Recently I made my way back to Delaware for the first time in nearly 20 years. Why? Glad you asked. On this night it was INFERNAL OPERA’S CD release show for their sophomore effort The Avenging Phoenix, which I have to tell you flat out buries their debut Emissary of Steel and has been getting a lot of play since I first got my hands on it in November of last year (membership has its privileges, what can I say?) The place was JB McGinnes, hands down one of THE best venues I’ve been to since my return to the Northeast. From the lovely ladies Jessica and Stephanie behind the bar to the door guy Jordan everybody was warm, welcoming, and friendly. THAT, my friends, is how you get people in and keep them in. Jon Taffer would have been impressed. I also have to say that my girl La’Quitia was handling the band merch like a boss, all while keeping fools in check.
I’ve known Michael Alberque (drums) for a long time and I can say that he definitely busts his ass booking shows and doing anything and everything to help the scene in DE/PA/NJ, but this was the first time I got to see him in action, and I was definitely impressed. He attacks and pounds the skins with a vengeance, playing every song like it’s his last and I admire that. Volpe Vetrano is a complete and total dynamo on the vocals with pipes for days. This was especially true when the band graced us with a cover of “Bloodstone” from JUDAS PRIEST which had me rockin’ and everyone around me following suit.
The opening number “Forgotten Pharaoh” served as the perfect introduction to new guitarists Randy Gonce and Mike Campanile, as the duo blazed a path with dual harmonized lines, and new bassist Stev Von Römer laid down the groove carefully with Alberque. You know how you break open one of those chewy granola bars with the gooey chocolate? That’s the best way to describe this rhythm section: warm and sticky, like chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. Next up was leadoff track “Uprising” from the new disc, taking things to more of a gallop and getting all the heads in attendance bobbing. Another new cut “The Devil Himself” made its presence known in heavy fashion before “Eyes in the Dark” arrived in sinister fashion. A song dedicated to KING DIAMOND/MERCYFUL FATE, I’m sure the man himself would be pleased upon hearing it, especially when Volpe hits those highs!
It was back to the debut for “Eden” before new track “Sinister Angel” kicked us up the ass once again. This gave way to the aforementioned “Bloodstone” and I still can’t get over how fucking great their rendition was! Heavy Metal Church was in session for “Exodus” and “Hails!” (One of my favorite new tunes!) was the sermon of the day. This song is without a doubt one of the best in INFERNAL OPERA’S arsenal and live it fucking destroys! The sprawling epic title track “The Avenging Phoenix” was 7:52 of greatness and “Powerlord” with its thunderous rhythm and quick pacing had you feeling it in your chest.
Now it was time for a couple of oldies but goodies. I’ve said before that “Uncreator” is one of the band’s best and on this night they showed why that is. It is a relentless attack that never lets up. Closing out the regular set was “Emissary of Steel”, another fast-paced metal anthem that if you’re sitting down will quickly remedy that. After some chants of “One more song!” the group tore into one last new tune in “Upon the Blade”. As if our necks weren’t hurting already, they had to make us headbang one last time, didn’t they? When all was said and done I was spent. INFERNAL OPERA put on one hell of a show at JB McGinnes, and I am proud to be a fan as well as call them friends. I also have a strong feeling that with their work ethic and dedication to putting on a kickass show that all their hard work is gonna pay off real soon. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Go check ‘em out for yourself; you can thank me later. And don’t be surprised if the next day you find yourself hurting and quoting Lethal Weapon’s Sgt. Roger Murtaugh, saying, “I’m too old for this shit!”
LIVE REVIEW: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY