For the five bands playing last night’s Sonoma County Battle of the Bands, there was an opportunity to win some sweet prizes such as a demo recording from NB Recording, a video filmed by Red Fox Productions and have a show out of the area put on by Pinup Productions. Although this was called a, “battle of the bands,” the night seemed more like a celebration for all those who came out to support Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore community.
The five groups who played and were hoping to take home the big score were: Thought Vomit, Trecelence, Predation, Gangrene and Abscission. Besides Predation I had seen the other four at least once with this Friday being the third Friday in a row seeing Trecelence. The show was booked at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa, CA. This was my first time visiting the venue and I instantly noticed how intimate the room was where the bands would play. The stage was not very high at all, but brought the bands and fans very close together.
Taking the stage first and right on time was Abscission. For an opening band they had a decent amount of people in the audience. I think that the scene came out for this event in full support. Unfortunately, Abscission was without a bass player so the guitarist and drummer were left to fill the void by providing some extra crushing parts. Compared to the last time I saw them, Abscission played with a little more aggression and that might have been due to the lack of a bass player which the singer pointed out a couple times. If you are a bass player in Sonoma County and want to join a death metal band...Abscission is looking for one.
Second up was Gangrene, who have just really started and I remember seeing them play their first live show. Their unique death doom style is still taking form, but they always put on a solid set. I think they need to keep pushing themselves by adding some more dynamics to their music. The last song they played really interested me, because the guitar parts stood out from the band’s usual riffs.
After two bands I was starting to feel the heat...of course I am pertaining to the venues warm stuffy setting and not the band’s attitudes towards each other. All the bands seemed to be enjoying themselves and were talking with each other. The third band of the night was Predation. Yet another group just starting out and I was wondering how they would make a first impression. I will say the band played with passion and the riffs had a powerful groove to them. However, the style was not exactly my cup of tea. I respect the singer for jumping into the pit on occasion and most of the crowd seemed to enjoy their set.
Setting up faster than the lightening from Thor’s hammer was the night’s fourth band, Trecelence. They have been playing for some time now and really have down a solid technical thrash sound. After playing two weeks in a row you think there is no way they can top the last two. Wrong! Trecelence took their twin guitar attack, speed demon technical drumming and epic metal screams to put on a wicked performance. There were times where bassist Zane Covington, guitarist Donnie Small and guitarist Chris Olney Burnett looked possessed by the metal gods as they banged their heads throughout the set. Even when Zane was having troubles with his amp during one of the songs, he was able to put the technical difficulties behind him and give all his energy for the next song. I think their relentless work ethic and passion for the music shows why they can put on impressive shows week after week.
After Trecelence went off the stage the final band, Thought Vomit, began setting up. After seeing them twice already, I wondered if Thought Vomit would bring the same amount of intense energy? Sure enough Thought Vomit took the crowd at the Arlene Francis Center and turned them into wild animals. Singer Spencer Clark was in the pit running around screaming his head off. Guitarist Chris Meyer offered up some killer solos and riffs. Drummer Clay Prieto and bassist Jordie Hilley maintained a heavy rhythm section the whole night. I enjoyed the fact that Thought Vomit played some new material at the show and the new music was met with a very positive response. Also, to point out the local band camaraderie, one could see the Trecelence guys moshing during Thought Vomit’s set. Just another reason why this battle of the bands was less like a competition at times and more like a night full of people enjoying great local music.
Once all the bands put away their gear, the winner was soon to be announced. Finally, after the judges had evaluated each band’s performance, Seth Stephens got on the mic to announce the winner...(drum role Neil Peart)...and the winner was Trecelence. I think all the bands put on a solid show and one could have made the case for some of the other band’s too. In the end, everyone who showed up last night was a winner because their support keeps the Sonoma County metal and hardcore scene going. Hope to see these bands put on more awesome shows and hope to keep seeing more people at the shows rocking out!