Thursday, December 26, 2013

Congratulations Psychopathic Daze-Winner of 2013-2014 Independent Band of the Year!

Post #274

As November came to a close so did the annual Independent Band of the Year reader's poll contest. This year was an exciting competition as always, and this year Psychopathic Daze came out on top. At the start, the competition was as tough as it's ever been! Midway through the polling period 3 bands were vying for the lead. However, persistent self promotion through their social media networks saw Psychopathic Daze slowly extend their lead over the pack until they amassed enough votes to top almost all the other bands combined.

A full review of their music, interviews, and announcements of all their local shows will be coming soon in 2014 here at

Thanks to all of their fans who voted, as well as to the other bands and their fans as well for making this year's contest another exciting one! Happy Headbanging to all!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fist To The Sky-Forever We Will Stand (2013)

Post #273

Fist to the Sky have been hard at work this past year. Not only have they been playing shows all over the midwest, but they also recorded and released a new EP featuring 4 new songs exhibiting their style of modern melodic heavy metal. As I've said before with the music of Fist To The Sky; fans of Avenged Sevenfold should pay attention to this band!

Their new EP is entitled Forever We Will Stand. It contains 4 newly recorded tracks that rock and thrash in the style that Fist to the Sky have established with their previous releases. The first track, the title track, is a classic of FTTS metal. Heavy Hooks and catchy vocal melodies make this an easy song to get into. Drummer JD adds a few hardcore screams, making this one of the heaviest Fist to the Sky songs I've heard to date.

Next up is 'Dagger in the Heart of the World'. This is another heavy number, with plenty of sharp-tongued lyrics as it is set in the context of an on-again-off-again would-be break-up song. Still, the riffs are heavy, and the guitar soloing is solid. Additionally they add a little minor-key piano melodies at a couple breaks in the song; sounding a bit like Avenged Sevenfold's 'A Little Piece of Heaven'. All are elements that long-time fans have come to expect for this band.

'Count Your Blessings' is a little slower tempo, but still heavy and brutal. Transcending from guilt to redemption, the lyrics are inspiring. Lead guitar appregios during the verses display some influence from classic metal acts like Iron Maiden. A highlight guitar solo is one of my favorite moments of this entire EP.

The fourth track is untitled, or 'Untitled'. It is a bit of a step outside the box for Fist to the Sky. Primarily a piano driven track, with some clean and dark guitar chords setting a melancholic tone throughout. Again, this one is a slow-tempo, dark and ominous anti-ballad. A soft moment of the EP, but still dark in its tone, and ominously haunting in the end.

This is a well rounded effort by Fist to the Sky, and for only four tracks they give you a little taste of everything they have to offer. Definitely worth the couple buck it would be to download. Visit their website here to download it for yourself:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

FIST TO THE SKY: Upcoming December 2013 Shows!

Post #272

For their final month as the Independent Band of the Year at, Fist To The Sky have a couple shows scheduled. This time they're playing a pair of gigs in Wisconsin: First, on Friday the 13th they're playing at The Rox in Jefferson, WI.

Saturday the 14th they travel to Kenosha, WI to play at The Brat Stop!

Check out either show, or both! You might hear performances like this one:

Happy Headbanging!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fist to the Sky- Upcoming Show Tonight, Nov 30th, at 7:00pm!

Post #271

Catch FIST TO THE SKY performing live this evening at Toppers in Antioch, IL! Show starts at 7pm! More shows coming up in December. Watch for more announcements here at

Monday, November 11, 2013

Black Sabbath 13 (2013)

Post #270
Exactly 2 years ago, the original line-up of Black Sabbath gathered to announce they were reuniting and would record a new album and plan a world tour. Legendary producer Rick Rubin, who had recently managed the recording of Metallica's return-to-form album Death Magnetic, was also revealed to be their producer. It was the biggest news for heavy metal music of the millennium. The press conference instantly stoked high expectations among the most loyal metal fans around the world.

Since then there have been a few set backs. First there was a contract dispute between the band's management and drummer Bill Ward, which unfortunately could not be resolved. To fill the void at the drum spot Brad Wilk (from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave) was brought in. His previous work under Rubin's production with Audioslave was a plus. Just when things seemed to be back on track, guitarist Tony Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of cancer affecting white blood cells. The recording process went immediately on hold as Iommi began treatment.

However, in spite of the obstacles, the band members pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and the album was completed. Black Sabbath. 13. A collection of songs that surprised me in spite of my skepticism. I had always thought the vibe of the original Black Sabbath albums would be forever lost in the '70's. The diligence and determination of the band members along with Rubin's goal-driven guiding hand on the production board have truly and thoroughly proven me wrong.

Rubin has succeeded with recapturing the band's original sound on 13 as much as he did with Metallica's Death Magnetic, if not more! The opening track, 'End of the Beginning', starts with a simple chord progression in tones that immediately recall the early-Sabbath sound. After a few measures the song transitions to a slow and haunting series of notes from Iommi's lead guitar, and can you hear the fabled diminished 3rd, or "Devil's 3rd", in that riff? I must say yes! Finally Ozzy's voice joins the mix, a long anticipated moment, and the magic of what Black Sabbath should be has been restored. It's almost as if they tried to recreate the song 'Black Sabbath' on purpose, yet there are also parts that sound similar to 'Breaking Into Heaven' (from the last Heaven and Hell album, The Devil You Know.) In any case, by this point any reservations I had held about this reunion have been dispelled.

For the next couple songs, 'God is Dead?' and 'Loner', they continue in the same vein with reestablishing the classic Sabbath sound. The guitar tones remain reminiscent of their works from their debut album through Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. With Ozzy's voice, Geezer and Iommi on bass and guitar, and Brad Wilk doing an impressive job of playing an 'old-school-Sabbath' drumming style this album is living up to expectations, if not exceeding them. Lyrics are challenging conventional religion, and tackling social and political issues left and right. Struggles between good and evil, Satan and God, heaven and hell are omnipresent throughout 13.

Another personal highlight is the track 'Zeitgeist'. It does a better job of recreating the vibe of 'Planet Caravan' than anything else. Eerie reverb effects on Ozzy's vocals, lyrics centering around the esoteric concept of space and time, the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar, and even the soft bongo-style percussion; it is arguably better than the first 'Planet Caravan'!

The final track on the album, 'Dear Father', is another classic of Sabbath style, with the heavy, low-end guitar tonality, lyrics that beg the elusive higher-power of God for reasons of our existence, and a minor-key chord pregression to add just the right amount of doom and gloom. But then, after the music fades, there is a last little surprise for the old-school Sabbath fan in all of us: the original thunderstorm sounds effect from the intro of the very first Black Sabbath album. A bold statement to incoporate such parallells with their past, but in this case, appropriate!

Recommended tracks from 13:
-End of the Beginning (A great song to start the album. Immediately comparable with their early classics!)
-God is Dead? (Perhaps the most modern-sounding song on the album, but still indisputably classic Sabbath!)
-Zeitgeist (Amazing as many of the previous songs have been with recapturing the original Black Sabbath sound, this one takes the cake, as it recreates the mood, vibe, and effect of the classic Sabbath song, 'Planet Caravan')
-Damaged Soul (This song incorporates a little harmonica, bringing back memories of 'The Wizard'...)
-Dear Father (Another great song with the throw-back Sabbath sound, but the finishing touch is when the song closes you're left with a sound effect of a thunderstorm and a tolling bell in the background... Sound familiar, perhaps?)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fist to the Sky return to Penny Road Pub!

Post # 269

Tomorrow night, November 9th 2013 the reigning Independent Band of the Year here at are performing at Penny Road Pub in South Barrington along with Like a Storm and Man the Mighty.

