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
-Prey
-Forgiven or Forgotten
-Abyss
-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!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

4WITHOUT, Sinister Fate, Proudest Angel, Evil Engine. 4-30-16

Post # 328

On Saturday April 30th, at Smiler Coogan's on Chicago's northwest side, 4 local Chicago bands got together to put on a kick-ass metal show (with a hint of punk!) Presented by Rebel Radio in conjunction with the venue, the 4 band line-up easily caught my eye, since I had previously reviewed works from members of 3 of the 4 bands, and only missed seeing the 4th band previously because I was out-of-state during Dame-Nation 2012. This was an excellent opportunity to see 4 bands at once, all of which I had interest in covering...

The opening act of the evening was Evil Engine, a 4-piece punk-rock act who are busy recording their debut EP. Their line-up features 2 members from Deadmanswake, previously reviewed here at www.happyheadbanger.com and a former Independent Band of the Year from 2010!
Their set was intense; packed with fast tempos and kinetic stage-presence in every song, they got me headbanging early! At one point their bassist even jumped into the crowd and kept on playing... They played many songs from this forthcoming EP, my personal favorite being 'Father', a demo track for which they made a lyric video previously this year. Another highlight for me was their cover of the Ramones' 'Pet Sematary', inspired by the Stephen King novel and film.

Next was Proudest Angel, a band featuring 2 members from Sutured Psyche, another band I've reviewed here before.
Although they are working on new material to be released soon, they are actually a re-tooled version of the band, and had recorded a couple EP's from 2000-2002. Their set featured mostly material from those early recordings plus a couple new ones. Their best number in my opinion was 'Whole Again', also available to hear in a youtube video.

Then came the dark and demented Sinister Fate! I had seen this band once before, and was looking forward to see what they had in store. They are known for incorporating a DIY-pyrotechnic display into their live sets, and this show didn't disappoint! They had two stage-dancers/performers who added a visually impressive spark-thrower display...
video
Their traditional metal/thrash metal style was easy to bang your head to, and they of course closed with their anthem to their favorite curse word: 'I Love to Say Fuck!', a cover of The Murderdolls song.
(**It should be noted that vocalist Dave Bates had been running a fever of 103 earlier in the day. In addition to delivering a great performance on vocals here with Sinister Fate, he ALSO played drums for Proudest Angel in the previous set! That is some true, heavy-metal style dedication to the fans of live music. Much respect to ya Dave!)

The last band of the evening was 4Without, a female-fronted metal band with roots from the Czech Republic. As I mentioned previously, they were part of the line-up for Chicago's female-fronted-metal fest Dame-Nation, a concert series I often covered here, however this was the first time I got to see them live.
They delivered numerous tracks from their own self-produced CD, Line of Love. Their style is melodic metal, or heavy-hard rock. One highlight from their set was 'Move On'. Click the song title to see their youtube video for it!

Setlists for this night's performance from each band are as follows...

Evil Engine Setlist:
Father
Degeneration
Resistance
My God's Bigger Than Your God
Radio
Pet Sematary
Egression
Ugly Public

Proudest Angel Setlist:
Shoulda Known Better
Civilly Feral
Anathema
Ex Chrysalis
Brink
Starlight
Canto Dolor
I Like It Rough (Lady Gaga Cover)
Whole Again
We Had Fun

Sinister Fate Setlist:
Trust/Obey
Decay
Sympathy From the Devil
Hellbound
Zombie Bomb
S and M Anthem
Drop Dead Goregous
Gore Whore
Natural-Born Killer
Dragstrip Dragula
Fetish
I Love to Say Fuck!

4Without Setlist:
Line of Love
Running Away
Sweet Bite
Territory
Desire
Personal Jesus
Where I Belong
Kill Him 1st
Move On
Life

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Motionless In White-Reincarnate (2014)

Post #327

Motionless In White are a newer hardcore, alternative metal band from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Reincarnate is their third full-length release and they exhibit a lethal combination of hardcore, melodic, and alternative metal elements. Their mix of sounds includes a strong presence of synthetic elements (keyboards, digital percussion, vocal effects, etc...), and they end up sounding like a blend of metalcore and nu-metal. The vocal styles present on this album range from melodic to hardcore in about a 50/50 ratio. During their most melodic phases they may be comparable to a heavier Breaking Benjamin. When they go hardcore they perhaps sound more like the heavier side of All That Remains. In the end I find they are quite comparable to Marilyn Manson- they employ the horror-like gothic stage makeup as well.

The songs here are a powerful collection of riffs and songcraft. There is the added benefit of numerous guest appearances on this album too. Vocals by Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth) and Maria Brink (In This Moment) can be heard and former Marilyn Manson member Tim Skold is here as well.

