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Some say rock and roll is dead. Just visit Cudahy mainstay The Metal Grille on Packard Avenue (formerly The Blue Pig and Vnuk’s) on any given Saturday night, and you might beg to differ. The sights, the sounds and, heck, even the smells make one acutely aware that metal and its subsequent subculture are alive and well. At least in certain zip codes.
One need not look too far to recognize that we are living in an era when thrash metal pioneer Slayer can win Grammys (in 2007 and 2008) and earn the respect of both critics and fans alike. Visit any church festival during the summer in Milwaukee, and you’ll be sure to hear a few hard rock staples – or maybe even some metal if you’re lucky – pumping through the speakers.
Formed in 1998 from the ashes of other area bands – The Sweet Tarts, Problem Child, High Treason, Model Citizen, Fortress, Firing Squad, Stiletto, Kings Ransom, F.L.A. Banshee, Damien, and Victim – the Metal Men is currently comprised of Darrell Radke (lead vocals), Dean Arndt (lead guitar, vocals), Angelo Petropoulos (lead guitar, vocals), Mike Lelo (bass guitar, vocals) and Billy Wendt (drums).
A visit to the band's website claims that it "pumps pure adrenaline into the veins of old friends and new acquaintances," and the group isn't lying. Its live show does one better, playing like opening a heavy metal box set, cranked to 11, featuring the tunes of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Cinderella, David Lee Roth, Def Leppard, Dio, Dokken, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, KISS, Lynch Mob, Megadeth, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Queensrÿche, Quiet Riot, Rainbow, Ratt, Scorpions, Skid Row, Tesla and Van Halen.
Having seen Metal Men many times now, the experience never gets old. Whether helping scream out vocals into Radke’s microphone at the now defunct Yesteryears in West Allis, watching the band blaze the stage at the former Papa’s Social Club or rocking out at its perennial Budweiser Pavilion appearance at Wisconsin State Fair, all you really need is a pair of devil horns and an open mind to instantly transport back to the louder, simpler era of the late '80s and all things metal.
Today on the Uline Warehouse stage, the Metal Men were in top form. Starting out by scorching the small but mighty crowd with "Metal Health" by Quiet Riot, "Tooth and Nail" by Dokken and "Blackout" by the Scorpions, the crowd was the Metal Men's for the taking.
Next up was "Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth and "Youth Gone Wild" by Skid Row, with "You're in Love" by Ratt for good measure.
Given the abbreviated set, the Metal Men pulled out all of the stops, offering an obliterating audio onslaught of Van Halen's "Unchained," Ozzy's "Perry Mason" and the riveting "Breaking the Silence" by Queensryche.
The Metal Men hammered down a throwback set next with "Metal Church" by Metal Church and "Heaven and Hell" by Ronnie James Dio era Black Sabbath, followed by a blistering rendition of "Cowboys From Hell" by Pantera.
The band ended with the one-two punch of "Balls to the Wall" by Accept and "Seek and Destroy" by Metallica.
As usual, the crowd was left satisfied but wanting more with no encore to be had. Here's to looking forward State Fair to get the next dose of Metal Men. You know I'll be there!
Metal Health (Quiet Riot)
Tooth and Nail (Dokken)
Black Out (Scorpions)
Symphony of Destruction (Megadeth)
Youth Gone Wild (Skid Row)
You're in Love (Ratt)
Unchained (Van Halen)
Perry Mason (Ozzy Osbourne)
Breaking the Silence (Queensryche)
Metal Church (Metal Church)
Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath)
Cowboys From Hell (Pantera)
Balls to the Wall (Accept)
Seek and Destroy (Metallica)