After many years of heavy metal history where bands like Metallica back in the day would play to young ravenous crowds, the Phoenix Theater hosted a festival that happened to be appropriately titled. “Metaluma 2016,” featured four tremendous metal bands from San Francisco and the local area. You had hard rockers Sweet Addiction from Santa Rosa, Sonoma County die hard thrash warriors Trecelence, Space Vacation from hailing from SF, and headlining the show was classic metal worshippers Hell Fire from SF. Plus, that disco roller skating dude who wears the unitard showed up and made his presence known. Yes my readers, this is a festival to talk about for many years...or, until next years Metaluma Fest when the spandex saxophone dude who plays, “Careless Whisper,” shows up...
Upon arriving at the historic venue, I was glad to see the metal maniacs hanging around the venue looking determined to get inside and bang their heads to the four metal acts who were billed for the evening. This was a very solid line-up and I think having a metal fest/show at the Phoenix Theater is always a good idea. I must say that seeing the wall of Marshall amplifiers already on the stage was a positive selling point for a metal show. Hell, I bet people could hear the music from about a block away!
Opening the show with lights flashing and guitars blasting out massive amounts of distortion was Sweet Addiction. These guys came ready to rock and roll in arena rock like style. I thought they had a very impressive stage production going on, but the band seemed to be mixed too loud in my opinion and the riffs at times were muffled. They seem to have very catchy hard rock sounding songs, which went over well with the audience. Their singer reminded me of a young Axl Rose with the scarf hanging over his mic stand and he was also a solid frontman overall. At least unlike Axl, this guy showed up on time and he never threw a tantrum onstage. The band added in a decent cover of Black Sabbath’s, “Paranoid,” towards the end of their set and the crowd was wildly singing along. I thought they did a solid job opening the show and deserved to open some beers after they finished their set.
Second up and representing the Sonoma County Metal Community with youthful passion and impressive instrumental skills was Trecelence. Last time I saw these guys was back in February, so I was interested in hearing some of the new songs that will be featured on their debut full-length album that comes out in the fall (totally not a plug...). They also had played the previous night, which I think shows their passion for the music and hard work ethic when it comes to playing live. Tonight the band put on an overall kick ass set with a few moments where I could not hear certain members due to slight monitor and sound issues. Also, drummer Ilan Cabrera had one of those attack of the drum kit moments, but rebounded with great precision and determination when playing through the rest of the songs. The guitar playing from both Chris Olney Burnett and Donnie Small was nothing short of insane and brilliant at times. I seriously don’t know how they can rip through scales while banging their heads and then suddenly transitioning to skull crushing riffs of thunderous chord striking madness. Bassist and vocalist Zane Covington as always sings with great energy and plays his bass like a savage nordic barbarian warrior. I am really digging the new material and can’t wait to hear this new album after hearing the songs live.
Well, once Trecelence finished the third band, Space Vacation, started getting ready for their offering of metal music for the audience. These guys had a classic metal sound that was very melodic at times. Their twin guitar attack did less technical shredding and focused more on coming up with catchy melodic guitar parts. The band’s lead guitarist could really shred when needed, but always maintained a solid guitar sound. Disco roller dude was really getting into the band’s music and decided to go onstage and film the band. If he were to do that at the concert venue I work at, we would be dragging him right out the venue. Space Vacation did not mind the unique character onstage and in all played some awesome tunes during their set. Ending in true rock and roll fashion the band’s lead guitarist took off his belt and hit his guitar without any remorse. Definitely an exciting and entertaining way to finish a set.
Finally, the evening's headliner, Hell Fire, took to the stage and received a loud response from the metal fans. Even after the three previous highly energetic bands, the crowd was till yelling and moving around. This would be my third time seeing Hell Fire and I was trying to figure out how they would top the time I saw them play with Night Demon and NWOBHM icons Satan. Hell Fire has that classic NWOBHM sound and reminds me a lot of Maiden at times with their fast tempo riffs and epic melodic lead guitar parts. It is definitely music to bang you head to and throw up the devil horns. Jake Nunn is a strong singer and knows how to get the crowd going crazy. The two guitar attack was in full metal force during their set with Tony Campos and Jon Mendle trading off some killer riffs and leads. I do believe the show stealer at times was bassist Herman Bandala. He could really thrown in some wicked fills and during certain songs added so much extra emphasis behind the riffs. Drummer Arturo Rios was also bringing a lot to the table by pounding on his kit with great passion. These guys were the perfect choice to end the night and have a lot going for them if they keep putting in the hard work.Wrapping up this review I feel Metaluma 2016 was a great event to hold at the Phoenix Theater and all the bands delivered until the very end of the night. Some might say, only four bands does not really seem like a festival...well, those particular whinny people can shove it, because I think the billing without question worked out in the end and made for one awesome show. Also, just like most music festivals there was an interesting character who shall be remembered by everyone in attendance. Metal music and roller disco dudes, that is what will make Petaluma great again...