Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PANTERA-Cowboys From Hell

Post #158 [Poll winner: favorite Pantera album 1990-2000]
With Pantera's major-label debut, Cowboys From Hell, they became an instant success in the extreme/thrash metal scene in 1990. This was around the peak of the thrash-metal scene, before the alternative and grunge movement had established a grip on the heavy music market. Though Pantera would go on to become one of the biggest metal bands in the world in the coming years, it was the strength of Cowboys From Hell that gave them the fan-base upon which to grow.
In last month's reader's poll you chose Cowboys From Hell as your favorite Pantera album. Although there is a definite sense of the kind of hardcore band they would become in the next couple years, Cowboys From Hell still shows some residual influence from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era, at least in some of Phil Anselmo's higher pitch screamed vocals. Songs like 'Psycho Holiday' had some verses that sounded like they could easily have been sung by the likes of Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson. Others, like 'Primal Concrete Sledge' or 'Domination', showed us the direction they would choose to pursue with their future releases.

The most memorable, and most accessible, track on this album is without a doubt 'Cemetery Gates'. This song features prominent clean, melodic sections that seem to show the band's influence from early-era Metallica. Even as early as 1990, some of the harder-edged radio stations dared to play this track. I believe its wide-spread exposure is partially responsible for Pantera's die-hard following they maintained throughout the 90's, in spite of heavy metal's general decline in popularity. At the same time, they became a primary inspiration for a new generation of hardcore metal bands.

Pantera's influential legacy began with Cowboys From Hell. Check out these tracks from this heavy metal classic!
-Cowboys From Hell
-Primal Concrete Sledge
-Psycho Holiday
-Cemetery Gates
-Clash With Reality
-The Sleep
-The Art of Shredding

Friday, August 26, 2011

DAME NATION 2011 (Concert review from July 29th, 2011)

Post #157
In part thanks to DEADMANSWAKE being the current independent band-of-the-year for this blog, I have been looking forward to DAME-NATION 2011 for months. They returned to this Female-Fronted Metal Fest, along with fellow Dame-Nation veterans Losing Scarlet for a truly memorable show. The show went down at Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago's south loop on Friday, July 29th, 2011. This unique festival drew in not only the best female-fronted metal acts of Chicago's local scene and their followers, but also several other like-minded independent bands from across North America.

DAME-NATION is the brain-child of Chicago-area music promoter Eric Sanchez. It was an idea conceived to give female-fronted metal bands a place where they can be in the spotlight, rather than an afterthought in the sub-genres of heavy metal music. The ladies that fronted these bands knew this was their place to shine, and they performed like it!

I made the trip to Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago's south loop by about 5:30 pm, hoping I wasn't running late due to the rush-hour traffic. As it turned out, one band, The Unvoiced, was unable to make it to the show, so the start of the show was delayed a bit anyway. I had a few minutes to browse the venue before things got underway, so I mingled. I got to meet Eric in person, which was a pleasure. Then I began to notice a couple familiar faces as I spotted members of Losing Scarlet and Deadmanswake in the crowd. A few minutes later another friend of mine from the band Sutured Psyche arrived. We spent a few minutes catching up before the first performer went on.

First up was Lindz Riot, from the band Mary and the Black Lamb. She was from Canada, and was performing solo this day since the band couldn't afford visas for everybody to enter the US. So not only did she have the pressure of opening this multi-band show, but she was also on her own. If she felt the pressure, she didn't let it show. She sat behind her electronic keyboard, and let the music do the talking.
It was really nice mood-setting music. Many of her songs reminded me of some of Evanescence's ballads. Then, after she'd performed a couple numbers, noting which ones were from her band's CD, and which are from her upcoming solo project, she announced that Grace Meridan from Shield of Wings would join her for a duet. Together they covered Evanescence's 'Haunted'. Very well performed too, as both Lindz and Grace have a similar vocal range, and were both capable of covering Evanescence on their own. Together they brought a new dimension to the song. What's more is they had only rehearsed the song together over the internet!
Lindz ended her set gracefully, and then the stage was prepared for the next act, Solarsphere. Now it was time for fully amped metal! They kicked off the show with heavy guitar-riffs accompanied by keyboards in the background. Then when Rachel Sabine delivered the vocals, they revealed their true genre: symphonic metal. The operatic style vocals brought a nice contrast to the music. They played a good variety of songs, many with prominent melodic sections, others that were quite heavy. Before they were finished, Rachel made a comment on how they came to the last Dame-Nation as fans, and this time they were there as performers. The sincere gratitude for being included was a nice touch. It was just one of many instances throughout the evening that illustrated how strong the camaraderie was among the bands and the promoter.
Next up was A Sound of Thunder, from Washington, D.C. Lindz came back to the stage to introduce them, so she asked us if we were ready for some 'epic, power-metal'. The crowd gave a loud cheer, then the band took the stage...

What might I have expected from an intro like that? Heavy riffs, check. Catchy chord progressions, check. Shredding guitar solos, check. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, powerful vocal delivery... CHECK! Lead singer Nina Osegueda has a voice that was made to sing power metal. Nina sang with more of a straight-forward hard-rock style vocal, as opposed to operatic. A fitting complement to the band's heavy groove, she packed a lot of power into her voice! Her range, style and delivery may have been quite different from the first two acts, but it was no less entertaining. In  fact I was probably enjoying this band the most so far!

A Sound of Thunder kept hitting us with their best, song after song. Then when you think a band might start to tire out, Nina says to the crowd, "Hey! I don't think my band's working hard enough. C'mon, let's hear you guys work it!" As she turned the spotlight over to guitarist Josh Schwartz we soon found out we were in for a killer guitar solo. Josh proved quite skilled with the fret-board, but cleverly kept the crowd into it as he threw in a couple classic metal riffs from the likes of Sabbath and Deep Purple.
For their closing number they played 'Archangel (Wings of Steel)' off their self-titled EP. However, before they finished the song, they slipped into Dio's 'Holy Diver', closely followed by Black Sabbath's 'Heaven & Hell' riff. I pumped my fists in the air, and cheered as loud as ever. Then I held my right hand high in the air with Dio's traditional devil-horn/evil-eye salute '\m/'. If any band want's to know how to win me over with a live show, paying tribute to one of metal's legends is always a plus!

After their set, and stage equipment was swapped out for the next band, Lindz came back onstage again (apparently she had been made the M.C. for the evening as well!) This time she was introducing her duet partner's band, Shield of Wings. We had been given a preview of Grace Meridan's voice during that duet, but how would she sound backed by her own band?
The answer: Incredible! Shield of Wings hit us with heavy riffs and symphonic backing elements early and often. Grace's operatic voice elevated the music to a level somewhere in the stratosphere. Then, in places where the songs kicked up in intensity, I couldn't help but notice this blur of blond hair on stage-left. Guitarist James Gregor easily had 4 feet of length to his hair, and when it came to headbanging, it did not go to waste! This band was clicking on all levels. They were heavy, melodic, symphonic, employed good stage-craft, but then they gave us yet another dimension. A couple songs into their set, Gregor was on backing vocals, screaming with a death-metal-esque fervor. It was definitely something new that none of the previous bands had displayed. It was such a contrast to the almost angelic vocals from Grace that you could not help but be captivated by the change-offs between the two.

Shield of Wings played out the rest of their set with grace (literally!) Hearing a band so accomplished in a metal style that brings such contrasting elements together is always an aspect of metal I've found rewarding. From the Metallica albums of the mid-80's to today's melodic-metalcore bands like All That Remains, I've always enjoyed songs that switch gears somewhere in the middle. I'll be sure to pick of Shield of Wings' CD before long!

Next up was Angelical Tears, all the way from Oklahoma City, OK. They launched into their set with a ton of energy. Again, they brought a mix of heavy riffs and classical-inspired backing elements. Singer Julia Flansburg delivered vocals that show inspiration form classical music, but also had moments where she let loose a bit and sang in a gothic-metal style. Their music had a good ebb and flow to it; thrashy segments mixed with melodic break-downs, and good soloing on lead guitar by Steven Bittle.
In some ways Angelical Tears reminded me a bit of the previous performers Solarsphere and A Sound of Thunder, but they had a tight chemistry and confident stage presence all their own. They took a moment near the end of their set to thank the event organizers, and of course the fans for coming out & supporting female-fronted metal. Then they closed their set with the song 'Queen of Hearts'.

After another stage change-over the crowd braced themselves for the next act: Losing Scarlet. Losing Scarlet are a Chicago-area band that I've been following for a couple years already. They were the first band of the evening whose music I was already familiar with, so I was more than psyched up to hear what they had in store for this show.
The band members took their positions on stage, and a hush fell over the crowd. Then we heard.... thunder? Rainfall? BOOM-BOOM-BOOM! (The triple bass-drum thundered loudly) I cocked my head with wonder and recognition; it was the intro to Slayer's 'Raining Blood'! Sure enough, they launched into the speed-thrash classic, as Jodi Kell ran to center stage and instantly got the crowd into it. "C'mon Chicago, let me hear you!" she yelled, then instantly broke into a furious head-banging fit and the band thrashed on, flawlessly chugging through Slayer's most classic of riffs. Jodi came to the forefront again and urged us the get louder, and we obliged.

Right as 'Raining Blood' hit its lull before the lyrics kick in, Losing Scarlet switched gears in a heartbeat, and kicked into 'Learning to Bleed', the title-track from their second CD. Jodi sang with everything she had, and she packed a lot of power into her voice. A perfect voice for melodic metal, with the band keeping it heavy, Losing Scarlet were stealing the show! If their influence from classic thrash metal wasn't apparent from their intro, the riffs their songs were built upon were an easy clue. During the instrumental passages of their songs, Jodi periodically broke into her intense headbanging. Now, I know I call myself 'The Happy Headbanger', but honestly, Jodi brought the art of headbanging to a new level this night!

After a couple songs from their new album, they changed things up a bit as they treated us to a new cover, Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie". The crowd got into the show a little more, as Losing Scarlet added their heavy touch to this song, and made it their own. They followed it with 'Dick, Whiskey', a song that has quickly become a favorite sing-along for their fans. "Hey, now. Who are you to judge me? With my empty bottle of whiskey..." They dedicated their next song to Eric Sanchez, Dame-Nation's organizer. It was 'Call Me', a cover of the Blondie classic. They wrapped up their set soon after that, but they were going to be a tough act to follow. I could hardly believe they were the same band I first saw over a year and a half ago! They've really improved their sound, style and confidence in that time. Jodi Kell in particular has become a confident front-woman for this up-and-coming metal band.

