Thursday, September 29, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016: Live at Elbo Room, September 3rd.

Post #341

On September 3rd, 2016, history was made as the first-ever Happyheadbanger Fest was held in Chicago at the Elbo Room on the north side of the city. 5 bands came out and played their hearts out for the faithful followers of independent music who came, saw, and rocked out with them. The evening was recorded live, and may be available in the future either through this blog or directly through the bands who performed. For now, I'll review the music that was played on this night.

The opening act was Fist to the Sky, the band who won my Independent Band of the Year contest in 2012. Brothers Mike and Phil Sylvester played an 'acoustic' set to open the show, as their drummer was unavailable for this night. They started off the night with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Simple Man'. They actually sounded close to the Shinedown version of this song. From there they mixed it up with some of their old songs, some newer original songs, a couple more covers, and even a song or two from their own side-projects.

With the crowd warmed up it was time for the next act... Next band up was Threatening The Order, a female-fronted metal band from Chicago. They played a fast and heavy set. The crowd got into it, there were fists in the air, and heads were banging. Their songs were driven by heavy riffs, and the singer brought a melodic element to each song. They did perform both songs they have available on their Reverbnation page to stream/download; 'Something to Prove', and 'Soul Inside'. They closed with another favorite track, 'Hold Your Breath'

Third band up, right in the middle of the line-up, was MEDIUMS. This was another change of pace for the evening. Mediums are a blues-rock band who have already drawn comparisons to Ben Folds with their sound. Having just started playing shows earlier this year, they filled in on short notice for another band that had to cancel. They kept things up-beat and kept the crowd into the music. They were quite entertaining, particularly their guitarist Henry Van Loon, who played a Hendrix-ish guitar solo at one point, complete with teeth-picking and behind-the-head playing. Even when one guitarist had a string break during their set, the rest of the band improvised a drum-solo and jam session while he re-strung his instrument, and they never missed a beat!

 The penultimate band of the night was Scars Of Armageddon, the current Independent Band of the Year on this site. They also played the most intense style of metal thus far, and they melted faces with their shredding progressive power metal. I recently reviewed their debut CD Never Sleep... Again, and they played 2 tracks from that release, including my personal favorite, 'Our Dying Day'. They also played several new songs from their follow-up CD which they are recording currently. Fists were pumping, heads were banging, and the crowd's energy was at its peak thus far.

Last but not least, was Proudest Angel, a Chicago-based metal-rock-punk band that gave the first ever HappyHeadbanger Fest an energetic and thrilling final set. Prior to their latest release, The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision, Proudest Angel last released new music back in 2003. They played a couple songs from both their newer and older releases, but they also surprised us with a cool cover of Stabbing Westward's 'Shame', cleverly arranged as part of a medley with their own original song 'Starlight'. They hit us early and often with heavy riffs and powerful vocals. They closed their set with one of their older classics, 'Brink'.

And then it was in the books. HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016 had become reality, and hopefully marks the beginning of a tradition. In any event, this show was filmed and recorded. There may be audio and/or video material from this evening of independent rock and metal music available for you at some point in the future. Keep following, and keep up with local and independent bands near and far. Support your local scene wherever you are... Happy Headbanging to all!

Setlists for each band were as follows:
-Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
-Count Your Blessings
-Life So Free (War Horseman cover)
-Done With You
-One Dance (Drake cover)
-Forever We Will Stand
-Forever and After
-Not After Tonight

-Price to Pay
-Something to Prove
-Soul Inside
-Casting Molds
-Hold Your Breath

-If You Love a City
-Let Me In
-I Can't Take It Any More
-Only in Moonlight
-No Name #7
-Well Wishing
-Good Time
-Chasin' The Blues

-Dead End
-Never Sleep Again
-Our Dying Day
-A Good Day To Die

-Shoulda Known Better
-The Hyena
-Whole Again
-Civilly Feral
-Shamelight (A medley of Starlight and Shame by Stabbing Westward)
-We Had Fun

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Congrats to Kryssie from Evil Engine

Post #340 would like to congratulate Kryssie, from Evil Engine, for landing a spot on CBS's Big Brother: Over The Top. First episode premiers Wednesday September 28th at 9pm central time. There will be weekly 'episodes' Wednesday evenings, however it seems that Big Brother: Over The Top is intended more as a live event, to be accessed around the clock by CBS All Access subscribers. Curious? Learn more Here.

