I think the biggest thing that separates metal from other types of music is the people. The solidarity we enjoy as fans puts us in a class that understands the words loyalty and support. The underground is really about people; bands keep the music alive while small venues and promoters keep ‘the scene’ itself going. Without a ‘scene’ metal can’t grow, sharing and camaraderie are as important as the music itself and let’s be honest FREAKS! Metal is social music for the anti-social.
Our music isn’t mainstream (at least not yet), it won’t be played on the radio, there is little media attention so we have to support it ourselves. The logic is simple; if you want something to grow then you’ve got to plant the seed, interest spreads with numbers, it’s time to get the metal to the masses.
I’ve noticed a trend recently in the US, small multi-day events – reminiscent of the big European metal fests – have been popping up and are gaining in momentum. These fests are a great way to bring metalheads together and expose them to new music.
My favorite of these US fests is Ragnarökkr Metal Apocalypse, held yearly at Reggie’s Rock Club and Music Joint (2105 South State Street – Chicago IL) The fest, active since 2011, is a two day event featuring multi-bands, multi-stages and vendor/dealer booths. It is a metal scene within itself. I attended Ragnarökkr 2014 back on April 5th (read my review here), I can’t wait for 2015!
Below you will find the current lineup for next year’s event, which we will continue to update as information comes in.
Warlord (Headliner) – A heavy/power metal outfit from Los Angeles California. The group has been around since 1980 but has just recently resurrected their recording career with The Holy Empire (2013), their first new offering since Rising out of the Ashes (2002).
Attacker – A power metal group from Weehawken, New Jersey. They’ve been active since 1983 and have five full-length albums under their belt. Best known for their 1985 release, Battle at Helm’s Deep. New vocalist Bobby ‘Leather Lungs’ Lucas is reminiscent of an enraged Bruce Dickinson and will definitely turn heads.
Dantesco – A doom metal/epic heavy metal band from the mountainous region of Cayey, Puerto Rico, the group has been active since 2003 and has four full-length releases, the most recent being We Don’t Fear Your God (2013). Their sound has been described as a cross between Mercyful Fate and Candlemass.
Zuul – A heavy metal band from Carbondale, Illinois. They have two full-length releases, Out of Time (2010) and To the Frontlines (2012). Drawing comparisons to a modern Thin Lizzy, Zuul plays a classic metal style that is sorely missed in today’s music scene.
Skelator – A speed/power metal band from Seattle, Washington (San Diego, California previously). Formed in 1998, the band incorporates fantasy elements to produce a spellbinding form of metal that could have been easily produced during power metal’s heyday.
Salem’s Wych – A heavy metal act from Bridgman, Michigan, with only one release under their belts, Betrayer of Kings (1986). Since then the band has been shrouded in mystery. A website was launched with new material in the early 2000s but has since been pulled.
Aftermath – The Chicago legends will be re-uniting for the 2015 show. A technical/progressive thrash metal unit in the vein of Anacrusis, Realm or Mekong Delta, Afermath’s style of metal features odd time changes and jazz influences. The group released only one full-length album, Eyes of Tomorrow (1994), then changed their name (and musical style) to Mother God Moviestar after loosing a court case to rapper Dr. Dre over the Aftermath name.
Eternal Champion – An epic heavy metal act from Austin, Texas, they’ve been active since 2012 and have just one demo release, The Last King of Pictdom, under their belt. Eternal Champion draws from the writings of well-known British fantasy author, Michael Moorcock. Prepare for an epic fist pumping jam.
Walpyrgus – A heavy metal group hailing from North Carolina/Virginia. The group is comprised of veteran musicians but relatively new to the scene. I wasn’t able to dig up much about them aside from some YouTube videos, two of which featured covers by Denmark legends Witch Cross and Mercyful Fate, needless to say this act looks promising. They have an EP coming out over the summer on No Remorse Records.
Hessian – A heavy metal act from Portland, Maine. Active since 2009, Hessian has a hard rock/70s metal vibe and incorporates a lot of dual vocals, sung by guitarists Salli Wason and Angus McFarland; their appreciation of classic metal roots is appealing. They were Fenriz’ “Band of the Week”, so make sure to check them out!
Vatican – Another heavy metal act on the rebound. Originally formed in 1985 in Sandusky, Ohio, Vatican reformed again in 2011. Aside from a couple demos released in the late 80s/early 90s nothing is known about the band’s new projects and/or current material.
Once again Odin is hitting on all cylinders with this ever-growing lineup. It appears nearly every metal genre will be showcased in 2015 with an emphasis on heavy metal’s roots/origins.
We’re right in the middle of a full blown Heavy Metal Renaissance: new groups with throwback sounds are popping up all the time, simultaneously old bands are re-forming and hitting the road. I think Odin has taken special care in exposing us to the acts that matter, which is what really makes Ragnarökkr Metal Apocalypse one of the premier metal fests held in the States.
This legendary metal event sells out every year, don’t miss out!