December 23, 2014 Red Dragon Cartel blaze through Webster Hall, NYC 12-2-14
On a cold and misty New York City night while Christmas shoppers flooded department stores and worker bees settled in for the night, Metal fans packed The Marlin Room at Webster Hall to see Heavy Metal royalty. On Tuesday December 2nd, Jake E. Lee, erstwhile guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, commenced the second leg of his US tour with his latest project, Red Dragon Cartel. Along with Lee, new bassist Greg Chaisson, singer D. J. Smith, and drummer Jonas Fairley make up Red Dragon Cartel, who released their self-titled debut on January 28th. The band was joined at Webster Hall by fellow metalsmiths The Ethan Brosh Band, Black Water Rising, and Killcode.
First up was the Boston based Ethan Brosh Band, headed by Ethan Brosh himself who is best known for his work as the lead guitarist for Burning Heat. The Long Island born, Israel-raised Brosh practiced classical guitar at a young age and has toured and recorded with the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch of Dokken, and more. Although accompanied by second guitarist Nate Motalvo, bassist Giorgio Mongelli, and drummer Dan Whitelock, it was clear that Brosh was meant to be the main focus of the entirely instrumental performance. The band played songs off of the 2014 album Live the Dream as stragglers made their way into the venue. The set was lacking in flow and it seemed as if the band had not performed live often, but what they lacked in stage presence they made up for in technical skill. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, where he also taught for a few years, Brosh is a master of his craft, and with plenty of time to perfect their live performances, it will be interesting to see where this band will go next.
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Black Water Rising played a set that was short and sweet to a crowd that was familiar with the work of the Brooklyn-based band. Workhorses in the city that never sleeps, these guys have played practically every major venue from Brooklyn to Long Island building a reputation as a band that brings straight-up no BS Rock-n-Roll. Consisting of Rob Traynor on vocals and guitar, Dennis Kimak on guitar, Mike Meselsohn on drums, and Oddie McLaughlin on bass, the band wasted little time between song banter, instead making seamless transitions from one tune to the next. Their performance was short and simple, but effective, and the crowd particularly got into “Payback” and closing song “Brother.”
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Killcode is another New York City based band who formed in 2008 and released their first feature length album at the end of 2013. The band has since garnered some buzz in the underground metal scene in NY, and it is easy to see why. When they started playing, the crowd responded with a level of energy typically reserved for the headlining act. Killcode is made up of vocalist Tom Morissey, guitarist Chas, bassist Eric Bonesmith, drummer Rob Noxious, and guitarist DC Gonzalez. Each of the five members has a strong stage presence, and as a unit, the band has chemistry and charisma. The crowd sang, danced, responded to chants when prompted, and the band seemed to enjoy the crowd equally. Set highlights included “Hands Up” and “6AM Again,” which whipped the quickly filling venue into gleeful tumult. With their talent and showmanship, Killcode is definitely a band to look out for.
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When it was time for Red Dragon Cartel to take the stage, dedicated fans were gathering close and tight, ready to Rock. They kicked off their set with Ozzy’s “The Ultimate Sin,” followed by band original “Wasted,” and Badlands cover “Healer.” Celebrating the reunion between Lee and Chaisson, who were bandmates in Badlands, the night had a heavy hand of great tunes from the era including “High Wire,” “In a Dream,” as well as “Rumblin’ Train” among other Red Dragon Cartel jams like “Shout it Out” and “War Machine.” The band was loose and comfortable on stage while the audience mirrored the mood as they dug into the music and goggled at Lee’s finger-work. Smith’s vocals and stage presence were impressive, and the rhythm section was tight, but all eyes were on Lee as he burned through song after song on his guitar as they wrapped up the set with “Feeder.” Given a moment to catch their breath, the audience was immediately sucked back for an encore that Badlands rocker “Dreams in the Dark” and Ozzy favorite, co-written by Lee, “Bark at the Moon.”
Red Dragon Cartel played a set that sent home New York fans spent and happy. If this opening night was any indication of how the rest of the tour will go, fans will be in for a treat. This leg of the tour only had fourteen shows, but 2015 is bound to be a big year for Red Dragon Cartel, so keep a look out for some possible new material and more touring.