Satan – Live Review – The Metro Gallery, Baltimore MD

So, continuing on with the the theme of British NWOBHM bands, here we meet SATAN, originally formed back in 1979 and my guess is for many you’d have to classify them as obscure, particularly since they only released two albums “back in the day” under the SATAN name. Notwithstanding this, for those “in the know”, they were considered groundbreaking for their style of near-thrash/speed metal, and have always brought an interesting twin-guitar melodic metal blend. It’s always tricky trying to follow the history of a band that jumps through a series of name changes; after all, what could possibly be wrong with the name SATAN for a band…? To be honest SATAN aren’t the demonic, blood-drinking, hell-spawn that might be inferred, and if you get to meet them in the flesh, a nicer bunch of ‘normal’ English lads from the North of England you’d be hard pushed to find.

Now, fast-forward to 2013 and the excellent “Life Sentence” CD release announced to the World that SATAN was back and hitting hard. Unlike many reformed bands, this reunion was 100% original; bringing the original five members from the debut release (‘Court In The Act’ from 1983), comprising Steve Ramsey (guitar), Russ Tippins (guitar), Graeme English (bass), Sean Taylor (drums) and Brian Ross (vocals). If you haven’t got a copy of Life Sentence I thoroughly recommend this as a slice of modern heavy metal with a nice NWOBHM retro vibe. It’s about as good a come-back as you could ever get; there isn’t a bad track to be found and just gets better and better the more you play it.

This short 6-date US tour is unbelievably the first ever for SATAN in the USA and took in a slice of the East Coast from Montreal QC at the Northern peak, down to Richmond VA, which was the furthest South the band reached. Fortunately for the rest of the country SATAN will be back in the USA in the Fall to cover the West Coast and Midwest, so keep your eyes peeled for details.

Despite the best intentions, we were unable to make it down to the Richmond date, so it was Baltimore and the last night of the tour or bust! The show was actually quite late, so despite the 1.5-hour drive, we arrived at around 10PM with plenty of time before the set start-time of Midnight. The Metro Gallary has a capacity of 250, and I reckon it was about half-full or so, which was a pretty decent turnout for a late show on a Wednesday. I know quite a few people didn’t go simply because of the late set-time. I don’t really know why they went on quite so late really, and moving everything up by an hour to start at 11PM may have made the show possible for quite a few people.

This was my first show at The Metro Gallery, so a couple of words about the venue. It was suggested the venue was in an iffy part of town, and that may be true, but no more so than you’d find at various venues in and around DC. I’m not suggesting wandering around the streets would be a smart idea, but we parked right next door in the “theater parking lot” ($7) and walked perhaps 20 yards to the door. No worries. The venue isn’t quite as slick as it came across on the website… haha! Now there’s a surprise – not. The stage is pretty small, but just enough for a 5-piece like SATAN to do their thing. It’s a shame the stage isn’t higher though – it’s only raised about 14 inches, which makes seeing the band from the back of the room tricky, even with the place only about ½ full. The PA seemed pretty decent, and overall the sound was good. The bar is at the back of the room and had a few beers on tap and decent selection in bottles, but it’s not outstanding by any means. No food!

When we arrived the opening band, who I believe operate under the wonderfly attractive name of “Cemetery Piss”, appeared to have just finished, which wasn’t a great loss as far as I can tell from those folks that were there. Next up was another noisy mess, called “Extermination Angel”, who seemed intent on seeing just how loud their bass amp could go. Pretty loud was my take on that experiment. Although they weren’t entirely dreadful, there wasn’t much else to note, so moving on…. Direct support to SATAN for the last three dates of the tour was by “BAT” which is a new band, these dates being the first live shows for the group. BAT comprises Ryan Waste on Bass/Vocals (also of Municipal Waste), Nick Poulos on guitar (also of Volture) and Felix Griffin on drums (formerly DRI). These guys tore it up, and I will write a separate review to give them full justice. But I will say – Beware of the BAT!

So, approaching Midnight we snagged a front row spot and SATAN got their backline sorted out. Nothing fancy here and at just about 12 o’clock the intro tape rolled. Immediately the twin guitar mix of Russ and Steve brought that classic NWOBHM sound to the front and “Trial By Fire” (from their debut “Caught In The Act”) opened the night’s proceedings. It was clear Brian Ross was able to deliver exactly the same vocal performance live, as he does on record, and given this was a pretty raw venue with no fancy production this was a joy to behold. Up next was “Blades Of Steel” (also from CITA) and everything just clicked into place – what followed was lots of head-banging, fist pumping, and the horns were thrown at every opportunity.

Overall we were treated to a set of 11 songs, followed by 2 more for the encore, of which 6 were from the latest record “Life Sentence”, 5 from “Caught In The Act” and 2 from the “Early Demos” release. I’m hard pressed to name a favorite track from the night but I might be tempted to call it “Twenty Twenty Five”, though it’s a close call with “Incantations”. The whole set was solid and I thought the whole band played a blinder – I particularly enjoyed the guitar playing of Russ Tippins. Russ was playing a Fender Strat, which contrasted nicely with the Gibson SG that Steve Ramsey played, giving them each a nicely distinct tonal split. This was a ‘trick’ a lot the classic British NWOBHM bands used and gives a lush and full guitar sound without sitting on top of each other.

The set finished up about 1.30AM and the lads jumped off stage and were only too happy to meet with everyone and sign all manner of memorabilia. To a man, each of them seemed genuinely pleased to see everyone, which rounded off a great night. It might have taken them over 30 years to get around to touring the United States, but I get the definite impression that they had a great time and will be back for repeated visits, which is excellent news for all fans of heavy metal. My score for the show is a very easily won 9/10.

Setlist and Gig Poster

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3 Responses to “Satan – Live Review – The Metro Gallery, Baltimore MD”

  1. Dead on review of a killer show.

  2. Great band and great review. I saw them 6 mounth ago in Barcelona and they were amazing!! See you…

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