Next came DEADMANSWAKE, current independent-band-of-the-year on this blog, and the penultimate performer of the evening. If they felt any pressure in following such a powerful act as Losing Scarlet, they didn't let it show. If anything they seemed the most cool and collected band yet. DMW kicked off their set with 'Screaming In Silence', a real thrashy yet classic sounding metal song. It's the second time I've heard them play this song, and I must say it's my favorite song in their live set.
Another factor that was playing into their hands was the fact that, like Losing Scarlet, they were local to the Chicago and suburban area. The crowd's enthusiasm may have been a hint that they were a fan favorite, but the most obvious clue was the sea of DMW t-shirts that were present in the audience. The backs of these shirts included the lyric "When I said 'I wanna bury the hatchet...' ...I didn't want it buried in my back!" That was from the song 'Back to Blood', and not one to disappoint, they performed that song as well.
They took a moment between songs to thank Eric again, for organizing the show. Other times they would be goofing around and teasing each other between songs. They had a great sense of humor that was entertaining, and it kept everyone's spirits up. These guys were having fun, and it was contagious. Of course it helped that they also played great metal music too. Kryssie Ridolfi has a smooth, bluesy voice, but she can belt out some angst when she wants to! Their guitar tandem of JP Soule and Josh Barker delivered ripping guitar solos that simply sounded classic. Kryssie kept interacting with her band-mates throughout their set. They delivered a great set, mixing a couple cover tunes into the fray of their best known tracks from 'It Comes to This'. They closed with an unexpected cover of Cee Lo Green's 'FU'.

For the last band, Lindz returned to the stage and said, "When it comes to Boston, I hate their hockey team. But there is one thing I love about Boston, and that's AVARIEL!!!"
The final performance of the evening was brought to us by Boston's Avariel. With this band closing out the evening, it seemed to bring the show full circle, as their style was symphonic metal. Lead singer Shannon Kelly delivered a soaring vocal performance of classical inspired tone and pitch. Perhaps not as high in pitch as Soalrsphere or Shield of Wings, but a masterful upper mid-range! The band was quite heavy as well, making for the perfect conclusion of a well-planned, niche oriented concert. A two-guitar attack, with keyboards filling up a wall of sound, not to mention a 6-string bass; this band was top-quality metal! On a couple tracks, one of their guitarists, Scott McDonald, provided death-style backing vocals. Not quite to the degree that we had heard from Shield Of Wings, but enough to add an edge to their sound.

By this point it was close to 2 a.m., and the crowd seemed to be showing signs of fatigue. Just as I thought that Avariel might have a tough duty in being the final act, they unveiled their trump-card that brought the crowd back to life... Towards the end of their set they started a number with a symphonic intro, and as the drummer began to pick up the rhythm, I recognized the song as Metallica's 'No Leaf Clover'! What a perfect song for a symphonic metal band to cover. They did the song justice too. This time guitarist Michael Rosati sang most of the verses, while Shannon sang the choruses. I got back into the throng and pumped my fists in the air, screaming my approval. I wanted the band to know I appreciated them coming from Boston to play this show. Rounding out this collection of talented bands couldn't have been better!

I am now following all of these band's through their various websites. I encourage you to do the same. If you have an appreciation for female-fronted metal, you can't go wrong with this collection of bands! I'll include links to each band's website as I summarize the set-lists below:

Lindz Riot
-Saturnine (The Gathering cover)
-Haunted (Evanescence- duet w/ Grace Meridan from Shield of Wings)
-Into the Night
(also check out her solo-page: Schoolcraft)

-Inner Demons
-Eternal Hunter
-Sick Pleasure

A Sound of Thunder
-Intro: Tubular Bells
-A Sound of Thunder
-Kill That Bitch
-(Josh Schwartz guitar solo)
-The Beast
-Blood Vomit
-Archangel (Wings of Steel) (included Dio tribute/medley)

Shield of Wings
-Carnival Mirror
-Essence of the Moon
-War & Rapture

Angelical Tears
-Tomorrow Happens Now
-Sunrise at Sunset
-With the Shadows
-Pool of Sorrow
-Queen of Hearts

Losing Scarlet
-Raining Blood (Intro- Slayer)
-Learning to Bleed
-Halo of Stone
-Shameless Prayer
-Love the Way You Lie (Rihanna cover)
-Dick, Whiskey
-Call Me (Blondie cover)
-Kiss the Guilt Away
-Shade of Hate

-Screaming in Silence
-Back to Blood
-Running Behind
-Flowers (Stand Between Us)
-(If You Need Me) I'll Be Bleeding
-867-5309 (jenny) (Tommy Tutone cover)
-FU (Cee Lo Green)

-No Leaf Clover (Metallica)
-In Heaven

I'd like to thank all the bands, and friends new and old, who made this event such a memorable concert: Eric Sanchez (Dame-Nation's organizer/promoter), Ryan Reilly (long-time friend, guitarist for SUTURED PSYCHE, and inside scoop for Chicago's local scene), Lindz Riot and Chee Kam (her manager); from SOLARSPHERE: Rachel Sabine, Brett Zweig, Adam Gordon, and Mike Rutledge; from A SOUND OF THUNDER: Nina Osegueda, Josh Schwartz, Chris Haren, and Jesse Keen; from SHIELD OF WINGS: Grace Meridan, James Gregor, Jeff Olsem, Pat Eulitz; from ANGELICAL TEARS: Glenn and Julia Flansburg, Steve Bittle, and JC; from LOSING SCARLET: Jodi Kell, Scott Haith, Petra Sith, and Shawn Kelly; from DEADMANSWAKE: Kryssie Ridolfi, JP Soule, Josh Barker, Troll, and Brandon Schabell; from AVARIEL: Shannon and Ryan Kelly, Michael Rosati, Jay Narbonne, and Scott McDonald.

