MELTDOWN IN MINNESOTA!!!!
Minneapolis Mayhem II – 2005
May 6th and 7th, 2005
Article by MetalGeorge
Roadtrips: you either love them or you hate them. Sure, the idea of hitting the road for a couple of hours with some of your best buds sounds like a grand ol? time, but when the ride is a 25 hour plus journey, it can try even the most cordial of friendships. In this case, it was my band, The Accursed, and I making our inaugural drive down to Jackson Heights, Minnesota (a suburb), for the second installment of the Minneapolis Mayhem festival.
It just so happens to turn out that Minnesota has a surprisingly thriving underground scene, as evidenced by the number of denim and leather clad freaks which crawled their way out of the woodwork into the Star Central club for this show. Sodom?s cancellation at the last minute, and the fact that Brave Words Six Pack Festival was being held the same weekend did make for more of a sparse attendance rate than I was hoping for, but it was clear to these eyes that all who DID attend were die hard metallers to the bone.
This true blue underground spirit was also evident within the line up for both days. Featuring a crop of both new school (such as the modern thrashers in Germany?s Dew Scented, and the States? own Estuary) and old school (legends such as Hirax, Sadus) talent, there was most definitely a feeling of brutal underground camaraderie between both fans and bands all weekend.
?Brutal? also describes the vibe of Michigan metallers Sauron, who came across as a frothy Frost/Sodom milkshake, and who?s old school Black/Death was fast, furious, and to the point. While not possessing much in the way of stage presence, the head and fist-banging crowd didn?t seem to mind one bit, the lot of us thrashing our brains out, especially when the three piece busted out a classic Sodom cover in the form of ?Blasphemer? (off the band?s debut ep, IN THE SIGN OF EVIL). Hey, Sodom may not have played this weekend, but Sauron made sure they were here in spirit.
Columbia?s Underthreat were somewhat of a disappointment, however, their speedy deathrash never really cutting above a muddy soundboard mix. Once the sound cleared up, things did improve a bit, but not really enough to elevate Underthreat as a standout band of the weekend. Solid drumming and lead guitar work kept me from dozing off, but an under developed sense of songwriting and a lack of memorable melodies really kept the band at arms length from a lot of metal fans, methinks.
The venue itself possessed a warm and spacious atmosphere, with plenty of chairs and room to chit-chat, whilst browsing through the number of distro tables which were set up in attendance. Add to this a friendly bar staff, reasonably priced beer and food, and a large video screen displaying metal video clips in between band sets, and you had a pretty damn cool place to spend yer metal weekend, if I do say so myself.
Local Deathcore act Necromis were ?just ok? to this reviewer. Combining the sludgy brutality of USDM with a riffy hardcore sensibility, the band?s approach tended to go in one ear and out the other of most of the crowd, with the lion?s share of the band?s set going down as more than a little boring.
On the opposing end of the spectrum was Vegas? own thrash metal sons, Post Mortom. Don?t let the misspelled moniker lead you astray, these newcomers are no joke. Displaying a tight grip on 80s styled Bay Area Thrash, the Mortom? boys kicked out their own unique take on this classic American metal genre. The riffs of Sall Lalli and Jared Lucero bounced from high speed dirt to moshy, mid tempo breaks with relative ease, all the while bringing back fond memories of when bands like Wargasm and Overkill ruled the roost. By far one of the better bands of the weekend, be sure to check out their MySpace page!!
Making the trek from the OTHER side of the country were West Coasters (California, to be exact) Winterthrall. Being one of the only Black Metal-styled acts playing all weekend, I was both excited and curious to see these guys (and girl) had to offer. Well, I wasn?t disappointed.
Delivering an atmospheric and technical amalgamation of both Death and Black Metal, Winterthrall were an enjoyable change of pace from the abundance of brutal death and thrash which comprised most of the weekend.
Guitarist Elizabeth Schrall both stands out from and stands alongside her metal brothers as an axewoman of note, delivering cold guitar riffs a plenty alongside her partner in crime Steve Nelson, whose vocal presence was also suitably grim. Rounding out the band, the rhythm section of drummer Rob Alaniz and bassist Ruben Lugo held it down, especially during the band?s closing cover of the Carcass classic, ?Death Certificate?. All in all, fairly impressive.
I won?t bore you to tears here with any details about my own set in The Accursed. Let?s just say that we had a great time, and cheers for everyone who caught our us!!