Recommended Tracks:
-Reincarnate
-Puppets 3 (Grand Finale) -featuring Dani Filth
-Contemptress- featuring Maria Brink
-Dark Passenger (this is a melodic metalcore number, a bit of a different offering.)
-Wasp (this song is more of a dark ballad- haunting and frightening melodies underlay a tragic romance)
-Final Dictvm-featuring Tim Skold
-Carry the Torch

Monday, March 14, 2016

Scars of Armageddon: March 31st in Cudahy, WI

Post #326

Don't miss another opportunity to see Scars of Armageddon, this blog's Independent Band of the Year, performing at Metal Grill in Cudahy Wisconsin with Grim Reaper, The Conqueror Worm, and Magma Dragon on March 31st!

Tickets are $16 in advance, or $20 at the door...


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Scars of Armageddon headline 2 February shows (2/19 & 2/20/16)

Post #325
Independent Band of the Year, Scars of Armageddon, are performing 2 live shows as headliners this month.

First, they visit the Elbo Room on Chicago's north side for a show with Lords of the Trident and Witchcross on Friday, February 19th at 8:00pm. Cover is $10.00.

The next day, Saturday, February 20th they play at Smithwood Bar and BBQ in Union, IL (West of Crystal Lake). Openers at this show include Alethia and Arcane Framework.

Don't miss the opportunity to see these guys live!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Trivium in concert with Conniption and The Bloodline (1-21-16)

Post #324

Touring in support of their newest album, Silence in the Snow, Trivium made a stop in my neck of the woods in southeast Wisconsin and I got myself a ticket, in spite of it being on a week night. It has been far too long since I've managed to see Trivium live, plus this would be my first chance to see them as a headliner! They've put out 3 albums since I last saw them on Mayhem Fest in '09, so there would be plenty of new songs in their set, plus I also got a chance to see two other up and coming bands: Conniption and The Bloodline.

I had been following The Bloodline in recent months, since Mike Sylvester of Fist to the Sky joined their touring line-up, but Conniption were completely new to me. I had no idea what to expect. As soon as Conniption started playing I knew I was in for an awesome night of thrash and power metal. Conniption are from Milwaukee, WI, and they perform an intense brand of traditional metal or power metal- fast-tempo, power-riffs, numerous extended guitar solos, and a vocal style akin to Iron Maiden. One of the songs in their set was an instrumental, featuring multiple guitar solos- traded off between lead guitarist Bill House and vocalist/guitarist Michael Brigham. The two played competitively, razzing each other while the other was playing their lead... sort of the way that Sam Totman and Herman Li of DragonForce do. After their opening set, it was time for The Bloodline.

The Bloodline are a Chicago-based melodic metalcore band, and a perfect warm-up for the likes of Trivium. Their style fluctuates between melodic vocals, and hardcore screams in a well-balanced ratio. Vocalist Travis Neal had a commanding stage presence while singing either style. I was reminded of Five Finger Death Punch's Ivan Moody, and it wasn't just their coincidental image of shaved heads, this dude can really sing... and scream. At every point where the song called for it, bassist Mike Sylvester was right there providing the backing vocals, also with both the melodic or hardcore style. Their brutal heaviness and intensity got the crowd energized and moshing ensued...

Next up was the band the whole venue had been waiting for with eager anticipation. Trivium- a band who in my opinion are the best to come along in thrash metal since the genre's beginnings in the mid-1980's. Trivium- whose music I regard as highly as I do Metallica's or Megadeth's. Trivium- a band who almost single-handedly restored my faith in metal's future when I first heard their song 'Entrance of the Conflagration' nearly 10 years ago...

Trivium took the stage as the classical music of 'Sn0fall' played as their intro. The crowd gave them an enthusiastic welcome, the release of their anticipation almost palpable... The band launched immediately into the title track of their new album, 'Silence in the Snow'. Power chords, thundering drums, and headbanging ensued almost immediately. After that they quickly mixed things up, playing a song from nearly every one of their albums in quick succession. They gave the crowd some of their older and well known hardcore classics like 'Rain' and 'Like Light to the Flies' from their landmark Ascendancy album, while ensuring each song was packed with potent energy, and they gave a kick-ass performance!

Matt Heafy was a perfect front-man: Keeping the crowd engaged, and entertained. He mixed some goofing off stage antics in with the expected venting-of-rage that Trivium's lyrical style lends itself to. For the first few minutes of their performance he stuck his tongue out for the crowd in a variety of manners, playing to the smartphones that were snapping pics every couple seconds. He struck several poses while his hands kept jamming out riff after riff. But he would let the crowd get too complacent either, asking us to keep the emotions high and loud even between songs. We in the audience were more than happy to oblige. We gave our all to show our support with screams, headbanging, moshing, and fist-pumping as often as possible.

The band as a whole was in top form on this wintry night. Bassist Paolo Gregoletto provides the melodic backing vocals, and Corey Beaulieu the hardcore backing vocals, while Matt switched back and forth with expert vocal control. Not to be overlooked is their brand new drummer, Paul Wandtke. Hired on by the band right at the start of this tour, replacing previous drummer Mat Madiro on short notice, he nailed all the drum parts like a pro. Heafy gave him a special nod right before he launched into 'Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr', the band's trademark song, and one with the most intense drum-intro I've ever heard.