I'll be sure to keep up with all your music. Keep an eye out for reviews of your albums here on Heavy Metal 107 in the future!

Until we meet again...
And as always, Happy Headbanging!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Remembering Jani Lane (1964-2011)

 Post #156
On August 11th, 2011, Jani Lane, former lead-singer/songwriter of Warrant, was found dead in his hotel room. Though he, and his band, had been labeled as 'Hair-Metal', and as such saw their popularity decline in the late 90's, Lane was truly a talented song-writer. I'll take a moment here to remember and honor him, and the music he gave us.

Warrant released their debut album, 'Drity Rotten Filthy Stinkin' Rich' in 1989, right in the middle of the 'Hair-Metal' era. The top-ten hit ballad 'Heaven' solidified their significance for this genre. As their career progressed, they expanded their sound, and actually migrated away from the stereotypical 'Hair-Metal' sound in the mid-90's. However the rise of alternative rock and grunge was too strong to afford as large a fan-base for Warrant as they enjoyed in the late-80's.

With the passing of Jani Lane, far too young at the age of 47, now is the perfect time to go back and discover some of the best music Lane ever wrote. Myself being a huge fan of the whole Hair-Metal scene, I kept up with Warrant through the years, at least until the band parted ways with Jani around 1999 or 2000. So let me be your guide into the somewhat obscure works of Warrant. I'll share with you today the tracks I compiled on a mix CD of my personal favorite Warrant tracks.

The Best Of Warrant (1989-1996)
1-Down Boys
2-The Hole In My Wall
3-Cherry Pie
4-Stronger Now
5-April 2031
6-Sure Feels Good to Me
8-Uncle Tom's Cabin
9-32 Pennies
11-Andy Warhol Was Right
12-Sometimes She Cries
13-Indian Giver
15-The Bitter Pill
16-Train, Train (Blackfoot cover)
19-Inside Out
21-In The End (There's Nothing)

Color-coded album reference: Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin' Rich ('89), Cherry Pie ('90), Dog Eat Dog ('92), Ultraphobic ('95), Belly to Belly ('96)
(Compiled by the HappyHeadbanger on 8-18-11)

Other good tunes that I had to exclude to fit this compilation on an 80 minute CDR: Machine Gun, Ultraphobic, and Family Picnic

Rest in peace, Jani Lane. I know I will miss you and the music you might have brought to us had you lived on. I hope many others out there will miss you as well. Click the image of Jani above to visit his official website.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Strych9Hollow Interview (Rave fiasco explained, and band's background)

Post #155

In the days following the Scream The Prayer show, I composed that promised interview for Strych9Hollow and sent it to the band members via facebook. Here is that interview, which should answer some questions about the events surrounding the Scream The Prayer show at Milwaukee's Rave venue, as well as some insight into the band's background and influences. Strych9Hollow are: Wit Kolo-lead vocals, Jackie Bergjans-guitars/backing vocals, Lloyd Schueler-guitars/backing vocals, Sam Crafton-bass guitar/backing vocals, and Joey Nichols-drums.

HappyHeadbanger: Briefly describe what happened at the Rave on July 17th, and why you were not able to perform.
Jackie Bergjans: There was a misunderstanding about things between the promoters at the Rave and our band. Things were eventually worked out, and in the end, yeah we were pretty upset wasting our time and money, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Joey Nichols: There was a miscommunication between an employee/promoter at the Rave and the show was overbooked. In the end we did get screwed, however I think we lucked out here and will get what we deserve in return from the Rave.

Wit Kolo: Whoever the promoter guy was, Jason or what not, f'd up. To be honest it was quite hard to get a straight answer outta the guy. He kept tip-toeing around the issue and frustrated me to the max. Unlike the others who seem to think it's "worth it" I disagree. It was a huge waste of time, money and energy and absolutely unprofessional and unacceptable.
Sam Crafton: Yeah, what they said.

HH: Did they reconcile to the point of refunding you the money you put up for this show? If not, then I'd side with Wit that they wasted your time. I mean, I'm glad that I got to meet you & hang with ya, but in the end, I'm only one fan. You guys should have played and earned some more fans. I hope they make it up to you next time!
JB: We were refunded the money, but it was a pain trying to do so. And regardless of whether or not we were refunded, we still wasted $300-$400 just with the van and trailer rental and gas. So yes, still a big waste of time and a big waste of money.
WK: We were refunded the $300 deposit for the tickets but that was it. We lost exactly $411 after van/trailer rental and the fuel it took to get there and back (aka 800 mile round-trip). They also gave us 10 drink tickets, which I though was a poor excuse, but it is what it is and is now it's in the past. For the record I am not upset with The Rave as a venue. I know it was out of their hands. The fault belongs solely to the promoter. We will return to The Rave again. This time, though, I’ll be triple-checking the situation before making the trip.

