Sunday, October 11, 2015
KnightOwl, Thunderforge, Sonic Pulse, Dainsleif, and Forevers' Fallen Grace @ The Wreck Room Oct. 10, 2015
I've never done this before, but I went to a show completely blind - I didn't know a damn thing about any of the bands before going. From the names and logos, it seemed like they all leaned towards traditional or power metal genres - and I'm extremely picky about clean vocals. Although my musical tastes are generally elsewhere in metal, I'm really glad I went.
The atmosphere was noticeably friendly. Everyone seemed to know each other: lots of hugging, audience members singing along with lyrics, and there was even a dragon puppet bandied about (yeah you read that right). The Wreck Room venue was essentially a cleared out billiards side-area with a bar, which was also part of a pizza shop. Pretty ideal and stereotypical metal setup, but the overall sound is good, tons of accent lighting, and the projector screen behind the bands was a nice touch and it was mostly used as a massive banner.
This four-piece band has a nice power metal setup where the guitar player and singer/keyboardist happen to have voices that harmonize quite well together. Not to diminish the drum and bass work, but the trade off between guitar and keyboard leads and the vocal harmonies are really KnightOwl's strong point. Despite the florid keyboard work, I never really got a European "flower metal" kind of vibe from the band because they kept a hard edge to their sound. This was in no small part due to the rhythm section. You could tell that the lead guitar player was extremely into playing the music, because with every note he struck on the guitar he acted like a dozen of puppies were crawling all over him.
Before any of the bands had started, some metal was being played via Youtube over the PA system. As Thunderforge then started to take the stage I heard some amazingly wide vibrato operatic vocals and figured some background music was still playing and thought "wow I really really need to see what band that is because it sounds like Bruce Dickinson and Luciano Pavarotti had a son." Then I saw that it was Adam Morini of Thunderforge (who looks like Christopher Maloni of Law and Order: SVU fame). Holy shit does this guy have some serious pipes! Here's the thing though with Thunderforge: every single band member in the five-piece is an exceptional musician. I could write on for quite a bit about the minutia of the band's excellent songwriting, but it's sufficient to say it was incredible. These guys also know how to put on a hell of a live show - playfully slapping/biting at each other while playing, crawling through the wild audience, and pin-balling around the stage like particles of uranium. I wouldn't be surprised to see a big label sign these guys, the bandcamp link doesn't do their sound justice - they're even better.
When I saw the drummer wearing a beer helmet with the word "party" written on it, it was pretty safe to assume Sonic Pulse were a party-thrash band, and they even introduced themselves as such. These guys have a rough and tumble approach to thrash and sound a bit on the dirty side. The music seemed almost a bit too fast for the band and kind of a messy wash of guitar solos at times. I thought it may have been a stylistic choice since these guys could obviously play their stuff, but when they covered Hanger 18 you could tell for sure that they were off a bit. Not a bad band by any means, but their live performance could definitely be tightened up compared to how their recordings sound (much more progressive than they came across live). I'd recommend them for fans of Municipal Waste and party type lyrics, hell, I'm pretty sure they did a metal cover of the Adventure Time show theme during their set.
First off, you've got to appreciate the dedication of a folk metal band that plays their set in viking attire. I'm not talking burlap sacks either, these guys looked the part and their leather shoes looked really comfortable. Their sound was pretty much what you'd expect from a viking themed folk metal band. They used a laptop to provide some backing sounds and intro sections - and it worked pretty well, though you have to imagine a keyboard player would be a useful addition to their lineup. I also appreciated how they powered through some feedback as the sound guy had walked off. I've seen bands awkwardly stop in that kind of situation, and playing through is more professional and less awkward for the audience. I'd compare them to the more upbeat folk metal stuff like Korpiklaani and Eluveitie, but this style isn't really my thing, so those may be questionable comparisons.
Forevers' Fallen Grace
Closing out the night, Forevers' Fallen Grace had an energetic set that included covers from Mercyful Fate and Iron Maiden. I mention these covers first because it gives a good sense of the band's overall sound. It was really refreshing how vocalist Mike Ferro knew exactly where his range was and didn't try to force out anything really high pitched despite the glaringly obvious King Diamond influences in his approach. The guitar players traded off leads and harmonized really organically with top notch precision over a strong rhythm, so I wasn't surprised to later read that the band formed in 1999 - the experience shows. Also, I'm pretty sure that the band's drummer Jim Norris had the biggest kit of the night boasting a dozen cymbals that he definitely made good use of. A strong act worth following if you dig the vocal style.