Frost and Fire III: Pre Party Review

Image may contain: text

Finally, finally, finally Frost and Fire is upon us this year. The third specifically but my first experience with this festival. As being excited since the literal day the line up was announced, I still had no idea what to expect. Hell, I had never been to California so that alone was going to be a big difference for me. But, with four days(well three and a half sort of) filled to the brim with classic Heavy Metal, how could you go wrong? Well as I arrived thursday afternoon, dealt with my hellish booked hotel rooms(damn debit cards only work when they want to) and did a bit of sight seeing, I was ready for the pre party to kick off such a monumental weekend.

Now, I have to say the location for this show for the scenery alone is amazing. With this part of Ventura literally cornered off by the big hills and palm trees galore, it really is just a nice change of scenery especially when you have to look at the city of Chicago all the time. However, I found the choice of Ventura Theatre for the pre show very strange. From walking in I right away sensed just how damn hot the place is and thats before bands even started! I also hated the no ins and outs rule which literally meant sweat city for me and a few other people. As the show started I kind of forgot about it a d focused more on the music and meeting up with some friends I rarely get to see. Glare the opening act was alright. They were definitely the most simplistic in approach doing a more cross over punk sort of style which I like but was nothing special just something I suppose to get the crowd pumped up. As I kind of backed off and sat down during Pounder, I enjoyed what they brought considering it was one of their first shows ever. It was at this point that flight fatigue really set in and I kind of had to perk myself up considering Ruthless I was actually excited to see. However, live today they don’t do it as much for me. Now I love their faster paced songs and they sounded great live but the more mid paced songs just felt a bit boring live. They are just one of the bands I found more enjoyable on record than live. Up next was Cage and originally was not very excited to see them. I just always felt like they were a band that sounded very cliche especially today. But live I actually enjoyed them…after the first few songs. It really took a few songs to get them going and me as well as a few others were pleasantly surprised that they had a stronger set than initally thought. However Sean Peck is one of the funniest front men for the wrong reasons. I dont know he just looks like an extra in the Matrix it always makes me laugh… Anyways! While the crowd cleared, I actually worked my way up front for Night Demon because well everyone knows that I love these guys even it is to the point of being an annoyance. But they were still the best band of the night because they just know how to bring it in a live show. Playing basically half of both albums with some the e.p sprinkled in  making for a very solid set as usually. I also enjoyed the Wasted Years cover as it got the whole crowd really riled up and even the bands watching on the side of the stage were a joy to watch. One of them got on the others shoulders and when lifted him, the guy tumbled onto stage, a totally hilarious moment. Personally I feel like this is where the show should have ended. Emphasis on the should have for this…

Now what can I say about Tyrant. I dig their early albums. Sort of cliche yes but still fun albums to listen to once and awhile. But watching them live oh my. Now a lot of people told me they were not good live but I decided I’d give them a chance. With a new singer, there has to be some redeeming qualities right. Well it wasnt the vocals that was the problem, it was just the whole sound of the band. The distortion on the guitars sounded so cheap and thin like the cheapest amplifiers imaginable. But they had real gear so I dont understand that at all. Also, they just seemed very uninterested onstage like they stood still most of the time except for their singer who I thoughts voice suited the band well. Unfortunately I felt his stage presence didn’t work with this style of music. If I could sum their performance up as a whole I would just say it was awkward and I’d like to just leave it at that.

I sat for about five songs and at that point I felt I had my fill for the evening. After hanging outside with the guys from Riot City for a bit I felt like it was time to hit it for the night as the real part of the fest was about to begin… The pre party wasn’t terrible by any means but it was more of a  night to catch up with some friends than to really indulge in the bands playing. While I enjoyed most of the bands, some of them I felt seeing once was enough. But groups like Pounder I would like to see again as well. Tune in soon for my coverage on the first official day of Frost and Fire!

Album Review: Night Demon- Darkness Remains

NIGHT-DEMON-Darkness-Remains-LP-CD-GREEN.jpg

“Darkness Remains” is the second full length album from traditional Heavy Metal trio Night Demon and was released on April 21st, 2017. Finally at long last Night Demon have graced us with another healthy serving of Heavy Metal after touring nearly endlessly on their 2015 album “Curse Of The Damned” and building up a reputation other bands wish they could have. This band has become one of if not my all time favorite heavy metal group in recent years so I have been quite curious as to how they would follow up their magnificent debut. Well let us enter the darkness and begin this epic heavy metal journey.