The HappyHeadbanger connection with Kryssie goes back to 2009 when I first heard of the band DEADMANSWAKE. Kryssie sang lead vocals for this band prior to her current punk-rock band Evil Engine. Both bands have been reviewed here at, and I look forward to reviewing Evil Engine's debut release, 'Nullius In Verba' soon after it becomes available. DEADMANSWAKE were my 2010 Independent Band of the Year, and Evil Engine will be featured this year, polling to open early in October... stay tuned for details. DMW still holds the record for most votes received by a single band in this annual contest. Will Evil Engine fare as well this year? Time will tell.

For now, enjoy Kryssie's 'introduction' video, and root for her in this Big Brother: OTT season!

 See my previous reviews of DEADMANSWAKE

and Evil Engine.

Friday, September 2, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 5: Proudest Angel

Post #339

Proudest Angel are a re-formed groove-metal/punk-metal band from Chicago. Performing at the first-ever HappyHeadbanger Fest, they're promoting their first album of new material since 2002. Entitled 'The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision', it is available on their bandcamp page to stream or download. Here is their new music video: Civilly Feral.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 4: Scars of Armageddon

Post #338

Scars of Armageddon, The current Independent Band of the Year, are a power-thrash metal band, incorporating a classic metal vocal style akin to Iron Maiden or Metal Church. Check out this youtube audio track from their full length album Never Sleep... ...Again.

Monday, August 29, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 3: Fist To The Sky

Post #337

Fist to the Sky are a metalcore band from the suburbs of Chicago. At HappyHeadbanger Fest they'll be performing an acoustic set. A former 'Independent Band of the Year' from the 2012 contest, you can see my previous reviews of their music here.

Check out their official video for 'Another Lesson Learned'

Friday, August 26, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 2: Threatening The Order

Post #336

Threatening The Order are a female fronted heavy metal band, and graciously will be part of the festivities at Happyheadbanger Fest at Elbo Room in Chicago on September 3rd.Their sound is a bit comparable to the likes of Halestorm or Lacuna Coil, but a bit heavier.

Check out their song 'Hold Your Breath' here on their Facebook page.

Other songs available to stream on their Reverbnation Page.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview: Mediums

Post #335

Happyheadbanger Fest is rapidly approaching. On Saturday September 3rd, the Elbo Room in Chicago will host this brand new music fest. The bands in this line-up represent a wide range of the rock-metal spectrum. From indie-rock, to melodic metal, to extreme metal, Happyheadbanger Fest will feature a little of everything.

Here is a preview of MEDIUMS, the newest band added to the line-up. They're a melodic indie-rock band that are comparable to such acts as Ben Folds or Lucky Boys Confusion. This is from their debut performance "Only in Moonlight".

Follow MEDIUMS on Facebook.
Get your tickets for HappyHeadbanger Fest at the Elbo Room event page!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Suffer No Fools-Songs for the Restless Youth (2015)

Post #334

Suffer No Fools are a heavy metal band from Ealing, England (a borough of London). Fusing elements of melodic metalcore and classic heavy metal from thrash to NWOBHM, they offer a pure metal structure and deliver on headbanging riffs as well as shredding solos and a vocal style that has both aggression and hooks.

Songs for the Restless Youth is their debut album, however it could double as their mission statement! They write lyrics that frequently address current socioeconomic issues of today's youth. Their strength is in mid-tempo, heavy groove songs with  a hard-edged vocal delivery. They remind me at times of Avenged Sevenfold's sound on the 'Hail to the King' album, but other times are comparable to the melodic side of All That Remains. In any case you're in for some catchy and heavy songs that display both an innate talent and a social consciousness.

