Heaven & Hell prove metal lives with Pavilion show

A review of Coheed & Cambria and Heaven & Hell at the Bank of America Pavilion on August 29, 2009

, Staff Writer

Loud guitars and flashy theatrics held back Friday night’s thunder and lightning as the Heaven and Hell Tour rolled into town. Sharing the stage with theRonnie James Dio-fronted Black Sabbath reformation Heaven & Hell was progressive metal revisionists Coheed & Cambria. Powerhouses of their generations, innovators for their time, and loud as hell.

Coheed & Cambria took the first set and put on an intense hour-long set. Pulling material from throughout their four-disc catalog, the setlist was beautifully crafted to accompany the themes from the band’s concept-heavy studio work without getting hung up on stories. Jam-heavy and packed with intense shredding and brilliant technical musicianship, the band brought everything they had and came out swinging for a relatively small crowd consisting of the younger, Coheed faithful and older Heaven & Hell fans who didn’t seem to really understand what was going on.

Opening with “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3,” guitarist and singer Claudio Sanchez was hard to stop watching as he picked through the quiet opening guitar lines, then exploded into the riff-heavy verses. Claudio and Travis Stever are equally talented on lead or rhythm, and the two were simply fantastic at searing through heady crunch riffs at warp speed or creating fantastic ethereal noise that built for days until erupting into anthemic battle cries. Percussionist Chris Pennie and bassist Michael Todd lay a tight, solid foundation to support the fortress.

“No World For Tomorrow” was a heavy singalong and “Gravemakers and Gunslingers” was a hard n’ fast rocker that segwayed into the ten-minute closer “The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut,’ which featured Claudio jamming on some electronic instrument that allowed him to literally make notes by waving his hand in there. Trippy. A cover of “The Trooper,” by Iron Maiden was a sweet treat for old and young alike.

There was a lengthy wait between sets as crew rolled out a stage setup that looked like something out of “This is Spinal Tap”. A large, gothic gate opening up to reveal a dome-shaped drumset with toms hanging from above, multiple crucifixes, and graveyard imagery, flanked by two enormous gargoyles nesting on ten-foot high platforms. It was a sight to see, especially when compared to Coheed’s relatively sparse decorations of a few insignias, lights and lots of fog.

Opening with their 1981 hit “The Mob Rules,” Heaven & Hell took the stage to thundering approval from a frenzy of faithful fans that rolled in just prior to showtime. Guitarist Tony Iommi rocked. Ronnie James Dio pushed his impressive pipes to the limit, and Geezer Butler stood unassumingly onstage, pumping out frenzied bass lines. Musically, theses guys are as good as they ever were.

Avoiding any and all Ozzy-associated Black Sabbath material, the band touched on all three of their early 80’s releases (Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules, and Dehumanizer) while showcasing material from their comeback album The Devil You Know, released this past April. A collection of hair-metal anthems, the set brought out favorites like “Children of the Sea,” and “I” while trying out new tunes like “Bible Black.” Classics like “Die Young” and “Falling of the Edge of the World” were the most welcomed, and “Neon Knights” served as a triumphant closer.

Metal has come a long way since these guys first starting jamming, and Friday night’s performance revealed the stark contrast between generations. Heaven & Hell put on an impressive, cathartic performance, but there was so much distraction to go along with it that it became hard to take seriously. Vinny Appice’s 30-odd piece drum bubble may have been the shit in ’81, it looks silly when you’ve just seen Chris Pennie make twice as much music with 1/3 of the drums. Tony Iommi invented the metal riff, and is one of the more innovative guitarists of his time, but that time was long ago, and bands like Coheed have the advantage of thirty years of musical evolution.

That is not to say that Heaven & Hell were disappointing. On the contrary, they played a great set that pleased the hardcore faithful and schooled a younger generation on what metal used to be. The evening was a dichotomy of metal as new legends faced off against once-legends, bringing two generations of fans together for a very loud, entertaining night.

Leave a Reply