Track Rundown

1.Welcome To The Night- Opening with some very atmospheric double layered guitars and heavy background synths, the song really kicks into high gear right away with that classic sound the band is known by. However they seem to have homed in on their playing skills especially as they sound tighter than ever before here. New guitarist Armand John Anthony has a more heavy tone than Brent did in my opinion his tone just seems to cut through solos more. I really dig the vocal harmonies as well and Jarvis Leatherby’s voice has gotten stronger and stronger with each release as well. Overall this is how you do a fucking opening song, no bullshit just straight forward Metal.

2.Hallowed Ground- This song has some really heavy thrashy tempos to it and I really dig it with the more bass heavy production. The vocal harmonies dominate half of the verses and chorus lines and work very well creating some amazing hooks and a great song overall with one of my favorite solo’s on the album!

3.Maiden Hell- The band pay their tributes to Iron Maiden right up front with this tune having Maiden song titles in the lyrics and it is done very well with this fast and aggressive tune. This is a song that shows how good Night Demon are at writing catchy heavy metal tunes and why they deserve to run with the big dogs. Im telling you these guys will be legends one day and this tune proves that statement strongly!

4.Stranger In The Room- This tune has a more mid pace to it with the more doomy side of the band showing soaring vocals and the slower pace giving Armand more of a chance to get some tasty guitar bends in here and there. The chorus is very melodic and has a more modern presence to it but it works really well. The pace picks up during the last half of the song and shows how well the band can groove with what I believe yo be some organ in the background, definitely another highlight on the album!

5.Life On The Run- This tune has more of that classic NWOBHM influence to it and one thing I havent mentioned yet is how much I love the raw yet polished production on the album as a whole. The lack of double tracked guitars for solo’s etc. with the bass being front and center is done amazingly and doesn’t make the album feel empty at all, something a lot of bands cant accomplish. This song is a good example of that with the bass being very up front but not too overpowering or underwhelming. This song has a more frantic pace toward the end with some awesome solid galloping drum work from Dusty Squires who is a damn good drummer in his own right. This song has some cool suprises throughout and shows that the bands songwriting skills just get better and better.

6.Dawn Rider- Opening with some “Overkill” style oldschool double bass drums into a more chugging tune with epic verses spread into a hook filled chorus. This tune definitely has that mid 80’s Maiden feel to it akin to something off of Piece of Mind. This is definitely is going to be a fan favorite live(but up to this point so is every tune on the album).

7.Black Widow- This tune has a really epic feel right from the get go with an oldschool power metal vibe and goes right for the throat and has to be one the most aggressive and precise songs Night Demon have written up to this point. The chorus is one of the best on the album with the gang vocals that beg for audience participation. And I love how the pace just get faster when the solo kicks in it really gets you going like holy shit they just…keep…going…and its amazing.

8.On Your Own- I swear if I closed my eyes I would think this was an old Dio track that was cut from Last In Line or something like that. Things like that show how well Night Demon are at bringing that sound into the modern age. They show that Heavy Metal is still exciting and fun. I like the kind of interlude in the middle it shows that the band are adding little flairs and things like that to add to their songs progression. Even if they are minor they still show that band having their own distinctive sound.

9.Flight Of The Manticore- The very first Night Demon instrumental and holy shit it really shows off the bands talents and is a total jam. It definitely has a more progressive metal feel to it like Maiden mixed with Raven. The band are extremely tight here and I mean very tight. I also love the abundance of double bass drums as well more than ever before. The mid slower section where it becomes more atmospheric is great and again shows the more progressive side of the band. Every member gets a chance to showcase their talents in this song as well which is pretty badass as well.

10.Darkness Remains- This is the surprise track on the album and the reason being is that it is the softest and most atmospheric song on the album. With a soft guitar and Jarvis’ very foggy voice ominously in the background, it works very well as the more ballad-like song on the album with the band coming in fully soon after. This tune would be amazing live and is just a perfect song to end the album on as it is a complete surprise from the band with a lot of emotion and a very emotional solo from Armand as well. And with the synthesizers filling the speakers, the journey comes to a close….

Overall, I give this album a 9.5 out of 10. Honestly, Night Demon has managed to capture lightning in a bottle not once, but twice and this album is at this point their holy grail. With what the band managed to capture on their first album, they managed to capture here in a new darker and progressive way. They took the hooks, the riffs and the production and made it bigger but in a way that just shows how they do it live. “Darkness Remains” is without a doubt my album of the year and it wont be leaving my speakers for a long long time. If you ever have a chance check out the digital version of the album with a killer cover of Black Sabbath’s “Turn Up The Night” and a speed metal version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. May Night Demon forever reign and Jarvis, I owe you the next beer!