You can stream or download Songs for the Restless Youth at the Suffer No Fools Bandcamp page. Follow them on facebook for their schedule of shows in the greater London area, as well as updates on any new material they may be working on.

Recommended Tracks:
-The Bombing Campaign
-Forgiven or Forgotten
-Dirge of the Old Gods

Sunday, August 14, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest - 2016, at Elbo Room, Chicago. Saturday, September 3rd.

Post # 333

A rock and metal music fest that will primarily feature the independent bands featured here on this blog for the past seven years... HappyHeadbanger Fest will be sure to satiate every Chicago metal-head's need for headbanging! Featuring 3 previous winners of my 'Independent Band of the Year' annual contest, plus members from other previously featured bands, and a couple bands to be featured in this year's upcoming Independent Band of the Year Reader's Poll, this fest is as much about promoting the Chicago and surrounding area's music scene as it is about that scene supporting this blog in return.

In just under 3 weeks, Scars of Armageddon, the current Band of the Year, will be performing, along with previous Bands of the Year Her Name Is Mercy and Fist To The Sky. Other bands performing include Threatening The Order, Mediums, and Proudest Angel!

6 Independent Metal and Punk Rock bands! Fully Amped and Unplugged sets on 2 stages! MC'd by the Happy Headbanger Himself! This brand new music fest will have something for everyone...

HappyHeadbanger Fest will be at Elbo Room in Chicago on September 3rd at 8pm (doors open at 7pm). Tickets are $9.00 in advance through the Elbo Room's Ticket page, or direct from them bands if you're following them. Tickets will be $10 at the door.

Follow HappyHeadbanger on Facebook, the HappyHeadbanger Fest event page, The Elbo Room, and any of the bands performing to keep updated on this one-of-a-kind, and First Ever HappyHeadbanger Fest!

(Recent Update: Due to unforseen circumstances there has been a change in this line-up. Mediums has replaced Evil Engine for HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WARG-In The Dusk Of Men (2016)

Post # 332
Warg are a metal band from Zaragoza, Spain. I might initially label them as a thrash metal band, but they incorporate many different subgenres into their sound including classic metal, death metal, progressive metal, symphonic metal, and folk metal. They have true diversity to their sound.

Their newest release, In The Dusk Of Men, is an excellent example of their metal capabilities.
They amaze me by their ability to sound eerily like In Flames in one song, Amon Amarth in another, and Epica in yet another!

One last interesting fact I'll mention pertains to their name. For those of you curious, it is indeed inspired from George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books, which in turn are the basis of HBO's hit fantasy series Game Of Thrones. They even have a couple songs that are inspired directly from the series.

This album seems to have something in store for almost any heavy metal fan. The vast array of styles they incorporate into their songs are woven seamlessly together. There are great guitar solos, complex song structures, melodic segments as well as hardcore. The vocal styles are varied even within songs. They even have a guest vocalist who helps round out the melodic side of vocals. This impressive fusion of several diverse heavy metal elements is something that truly mush be heard to be believed.

Stream and/or download at Warg's Bandcamp Page!

Recommended Tracks:
-I Am Death (The opening track is a fusion of thrash, folk, death, prog and melodic elements.)
-Ancient Times (an amazing blend of operatic and death metal!)
-Light Under the Shadows (Parts of this song may be categorized as a ballad, but at the same time it is much more than that!)
-In The Dusk of Men
-Wargs on the Horizon (a true thrahser! plus they have a music video for it!)
-Fate of Kings (this is one song with lyrics inspired by Game of Thrones!)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Scars of Armageddon Return to Reggie's Rock Club!

Post #331
After several weeks off, Scars of Armageddon are coming back to the stage! Next Tuesday, on July 26th, they will perform at Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago.
Experience face-melting shred metal that combines the musicianship of the NWOBHM style with the power and intensity of thrash metal!

Other bands on the bill include: Castle, Brimstone Coven, and Beast Warrior.
This show is ages 17 and up. Tickets are $8.00 in advance and $10 at the door.