FIST TO THE SKY have been busy this year, playing shows constantly, and recently released their EP 'Forever We Will Stand'. Don't miss another great opportunity to hear them live!
Happy Headbanging!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Killswitch Engage-Disarm the Descent (2013)

Post #268
In 2013 Killswitch Engage surprised their long-time fan-base by reintroducing Jesse Leach as their lead vocalist. Leach had previously been the band's singer for their first two albums from 1999-2002. His replacement, Howard Jones, left the band in early 2012, and a short search for a replacement ended when Leach expressed interest in returning to the band.

With their reunion with Leach now solidified Killswitch proceeded to complete their latest full-length album Disarm the Descent. To what degree the direction of this album was influenced by the events involving their change in lead singers I can't be sure. Regardless, this album sounds like the band has made an honest effort to recapture the intensity of their early days while maintaining just enough of their melodic side to retain the classic Killswitch Engage sound.

This album is packed with memorable riffs and a killer intensity. While their last album with Jones might have had an overall push for a more mainstream sound, this album veers back into the waters of hardcore a little bit. Long-time KsE fans will be pleasantly surprised by Leach's familiar voice, but he has honed the melodic side of his voice over the years as well. Songs like 'A Tribute to the Fallen' and 'Always' have prominent melodic elements that the Howard Jones-era fans will still appreciate. Meanwhile songs like 'All We Have' and 'The Call' are perhaps the heaviest songs they've written since Leach's last album with the band, Alive or Just Breathing.

Overall I find Disarm the Descent to be a huge success. The band sounds like they've never missed a beat with Leach. This album is heavy, but the songs are so enjoyable I rank it right up with The End of Heartache or As Daylight Dies as far as personal favorites go. At what is probably a key stage in this band's career, they could not have put forth a more solid effort than this. Add this album to your collection. It's worth every penny!

Recommended tracks from Disarm the Descent:
-The Hell in Me
-Beyond The Flames
-The New Awakening (Great guitar solo on this song. I always wish Killswitch would play more lead guitar solos.)
-In Due Time
-You Don't Bleed for Me
-The Call
-Always (The softest song on this otherwise heavy album. Perhaps their best ballad since 'My Curse')

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fist To The Sky CD Release Show!

Post #267
Fist To The Sky have a new EP coming out soon, and to celebrate they are playing a live show at the Beat Kitchen on West Belmont Avenue in Chicago! Don't miss your chance to hear them live, and pick up your copy of their new EP Forever We Will Stand this Saturday, October 26th!

$5.00 in advance, $10.00 at the door.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Independent Band of the Year Reader's Poll-2013

Post #266

Psychopathic Daze
 This Chicago-based metal band delivers a technical and brutal strain of heavy metal. A very metalcore/ hardcore formula that will get your adrenaline flowing. Vocal style is mostly hardcore screams, but they do have a few moments where melodic singing tempers the fury and rage. They are on Facebook, Reverbnation and have their main website too:
Check out these songs before casting your vote:
-Ride This Bullet Home
-Moment of Clarity

 Another powerful Chicago metal band. Crusader have a more traditional metal approach, primarily thrash, but their vocalist adds an element of European power metal. Guitar solos abound, and influence from classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal can be heard. If you're a fan of classic bands like Maiden and Metallica, you should hear these guys! Hear samples of their music on Facebook or Reverbnation.
Recommended songs:
-Rise of the Templars
-Asgard's Fire
-Dead Kings

Approaching Dawn
This band is from Chicago's northern suburbs and deliver a pure and brutal heavy metal sound. Their intensity of riffs and harsh vocal style draw immediate comparisons to the likes of Lamb of God or Devil Driver. They have many songs from their Evolution of Reality album available for streaming or download on Facebook or Reverbnation.
Check out:
-Copy of a Space

Another Black Hour
These guys from Chicago are a straight up heavy metal band. Perhaps they could also be categorized as thrash, but their vocal style is hard-edged without being full-blown hardcore. Riffs with solid grooves drive their music, with infectious hooks to draw you in. Check them out on Facebook, Reverbnation, or their own site:
Recommended songs:
-Perfect Machine
-Last Stand

One of the best underground bands currently ripping things up in Detroit, Michigan is Wulfhook. These guys deliver a powerful variety of traditional metal. The resulting sound is akin to British metal legends like Iron Maiden with a bit of an infusion of thrash. They have some songs available for free download through their Facebook page. You can also find them on Reverbnation.
Recommended songs:
-Bridge Burner

Signals From Saturn
Hailing from St. Louis, this band is a genre-bending powerhouse formed from the ashes of several previous bands. Fusing hardcore metal with a progressive, ambient vibe, their music is a true listener's experience. Hardcore screamed vocals are tempered with melodic singing in moderation, while intense riffs routinely give way to more subdued ambient chord progressions, and mood setting key changes. They are on Facebook and Reverbnation.
Check out these songs:
-Awaiting Refuge
-For Tonight

Scarlet Canary
A female-fronted melodic metal band from Denver, Colorado with a hint of a hard edge, Scarlet Canary deliver catchy melodies with plenty of emotion and power. Hannah's voice has all the pretty elements of some of today's most popular female-fronted metal bands, but she'll surprize you with some well-timed screams! They are of course on Facebook and Reverbnation.
Check out these songs:
-Distorted Reality

Remember to CAST YOUR VOTE for your favorite band in the current readers poll on the right! Poll runs from now through November.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fist To The Sky playing at The Back Bar, Saturday, October 5th!!

Post #265

Don't miss another chance to see Fist To The Sky live... This Saturday they're in Janesville, Wisconsin with On My Six and more!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Epimetheus-Sink or Swim (2013)

Post #264

Epimetheus are a hardcore metal act from Connecticut who have recently released their debut, self-produced album Sink or Swim. Rising from the remains of their previous band, vocalist Jacob Lowy and guitarist Will Hartle continued their vision of hardcore metal with this project, named after Greek Mythology's Father of Excuses. During the production process their producer Brian Eldridge joined the mix as their lead guitarist.

Sink or Swim begins with the track 'We Killed the Scene'. The song's lead guitar intro is reminiscent of early-era Avenged Sevenfold. Heavy power chord riffs kick in next, soon followed by Jacob's hardcore screamed vocals. The next track, 'Heart of America', continues the hardcore musical formula while the lyrics tackle some sociological issues of today's millennial generation.

Overall I find Sink or Swim reminds me strongly of All That Remains' first album, Behind Silence and Solitude. Guitar tones and song tempos are quite comparable, and Jacob Lowy's hardcore scream is on par with Phil Labonte's. Brian Eldridge adds a few guitar solos reflecting an influence from classic heavy metal. Other influences from modern hardcore metal bands can be heard throughout the album. From one track to the next Epimetheus maintain their formula quite consistently. There are a couple instances of some melodic elements, like 'Governmental Case', where Brian's melodic backing vocals compliment the choruses and add depth to this recording.

Another favorite track of mine is 'Left Behind'. This song is reworked from the days of their previous band. The older version was originally titled 'Orpheus Looks Back'. It features an acoustic guitar intro that shows some of the band's versatility. While the older version featured lyrics that were mostly a pessimistic outlook on life, this new version features all new lyrics inspired by a true case of teen suicide as a result of bullying. Now the song carries a strong anti-suicide message and should be commended for bringing light to this very real issue that needs to be addressed in today's society.

For being a do-it-yourself music project, Epimethues' Sink or Swim is a surprisingly well-executed album of east-coast hardcore metal. Though much inspiration from veteran bands within the genre is apparent, there are enough instances of originality that make Epimetheus a band to watch in the years ahead.

This album is available to download for free from the band's bandcamp page, and you can stream complete tracks through their facebook page as well.

