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Metal Masters Bring The Noise To DTE

Of the Oakland Press

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- After Mayhem, Motley and Megadeth, the Metal Masters wrapped up this summer's headbanging festival season Monday (Aug. 18) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in fine -- and loud -- fashion. As Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilminster told the crowd, "We don't want to hurt your ears. We want to remove them completely."

That's pretty much what Motorhead and its mates -- Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell, upstarts Testament and Detroit's Seduce -- did during nearly six and a half hours of righteous noisemaking, delivering a decidedly red meat brand of rock to a roughly half-full house of fist-pumping, black T-shirt adorned fans on a sweltering mid-August day.

Unlike the summer's other hard rock packages, Metal Masters played the legends card shamelessly and unapologetically, right down to the Led Zeppelin tunes played over the P.A. during set changes. But given the presence of some bona fide metal icons, that was perfectly understandable.

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, for instance, actually owns the trademark to the Metal God moniker and played that part to the hilt during his band's nearly 90-minute headline show. Looking like a demonic Daddy Warbucks with his shaved (and tattooed) head and Brillo pad goatee, Halford paraded through the show in eight different outfits and road his equally iconic motorcycle onstage for the encore. He also led the crowd through a somewhat schticky vocal exercise before "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," though it should be noted that he has as impressive a vocal range as you'll find in all of pop music, not just metal.

The Priest set, meanwhile, went light on the group's current album, the rock opera "Nostradamus," and mixed up well-aired fare such as "Metal Gods," "Breaking the Law," "Electric Eye," "Painkiller," "Hell Bent For Leather" and the power ballad "Angel" with more obscure favorites like "Eat Me Alive" and "Hell Patrol" -- all powered by the prototypical twin guitar attack of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing. And if some fans were disappointed the quintet didn't play its early '80s hit "Living After Midnight," Judas Priest's version of Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)" was certainly a mitigating treat.

Prior to Priest, Heaven & Hell frontman Ronnie James Dio complained that "it's really difficult being evil in all this light," but that didn't stop the Anglo-American quartet -- better known as the third incarnation of Black Sabbath -- from stomping through a set of doomy, gothic-flavored epics, including blazing versions of "The Mob Rules," "Time Machine" and "Neon Knights" and epic take-outs on "Children of the Sea," "Sign of the Southern Cross" and especially "Heaven and Hell," which featured a moody, extended middle section. And while Dio and his emotive vocal flourishes gave Heaven & Hell its face, the star was unquestionably guitarist Tony Iommi, whose fleet-fingered solos elevated nearly every song.

Motorhead, meanwhile, played 45 minutes of the "rock 'n' (bleeping) roll" it's been making since 1975, led by Kilminster's guttural vocals and offhanded demeanor that's not unlike the dunderheaded Gumbys from Monty Python's Flying Circus. The trio's set was nothing but fierce, however, though it oddly ignored the group's upcoming album "Motorizer" -- due out Tuesday (Aug. 26) and advertised via a banner behind the band -- in favor of more familiar fare such as "Metropolis," "Going to Brazil," "Ace of Spades" and "Overkill."

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