak Pantheon, who we’ll hear from in January), and now with Fiadh, she’s continuing the effort not only to put out great music, but she’s also championing artists that you won’t have to expunge from your catalog due to shitty beliefs and behaviors. It’s an anti-fascist, pro-LGBTQIA+ space with proceeds from many of the records going to good, conscientious charities you can feel good about unless you’re a fucker. You never know what you’re going to get from Fiadh as you could take on black metal, death metal, doom, dungeon synth, you name it. She’s a credit to heavy metal, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store in 2

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