HOLY GRAIL - Adventurous Road Warriors In Times Of Pride & Peril

June 11, 2016, 2 years ago

Mark Gromen

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Second US club tour in four months, with a third jaunt already announced (along w/ labelmates Spellcaster) for next month. Holy Grail are at it again, with a return to Kung Fu Necktie, the oft claustrophobic, vintage bar featuring $2 (canned beer) Shelf Of Shame, located beneath Philadelphia's elevated subway tracks. Not sure which makes a louder noise! While many have jumped aboard the Holy Grail bandwagon with their excellent third album, Times Of Pride And Peril, been a frequent support of the traditional minded Cali shredders since the debut, when they first staked their claim as world class road-dogs, opening for the likes of Blind Guardian, Anthrax/Exodus and Dragonforce, as well as numerous small headlining gigs. 

Firing on all cylinders, "Bleeding Stone" pumps the crowd up instantly. Frontman James Paul Luna, sporting a new, cellophane protected tattoo beneath his spiked arm band, was a whirl of activity, punching the air and shaking his mane of hair. Either side (actually having switched stage positions, since the last tour) were guitarists Eli Santana & Alex Lee. Pre-show, the latter, who looks like a young George Lynch (Dokken), mans the merch booth, demonstrating his yo-yo skills, as a calling card. "Crystal King" gives the six-stringers a chance to blaze, as does the red lights and strobes of "Those Who Will Remain". The thrashing, fist thrusting antics onstage were almost equal to those in the crowd! "Ride The Void" became a mellower, clap-along, amongst a set otherwise characterized by boundless energy. Plenty of sweeps and whiddly guitar in speedy “Sudden Death" and closer "My Last Attack". For "Descent Into The Maelstrom", Santana takes the front of the stage, leaving the solo to Lee. Overall, a lethal, killing machine.

Love the intimacy of intense, sweaty, up-close club shows like these. As the band continues to climb the metal hierarchy, will be more difficult to see Holy Grail under such circumstances and people will reminisce about "the good old club days." Get onboard before it's too late.

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