My recommended tracks from Sink or Swim:
-We Killed the Scene
-Governmental Case
-Running in Place (Great guitar solo on this one!)
-Left Behind (Acoustic guitar intro & outro, pure hardcore in the middle, meaningful take-home message. My favorite!)
-Community Service Project (This song features a piano melody as the intro, another case of Epimetheus trying something different!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dame-Nation V: The Journey Towards a New Beginning (Concert Review from 8-15-13)

Post #263
On August 15th Dame-Nation, Chicago's very own Female-Fronted Heavy Metal Festival made its return to Reggies in Chicago's South Loop. After missing last year's installment, I was all the more excited for this year's line-up. There had always been a good variety of bands at previous Dame-Nation shows, and from previewing several of the bands online in the weeks leading up to the show, this year was looking to live up to that promise. If anything my hopes were even higher, as the format had expanded to encompass both the Rock Club and Music Joint stages at Reggies in Chicago.

The schedule was staggered in such a way that you could bounce back and forth between the 2 sides of the venue, and catch at least some, if not all, of every band on the bill. I did my best to hear as much music form each and every band on the bill and bounced back and forth between the Music Joint Stage to the Rock Club Stage all evening long. There was so much music to take in, but it was well worth it...

The first band that performed, opening the Music Joint Stage was KILLTHEROBOTSDEAD, a Chicago-area band. The started the evening with their own brand of grungy, alternative, hard rock metal. Although I missed most of their set due to traffic, I have added them to my list of independent bands I intend to follow in the years ahead. As with all the other bands I'm reviewing in this post, watch for more content about them on this blog in the future. In the meantime you can check out a couple of their songs streaming online at their Reverbnation Page, like 'Observe the Ghost' and '12 Inch Voices'.

Immediately following KILLTHEROBOTSDEAD, False Hope Fades was set to open the Rock Club Stage. False Hope Fades was a band with power in their riffs and melody in their lyrics. Their music encouraged everyone in the crowd to vent some raw emotions. I would classify them as melodic groove-metal. Their rhythm section maintained a very heavy groove, and singer Rosie belted out some catchy melodies with her clean, yet powerful vocal style. When they played 'Coward' I was reminded of Pantera. They really tore it up! Some of their songs are available on their facebook page. Check them out!

Not a moment to waste, it was now time to move back over to the Music Joint Stage to catch Genotype. This band took the metal up a notch or two, as their style was much more hardcore, or metalcore. A little more blast-beat drumming, and much more screaming from singer Kadie Kirby than either of the previous bands. Kadie may have a petite stature, but deep inside she has a furious hardcore-metal voice! Then, during some of the choruses, she switches things up with some melodic singing, proving her versatility and talent. Genotype also have their music available online at their Facebook and Reverbnation pages, among other outlets.

Next up over at the Rock Club Stage was Plague of Stars, from the Twin Cities in Minnesota. One of the bands I had been looking forward to since hearing some of their songs online, they proved to be worth the anticipation. Although not utilizing a hardcore style as Genotype did, they were arguably the heaviest band so far. Their guitar tones were low and heavy, such as to feel it in your bones. For the most part their songs were mid to low-tempo, making them an easy band to pump your fists to. Contrasting these heavy elements were singer Melissa Ferlaak's operatic vocals. This made for a unique style of metal that was truly captivating. Their songs had won me over as a fan already, but then they had a surprise in store for us. When they announced the song 'In The Pines' (originally by Lead Belly-made popular by Nirvana) they had Grace Meridan join them on stage to sing the song as a duet!
If you've heard Nirvana's cover of this song from their Unplugged CD, then you know the song. However Plague of Stars have practically reinvented it. The arrangements may be true to the original, but how they incorporate their ominous heavy tones enhance the dark undertones of the song in ways I never imagined! You deserve to hear this version too. You can find it on their Reverbnation page.

Next up on the Music Joint Stage was Expired Empire, another Chicago-area band, this time hailing from south suburban Crete. Their style of metal was a straight forward melodic metal. I would describe their vocalist Jessica Lubera's voice as similar to Lacuna Coil's Cristia Scabbia. Catchy melodies sang smoothly in a mid-range alto voice. They kept the energy of Dame-Nation flowing as their music blended heavy guitars, melodic singing and some good guitar solos.

They have plenty of songs available to stream from their Reverbnation  and Facebook pages. Or visit their main website at

Phosphene were the next band up at the Rock Club Stage. They draw inspiration from a wide variety of metal, ranging from thrash to hair-metal to alternative rock. Their sound and vibe was also easy to get into and good for singing along. If Phosphene could be counted on for one thing it was their ability to deliver a catchy melody. Often their songs would build from a soft, melodic, clean-guitar progression to heavy power chords. They're a perfect fit for mainstream heavy rock, and gave us a couple power ballads too. 

One highlight from their set was a good rendition of Journey's classic 'Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)'. This was a song that everybody was sure to know and it got the crowd involved a little more. One of their original songs I would point out as a personal favorite is 'Break the Silence'. Jeni Imparato's performance was captivating. She put much emotion into her vocal delivery. At moments she seemed to be channeling Pat Benatar or Sharon den Adel (of Within Temptation).
Check out their main website: (taken from the meaning of the word 'phosphene') where you can stream several of their songs!

The next act up on the Music Joint Stage was a real treat- Eve's Apple, a worldwide collaborative project of female rock and metal musicians and singers. Tonight they were to perform an acoustic set. A few of the lead singers from the other bands from this night's line-up participated in this performance, along with the MC's from each stage- Lindsay Schoolcraft and Grace Meridan. Their set list included a mix of original songs and cover tunes. For the opening number it was just VK Lynne on guitar, and Mary Zimmer doing a duet on vocals for the song 'Tap the Crazy'. VK and Mary were prominent in many varied combinations during Eve's Apple's set, with Mary often playing keyboards.

From one song to the next the Eve's Apple line-up changed, with different duets or trios of singers performing each song. Sometimes accompanied with keyboards, others with VK and her acoustic guitar. At one point of their show, with the combination of Lindz on keyboards, and Grace and Melissa from Plague of Stars on vocals, they did a cover of Evanescence's 'Field of Innocence'.
The best part of their set was definitely the closing number: a cover of Nightwish's 'Nemo' with Mary on keyboards, VK on guitar, and everybody else joining in harmony on vocals! For only rehearsing via skype in many cases, their voices blended in perfect harmony for this classic song of female-fronted symphonic metal! Hearing 'Nemo' in a stripped down acoustic fashion, with so many voices blending together, was a truly special experience.
To keep track of the Eve's Apple project, follow them on facebook!

DEADMANSWAKE have become familiar faces around Dame-Nation. They kept their streak alive again this year as the only band to perform at every installment of Dame-Nation. Their line-up has changed a little since the last time I had seen them, but their set was just as spectacular as in years past. On this occasion they were the penultimate act on the Rock Club Stage, and they made it a special show for those who were there. Of course they played several of their fan-favorite songs from their debut album It Comes to This. But they worked in a few songs from their forthcoming 2nd album and a couple awesome cover tunes.
After mentioning a cancelled Danzig show that would have been on the following day, DEADMANSWAKE gave us a 'Danzig fix' and played a cover of 'Mother'. A couple songs later they played my personal favorite 'Screaming In Silence', which is sure to be included on the previously mentioned 2nd album by these guys. I went nuts for this song, enough to draw a direct comment from singer Kryssie Ridolfi. Then, for their special treat as a closing number, they played their cover of Motley Crue's 'Kickstart My Heart', with special guests Lindz and Grace helping on vocals! To hear their music, and keep updated on the release of their upcoming album, follow them on Facebook!