Visit Reggie's Rock Club for more details.
Or visit the Bands In Town link...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beyond De-th: Up and Coming Death Metal band in Chicago...

Post #330

Beyond De-th are a death metal band that formed in Chicago back in 2012. Since then they have been steadily working on creating new music. By 2014 they had recorded 2 demos, a total of 5 songs. They have plans of a full length recording currently in the works. For now I'll summarize their previous demo recordings.

What Lies was the band's 2013 EP. Beyond De-th establish their formula quickly: Fast, heavy and technical guitar work, rapid-fire drumming, and guttural death-metal vocals. This early EP features three songs that satisfy a thirst for aggressive, high-tempo death metal for fans of the most extreme metal.

Burn His Eyes, the opening track is an all-out feast of furious metal. They keep the tempo at full-throttle for much of this song.

Beyond Death, the  second track, and their name-sake song, gives you an intro with a somewhat subdued mood, however they kick it back into high gear within a few seconds. Lyrical themes of world domination and dominance are prevalent.

Gods of the Sea is a true masterpiece of viking-themed death metal. In this regard they seem to take a page out of Amon Amarth's playbook. It actually works quite well for them. In fact I am tempted to compare them to Amon Amarth in many ways. They have a similar style and sound for sure. The singer's vocal tone is actually quite comparable. The guitar solos remind me of early Slayer, so the thrash element is alive here too.

Beyond De-th, from 2014 is their 2-track self-titled EP. On this recording they continue the trend of blistering, thrash-infused death metal. These 2 newer songs seem a bit more polished. Granted this may be my listener's bias, but the lyrics and song structures seem a notch above their previous EP.

Death That Never Comes is a very thrash-driven song with a milder tempo... still fast by any standards, but slow enough to allow some layers of song structure to emerge. The vocals are still death metal guttural growls and screams, so that remains quite consistent from the What Lies EP.

Blood Beneath the Snow. This track is perhaps my favorite of them all. It opens with a clean-guitar melodic intro. Set in a minor key, the mood is still portrayed as dark. However it doesn't last long, and Beyond De-th quickly slip into their 'Amon Amarth-esque' style of riff-heavy death-metal.

Overall I find Beyond De-th to be Chicago's answer for Amon Amarth. Fans of that band will not be misguided here should they take my suggestion and listen to their music. You can follow Beyond De-th on their Facebook page, stream or download their music on Bandcamp, and catch them playing shows around Chicago's local scene. So go, download it, stream it, crank it, and bang your head!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Scars of Armageddon-Never Sleep... Again (2013)

Post # 329 [Poll Winner-Independent Band of the Year 2015-16]

Scars of Armageddon are a traditional metal band out of McHenry, IL. They originated around the year 2011, solidified a line-up in 2013 and recorded their debut album independently. Last fall they were featured in my annual Independent Band of the Year contest and won, pulling ahead in the final days of voting. A bit later than intended, but well worth the wait, here is my review of their debut album...

Never Sleep... Again is an album of power metal with a thrash edge. Immediately your ears are bombarded with chugging and galloping riffs at a fast tempo. The vocal style is reminiscent of late-80's NWOBHM style bands. There are plenty of guitar solos too. Shredding galore!

Although the fast and heavy riffs dominate the palate on this recording, the band does change things up with occasional melodic, clean guitar parts in a couple songs. These moments add a nice balance to their sound.

If I were forced to compare them to a known band, I'd probably say early Queensryche... like from their debut self-titled EP. 'Queen of the Reich' and 'Nightrider' are a couple songs I'm thinking of. Scars of Armageddon's own tracks like 'The Return' or the title track, 'Never Sleep Again' will fit right in with the likes of those...

Recommended tracks:
-Never Sleep Again
-Our Dying Day
-The Return (this track opens with a clean guitar melody, setting a melancholy tone)
-Edge of Darkness

Preview or download these songs and more at Scars of Armageddon's Bandcamp page!