I write articles about metal because I love the music but I want to do more than tell you about a band or a style, my intention is to hook you on the music. Metal is like a drug you just can’t get enough of and I want to share my addiction. I grew up with metal as my landscape and it sickens me to see how many of my ‘old’ friends actually threw the horns down and turned their backs on the music that put us where we are. When the scene died down so did the metal flame in their hearts, I think it’s a shame.
I’m the first to admit my love for metal has waned on occasion, I had kids to raise, jobs to take and money to make but I always keep an eye on the scene and eventually things started to come full circle.
It happened about five years ago, just a few months before Headbangers Ball finally died on MTV. While watching commercial advertisements for new artists between videos, I noticed these hungry new metal acts looking to make a name, their music grounded by the ‘old school’ bands who ruled the scene more than a decade before. It perked my interest. My favorite music looked like it was finally crawling back out from under the rock. It took three straight weeks of watching Headbangers Ball episodes before I finally accepted it. Eventually I went out and bought some new music, then realized it was time to get out and support.
I’ve attended hundreds of shows in my life, I’ve seen styles and genera evolve and crumble but I’ve recently experienced rebirth. I know it’s true because I just put my metal hypothesis to the test when I attended three concerts, spanning three metal genera, in less than a week! Not only can I confirm that metal is alive and growing but the old styles are coming back and those who originally supported it have finally decided to come along with it.
My stories are true, take from them what you will, but remember it is up to you to keep the scene in your own town alive, get out and support metal!
METAL WEEK OF THE GODS – PART 1
THE BEST IN BRUTALITY TOUR: BROKEN HOPE, OCEANO, RIVERS OF NIHIL, KUBLAI KHAN, KNIFED AT GUNPOINT
Friday, April 4th 2014 – Mojoe’s, Joliet, IL
We are born without responsibility but as time passes, the expectations increase. I remember the days when I could jump in my car on a whim and head down town to see M.O.D. (Method of Destruction) open for Exodus or even Death open for the mighty Dark Angel. I had no one to answer to and could roam the streets as I pleased. Things are much different today with a family and more obligations than I can count.
As my loyal readers know, the metal gods fucked me over big time last year, an Iron Maiden albatross filled with impossibilities, erroneous miscues and bad luck scenarios plagued my concert season last year. I eventually wrote myself back into the gods’ graces and swore to overcome all obstacles in order to keep my metal dream alive so when my six year old daughter woke me up at 4:30 in the morning with a stomach ache I knew the metal gods planned on testing me. What did I do to deserve this? Only Ronnie James Dio knew but if there was a rainbow out there I was determined to find it. Thinking fast, I called myself in sick to work and set the clock back a couple hours, nothing was gonna fuck up this day.
Later that afternoon I set off with my wife for Roger’s sister’s Tracy’s house near Mojoe’s a couple hours before my scheduled, but yet to be confirmed, interview with death metal legends Broken Hope. My plan was simple. I was going to drop my wife off at Tracy’s, where they had plans of their own. Dom, MetalRecusants founder, was going to meet us there.
Shortly after I left, the shit hit the proverbial fan. My wife and I ran into some major traffic so we stopped off to get a bite to eat, I was approximately thirty minutes from the venue. I ordered my food and thumbed through my Facebook feed where I saw a picture of Dom at the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears tower, the picture had been posted only moments before. It was almost 2 o’clock in the afternoon and it was opening day for the Cubs. Dom isn’t from Chicago, so he couldn’t possibly know he’d be lucky to make it from downtown Chicago to Joliet by 6 pm. I texted my concerns but I knew it wouldn’t make a difference. The Metal Gods weren’t through with me yet. I finished my meal and forged a new plan of attack, I knew I’d probably be doing the interview alone so I dropped off my wife, picked up Roger and headed straight for the venue because of the band’s time restraints.
Unfortunately, as we arrived at Mojoe’s I received a text from Brandon, Broken Hope’s tour manager, saying the interview with Jeremy Wagner wasn’t going to happen. The founding guitarist was feeling a bit under the weather. I texted my regards then grabbed a beer at a local bar just up the street from the venue. The metal gods had foiled me again.
Mojoe’s wasn’t open yet so we headed back to Tracy’s to drink a couple of beers while we waited for Dom to arrive. Little did we know Dom’s phone had died and he only had directions to the venue. He made it to Mojoe’s and charged his cell phone. When I received his text to meet him at the concert, the show had already begun.