Unfortunately, I chose to duck out a tad bit early from DMW's set because I heard through the wall the Music Joint Stage closers, Scarlet Canary, had started to play. They had traveled all the way from Denver, Colorado to play this show, and I didn't want to miss them. I made it next door just in time to catch the end of 'Metrognome', one of my favorites I had been listening to on their website. It's a very catchy metal-anthem type of song all about the grueling grind of a mundane 9-5 work-a-holic lifestyle.
Scarlet Canary delivered an awesome set of their melodic, heavy, alt-rock, metal music. Singer Hannah Haze primarily sang in a powerful, melodic voice, but did whip out a couple hardcore screams just when the music called for it. More favorite songs from their set include 'Distorted Reality' and 'Nightmare'. They also included a cover of Halestorm's 'Love Bites'. You can hear some of these songs for yourself on their facebook page, as well as keeping up-to-date on their releases and tour dates!

After Scarlet Canary wrapped things up I made my way back over to the Rock Club Stage for the final performer of the evening... Luna Mortis! Luna Mortis were the perfect closing act for Dame-Nation, as their style encompassed both ends of the spectrum of music the previous bands had performed throughout the evening. Melodic singing, heavy riffs, soaring guitar solos, hardcore screams and soft melodies, this band had them all. Vocalist Mary Zimmer was in a whole new element compared to her previous appearance in Eve's Apple's acoustic set. With Luna Mortis she was unleashing her inner fury!
This band was constantly changing things up between vocals that were sang melodically, and guttural hardcore screams. It was almost too much for your ear to keep up, but the overall effect was totally enthralling. While most of the previous bands tended to lean more solidly toward either a clean or a hardcore vocal style, Luna Mortis partitioned these contrasting elements practically 50-50. 

For the most part, Luna Mortis kept the tempo at full throttle, leaving no argument that they were true American power metal. Guitarists Brian Koenig and Cory Scheider seemed to be constantly ripping some killer guitar solo wherever there was a break in the lyrics. Whether you were here to enjoy the music, bang your head, or mosh it up, Luna Mortis provided every opportunity to get involved in the music. Check out the music they have available on their Facebook page, and download a couple favorites. You'll be glad you did!

Set lists from Dame-Nation V:

-Subtle Creepy Fingers
-Twelve Inch Voices
-Bazooka Fight
-Better Illusion
-Observe the Ghost
-Quiet Still

False Hope Fades
-Wake Up

-The Risen
-Drifting to the End

Plague of Stars
-Succomb to Darkness
-Sense Control
-When Morning Came
-In The Pines (w/ Grace Meridan)

Expired Empire
-Tighten My Noose
-Rise of the Fall
-In Your Wake
-The Hurt

-Don't Give Up
-Break the Silence
-Separate Ways (World's Apart) (Journey cover)
-Lock Me Away
-Let You Go
-On My Own
-Life on Fire

Eve's Apple
-Tap the Crazy (VK and Mary, Glitter Mortis)
-Familiar Taste of Poison (VK and Lindz, Mary-piano, Halestorm cover)
-Anathema-Parisienne Moonlight (Grace and Kassy, VK guitar, Mary-piano)
-Field of Innocence (Grace, Mel and Lindz, Evanescence cover)
-Mess Like You (Grace and VK)
-Nemo (Mel, VK, Mary, Grace, Kassy, Aziza, Lindz, Nightwish cover)

-The Monster in Me (Intro)
-Save Your Breath
-If You Need Me (I'll Be Bleeding)
-Back to Blood
-Mother (Danzig cover)
-Screaming in Silence
-Save Me
-Kickstart My Heart (Motley Crue cover, with guest vocals by Grace Meridan and Lindz Riot)

Scarlet Canary
-Noise Complaint
-Mark of the Beast
-Let it Go
-Distorted Reality
-Love Bites (Halestorm cover)
-Why the Caged Bird Screams

Luna Mortis
-Fountain of Youth
-The Absence
-Forever More
-Anemic World
-Never Give In

My thanks to all the bands that came out, played their hearts out on stage, and made Dame-Nation V such a memorable experience. I'll be following you all. Until we meet again, happy headbanging to all!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fist to the Sky- Live Shows for August, 2013.

Post #262
Fist to the Sky are keeping their schedule busy this summer. They have 2 more shows later this month as they hit the road, heading north...

Next up for our Independent Band of the Year...
August 24th as part of WIIL Rock Fest 2013 in Twin Lakes Wisconsin!

August 30th with Last Vegas at High Five Bar and Grill in Burnsville, MN!

If either of these venues are close to your hometown you should check out one of these shows. Fist To The Sky are building a reputation as a kick-ass live act. Wouldn't you like to see why?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dame-Nation V: Coming THIS THURSDAY, August 15th!!

Post #261

One of Chicago's most unique concert series is returning on Thursday August 15th for its fifth installment: Dame-Nation V: The Journey Towards a New Beginning. 11 bands performing on two stages, all of them featuring female lead-singers! Dame-Nation has always featured the best independent talent when it comes to female-fronted heavy metal music and this year looks to be no exception. As always there is a strong representation from Chicago's local scene, but this music fest also features bands from as far west as Denver, Colorado and as far east as Pelham, New Hampshire.

Want to know what's up in female-fronted heavy metal right now? Then there's only one place you need to be on Thursday the 15th, and that is Reggies Rock Club!

Advance Tickets are $10 for one stage, or $18 for both.
Day-of-Show Tickets will be $15 for one stage, or $26 for both.

.Doors open at 6:30 pm, first band goes on at 7:00 pm.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Depth of All Things-Crawling (2013)

Post #260
I recently discovered another new band on the local scene in Chicago's northern suburbs: Depth of All Things.

Their first release is entitled Crawling. Their formula is instrumental heavy metal, or as I like to call it: Instru-METAL! That's right, all guitars, drums and bass! Depth of All Things utilize a modern groove-metal sound mixed with tones of alternative rock for their core sound. However you will find no lyrics, no vocals, no whining or screaming anywhere on this recording. If you think this sounds like a 'glass half-empty' scenario, then you obviously haven't listened to this band yet. The chord progressions, riffs and lead guitar solos are so catchy and captivating they simply do not need lyrics to keep you engaged in the music.

The title track 'Crawling' is the opening number. It starts with a clean guitar melody that reminds me a bit of Breaking Benjamin, then progresses through a groove-metal passage before hitting you with a thundering and thrashy chorus. (perhaps 'chorus' is a misnomer considering this is instru-metal, but these songs definitely feel like they have verses, bridges, and choruses) The next track 'I'll Pay for this One Day' is a heavy number with a fast tempo and just the right amount of blast-beat drumming. You will probably find you are headbanging by now! Most of the 8 songs on this collection use different combinations of these elements, to maintain a fairly heavy sound throughout.

The last couple songs, 'Limbo' and 'Miseries of the World' slow things down a little, but there is still an electric element maintained. Though parts of these songs may be softer, slower and more melodic, they still have that essential 'heavy' sound that comes into play before they are done. 'Limbo' utilizes synthesized guitar sounds to enhance the head-trippy mood of the song. 'Miseries of the World' is very much in the same vein as 'Limbo' if not even more melodic.

You might ask why they chose to record their music in this instrumental format. Why not add a singer and write lyrics and add another dimension to the songs? True, there may be people out there who need some lyrical content to keep their interest, but there are probably an equal number who would write off any band whose vocal style doesn't fit their favorite style. Depth of All Things have cleverly avoided any such conflicts of interest with keeping their music strictly instrumental and as a result might actually appeal to a wider audience. At least on a fundamental level this CD is straight forward, pure and simple heavy metal.