HH: Of the national bands that were at that show, do you have a favorite?
Jackie Bergjans: I like I The Breather out of all of the bands there.
Joey Nichols: I The Breather was definitely my favorite band on the bill of Scream The Prayer. However I was actually more looking forward to seeing Texas In July because Adam Gray is probably one of the sickest drummers on the planet, and has become a huge influence for me.
Wit Kolo:  I the Breather.
Sam Crafton:  Norma Jean, and The Chariot were my favorites.
Lloyd Schueler: Close Your Eyes.

HH: Many of you say 'I the Breather'. Was that just because you had to leave the venue so early, or are you familiar with all the other bands already?
JB: I have seen I The Breather before and I like them a lot.
WK: I’m an I the Breather fan, but had they not played as early as they did we would not have waited for their set. Yes, I was familiar with most of the bands on the bill.

HH: Who were your major influences growing up?
JB: Number one influence, hands down, is Evanescence. They are the reason I am a musician. Other major influences for me are Black Sabbath, Killswitch Engage, and Within Temptation.
JN: Deftones, Tool, and Cold were my main influences when growing up and inspired me to pick up the guitar. As I became I drummer, I began to focus on metal, leading Killswitch Engage to become a huge inspiration.
SC: My brother Ray Crafton.
WK: Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Incubus, Linkin Park, Deftones.
LS: Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bullet for My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold.

HH: Who inspired you to play music?
JB: Almost the same as the last response. Evanescence is the inspiration.
JN: My brother and his friends jammed around sometimes and I always was interested, haha. So I would have to say my brother Mike and his friend Louie.
WK: Kurt Cobain.
SC: I got into music in my early teens and just sort of picked up the bass and started playing. But now, my influences are Mic Todd, Geddy Lee, Steve Harris, and Justin Chancelor.
LS: My dad.

HH: Is there a person in your life you look up to or idolize?
JB: My guitar teacher, Joe has always been a great source of guidance for me. My mother is also a very big influence in my life.
JN: My mother is hands down my idol.
WK: Those who get to do what I've only dreamed of most my life.
SC: Dimebag Darrell. I got into Pantera right before he died, but after I read the biography, I really wish I could've met him.
LS: All professional musicians. I don't really have a certain person.

HH: Sam, I'm a huge Dimebag fan as well. Never actually met him, but was lucky enough to see Pantera in concert once. You can read about it in post #96, posted on June 3rd 2010.

HH: When and how did you guys meet and decide to form a band?
 JB: I placed an ad on and Joey was the first to respond. We started jamming, then a friend of my mother's knew a local band called Seeing Seven and we got in touch with them and found Wit. We had a few other members before Sam and Lloyd joined us.
JN: Me and Jackie met through, both in search of band members. Later we heard through a close friend about Wit. We went through a few member changes to land where our lineup is now. Sam came along from being a fan our music and trying out after seeing we needed a bass player, Lloyd completed the new lineup when he heard we needed a guitarist. We knew Sam and Lloyd from their playing in other local bands prior.
SC: I played a show with the band after they were dominating the local scene for about a year and a half already. A few weeks later they were looking for a bass player and I applied. I was given 2 tryouts and got the open slot. It was very uplifting for me at that time in my life. Everything was going downhill and then my brothers and sister picked me up.

HH: How did you come up with the name of the band?
SC: One of the 3 original members can let you know that one. I wasn't there for the name origin.
JB: When it was just Joey, Wit, and I, my first suggestion was the name "Hollow". Wit said it was too plain and came up with the idea of Strychnine to put somewhere in there, thus Strych9Hollow was born.
JN: Wit liked something with Strychnine, and Jackie liked something with Hollow, haha. So simply enough we through a number 9 in the center and combined STRYCH9HOLLOW. It had a very nice catch to it.
WK: The name was 'Hollow' when I joined, which I thought was too generic. After juggling around various names, I started putting random words with hollow, and strychnine had a good ring to it. It also had an edge to it, which fits the style of band we are.

HH-What is the furthest from home that you have played a show?
JB: Milwaukee I think.
JN: Unfortunately Witchita, Kansas :(:( but that's gonna change very soon!
WK: Milwaukee or Wichita.
SC:  Milwaukee is the farthest so far, I think.
LS.The Rave in Milwaukee.

HH: From 'Thrash and Burn' to 'Scream the Prayer'?!? One of those tours featured the likes of Devil Driver and Despised Icon, the other Sleeping Giant and The Great Commission. They almost seem to be at opposite ends of the religious spectrum. Do you consider yourselves religious? If so, to what extent, if any, are your religious views expressed in your music? Or do you try to keep them separate?
JB: I am more spiritual than religious, and I am not a part of any religion. If I were to be a part of any religion it would be Buddhism. And yes, we keep our religious beliefs separate from the music.
JN: To be honest I have no religious views.
WK: Born and raised Catholic but I don't practice anymore. The band as a whole is religiously neutral. We certainly respect everyone's right to their faith.
SC: Wit does a big majority of the lyrics, but personally I believe in God and Jesus Christ. Those tours were pretty much just shows that seemed to fit our music, not the lyrics or our beliefs.
LS: Nope, don't believe in religion.