Ahem, moving on?The Chasm were simply awe-inspiring to catch live. Showing all of us how it used to be done, the end results were, succinctly put, FUCKING KILLER. With a crystal clear sound that combined all of the majesty of the band?s newest Earache long player, THE SPELL OF RETRIBUTION, yet all of the fury that comes with a live assault, The Chasm were the equivalent of a sonic beating on this night.
Fearsomely tight and frightening, the band put on an amazing live performance, with enough stage presence to utterly DOMIANTE the room. The crowd was left screaming for more, The Chasm holding us completely in their thrall. The Chasm were one of the weekend?s highlights, for sure.
Also a highlight was Michigan?s own Summon, whose set supporting their newest lp FALLEN was an exercise in brutality.
With a sick dual vocal presence, and a drum performance which could only be described as CRAZY, it?s no wonder that these Black/Death minions have such a reputation as being a great live act. After witnessing the assault in full force, I can definitely attest to this as being extremely well earned. Musically tight and confident, Summon showed all that USBM is alive and well.
– The Chasm –
– Summon –
Avenger of Blood
By all accounts, I should love California?s Avenger of Blood. They possess all of the right influences (German Thrash) and all look the part of a ?MetalGeorge-type band? perfectly (i.e leather, spikes, and chains)?so why was I ready to tear my face off during the band?s set? Well, perhaps it had something to do with the screaming headache I had at this point, but beyond that, I just didn?t feel that Avenger of Blood held anything all that impressive to offer.
The crowd?s opinion seemed to differ, however, as the band were welcomed as conquering kings to the stage. For such an unestablished band (formed in 2003), I found it curious that this band was billed so high (over The Chasm, no less!), yet they did possess a high energy stage presence which belied their relative inexperience. While there was nothing glaringly exciting about Avenger of Blood?s one-riff songs, the end result was some undeniably enjoyable old school thrash. I just feel this band is still sort of an opening act at this point. Time will tell, however?
Ok, so Sadus may have been billed as the weekend?s headliners, but in my humble opinion, that honor would have to go to the L.A?s (nee San Francisco) crossover legends, the mighty Hirax! To be honest, I had completely forgotten how vital and kick ass Hirax could be, especially given the lackluster opinion I had of the band?s ?comeback? release, THE NEW AGE OF TERROR. All of these thoughts went completely out the window as the maniac energy of the band engulfed all at the Star Central.
Frontman Katon W. DePena is a certifiable metal legend, yet you wouldn?t even know it by how humble and appreciative the man was. Almost every other sentence out of his mouth was either a ?thank you? or a ?shout out? to someone, bands, fans, and crew included. Musically the band tended to stick to a lot of the classics, although even the newer songs, which I really had not given much time to earlier, sounded just as powerful within the live context.
The band played fast and furious-with bassist Angelo Espino even jumping in the crowd for a little high-five action-and totally owned the crowd. DePena-still one of the most charismatic frontmen in metal-showed everyone that his powerful falsetto pipes hadn?t rusted in the least, all the while making me forget that Sadus was even on the bill. Indeed, Hirax most definitely stole the show on this night, particularly when they launched into the perennial crossover classic (and personal favorite of mine), the immortal ?Bombs of Death?.
Sure, there was no Sodom?.but this did just fine for me.
I?m not quite sure how Sadus felt they were going to follow that little bit o? madness up, but they tried their best. While I felt they didn?t personally succeed, I?ve also never been a huge fan. Objectively, I will say that the reunited underground favorites held their own, and were a whirlwind of technical thrash fury. Bass legend Steve Digiorgio simply made my eyes pop out of my head with his prowess, especially during his extensive solo period.
Though the band did take a misstep during their repeated attempts to nail one of their new songs live, when they finally did get through all of it, the end result was more than a little bit impressive. Let me just say that all old school Sadus fans should be more than satisfied with what they have coming to them.
While I do think Darren Travis? guitar took a little bit too much of a backseat sonically to Digiorgio?s bass sound, both they and drummer Jon Allen locked into an impressive groove together. It was during moments like this where Sadus? true worth as a BAND shone over their individual talents. Overall, while not quite as energetically impressive as Hirax, I can safely say that I was very impressed with how righteous Sadus came across. A big THUMBS DOWN for not letting any photographers take pictures, though, guys. Shame on you?
So there you have it, a brief summary of what went down in Minnesota one Spring weekend. While I would have loved to have seen more people there, I think that this is still a young festival, and with any luck, we will see an even bigger lineup/turnout next year.
Over and out!!—metalgeorge/metal-rules.com