Recommended Tracks from Crawling:
-I'll Pay for this One Day
-Fame Whore (This song is another highlight. Classic groove-metal mastery on display again. They even filmed a music video for this one. Check it out!)
-Altered States
-Miseries of the World (The final track on this CD is perhaps the most melodic. Though there are a few heavy segments in this song, at the end you are left with a melancholic clean guitar sound that slowly fades out.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fist to the Sky in Crystal Lake! (Coming July 27th)

Post # 259
Hello Happy Headbangers!
Don't miss another opportunity to catch this year's Independent Band of the Year, FIST TO THE SKY! They're playing at The Other Side in Crystal Lake on July 27th. Also performing: Star City Meltdown and Arcane Framework.

FIST TO THE SKY deliver a fast and furious variety of modern metal. They are a band on the rise... be sure you don't miss out and see them in Crystal Lake!

Tickets: $10.00
Showtime: 8:00 pm

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Heavy Metal Box

Post #258
When it comes to compilation/mix collections I'm usually skeptical, and it takes a well planned and efficiently executed collection of music to truly gain my interest. One such collection that I believe successfully achieved its goal, if not exceeded it, is The Heavy Metal Box.

Covering the history of heavy metal music from its primordial age in the late 60's up until the twilight of metal's golden era at the dawn of the 1990's (before grunge and alternative rock threatened the fan-base of metal), this 4-disc box set is a thorough representation of the first 20-25 years of the heavy metal phenomenon. I was able to check this collection out at my local library, and I am so glad that I did. True there were many bands here I was very familiar with, like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth. However there were also many bands included that I never had a chance to listen to before, like Hawkwind, Angel Witch, Rose Tattoo, Tygers of Pan Tang, Venom, and Metal Church. My perspective on the evolution of heavy metal is all the better because I checked out this collection. You should at least take a listen to any of these songs you are unfamiliar with...

Disc 1 (1967-1980)
Iron Butterfly-In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Blue Cheer-Summertime Blues
Uriah Heep-Easy Livin'
Deep Purple-Highway Star
Alice Cooper-Billion Dollar Babies
Hawkwind-Lost Johnny
Montrose-Bad Motor Scooter
Rush-Working Man
Rainbow-Man on the Silver Mountain
Kiss-Detroit Rock City
Judas Priest-The Ripper
Ted Nugent-Cat Scratch Fever
UFO-Lights Out
Blue Oyster Cult-Godzilla
Girlschool-Demolition Boys
Angel Witch-White Witch
Iron Maiden-The Phantom of the Opera
Black Sabbath-Neon Knights

Disc 2 (1980-1983)
Motorhead-Ace of Spades
Diamond Head-Am I Evil?
Rose Tattoo-Nice Boys
Michael Schenker Group-Attack of the Mad Axeman
Saxon-Denim and Leather
Tygers of Pan Tang-Gangland
Venom-Witching Hour
Judas Priest-You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Iron Maiden-The Number of the Beast
Raven-Star War
Fastway-Say What You Will
Mercyful Fate-Black Funeral
W.A.S.P.-Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)
Y&T-Mean Streak
Dio-Holy Diver
Queensryche-Queen of the Reich

Disc 3 (1984-1986)
Scorpions-Rock You Like a Hurricane
Quiet Riot-Metal Health
Dokken-Into the Fire
Accept-Balls to the Wall
Ratt-Round and Round
Twisted Sister-I Wanna Rock
Hanoi Rocks-The Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Spinal Tap-Big Bottom
Krokus-Midnite Maniac
Yngwie Malmsteen-I'll See the Light, Tonight
Loudness-Crazy Nights
Cinderella-Shake Me
Metal Church-Watch the Children Pray
Stryper-To Hell With The Devil
Helloween-A Little Time
Overkill-Wrecking Crew
Anthrax-Caught in a Mosh
Megadeth-Peace Sells

Disc 4 (1987-1991)
Whitesnake-Still of the Night
Great White-Rock Me
Faster Pussycat-Bathroom Wall
Lita Ford-Kiss Me Deadly
Manowar-Hail and Kill
Testament-Trial By Fire
King Diamond-Welcome Home
Slayer-South Of Heaven
Living Colour-Cult of Personality
Skid Row-Youth Gone Wild
Pantera-Cowboys from Hell
Prong-Beg to Differ
Sepultura-Dead Embryonic Cells

You can see there is quite a bit of diversity in this collection. Although it is sequenced in chronological order, the diversity becomes most apparent towards the end (discs 3 and 4). You can literally hear the progression, solidification, and diversification of heavy metal from a single genre of music at its inception to a multi-headed monster at the dawn of the 90's. During the 80's metal branched in 2 distinct directions: mainstream radio-friendly 'glam' or 'hair' metal, and the more underground 'thrash' or 'speed' metal. The former focused on higher-pitched vocals, and catchy, lighter melodies; the latter focused on power, aggression, and heavier darker moods.

In the end it is all still METAL! If you are a new fan of heavy metal music, do yourself a favor and listen to this collection to see, hear, and understand where metal came from!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

BATTLECROSS-War of Will (2013)

Post #257
After being introduced to these guys at Metallica's Orion Fest, I knew I had to check out their new album War Of Will. Lucky for me, they were selling it on-site in advance of its release, and signing copies as well. I made sure to get one and had the band sign it before the fest was over. Their live performance that day was so full of power and kinetic energy that I couldn't wait to pop the CD into my car stereo and hear what the rest of their music sounded like.

If you're a fan of high-speed thrash metal, hardcore/death metal style vocals, and power-metal style melodic grooves, then I have found the right band for you! Battlecross are a relatively new metal band from Detroit, Michigan who describe their sound as 'Blue-Collar Thrash'. Though they have been touring nationally for just under 2 years, they have indeed worked very hard to get there. The vibe of their music reflects this same attitude: full-force, all-out, never let up, never quit. Each song is packed with relentless power and technical prowess that demands to be recognized as a new force to be reckoned with in heavy metal.

Their second album, War Of Will, is released today on Metal Blade Records, and it is sure to satisfy the craving of any extreme thrash metal fan for aggressive and technical metal. 'Force Fed Lies' is the first track of this all-out thrash-fest, and it starts the album off at a break-neck pace. Guitarists Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala assault your ears with furious fretwork, driven by classic thrash-metal tonality. Vocals are screamed straight into you eardrums by Kyle "Gumby" Gunther. Tight grooves are maintained throughout by Don Slater on bass guitar and Shannon Lucas on drums. The tempo subsides slightly at the choruses to allow a catchy melody to guide the ferocity, then it's back to business for the next verse.

The next song 'Flesh and Bone', while still aggressive as hell, has a very impressive dual guitar solo at the midpoint of the song, showcasing the priceless talents of Deraniyagala and Asta. They complement each other like seasoned veterans, and why not? They've been jamming together since they were in their teens. Throughout the album they repeat this masterful teamwork while still taking the time to awe listeners with several top-notch guitar solos by each guitarist. In many ways Battlecross are the band that thrash purists have been waiting for for years.

Lyrically Battlecross are a band that focus on themes of empowerment, individuality, justice and self-betterment. Another favorite track of mine is 'Beast', where Gumby takes a few minutes to tell us of the virtues of working hard to better one's self instead of settling for the easy path or flat-out giving up. These themes can be found in many songs throughout the album, but they save the biggest epiphany for last with 'Never-Ending Night'. This song is about self-sacrifice for the benefit of the next generation. To learn form one's mistakes and pass on strength and knowledge to the younger generation is the take-home message. If you truly must fight a War Of Will, then this album will show you the path to victory, with plenty of headbanging along the way!

My favorite tracks from War Of Will:
-Force Fed Lies
-Flesh & Bone
-Never Coming Back
-Ghost Alive
-Wage a War
-Beast (Guest solo by Jason Suecof)
-Never-Ending Night

[Battlecross are supporting Rob Zombie and Five Finger Death Punch on Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Fest this summer. Check them out at a city near you!]