Show Review: Anvil, Night Demon and others at Reggies 04/08/17

17800046_1879806675622185_8245864730119829810_n

 

Ah it is definitely spring season, with the weather getting warmer I decided it is time to start getting out to more shows again and I was able to attend Anvil, Night Demon and a few others at The infamous Reggies Rock Club in Chicago. Now whenever you go to a show at reggies, it is always going to be a good time as they have been one of the key venues to bring a lot more traditional heavy metal back to the city. On the roster for the night we had the legendary canadian speed metal group Anvil supported by new traditional heavy metal band Night Demon with openers Graveshadow, hometown staple Scars of Armageddon and Comfort Scarcity.

 

Comfort Scarcity

The very first band of the night were a quartet that played almost a nineties grunge mixed with motley crue style of hard rock. The band were very energetic on stage but their music just wasn’t a huge impression on me. The only reason is because their style I can only consider just sub par hard rock that unfortunately didn’t have the magic for me to be super invested. The band were very professional in their skills but their music just seemed overall quite sub par.

Scars of Armageddon

I said before when I first saw these guys open for Riot V last year that they definitely had a very good thing going. The second time around however they seemed to be even more on fire. For some reason this time seeing the band felt like they were even more fine tuned than they were last year. These guys are one of those Chicago bands that if you don’t catch them then you are missing out on some serious talent.

Graveshadow

Graveshadow were the only group to feature a female member and were more on par with the sound Scars of Armageddon has. They have this european power metal/ melodic death metal thing going on that at first I couldn’t grasp. I’m not sure why I just couldn’t get into it, however after the fourth song I was beginning to get more accustom to their sound. The group overall had really good chops live and their showmanship was pretty good as well.

Night Demon

This was when the show really began to take off for me personally. I have waited since around 2014 when I first heard the “Night Demon” EP to see these guys. As much of a fan of the whole New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal scene I am, Night Demon were always my favorite because they handle their whole image and sound so professionally . However, as fate would have it, I would miss them the last few runs to the states so this show was a long time coming. Opening with”Welcome To The Night” off their new upcoming album “Darkness Remains”, the band were in fine form sounding so fucking powerful. The band played songs from their ep, first album “Curse of The Damned” and two new tracks off the upcoming record.  They even brought their mascot “Rocky” out during “The Chalice” which was very cool and worked with the whole vibe the band had going. This band I cannot stress enough, you have to see them live. Even if you arent a huge old school metal fan, this band will still kick your ass over and over again.

Anvil

Finally headliners Anvil took the stage. These guys are another band that has eluded me since 2009 around when “Anvil! The Story Of Anvil” hit. Finally as the lights dipped, Lips came out and walked into the crowd for the epic “March of The Crabs” before jumping back on stage to blast right through “666” off the classic and highly influential “Metal on Metal” album. Lips even dedicated a few songs to chuck berry and lemmy which was awesome as well. The two highlights during their set was Lips’ crazy vibrator solo(yes it is as ridiculous and awesome as it sounds) and legendary drummer Robb Reiner’s drum solo during “Swing Thing”. Anvil’s new bassist who is probably one of the most cartoonish looking musicians i’ve ever seen really shined as well like holy shit he had to have been one of the tightest bass players i’ve heard live. The band although never being hailed as super technical were just super fun to watch live. Anvil is another one of the oldschool acts that deserves to stick around for awhile because they are one of those bands that remind us to have fun with the music.

 

Overall, the show was pretty well worth it. While it started off quite slow, it picked up more and more through the night. Night Demon were probably the biggest highlight for me with Anvil obviously following close by. It was a good night of oldschool heavy metal fun.

 

The New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal

The New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal:  The underground sensation today

When most people in 2017 hear the words heavy metal, they usually think of either Metallica, the bands in the mid 1980’s that wore way too much make up or the bands of this generation such as Disturbed, Lamb of God or Five Finger Death Punch. Some even say that the original sounds from heavy metal that really helped it become a genre are gone. I mean the styles that the early speed metal, thrash metal and of course traditional heavy metal bands played. The denim and leather “true” heavy metal style seems to be absent in the world to at least most heavy metal fans today. However, in the past roughly ten to fifteen years, the underground has been literally exploding with bands that play this style and very faithfully as well. This scene has been known as “The New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal”.Now what exactly did this movement consist of? Well exactly what it sounds like. It is essentially a bunch of bands that play a style of heavy metal that was originally popular in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Within this article I hope to show everyone that the underground is very much alive showing some of the bands that essentially were here when it began to kick back off as well as groups emerging today that I will spotlight.