HH: Hmm; a semi-Buddhist, an Agnostic, a lapsed Catholic, a Christian, and an Atheist. I must confess I love that combination within the same band, haha! So long as you all get along and keep writing great music, I don't care. Personally, like Jackie put it, I consider myself more spiritual than religious. My beliefs can pretty much be summed up in the lyrics of the Tracy Chapman song 'Heaven's Here On Earth'.

HH: Reviewers are always trying to categorize bands. How do you describe your music/genre in your own words?
JBI would say our main "genre" would be Metalcore, even though our sound varies from many different genres.
JN: Metalcore/Hardcore.
WKI really don't know. I can't keep up with all the genres and sub-genres. We attempt to make metal music that is accepted by as large a fan base as possible.
LS: Melodic metal/hardcore.

HH: If you were running out of your home to leave on a long road trip, and only had time to grab one CD to listen to on the drive, what CD do you grab?
JB: I would say "The Heart Of Everything" by Within Temptation.
JN: Killswitch Engage "As Daylight Dies".... man I love that album!
WK: Kinda hard to answer being as we are in the ipod generation now, but I'd burn a mix of whatever my faves would be at the time.
SC: Tool "Lateralus".

HH: For me I'd probably grab "Rust In Peace" by Megadeth. I've been on a huge kick with that album since seeing the band play the whole thing on the American Carnage tour!

HH: Wit, I'm curious, since I burn a lot of mix CDs as well (a few now with Strych9Hollow tracks!) Can you list a few songs that are on one of them?
WK: The most recent one I made=1. A Prophecy-Asking Alexandria 2. Beneath the Surface- As Blood Runs Black 3. Parallels-As I Lay Dying 4. Morte et Dabo-Asking Alexandria 4. For We Are Many-All That Remains 5. Informal Gluttony-Between the Buried and Me 6.Erase Begin-Fell Silent 7.Breath in a New Mentality-Underoath 8.Zerohour-Circle of Contempt 9.Bleed to Live-Strych9Hollow 10.Chorus of Angels-Haste the Day.
HH: Cool! Awesome mix, I must say!

HH: What do you do in your free time, either individually or when you hang together?
JB: When I have free time I'm either playing guitar or playing video games.
JN: I usually workout, play video games, or sleep.
WK: Not too much during the work week. I spend a lot of time with my dog Schecter. Weekends I'm either at shows supporting fellow bands or playing shows. Sometimes we'll have a band BBQ, but most of the time we only hang out at practice or shows.
SC: I play soccer and kickball. I'm a huge fan of hole-in-the-wall bars. The other members and myself go to shows together pretty often, including local shows. We're pretty active in the "scene" here in Saint Louis.
LS: Play my guitar and skate board on my free time. With the band we play music and write new music.

HH: I go to my fair share of shows, both for national and global touring bands as well as local shows between Chicago & Milwaukee. Occasionally I'll get on a video game kick, but otherwise I enjoy blowing and playing Hacky-Sack.

HH: Wit, is Schecter the Pit bull I've seen in some of your facebook pics? Pits sometimes get a bad rap. Anything your want to say to defend the breed?
JB: No breed of dog is bad, it's how they are raised that makes the difference.
WK: Yes, Schecter is the pit bull in the pix. Pits have a bad reputation due to the stupidity and cold heartedness of the parasite that is man. They are literally one of the most loving, gentle, playful and loyal breeds. Anyone that has been close to one of these dogs that has not been abused, is loved and treated with respect will agree with me. It is truly unfortunate how the ignorance and sheer neglect by people hurts these animals which have no voice of their own to stand up for themselves. I hope to one day have enough money to contribute to some kind of rescue organization. Meanwhile my dog is living for a thousand pit bulls which will never feel love and most likely be euthanized.
HH: I agree whole heartedly. All pets deserve love and the highest level of respect. A few years ago my wife and I volunteered to be a foster-home for homeless pets that were up for adoption through our local Petsmart. Back then we lived in a building that didn't allow dogs, so it was cats that we fostered (even though we already had 2 of our own). Over a 2-year period, we probably helped over 30 cats find loving homes. I'd like to start doing that again sometime soon.

HH: Who is your favorite band?
JB: Evanescence
JN: Man, it is so hard to say... Although I have many favorites, I will just say that there is no band in my eyes who can put it together or scratch the surface of Killswitch Engage.
WK: Led Zeppelin
SC: Coheed and Cambria
LS: A Day to Remember

HH: I most often say KISS is my all-time favorite. If you ask me to be more metal-focused, I'll usually say either Metallica, Megadeth, Judas Priest, or Iron Maiden depending on the day.

HH: What is your favorite book?
JBThe Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice.
JNI absolutely do not like reading, so I do not have one. I should probably work on that though.
WKLord of the Rings.
SCYear of The Black Rainbow by Claudio Sanchez and Peter David.
LS: The Harry Potter books.

HH: I read so much, it's hard for me to pick a favorite. I love the Harry Potter series as well, but usually say Stephen King's Dark Tower books are my favorite.
Jackie, Have you ever read "Bloodsucking Fiends" by Christopher Moore? It's a comedy/satire Vampire/love-story. Hilarious & kinda twisted!
Joey, let me know your interests, I can suggest something for ya! (I also work part-time at a Barnes & Noble, so I know my books!)