Monday, June 24, 2013

ORION Music + More: In Conclusion...

Post #256
I would like to take a minute to reflect one last time on the incomparable experience that was Metallica's Orion Music + More. As much as I have tried to capture and interpret every aspect of the 2-day music and lifestyle festival, I was still limited to only the events I chose to see. With five stages featuring live music, and artists often performing simultaneously, it was simply impossible to experience it all. I have given you my most thorough reviews of those acts I was able to see, but there were many more excellent musicians and bands that I missed, so I thought I would take a minute here to acknowledge every performer from this year's Orion Fest so that you can explore all their music on your own. Most of the live performances from Orion Fest should be available for download through the Orion Music + More website, or each band's individual websites shortly.

You can also read my reviews of: Day 1, Battlecross, dehaan (Metallica's Kill 'Em All set), Red Hot Chili Peppers, Day 2, Cauldron, Metallica, as well as my interviews with Battlecross and Cauldron.

Click here for the complete line-up for Orion Music + More, 2013.

Here are more of the photos I took from the entire weekend:

Thank you to all the bands, the sponsors, the organizers, the city of Detroit, and, of course, Metallica!
See you next year!

In the meantime, Happy Headbanging!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ORION Music + More: HappyHeadbanger's interview with Couldron.

Post #255
In the late afternoon on June 9th at Orion Music + More I had another excellent opportunity to interview 2 of the members of Cauldron, a real stripped-down, pure and classic sounding metal band out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I was excited to find out a little more about these guys who are making metal music the good old-fashioned way that it used to be. I spoke with guitarist Ian Chains and drummer Myles Deck. Here's how the interview went...


HappyHeadbanger: Joel Beverley here. I write Heavy Metal 107: Home of the Happy Headbanger. It can be found at I'm speaking today with two guys from Cauldron. You want to introduce yourselves?

Ian Chains: Yeah. I'm Ian. I play guitar.
Myles Deck: And I'm Myles. I play the drums.
IC: And that's it. Just the two of us.
MD: I sing, sometimes.

HH: Yeah, backing vocals on both you guys I saw in your set this morning. So, just in a few words tell me what it means to have been picked, you know I assume Metallica picked you guys to be here at Orion Fest, to be part of the line up. And what does it mean to you to play this show.
IC: Well, Just the fact that Metallica knows who we are is enough for me. I think that's pretty cool.
MD: My 15-year-old self is giving me a pat on the back right now.
HH: Yeah!
MD: I'm pretty proud of myself as a 30-year-old as well, but that's kinda when I discovered Metallica.
HH : Okay.
IC: My 65-year-old self is blowing a load in his pants... I don't know. You can take that out.
HH: Okay. I'll copy to your....
IC: Nah, keep that in. Nah it was alright.

HH: You can approve it at the end. Anyway, what other bands here on the bill are you interested in seeing, interested in meeting? Catching up with or catching their music?
MD: I was really psyched to see FLAG. And we caught them. We got here just as they were playing.
HH: OK, cool.
MD: And I met Keith Morris. He seemed... polite.
HH: Yeah.
MD: For the most part.
IC: We're gonna check out DEATH.
HH: Yeah.
IC: We heard 'em sound check. Sounded pretty awesome.
MD: I wanted to see The Dirtbombs, but they were playing the same time we were, so...
HH: Yeah, schedules like that can't be helped.
IC: And there's this... some band called 'Metallica' too, so.
HH: Oh, yeah. Everybody...
IC: Probably, we might check them out.
HH: They might be a pretty popular set.
MD: Pretty underrated band, from what I hear.

HH: Alright, you played in your set today you played 'All or Nothing'  is one of the songs of yours that I really like. I Particularly love your music video for it. It's got a lot of humor in it. You kinda like portray all the cliches of heavy metal and everything, and I couldn't help but wonder, is any of that from the video autobiographical?
IC: It is, but those weren't our real jobs, but that's how we feel about life in general, I guess. So, it is based on loathing going back to work after tour, and just hating our bosses.
HH: Yeah.
MD: Yeah it seems like you can't have a job that you like and also be in a band and tour heavily, because if they... you know, you have a job that you like, then you're expected to commit to it. And then the only jobs that are available to you are shitty jobs that you don't care about, that you don't mind quitting when you go on tour.
HH: Yeah.
MD: But they kinda tear at you.
HH: Any accidents with gas cans in your garages? Like at the end of the video?
IC: Nah, we stopped doing that since we died in the video.

HH: (Laughs) Okay, okay, awesome. So, researching your guys' music a little bit, and the internet directs me to 'The New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal', and I just have to ask, when you started out Cauldron, was that your intent, or did the label kinda come after you guys were doing what you did?
IC: No, when we started, that term was unheard of. That term started getting tossed around by magazines like Terrorizer and Metal Hammer around 2009.
HH: Uh-huh.
IC: And that is not a fan-created term, or a band-created term. That is a press-created term to sell magazines, and we don't care about it at all. It's a joke, really.
HH: Okay.
IC: We were playing...
HH: It's like the 'New Wave' of everything. The 'New Wave of This' the 'New Wave of That'.
IC: We were playing this exact kind of music before that term came around, and so were other bands like Enforcer, who are also labeled with that. But, you know, that was never the intent, and that's... When there's you know, a handful of bands doing the same style, kind of, then you're doomed to be labeled something. But we don't endorse that.

HH: Okay. How about you guys personally. What were your influences, when you were young, to start learning to play music, to have a passion to perform music, to be in a band?
MD: Well I don't know, it'd probably damage my credibility, but I don't know. I guess like for heavy metal, the first band I heard was pretty classic. I think pretty traditional for a lot of people was Black Sabbath.
HH: Yeah Sabbath.
MD: I heard it when I was 11, and I played 'Iron Man' on tape. And I was like, "Uhhh this is heavy!"
HH: Yeah.
MD: "I wanna play this."
HH: Cool.
IC: Well, my story's a bit different. I wanted to play guitar after watching Back to the Future.
MD: (laughs)
IC: Seeing Marty McFly ripping a solo behind his head, and tapping. And then I got really into Huey Lewis and The News, because they were like, prominently featured in that movie.
HH: Yeah!
IC: And that's what really got me into thinking guitar was cool. And the first Huey Lewis and The News album, the guy's got a double-neck guitar, and he's making some stupid face. I just made my parents buy it for me. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And I still like that album.
MD: Okay, well I just had like a recent, like a recent memory come to me.
HH: Go ahead...
MD: And uh, it was 'Money for Nothing' by Dire Straits. How in the beginning there's this huge drum solo. 'Do-do-do-do Da-du-du-du-duu-kish!' You got Sting in the background going,...
All Three: (singing in high pitched falsettos) "I want my MTV..."
HH: Yeah!
MD: And there's just like this big build-up of 'A-du-du-du-d-d-d-du-du-du-du-Kish!' 'A-du-du-du-d-d-d-du-du-du-du-Kish!' And then I like, remember my parents had that cassette, and we listened to it in the car a lot. And all of a sudden it was like, when you couldn't take any more, the guitar lick comes in, 'Wrrr, nah-nah-naar, naar nana narrrr...' and that's when I knew I had to be in a band.
HH: Oh, cool cool stuff.
IC: I actually had that cassette-single, with that song on both sides.
HH: (laughs) Cool.
IC: And it came for free with a cassette player that I bought. It was like a promo-pack. So I listened to that song over and over again.
MD: So you got your music for nothing and your tapes for free!
IC: Yeah.