       One of the first NWOTHM bands I had ever heard of was Canada’s Cauldron. Their 2009 debut album “Chained to the Nite” really showed the 80’s power trio sound similar to groups like Raven and the nasally vocal works akin to groups such as legends Angel Witch. This album was released in the early development of the movement but was a good debut for the Canadian group who have been on an upswing and released “In Ruin” in 2016.

 

Another group that came out around the same time was Swedish speed metallers Enforcer who released their debut “Into The Night” in 2008. Enforcers style belongs more along the lines of Judas Priest or even the brash style of Exciter. Their most recent studio album “From Beyond” was released in 2015 and could be considered one of their best albums since forming

 

Possibly one of the most prominent NWOTHM groups that have surfaced in more recent years is California’s Night Demon. Their sound really sits at the core of the New Wave of British Heavy with bands like Jaguar and Diamond Head. Specifically their lead singer and bass player Jarvis Leatherby has made himself a prominent figure in this movement as a big promoter of traditional heavy metal bands new and old. He has also played bass with Cirith Ungol and provided vocals for Jaguar in some circumstances as well. Night Demon’s debut album “Curse of The Damned” released in 2015 I consider to be one of the finest albums and possibly most popular out of this underground movement and has seen them on tour with some high profile groups such as Raven and even opening for Anvil this spring as well. The band is also set to release their second album entitled “Darkness Remains” in April 2017.

 

 

Another one that popped onto my radar was Chicago’s very own Shokker. Although they never personally identified with the NWOTHM label, I can’t nail their sound to anything other than fist pumping heavy metal. They could have easily come out in 1984 and would have been a hit. Led by powerful vocalist Rachl Quinn, The band plays a mix of NWOBHM based heavy metal and a very powerful hard rock sound popularized by groups such as Y&T and Krokus. They released their self titled EP back in 2015 and a debut album is soon to follow, keep em on your radar they kick ass. The group is also currently working on a full length album as well.

Another group that popped up on my radar this year is Carriage out of Portsmouth, Virginia. Carriage have a mix of Horror film themes and early cult speed metal sounds from the likes of King Diamond/Mercyful Fate and Exciter.Their vocalist Robbie Rainey told Glistening Metal  “There is something about it that speaks to me at the core of who I am and I enjoy writing this kind of music more because it feels just like it sounds, like there are no boundaries and it’s somehow more honest. It’s not a genre that feels restricting yet it’s still distinct enough to stand apart.” The band are currently out on the Divebomb records “Masters of Metal Vol. 2” compilation and are working toward some bigger plans later this year. They are definitely one to watch out for. You can hear their music in the link below.

https://carriagemetal.bandcamp.com/track/drink-the-blood

 

 

So overall we have only a slight incite of this massive movement known as the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal and is only going to grow from here. Other groups that I would like to recommend include Detroit’s Demon Bitch, Seven Sisters from the UK and even another Chicago group entitled High Spirits. These groups are the real future to Heavy Metal and even though they are shy of the public eye, they prove that the underground will never die and will thrive on. So go out and support the NWOTHM!

Interview with Jarvis Leatherby on the new Night Demon album and more!

 

night-demon

Perhaps my most anticipated release of the year! Traditional heavy metal trio Night Demon are due to release their second album entitled “Darkness Remains” on April 21st. This album will follow their amazing 2015 debut “Curse Of The Damned” and ever since I have been clamoring to hear more from them. So mark your calendars because Night Demon are freaking back! I was able to catch up with main man Jarvis Leatherby for a quick phone interview as well.

Hey Jarvis, sorry if i caught you at a hectic time.

No dude it’s always hectic don’t worry about we just we had the South American tour now we just have two days off before we begin the Anvil tour so Im on a train right now you caught me at a good time.

So first things first we have the new Night Demon album entitled “Darkness Remains” coming out in just under two months, what can we expect from the new album that maybe we didn’t hear on “Curse of the Damned”?

