Sunday, September 20, 2015
Concert Review: Barren Altar, Ion, Battle Hag, Hemotoxin
Saturday night at the Phoenix Theater was the place to be in Sonoma County for metal fans. Four bands put on one hell of a show and demonstrated tremendous local metal talent.
The bands billed for this performance were: Barren Altar, Ion, Battle Hag, Hemotoxin. Also, the ticket sales for this show would be given to the Wounded Warrior Project. This was a really awesome event and I wish more metal fan would have shown up in support of the bands. Although the turnout was not the most favorable, there was a decent crowd who from what I observed appreciated each band that played.
Taking the stage first with a ritualistic shrine of candles and skulls, was Sonoma County’s Barren Altar. The band had a creative stage set up and the intro audio clip they used of a hysterical woman crying was the perfect touch to begin their blackened death doom assault. Their two guitar players slammed away at some monstrous distorted chords while the bassist and drummer feverishly provided the explosive backbone. Their singer was in another world while the band performed and his vocal delivery was vicious. A couple times when the drummer would crash down on his kit, the singer would take the mic and hit his head to copy the destructive beat. Barren Altar definitely did a powerful job kicking the show off since my ears are still ringing from those heavy riffs.
Following Barren Altar was the San Francisco Bay Area trio, Ion. These guys were extremely talented musicians and had a dynamic sound. Each member offered something different to the band’s overall presentation. Their bass player was playing some killer technical fills and tapping with precision to create this progressive mellow atmosphere in between songs. The singer/guitarist paid great attention to his tone and the riffs he played took on a variety of styles. He would pick through different chords using a clear guitar tone and then press the distortion pedal to deliver a black metal speed picking attack. Their drummer who also provided some vocals, was unbelievable and reminded me a bit of Mike Browning from Nocturnus. He feverishly maneuvered his way around the kit and was locked into the rhythms the whole time. Overall, Ion seemed to have won the crowd over, because people after their set kept saying that the band’s sound and performance was an unbelievable musical experience.
The third act, Battle Hag, actually made their way from Sacramento, CA. They played a brand of death doom that really put emphasis on the doom. Their riffs took on a Sleep like quality and the band sounded bombastically sinister. They put some thought into their stage show by using a fog/smoke machine to cover the stage while they hammered away at brutal distorted cuts. I thought the band’s two guitar attack injected some more bite into their sound. Battle Hag seemed like solid players and I do believe they provided fans with plenty of headbanging opportunities to follow along to their behemoth sounding riffs.
The final act of the night was, Hemotoxin. This quartet of Pittsburg, CA musicians are known to play a style of technical death/thrash. I have seen them before about two years back when they opened up for Havok. I was impressed by their skill then and could not believe how much they improved over the course of two years. Their twin guitar attack is insane, especially when the two players trade solos. Hemotoxin’s drummer is still a double bass blasting machine behind the kit. The bassist always seemed to be having a good old time on stage and his playing is right up their along side the other members. Unfortunately, the band did not get to play more songs since the venue seemed to be adhering to a time limit. If not for the venue telling the band they could only do one more song, hell, I think Hemotoxin could have kept going for another twenty minutes. They are definitely a band to look out for among the Bay Area Metal scene.
All four acts did a tremendous job and have vast amounts of talent. Even though there was not a massive turnout, the people who did show up were really supportive. Again, support your local scenes and always keep headbanging so this music never dies. \m/