HH: Yeah. Wow, those were the days. How about a first concert you guys ever saw, as fans. Who did you see?
MD: As music fans? Or just like the first concert ever?
HH: Uh, either one.
IC: Mine's pretty... I don't know. I'm kinda surprised, but my first concert I saw, I was 14, and it was Sonic Youth.
MD: Really?
HH: Cool.
IC: Yeah, I was really into Nirvana and Mudhoney and Sonic Youth, and that was the first concert I saw. And I thought they were amazing.
HH: Okay.
MD: First show I ever saw, I was 12. I saw this punk band from Vancouver called DBS.
HH: Oh, cool.
MD: And they had this song called 'Snow Ball'. It was on much music, or what. It was cool. It was a lot of energy, like probably 200 kids in this small-ass club and moshing. And I got trampled. It was amazing.

HH: Okay. So, I'm just going to admit that I discovered you guys recently. I had heard of your first album a couple years back, but I haven't really checked it out until recently, though. And like, your style of music and all the 'sound-alikes' that social media and all the internet stuff leads me to, it's like you guys have lead me to a new gold-mine of this classic, real pure style of metal. Who would you recommend to me as other bands to check out with high priority. Either new or old, like classic obscure stuff and newer guys.
IC: There's a lot of really good new bands. I would recommend checking out Vulture from Richmond, VA.
MD: Midnight, from Cleveland.
IC: One of my favorite bands right now, and they're really new, and they really only have like 4 or 5 songs demoed, but Witch Hazel, from England.
HH: Okay.
IC: They're up-and-coming, but they're songs are amazing. It's like Thin Lizzy meets...
MD: You don't know. You've never heard before. ... Meets Mega Man.
IC: ...some pagan ritual in the woods. Yeah, it's really good. Enforcer from Sweeden. Those guys rule. You know, that's it. There's three good bands there.

HH: Okay. You want to talk a little bit about your latest album, the Tomorrow's Lost, and what your approach was for recording that, and how you wrote the music for it.
IC: Well, the approach for recording it was the same as the album before, Burning Fortune. Same studio, same producer. Everything. We're just trying to improve upon, you know, building upon our sound, you know. Really simple, recorded live off the floor. Guitars doubled. That's it. And that's what we're all about. Keeping it really simple.
HH: Simple and pure.
IC: Yeah.
HH: Pure metal.
IC: Just trying to sound real and organic. We're not into clickity-klack bass drums, and you know, shitty processed guitar sounds. We're into real, real sounds.
HH: Okay.
IC: And the songs... I don't know. We actually didn't have a drummer when we wrote these. It was me and Jason. Jason on drums and me on guitar for writing the album. So that's kinda how it came about.

HH: Okay, cool. And the last question- just what's on your near-horizon? What's coming up for Cauldron? Any plans? Any...
MD: We have some shows on the east coast of the States. So, we're playing Baltimore, we're playing Raleigh, North Carolina.
HH: Alright.
MD: ...Richmond, Virginia. Wilmington, North Caroliona. We're also playing in Providence, Rhode Island at the end of July. Just like some shows like that. We're looking into going to South America in the fall.
HH: Yeah?
IC: October, yeah.
MD: Seeing how that comes together. Just we want to make sure we don't get ripped off, too hard.
HH: Yeah, yeah, I bet...
IC: ...Or stabbed in the face...
HH: I know South America's a lot of metal-heads if you can coordinate it, yeah.
MD: Yeah, well, I personally get messages from people occasionally. Asking me, pleading with me, begging me or also like...
HH: Blackmailing you? (laughs)
MD: Well, not like blackmail, but like stuttering death-threats...
IC: Come play...
MD: Or like, just something in broken English. Saying, 'Come, play Brazil'. 'Come, play Columbia.'
IC: 'Come, play Brazil. You play my back yard. I feed you.'
MD: (laughs)
IC: Okay. Well, let's book some $10,000 flights down to South America to play in some guy's backyard, and he'll make us some corn dogs, some pogos.

HH: Well, for now you're playing in James Hetfield's backyard, his barbecue here at Orion Fest. I want to thank you guys for having this interview with me. It's been fun, and keep playing that pure metal, you guys. You rock!
MD: You bet.
IC: Thanks, Joel
MD: Thanks, Joel
HH: Thank you!

Friday, June 21, 2013

ORION Music + More: HappyHeadbanger's Interview with Tony Asta from BATTLECROSS

Post #254

On June 8th, the first day of Orion Music and More, I had an exciting opportunity to sit down and have a one-on-one interview with Tony Asta, the guitarist for the up-and-coming thrash band Battlecross from Detroit, Michigan. Here's what he had to say:
HappyHeadbanger: Joel Beverley for Heavy Metal 107 at, actually, and I'm speaking with...
Tony Asta: What's up! This is Tony from Battlecross.
HH: Okay Tony, so tell me just in a few words what does it mean for Battlecross to be selected for the list of bands here at Orion Music + More.
TA: It’s amazing, it’s surreal, it’s a great feeling to know we’re a part of something in our hometown, and we’re very excited to play. This is going to kick ass. All weekend we’re going to be hanging out, and I can’t wait to see Metallica, so.

HH: Awesome. All right. Now Metallica, legendary, one of the first thrash bands, been around 30 years.
TA: Yeah!
HH: Obviously everyone is looking forward to them. Who else on the bill are you personally excited to have a chance to see, or to meet, or catch their music?
TA: I really want to check out INFECTIOUS GROOVES. I really want to check out ALL SHALL PERISH. Those are the first two that come to mind, definitely, so.

HH: Awesome. Sweet. Tell me a little bit about each of your band mates. What are they like? What’s it like being in the band with those guys?
TA:  Well it’s awesome. First I gotta bring up my best friend Hiran Deraniyagala, the other guitar player. I’ve known him since I was like 4 or 5 years old. We grew up across the street from each other. He’s, you know, my brother from another mother, man. I love him to death. And anyway we’ve been jammin’ together since like ’97. He’s kinda like the smart, responsible one in the band. And I try my best to be. He’s always got our backs, you know?
And, up next I’d say Don Slater, he’s our bassist, cool dude. We actually stole him from another band a few years back, and since the moment I saw him play I just knew I had to have him in Battlecross*. Somehow along the way we finagled it. He’s a great dude I love him to death too, obviously.
HH: Okay, okay.
TA: Gumby, our singer, we stole him from another band too (laughs). He’s kind of another same case: where we saw him on stage. He used to play in a band called I Decay, from Flint, MI, and we used to share the same management with him, and we saw them play. We were like, "Dude, this guy captivates me! We gotta have him in out band!” And like 2 yrs later it just happened, things lined up, and we got him in, so...

HH: Yeah, particularly when you’re still on the underground, on the local scene, I know that happens a lot.
TA: Yeah.
HH: I followed a band from St. Louis when they played in ’09 and then when they broke up, 3 of the members formed new bands.
TA: Right!
HH: So, it’s like,  it’s a lot to follow.
TA: Yeah. It’s very true. Funny thing about that is me and Hiran have always played guitar in Battlecross, the whole time. So, I mean, we like never really dabbled in too much other things, that weren't really taken seriously anyway, so.
HH: So you were the ‘seed crystal' so to say, the 2 of you together.
TA: Yep, absolutely.

HH: As a band, do you guys have any like, pre-show rituals, or traditions that you do to get pumped up for a show or anything?
TA: Um, I mean, we’re ‘self-motivators’, let’s put it that way. (laughs) I mean sometimes we like, listen to music, but most of the time we just like to make sure we’re well prepared, and we walk on stage with no issues. We take care of most of our own stuff, but we like to warm-up a lot before we play. And just pump ourselves up, you know, amongst our crew.