HH: Favorite Movie?
JB: Interview with the Vampire.
JN: I am going to be completely honest; asking me to pick a favorite causes me to confuse myself haha. I am very indecisive and have so many favorites, but I will say.... Casino.
WK: Scarface.
SC: Forrest Gump.
LS: Dazed and Confused.

HH: I like a good thriller flick. Probably would go with SE7EN as my favorite!

HH: What is your favorite song to perform live?
JB: Day 1824.
JN: My favorite song at the moment to perform live is Day 1824.
WK:  All of them.
SC: It changes often because I really enjoy playing new songs live, but "Day 1824" has been my favorite for awhile.
LS: Bleed to Live, or always our newest song at the time.

HH: Do you have any covers in your set? If you would cover a well-known song, what would it be?
JB: We used to play "Rose of Sharyn" by Killswitch Engage, but none at the moment. I would like to do a heavy metal version of a pop song, maybe by Michael Jackson or something.
JN: At the time we really don't have any covers, but if I could choose a song or band to cover from it would be Underoath.
WK: We used to do "Rose of Sharyn" by Killswitch and "All These Things I Hate" by Bullet for My Valentine. We haven't played a cover as S9H for years though.
SC: We have no covers in our set currently, but I really, really, really, really think we would play "I'm Broken" by Pantera really well. Sadly, that idea keeps getting shut down, hahaha! Everyone knows I want to play that because I play that main riff about every practice.
LS: Master of Puppets.

HHI love those two songs you mentioned you have covered before. I can almost hear them in my head. Would you ever dust those off and play 'em again for just old-times' sake? Or maybe if you were given a long set time and needed to play more songs to fill it?
JB: The Killswitch song I don't particularly want to play again, but the BFMV song I'd be ok with doing again.
WK: Sure, though I’d prefer just learning a few new ones and keeping it fresh.

HH: Some of those other suggestions sound pretty good. I totally understand putting the focus on your original material, but if you threw a new cover in, I bet you guys could do it justice and make it your own.

HH: Do you have a favorite quote? Or a philosophy that you live by?
JB: "To conquer others is to have power. To conquer yourself is to know the way". Lao Ma.
JN: I believe if you want something bad enough you can have it. You just have to dedicate your mind to it, do not cry about it, and take every punch with a smile on your face that may come along the way to getting it.
WK: You can be anything you want if you work hard enough.
SC: "The truth hurts, but denial is what will kill you." That's in 'Truth of a Liar' by August Burns Red.
LS: Don't do anything you will regret, and be honest an truthful.

HH: What music/artists are you into at the moment?
JB: Right now I have been listening to a lot of Miss May I. Heard one song and got hooked.
JN: I am currently into pretty much all of the same stuff I have been for the last couple years... August Burns Red, Killswitch, I The Breather, etc. I am an EXTREME fan of techno music though, so that always sits high on the list.
WK: Too many to list. I listen to a wide range of music on a regular basis, from jazz to metal and everything in between. As long as it evokes emotion in me I get into it.
SC: Unearth, A Day To Remember, and Thrice
LS: Periphery

HH: You thank a ton of bands from StL's local scene in the liner notes of 'Dying for a Dream'. Are there one or two favorites that you think I should check out to review at some point?
SC: Some bands to check out around here....Sicfaist, Virucide, A Lesser Hope, Burning Cold, One Day, Exit 714, and Raising Kane. Just to name a few, haha!
JB: Sam pretty much covered it. Parallel 33 is also a good band and we are friends with them as well.

HH: Thanks to all you guys in Strych9Hollow for taking the time to answers my question. I wish you continued success on the Saint Louis local scene. I can't wait to hear your follow-up EP to Dying for a Dream!
JN: I hope you enjoyed the responses man! Thank you so much for being such a loyal fan to Strych9Hollow, and being interested in our background.
JB: Thanks again Joel!

HH: In closing I'd like to try to suggest some new music for each of you. It's part of the reason I started writing this blog; to help anybody and everybody discover new music that they might not have heard of otherwise. So, if you haven't already heard of these bands or songs, check them out and let me know what you think.
For Jackie: Since you mentioned an appreciation for pop along with rock and metal, check out the song 'Love Is Dead' by Kopek (see post # 114, October 2010)
For Joey: If you haven't heard of Black Tide, check 'em out. Their 2nd album should be coming out soon, but I reviewed their debut in post # 23 in May, 2008.
For Sam: Since you mentioned Tool in a couple responses, you need to hear Karnivool. Any track from the 'Sound Awake' album will do, but start with 'New Day'. Sorta like Tool, but not as dark. (See post #110, from October 2010)
For Wit: Your tastes seem pretty eclectic. If you haven't heard of The Stone Foxes, check out the song 'I Killed Robert Johnson' (... with strychnine!) I reviewed them in post # 125, January 2011.
For Lloyd: You seem to really like the hardcore stuff. I'm going to mention a local band up here in the Chicago local scene, called Inn Cinema. I haven't reviewed their independent release yet, but they were mentioned in post #107, September 2010. They still have a melodic side, but I think you'll like.

Thanks again guys! See you again sometime...