Well I definitely think its a progression I mean ill even use that term progression it really is from the last record I mean it isn’t Dream Theater or anything it is still Night Demon. You can expect reasonable length songs I mean it is a 38 minute length record and their are some fast moments and I don’t want to give away too much but there are some dynamics to the record, not everything is a million miles per hour. It isn’t a huge departure from what we do but it is a next step for the band I hope people enjoy it. I think the production is the best we have had but we have also stripped down a lot of stuff like I think of Van Halen 1 where there are no rhythm tracks under any of the solos. So yeah the introduction is probably the best we’ve had to date and is closer to how the band sounds live.

Was the writing/recording process any different than it was  on “Curse of the Damned”?

Yeah it was different in a way in that me, Brent and Dusty starting writing the songs before Brent departed so when Armant came in he added some stuff but alot of the basic stuff was written but if you look at the history of the band in the past few years we have been constantly on the road so it has been harder to just sit at home or go into a studio for a month and make a record so what we would do was go into the studio when we would have a week off and just would see what would happen.Also we didn’t want to come out with the album right away I mean Curse Of The Damned has been doing great coming out to raving reviews and stuff like that and we wanted to keep traveling all the world on that record and its kind that thing where you want to put things out as regularly as you can but we are kind of on an every two year schedule and wanted to build up our reputation as well. I look at it as you can be a band that puts out five great releases before the world even knows who you are you know? I mean you have this great back catalog of songs but you want to play them live and i  think thats another good reason for us having shorter songs because we can play more of them, I mean I love Iron Maiden They’re my favorite band and I’ll go watch a two hour Maiden show for thirteen songs. We learn from them but we don’t over saturate things we kind of just get in and get out instead of having six minute songs that can sometimes repeat themselves. There is also that thing where we feel you have that moment where you hear that really cool part in a song and you want to hear it again and again but if we ever find ourselves in a position where we feel we can write a Rime of the Ancient Mariner or something like that we’ll do it. However, we don’t want to make it too formulaic or anything because the world has a short attention span as I do as well and I don’t tend to listen to a super lengthy song all the way through at least not right away because sometimes they fall into that repetitiveness.

 

Having new guitarist Armond Anthony come in between albums and a hectic touring schedule must have been a bit difficult as well.

It was a bit but thankfully I mean he had been around for awhile so it wasn’t like we just dropped someone in he already knew the songs and helped alot and we both had been in various bands throughout the years and it has already been a year so it has been working pretty well.

 

Between the crazy tours, albums and everything else how did you manage to get something such as the Frost and Fire Festival off the ground?

Yeah you know it is just constant work all day long, day in and day out you just need to give everything the right amount of time and there are no breaks with it. People always ask me at the festival about what my stress level is like and I’m like im having a great time and im performing on it too and they are like how and you just have to work on it every single day and the festival is all done booked and ready to go I mean the great John Wooden once said “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and you know shit will happen and you just have to get though it its part of the game and you have to show the characteristics of being unstoppable. We also had the idea to create a festival that is perfect for this type of music as well.  We do this for a living and its basically our day job and you just have to keep ahead and putting the work into it. It is hard but everything we do is out of a labor of love and we just go out there and do it the best we can.

 

 

 

And for one final question, does Night Demon plan to do a full Headlining North American tour within the next year or so?

Yes I think we do however I don’t think we will be able to until at least 2018. We have the week after the Anvil tour,the album comes out so we will be playing a few new tracks and the new video will be premiering next week so there will be some new music very soon and  some new stuff coming and then after the Anvil tour we are heading to Europe til mid June and then a few festivals back in america and then back to Europe for a few festivals over there. We have been offered a support tour later this year however I can’t really say anything about it yet since I am not sure if we’ll be able to do it. We then have the Frost and Fire fest and then whatever after that is up in the air. I could see another support tour in the states before the year ends. Then hopefully maybe spring or earlier next year we should be doing a full on North American tour and I mean full on. Just the way everything’s been working out with Europe and everything to broaden our audiences we just have to take some of these chances but expect us in the US very soon.

Thanks for taking the time Jarvis, good luck with the next tour and album, very excited for everything you guys have going. Safe travels.

Thankyou very much Justin, thankyou for all the support, I’ll catch you later.

 

Preorder Night Demon’s new album entitled “Darkness Remains” here: https://www.indiemerchstore.com/item/44590

 

Note* This was a recorded conversation so I did edit it a bit however I will have the full recorded conversation full length available very soon.