Trivium left the stage but it was mere seconds later that chants of "TRI-VI-UM! TRI-VI-UM! TRI-VI-UM!" started up... And we kept it going for several minutes until another taped intro began to play. The crowd erupted in cheers with recognition of the track 'Capsizing the Sea', the intro to their 2011 album, In Waves. Matt Heafy again thanked us for being a great crowd, but also instructed us to sing the two-word chorus "In Waves" as loud as we could, and when the song kicked in, we did! I know I was screaming myself hoarse as the mosh-pit grew to encompass at least half the square footage of the entire venue. A fitting conclusion to a killer set-list by one of my favorite bands.

Here are the songs performed on this night. You should find they make an excellent playlist! You cna find the songs of each band downloadable through their websites, also listed below.

Setlist: CONNIPTION
-The Torrent
-Sonata #1 in b minor
-Kamikaze
-(Come On) King of the Road
-Let the Wolf Out

Setlist: THE BLOODLINE
-We Are One
-Divided
-Dead and Buried
-Midnight
-With Fire (Comes Absolution)
-Poisonous
-The Blackout

Setlist TRIVIUM
-Sn0fall (intro)
-Silence in the Snow
-Into the Mouth of Hell We March
-Strife
-Rain
-Tread the Floods
-Built to Fall
-Like Light to the Flies
-Insurrection
-Throes of Perdition
-Becoming the Dragon
-Down From the Sky
-Until the World Goes Cold
-Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
---encore---
-Capsizing the Sea (intro)
-IN WAVES


After the show I also took advantage of a meet - n - greet they offered for Trivium. Getting to hang with these guys after the show was a truly special honor. I headed to the balcony of the venue and waited a while until the band came out and made the rounds, taking a couple minutes to chat with each fan in the room, and sign their CD's or LP's too. They were very humble, very personable, and professional guys! I wish I had thought of some more meaningful stuff to talk with them about, but I was starstruck, and simply grateful for the opportunity to meet them and say a few words. You may recall that I missed a chance for a meet and greet when I attended Mayhem Fest, but this night made up for it.

Don't forget to follow each of these bands on facebook:
Trivium
Conniption
The Bloodline

My pics from the show...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jake Stratton-The Survival (EP 2014)

Post #323

Jake Stratton, the guitarist and songwriter from the band Ten With Strangers, reviewed previously on this blog, released a solo-project CD in 2014 entitled 'The Survival'. This has a bit of a different vibe than either of the TWS releases, since Jake himself also does the lead vocals here, but there is enough of his unique songwriting style to recognize the similarities.


This EP rocks with a rock 'n' roll/pop-punk vibe and contains plenty of catchy hooks, melodies and clever lyrics to draw you in. At times it sounds like a 90's pop-puck effort, at others an 80's hard rock staple. In either case Jake Stratton gives you the kind of catchy hard rock that Ten With Strangers' fans might expect.

This'll Have to Do -This 'un-ballad's lyrical theme reminds me of the Sara Bareilles hit 'Love Song' in that it is not the kind of song that the title may imply. To clarify: Bareilles sings "I'm not going to write you a love song today..." The entire song in an inspiration from her record label's request for a love song from her. In 'This'll Have to Do', Jake sings, "Someday, when I tell you 'so-long!', I'm gonna write you a beautiful love song, and 'til then, this'll have to do..." Did I mention this is my favorite track on this EP?

Rock and Roll Warriors -If Green Day were to write a song telling the story of rock n' roll music from it's inception through the end of the 90's, it might sound like this. Jake starts with Chuck Berry, and walks us through the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's until thrash, glam, and grunge have all been introduced. It is a kind of anthem encouraging rockers to keep on rockin'.

Fallin' in Love Again -A song inspired by the Fountains of Wayne hit 'Stacy's Mom', it carries a similar pop-punk feel, but portrays the opposite scenario. Equally taboo; in this song the middle-aged man falls in love with a lady half his age...

I Don't Know - Another straight-up pop-puck type of rock song. The riff is one that sounds like it would fit right in on Green Day's 1997 album Nimrod.

March of the Zombies -Jake Stratton chooses to close this EP with perhaps the heaviest song it has to offer. This song is pretty much a description of living in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. It plods along with a slow tempo, perhaps to imitate the slow and methodical lurch of the stereotypical zombies from the old movies...

You can download all of Jake Stratton's music at Broadjam.com: http://www.broadjam.com/artists/albums.php?artistID=21904

You can also visit the Ten With Strangers Facebook page...

Additionally both of the full-length Ten With Strangers releases can be purchased for download or CD at CBaby.com: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/TenWithStrangers

Monday, January 18, 2016

Scars of Armageddon opening for Dissona's Album Release show: Jan 23rd, 2016

Post #322

HappyHeadbanger's Independent Band of the Year, Scars of Armageddon, are playing their first show of 2016 on January 23rd! They're opening for progressive metal band Dissona's 'Paleopneumatic' album release show.

This show will be at Nite Cap 5007 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago. For just $10 you'll see five Chicago area metal bands. Show starts at 7:30pm... Don't miss it!