Don't forget to check out Strych9Hollow's music on their myspace page:
Highly recommended for fans of Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Bullet for My Valentine, and August Burns Red!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Scream The Prayer- Milwaukee Review (from Sunday July 17th, 2011)

Post # 154
On Sunday July 17th, around mid-day, I set off for Milwaukee, pumped with anticipation for another great concert at the Rave. However, as I was about to hit the road I got a call that quickly darkened my mood. It was a call from the band Strych9Hollow, whom were the main reason I was making the trip up to Milwaukee in the first place. One of the band members informed me there was a major mishap unfolding and that their performance and set were about to be cancelled. I mentioned I was about to hit the road for the show, and said I'd meet them there, hoping they could work something out in the meantime.

Now somewhat discouraged at the thought of not getting to see my favorite independent, underground metal band from St. Louis perform, I proceeded to drive up to Milwaukee's Rave for the Scream the Prayer tour. My hopes were hanging by a thread. It was Strych9Hollow whom I was making the effort to see live. Of all the other bands on the bill, I had only heard of Norma Jean, the headliner. All I could do was cross my fingers and drive.

Arriving at the Rave brought more bad news; the event promoters had danced around the issue for a while, only to tell the band that there had been a big misunderstanding and they did not have a time slot available for them to perform. Thus Strych9Hollow were out of a gig, victims of the Art of Betrayal. The entire trip from St. Louis, MO to Milwaukee, WI.... all for nothing. Local bands beware: if you get a gig opening for big-name bands at the Rave in Milwaukee, make sure the promoters know what's going on and be triple-sure they will have a stage for you when you get there!

In spite of the scheduling fiasco, I at least got to meet & hang out with the band for a short while. Unfortunately they couldn't stay long. Without a stage to play on, and various members having to work their day-jobs the next morning (two states away no less!) they hit the road after the first couple bands had played. Before they left, I promised to interview them here on Heavy Metal 107. I felt it was the least I could do, since I had otherwise intended to make them the primary focus of this review.

However, what's done is done. I didn't get to hear Strych9Hollow play, but there were still about 10 bands on the bill. I figured I should make the most of it, so I settled into the crowd near the front barricade and got ready for some screaming heavy metal (this time of the Christian variety- I thought that would be interesting!) I wasn't able to catch the name of every song, and was not familiar with any of the bands, so I'll only be mentioning a few songs by name.

The first band I caught was I the Breather. They delivered an intense set of intense metalcore/hardcore metal. Very energetic performance. The crowd began moshing, just like any metal show. It was contagious chaos!
Check out: "Highrise"

Next came The Great Commission, from southern California. I would almost call them melodic Christian death-metal. Their line-up included a singer, bassist, drums, and 3 guitarists. One guitarist sang melodic backing vocals, and their female guitarist provided the death-metal backing vocals. Oh, and she was wearing a t-shirt that said 'Jesus Saves'... in Slayer font! Her playing seemed strictly rhythm. I think Jackie from Strych9Hollow could have played circles around her, though.
Check out: "Every Knee Shall Bow"

They were followed by Texas In July from Pennsylvania (don't assume Texas, just because of their name!) These guys were straight-up hardcore metal. Their music got the crowd pumped up and the adrenaline flowing! More moshing ensued...
Check out: "Magnolia"

Then came Close Your Eyes. They were still hardcore, but seemed to have a melodic side to them. They fit right in with the previous performers, and by now knew I was in for a great metal show!
Check out: "Wake Up!"

Now it was getting time some some of the bigger names on the bill. The Chariot came onstage next. More hardcore metal, more moshing, more chaos!
Check out: "The City"

War Of Ages was the next band to tear things up. Here is where I think I found my favorite act of the evening. These guys were more a metalcore band. Great riffs, hardcore screaming vocals. It felt to me like the crowd's energy rose even higher at this point. At one point one of the backing vocalists from The Great Commission joined them on stage for one song. Great mix of melodic and hard-core vocals! If you only check out one of the bands from this show, War of Ages is my top pick!
Check out: "Collapse"
and "Strength Within"

The penultimate band was Sleeping Giant. Though still heavy metal, they seemed to be the most melodic band of the whole show. Their vocalist also took the time to tell a few personal stories of pain and struggle between songs. He conveyed that he has come through adversity in his life, and thanked the Lord Jesus for saving his soul. At one point, between songs he said, "Well everybody, it's Sunday. Welcome to church!" It was certainly the most aggressive, loud, and heavy music I have ever heard at a service!
Check out: "Morning Star"
and "Eyes Wide Open"

The headline was Norma Jean, a metalcore/hardcore band who have been featured on tours as big as Ozzfest. Being the headliner, I was able to track down a Norma Jean set list online at!
Here's what I found:
-Disconnecktie: The Faithful Vampire
-The Anthem of the Angry Brides
-Blueprints for Future Homes
-Birth of the Anti Mother
-I Used to Hate Cell Phones, But Now I Hate Car Accidents
-Dilemmachine: Coalition, Hoax
-Falling From The Sky: Day Seven
-Bayonetwork: Vultures in Vivid Color
-A Small Spark vs. A Great Forest
-Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste (w/ one of the guys from The Chariot on backing vocals)
-Disconnecktie: The Faithful Vampire (song conclusion)

I hope this is accurate. I cannot vouch for this set list from memory. As I mentioned, I was not truly familiar with any of these bands prior to the show. However I did have a great, moshing time! Some of these bands I'll be sure to check out further for more happy headbanging. You should do the same!