HH: Okay. With this being Orion Fest, I imagine it’s gotta be one of the biggest shows you’ve ever played.
TA: Yeah Totally!
HH: Is your prep going to be any more intense, or more serious for this one? Or are you just going to do your thing?
TA: Actually we’ve been rehearsing straight for about a week with Kevin Tally who’s filling in on drums, for now, yeah.
HH: Alright.
TA: He’s great, dude. Who knows? We might try to kinda snag him too. We’ll see.
HH: Okay, so..
TA: So, he’s awesome. And Anyway we’ve been jamming  for about a week, getting everything together, and today we got here really early, and everything’s already ready, so all we gotta do now is just warm up and play and I can’t wait.

HH: Oh, sweet. Okay now, I’ve been reading up and you guys have already been featured on a number of pretty big tours, and coming up this summer you’ve got Mayhem Fest coming up, right?
HH: With Rob Zombie as a headliner, Five Finger Death Punch, tons of other bands.
TA: Yeah, man.
HH: That's gotta be a big lift, a big high to land a gig like that, too. How does that compare with this Orion Fest thing. ...Not to compare the two against each other, but...
TA: You know... I don't know. They're both amazing. I would never, I guess, expect to be, at this point, so I guess... It's not really early in our career, but it's early on in terms of how long we've been touring. We've only been touring for about a year and a half-to-two years. So, considering that, this is amazing. To be on Mayhem, you know, only within 2 years of touring is great! 'Cause I mean there are bands that have been pounding that pavement for years and years and years, you know? It's just crazy to really have the opportunity to really hop on to do something really awesome.
HH: It comes your way, take advantage of it, right?
TA: Absolutely, yeah!

HH: Alright. So, your new album is coming out next month in July. It's called War Of Will.
TA: Yes.
HH: And I was reading on your website which is, right?
TA: Yes.
HH: OK, reading on your website that you took the attitude of 'Deliver or be Delivered'.
TA: Yes!
HH: So... elaborate a bit on that.
TA: Well, that was more in... that was more to describe the atmosphere of being in the studio. We went to Audiohammer Studios in Florida, and worked with producers Eyal Levi and Mark Lewis and also with Jason Seucoff. And, they just had this way about them that was definitely 'Deliver or be delivered' because it's like you step up to the plate 'cause you know they work with professionals and you just gotta be your best. And if you flub, guess what? Now, you're... you gotta catch up, you know what I mean?
HH: Yeah.
TA: So, it's like a really kinda just walking into this world where it's just a really new professional experience which is kinda the best way I can describe it because our other experiences have been a lot more just kinda like finagley? You know, just kinda we'll just kind of make it work. As long as we prepare we'll just, you know, whatever. This time around it was just like you know, we gotta go in there, we gotta be the best. And if we're not then, you know...So that's kinda what it was mean to be like.
HH: A real, real top-notch kind of recording experience.
TA: Yeah, exactly. Those guys are great. I gotta really hand it to them. The album turned out fantastic. I can't wait for everybody to hear the rest of it, so.

HH: Sweet, I'm looking forward to it myself. So, you guys are the 'Hometown heroes'. You're from the Detroit area, or Detroit itself. I imagine you've been playing... you told me the other day, since '05, like local bars and stuff in the Detroit area, I assume.
TA: Yeah.
HH: Are there other local underground bands, independent metal bands you'd recommend, that are still you know, struggling on the scene?
TA: Yeah.
HH: Trying to get to where you guys have made it?
TA: I gotta give, definitely give a shout-out to the guys in Wulfhook. They're amazing. They're like if Dio was singing with like Priest and Maiden... Yeah, on crack! It's like, amazing. They're great, check out Wulfhook... It's kinda a funny spelling but also Nothing for Now. Also check out Imminent Sonic Destruction.
HH: Okay!
TA: Great bands, yeah for sure... Nurse Ratched...
HH: I definitely will.
TA: Yeah, for sure.

HH: Coming back to you, personally a little bit. Who do you cite as major inspirations for when you were first learning to play guitar. When you first had a love for music so much you wanted to pursue it.
TA: Um, it was a combination of a lot of stuff. Honestly just where I grew up, and my friends, and my dad's really into classic rock. So that kinda like started it, you know? Like, just being influenced, just being a victim of circumstance of where I grew up. But as far as like musicians, I definitely say Metallica, dude, is like the one band that really kicked it off. I had a best-friend who played guitar before I did, and he used to always play Metallica songs, like old-school stuff. And I heard it I was like, "Dude, that's sweet!" And then he played the CD and I'm like, "Dude, I'm in love with this band!" And then he showed me how to play it, and I ended up getting a guitar.
HH: Yeah, when you learn to play your first Metallica, it's like, "Wow! I did that!"
TA: Yeah yeah yeah! And it's GENIUS, man! I mean those guys were so young when they wrote that stuff, you know what I mean?
HH: It's amazing. They're such legends. Just anything... Now Battlecross is really, on the national scene kinda a new band. So like, any of my readers who may not know anything about you guys, in your own words what do you describe your music as. Like, genre or direction, stuff like that.
TA: I would say, I'd like to just keep it to 'we're metal'.
HH: Yeah.
TA: But, we're definitely really thrashy. So, thrash metal with a lot of elements of like death and power metal kind of stuff. There's a little bit of 'groove' in there. I really don't know how to describe ourselves just because I want to let other people to judge.
HH: To decide for themselves.
TA: Yeah. You know, whatever they want to stick us in, go for it. We have a lot of different influences. So I'm sure you could pick and whatever, whatever. This song sounds like this and this part sounds like that. So there's a nice mix.

HH: Ok, cool. And do you forsee if down the road if your sound may evolve in a certain direction? If you might do a little more of this or that? Or do you just like what you're doing right now?
TA: I think that we'll evolve in a way that I can't imagine. So I don't want to even speculate just because I want to let it happen.
HH: Okay, "Live in the moment". I definitely dig that. Okay, just a couple last questions to wrap it up. Do you have an all-time favorite band? Like a rock band, heavy metal band, or any other kind of band?
TA: It's going to be pretty obvious. Yeah, Metallica. Metallica and Pantera, yeah.
HH: Metallica and Pantera. Yeah, Okay.
TA: Yeah, for sure.
HH: Yeah man, I still miss Dimebag Darrell.
TA: Absolutely dude.
HH: It still seems like it just happened yesterday, losing him, but what a hero of metal that people have come to recognizing him.
TA: Absolutely, and when everything kinda went down, dude that was probably the most shocking day of my, you know of my... Well, I think I was like 16, no I was 20, and anyway, when that happened. But it also was an influence because it was, I just remember it so clearly, like "Holy shit, dude, this is fucked up."
HH: Yeah at that point you just take metal music so much more seriously.
TA: Yeah. And it's just like, "Who the fuck is gonna step up and play some shit. Some good 'ole shit that just, you know... It doesn't have to be the next fad. It doesn't have to be anything. It's just good-ole fuckin' metal." That's a really huge influence for us.
HH: Yeah, lead-guitar solos kinda almost disappeared there in the late '90s except for him.
TA: Totally dude.
HH: At least mainstream-wise.
TA: Yeah man, rest in peace, Dimebag!
HH: Yeah, Dimebag Darrell FOREVER!

HH: Do you have a favorite movie?
TA: Aliens.
HH: You like the Aliens movie?
TA: Aliens, the second one is the bomb-diggity
HH: Sweet, Okay. Sci-fi movies. How about a favorite book?
TA: Not really.
HH: Not much of a reader?
TA: Well I used to be but not so much anymore. I got scared out of that shit. I mean I'll read a line in a newspaper and shit like that.
HH: Okay, then. Cool. Well, Tony Asta from Battlecross, thanks for having a few minutes with, may name's Joel Beverley. I write It's called Heavy Metal 107 but the url is, so.
TA: Thanks, Joel!
HH: Thanks a lot!
TA: I appreciate it, brother. Yeah, man. Kick ass!