On the way to Mojoe’s for the second time in two hours I decided, fuck the metal gods! I wasn’t going to let my metal misfortunes get me down, I walked into the venue like a man on a mission.
There were multiple supporting bands on this tour but the ones that really caught my attention were death metalers Rivers of Nihil and a local act out of Joliet, IL called Knifed at Gunpoint.
I walked in during Knifed at Gunpoint’s set. These guys have a lot of energy. Vocalist Matt Allison was jumping all over the stage. His performance alone was enough to get the arriving crowd of onlookers juiced.
Knifed at Gunpoint plays a hybrid version of technical death metal but their sound, specifically the technical guitar work, occasionally got lost in the live sound the band generated. I’m sure this isn’t any fault of the group but rather the audio and/or poor acoustics of a half-filled venue. I’ve only been to Mojoe’s once before to see Dark Funeral, Grave and Morbid Angel (read that review here), there was a different speaker set up that time but we still had trouble identifying some tracks – I ran into similar audio issues when Broken Hope hit the stage later that night.
I almost hate myself for saying this but death metal’s live sound always goes over better when turned down a notch; if it’s too loud, especially with core-driven technical bands, the distortion overpowers everything. Wanting to give Knifed at Gunpoint the benefit of doubt I watched the “Shovel Meats Throat” video the next day, the band sounds brutal and I hope to catch their live set again.
Rivers of Nihil are a death metal outfit from Reading, Pennsylvania and they show a lot of promise. The group is relatively new to the scene with just one studio release under their belt, The Conscious Seed of Light, just released in 2013.
Vocalist Jake Dieffenbach’s stage presence and live delivery was surprisingly good, the guy definitely puts a modern flavor to his assault but it fits well within this style. I was a bit surprised a group this technical didn’t offer more guitar solos but you really didn’t miss it if you had your attention on bassist Adam Biggs, this guy is a standout musician. I’ve seen plenty of bassists in my time including Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris multiple times, Geddy Lee in Rush’s heyday and the great Cliff Burton of Metallica just before his death. Now, I know those are some lofty names but Adam Biggs should be recognized for his talent. If you have a chance to see this band live, take it. Rivers of Nihil are playing Mojoe’s again June 4th as part of the Winter Kills tour featuring Devildriver and Whitechapel.
Broken Hope was easily the highlight of the evening. An extreme metal legend in the Chicago music scene, they’re a band I’ve followed for years and always wanted to experience live. I thought my dream would never happen but then it was announced that a revamped version of Broken Hope had been formed and the end result was the highly acclaimed comeback album, Omen of Disease.
Omen of Disease is a great release because it blends today’s extreme style, think Misery Index or Slaughterbox with Broken Hope’s menacing riffs. I was curious what they would play off the new release and how this new material would go over with the hometown crowd.
I am proud to say Broken Hope was up to the challenge. They punished the crowd with a well-crafted offering of the classics and the new. Founder/guitarist Jeremy Wagner pulled no punches thrashing into a maniacal fury on stage. His love for the extreme was contagious resulting in numerous mosh pits.
New vocalist Damian ‘Tom’ Leski from Gorgasm fame pulled off all the classic songs. Although, his voice isn’t quite as low as legendary Broken Hope vocalist Joe Ptacek, he gave a respectable performance. The guy has ‘slasher film’ stage appeal which makes him one of the premier vocalists in extreme music.
Although the music was occasionally hard to understand, the bands made up for this by increasing the intensity level. The raging bands definitely got the crowd excited and I think we all attempted to match their intensity level. It was another satisfying extreme metal experience at Mojoe’s! Sure, the metal gods threw me for a loop but I managed to catch all the bands and survived to tell the tale. \m/
On a final note I recently read that ‘The Best in Brutality’ tour had come to an abrupt end after the show I attended. Transportation issues apparently sent Fallujah home early, they never made the Mojoe’s show, and Oceano couldn’t cross the border into Canada and was forced off the tour. As a result, Broken Hope issued the following statement:
“The Best In Brutality Tour has come to a premature end. MoJoe’s in #JOLIET will be our final tour date. To our friends & fans: please know that Broken Hope did NOT cancel this tour…this was a business decision by the BIB tour organizers who’ve had to deal with numerous problems.
Broken Hope will be back on a proper tour and we will also appear at the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest as promised! Thanks to everyone who attended our concerts!”
Hopefully everyone involved on this tour left on good terms.