Cinco De Mayo was transformed into Cinco De Metal Saturday night at the House of Rock in Santa Rosa, CA. Four local bands unleashed their extreme music making talents for an audience that was hellbent on hearing some raw and heavy hitting metal music.
This would mark my first time seeing a show at the House of Rock and for the local metal scene, I thought that this was a great opportunity to lobby for more shows at this venue. The four bands billed: Mournful Cries, Oneiric Eclipse, Ancestors Wrath and Electric Funeral, really turned out to be a solid line-up. Right away though, I need to point out how the venue is extremely professional and the layout is quite impressive. There were video monitors that would show different shots of the bands while they performed and the lighting setup was unbelievably well done. The service that this venue provided made all these bands feel like real rockstars. I bet there were bowls with only brown M&M’s in the back for the artists!
Taking the stage first was the power trio of doom, Mournful Cries, a band that knows how to hammer out some Iommi like riffs and conjure up wicked sounding jams of authentic doom. I thought band played a crushing set and music sounded extremely tight. Drummer Alex Hernandez was keeping the rhythm section moving strong and threw in some brilliant drum fills at times. Also, bassist Matt Lasserre played an important part in maintaining a heavy rhythmic backbone by thunderously striking his bass like a God of Thunder. Guitarist and singer Luis Olguin put on a strong show too and his guitar tone sounded like something you would hear back in the Vol. 4 days of Sabbath. Songs like “Sinners Pyre” and “Phantasmic Poising,” are such heavy riffing pieces of doom that I can’t wait to hear what they will sound like on a full-length release. From what started out as just a two man project has now turned into a determined trio of musicians playing on stages with video monitors. I tell you, hard work pays off!
After Mournful Cries finished, Oneiric Eclipse began setting up the stage for their ritual of raw and merciless grim sounding black metal. They brought out some candles and skulls to create a dark atmosphere that would compliment their style of harsh black metal. Standing on the side closest to the bass player, I was able to hear where this band offers a bit more than just raw straightforward black metal. His style of bass playing is not so one dimensional and he has a great prowess for adding fills when needed to inject some technicality into the music. The guitarist and singer did a solid job establishing that bleak and abysmal sounding atmosphere, while the drummer seemed to be playing with precision and not missing a beat. For their first show I think the band sounded really good and unlike some black metal bands, they were able to play a show without Antifa protesting them.
Third up was Ancestors Wrath, a band I would be seeing live for the first time. They were definitely channelling that 80’s thrash metal vibe with a vicious two guitar attack and their music kept the crowd banging their heads throughout the entire set. I thought the singer had outstanding stage presence and did a great job interacting with the audience. He would stick the mic into the crowd and people would actually sing along without forgetting the words. Overall their sound was tight and the songs sounded well written. If you enjoy kickass thrash metal that hits you right in the gut, I definitely recommend checking these guys out.
The final act of the night was, Electric Funeral, a Black Sabbath cover band from the local area. The singer in Electric Funeral, Lance Oskitzo, I have seen before with his other band Skitzo, so I was interested in hearing him tackle all these Sabbath songs. I think for the most part the band executed the cover songs rather well. Of course I have my favorite Sabbath songs, so hearing “Snowblind” and “Children of the Grave,” stood out the most to me. Observing some of the other folks in the crowd, I noticed people singing along word for word. The musicians looked confident playing the material and probably grew up listening to Sabbath to where playing these songs was like taking a trip down memory lane. Their set seemed be well received by the audience and Electric Funeral did a smashing job closing out the night, especially Lance using an air raid siren for their rendition of, “War Pigs.”
Once again, Sonoma County proves to be a place full of passionate metal bands and fans all celebrating extreme heavy music together. Also, House of Rock is an exceptionally well run venue to host a show. I do wish more local acts get the chance to play this venue, as I feel the people will show up and enjoy their experience. All you need is four crushing acts like the ones who played and you will have one massive heavy metal celebration!