Concert Reviews, Music Reviews, Ross the Boss

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Ross The Boss has roots all around the metal landscape, well known for being a founding member of the punk band The Dictators and the heavy metal band Manowar. His contributions to epic metal as part of Manowar earned him a place in the Hall of Heavy Metal. It also started him on the path to forming this band, as they met at a festival in Germany where Ross was a guest star performing with the “Men of War” tribute band, later changing their name to the “Ross The Boss” band. Ross’ repertoire stretches from punk rock and proto punk to heavy and power metal. He even originally started his musical career as a violin and piano prodigy, but quickly discovered that metal was his true calling.

Uproar are joining Ross for the whole tour, and we were lucky enough to catch the second leg of the tour. They hit the stage with a proper classic heavy metal show. They cleverly built the layers up through mixing vocals, two guitars, deep bass, and smashing drums.

The performance was enhanced with the minimal but atmospheric lighting; the dark room was set off by a single white light behind the singer, catching his long hair like a halo, although he is anything but an angel.

They mixed in a bit of humour with the crowd to warm them up. The lights and sound went down mid song, after a pause the lights hit Johnny and he shouted out ‘how are you doing London?’, then before the crowd had a chance to answer, they slammed straight back into the song.

For the final song, they put on a bit of a performance, for each of the guitarist’s solos they stood up on a step on the front of the stage. The drums crash in and Johnny sets it off with some stellar head-banging, and ended on one hell of a scream.

The Manowar T-shirts about hailing from Ross’ past and highlights his diehard fans out there tonight.

“Are you ready?” a cheer from the crowd ripples out, which wasn’t good enough for Marc, lead singer, “I said Underworld, are you fucking ready?!”, which was met by a raucous applause and shouting. To reward the crowd he started with a beautiful falsetto scream. Then Ross took the lead with a blistering guitar solo. The second song opens with the Boss taking center stage on guitar and moved up to the front for a solo and the horns went up in the crowd to meet him.

They mixed in some of their new songs with the old classics into the set, with “We are the Night” from their new album “By Blood Sworn”. Marc takes a step aside for Ross’ solo, giving the crowd what they were waiting for. Marc gets the crowd clapping along ready for the start of the next song and pumped ready for more electric fast riffs by the one and only Boss. Marc let’s out a scream to the sky and falls to his knees.

Marc shouted out to the crowd: “I expect you to sing along”, which was met by shouts and screams reigning out. “Are you ready??”, answered by a roar from the crowd. He turns to the band “I think they’re ready!”. As Ross raised his fists to the air, then slammed one to his heart, the crowd uproared. “Are you guys all warmed up now”? “Shall we continue?!”, the crowd was lost into a sea of horns, headbanging and screams!

As well as their classic hard hitting metal songs, they worked in a couple of the slower ballad pieces. Starting with a slow bass solo, next joined by ballad style vocals. Gradually building up, and launching into a heavier second half, with a crash from the drums and Ross joining finally with another of his classic blistering solos. Building into a full on heavy metal storm. Ross jumped up on the step and all the fists went up. “Are we having fun out there?”…

“We’re going to need your help on this one”, Marc shouted out, and the crowd joined the bassist on back-up vocals. With all three headbanging together. Another crushing solo by Ross set it off, and Marc held a perfect falsetto scream throughout his solo. They ended on one of my favourite songs from their new album, a reinvention of Manowar’s classic “Hail and Kill”. The crowd was so pumped and starting to mosh, people were slammed forward into the stage. Marc started filming Ross shredding on the guitar with the crowd’s chants in the background. As they finished, Ross threw out picks into the crowd and exited the stage, to the crowd chanting “Ross the Boss”.

They performed an amazing show and Ross set the guitar on fire tonight. I was lucky to catch Ross, Marc and the guys from Uproar, after the show and get some photographs with them; Ross even gave me one of his picks! They were genuinely super friendly and chill. Ross was talking about how much they enjoyed producing their new album and having the freedom to play the type of music they want. I personally can’t wait to hear what they come out with next! Ross is a true pioneer of the punk and metal genres.

Album Reviews, Music Reviews, Ross the Boss

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Ross “The Boss” Friedman is joined by Marc Lopes on vocals and keyboard, with Lance Barnewold smashing the drums and Mike LePond setting the bass ablaze. Luckily they all lived close by so the album was created organically. Starting with Ross and Mike playing around with some tunes and riffs, then forming the songs around them. Ross drives the direction of the song writing, but lets the songs form naturally and fits his legendary guitar skills around them.

The album art, by Stan Decker, gives you a big clue of what the album contains. Powerful heavy metal songs that can imagine in the backdrop of a Viking battle march. Driving the warriors forward to war and glory, pumping them full of energy and fight. It following their classic themes of war and glory, but with a heavier and darker undertone. But still packed full of electric riffs, booming drums and Marc’s classic falsetto screams.

A racing beat and electric fast riffs are joined by the deep booming drums. Only to be outdone by Marc’s skilled vocal range, switching effortlessly between deep and dark classic heavy metal vocals and piercingly high falsetto screams. His vocals bring a varied layer to the already outstanding musical accompaniments, and the lyrics tell a story, of battles and glory won.

The title track kicks off as they mean to go on, with Marc’s deep and dark lyrics about war and glory and his tell-tale screams. Building up pace and complexity, ending with a crashing drum solo by Lance.

There’s a mixture of styles of songs included in this album. More classic bouncing metal songs like “Play Among the Godz” popping with energy and sure to get you moving. Combined with some heavier metal tracks, such as “We Are the Night” and “This is Vengeance”.

“Fistful of Hate” was also one of my favourite tracks as it took a different style, starting with just a quick galloping beat on the drums, slowly adding layers with fast twanging guitar and bass chords. Built up into a full battle march by Marc’s vocals. The song escalates through a variety of pumping riffs and varied vocals, into a heavy rock and metal storm.

The first half of “Lilith” is another hauntingly beautiful ballad style piece. But after a brief pause, a classic electric riff from Ross signals the second half and they launch into their more classic metal style songs. Switching the feel and pace back down again to the mysterious ballad style. Which just felt a bit too chopped up without enough transition between the styles.

A key favourite of mine is “Faith of the Fallen”, as it’s a lot slower paced, mystical and the lyrics tell a story. It feels almost out of place in comparison to the rest of the album. I think they smashed the slower ballad style, a testament to their varied skills set, and would be great to hear them play more song like this added extra.

And for all of you Manowar fans, they’ve even included three bonus tracks of Manowar covers! My absolute favourite is the punky “Hail and Kill”. It showcases some of Ross’ and Marc’s best talents along with a catchy chanting chorus. Ending on a perfect falsetto scream and crash on the cymbals. When I saw their show last week, I was a very happy lil metalhead when they played it, and the crowd definitely seemed to concur as they chanted along.

This album is a great collection of songs, combining their varied skills sets and styles. Bringing in classic metal tones and riffs, set off with a heavy metal bass and drum beat. Finally, finished with their standard lyrical themes of war and glory. However, to compensate for the variety of tracks there could have been a stronger story or style progression to lead the listeners through the album. Ross dragged old school metal kicking and screaming into the modern metal age.