Heavy Metal and a good cause, that is what went down at the Phoenix Theater this past Saturday night. The night featured six bands looking to appease the local metal scene with extreme riffs and mosh pit forming tunes of unapologetic brutality.
A good amount of metal maniacs and enthusiastic headbangers showed up to support the bands. Also, the proceeds from this event went to help those affected by the Valley Fire, so major respect for the people who put this whole show together. With a line-up featuring Predation, Gangrene, Shadow of Eve, The King Must Die, Water Into Blood and Hatriot, this was a solid bill for a good cause.
Opening the show on the Phoenix’s side stage was up and coming locals Predation. Their slamming style of metal definitely offered people a pissed off sounding performance to start off the show. I was really impressed by the singer’s aggression and stage presence. He did not waste time in walking into the crowd to growl his heart out over heavily distorted crushing riffs. Unfortunately, there were some strange feedback issues going in between songs with one of the mics, but the band soldiered on and inished a fairly strong opening set.
Second up was Gangrene, who I had seen twice before and was at their first show. This time would be different, because the band has added a second guitarist. Yes, Gangrene is stepping up their game and adding to their already unforgiving distorted mountain troll sized sound. The band mixes slow death doom with these unique timings that give them a distinct sound. Also, I have noticed the band getting some more grindcore like elements in their sound which I would like to see them pursue. Overall, I hear some improvements and they really delivered on the venue’s main stage.
Switching back to the side stage, everyone was getting ready for Shadow of Eve to begin their set. I saw them the week before and I do believe that they are one of the scene’s young bands on the rise. Before their set began, the band and the Phoenix’s sound engineers were trying to sort out some speaker problems that caused a few fans to take a step back from the stage since they were worried that something might explode. After the sound issues were resolved and nothing exploded, the band cranked up the distortion and hit away at a wicked piece of music. They are really focusing on developing a tight sound and the riffs are solid. In time I am sure the band will continue to develop more musical complexity and technicality, but each member is making sure they have down their parts.
Fourth up was The King Must Die, a group of veterans who have plenty of experience and passion for metal music. Their set was full of high energy, which all originated from the band’s singer who was running all over the stage. I liked the mix of thrash and punk that at times could turn on the brutality button and get the heads banging in front of the stage. Dashiel McKenzie the singer from another veteran local band, Trial by Combat, joined The King Must Die on stage for one song that sounded extreme to the bone. The dual vocal style worked well and the fans were definitely responding positively once they finished with a thunderous applause.
As The King Must Die wrapped up, Water Into Blood quickly began setting up on the side stage. I have to be honest, that side stage can be tough for a band due to the small amount of space. With a drummer, two guitar players, a bass player and a singer, Water into Blood looked as if they had little room to move around. No surprise when the singer decided to follow in the footsteps of Predation’s vocalist and just sing right in the crowd. They put on a solid sounding performance and one could tell they have been playing for some time now. I just felt like they could have added some more variety to their songs. Towards the end though I really dug the chord progressions and the one lead guitar part is something I want to hear more from them.
Closing the night was Hatriot, the one band who was not from the Sonoma County area. This East Bay group is highly talked about in the Bay Area metal community, and the bass player/singer and drummer are the sons of Exodus frontman Steve Zetro Souza. Steve actually was in the band at one time before rejoining Exodus. Hatriot right now though sounds unbelievably good and their set was hands down the most exciting. Not saying that the other bands did not sound good, but Hatriot simply killed during their set. The lead guitar playing from Justin Sakogawa and Kosta V. was at a level that I do not hear that often from up and coming players. Both of them shredded and traded-off solos with ease while rocking out in full force. Cody Souza is an impressive frontman just like his father and a talented bass player too. Nick Souza did well behind the kit and knows a thing or two about thrash style drumming. I think the band was having a great time since they decided to do an encore and right before the last song Cody expressed a desire to return to the Sonoma County. I really hope they do!
There you have it folks, another awesome and well put together metal show that went towards a great cause. Yet another example of why our scene is thriving and getting bands from out of the area interested in visiting. Let’s keep the metal passion going and try to make our way out to the next headbanging event!