On Saturday December 21, Daniel DeDoncker’s musical masterminded showcase of rock and metal returned to the scene of last year’s event to celebrate another year of great local, regional and out of state music. M&L alumni Amongst Villains, Avenue Sky and headliners In The Cut returned this year joined by 2013 newcomers Springfield’s Abrade the Regal, Gathering Mercury, Sleepers Awake, newly formed Soul Shadow, Columbus scene vets Overtheory and War of Change.
Columbus’ result of Tool, Opeth and Mastodon in a car wreck after killing the gecko and the cave man together, Sleepers Awake started the show with the eight minute Slave Within. The first 90 seconds sounding like Maynard Keenan fronting Opeth before Chris Thompson’s Akerfeldt growl hit. An acoustic laced metal tune with bits of Serj Tankian added in, playing four songs from the Ascensions record and taking their name from a line by Kyle MacLachlan’s character in Dune. Apparitions is another eight minute mood swinger of dark melodic blues, subdued singing and virtually growless. Saint Condemned is Opeth thrash meets death metal vocals tag teamed with impassioned singing and Burdened. Formed in 2005, their June released Ascensions is an homage to the prog-rock metal ingredients of their Canadian brethren. They’ve shared stage time with Ceterum, The Black Antler, Red Sun, Neon Warship and Grand Mammoth among others.
Dayton’s newest father and son double-team, times two Soul Shadow came out for their trial/baptism by fire playing their first live gig ever in front of a packed McGuffys house. The music’s definitely in the family for these guys as drummer Aaron Mayes is the offspring of singer/guitarist Kyle Mayes and bassist Justin Ankeney was reaped by guitarist Shad Ankeney. They’ll spend 2014 playing and recording, building a loyal army of Shadow Soldiers until world domination occurs. They debuted a set of originals and covers starting with the Mudvayne’ed beginning of Forgiveness with elder Mayes giving a BLS flavored singing style/biker’s growl to the lyrics. They then introduced the next metal Symphony of Destruction asking if everyone’s ready for some Metallica? Are you ready? Well, too damn bad, here’s some snarled Mustaine done Soul Shadow style. Old-schoolers that know their history laughed off such snide musical treachery. Their second original, a social commentary on governmental operation, growls you’re No Damn Good. We get the sweet demonic kiss of the zombie and one way ticket down highway 666 to 1965. A tribute to all those we lost in 2013 was played slow, with dark, deep reflections. For Now we must move on, but we will see them again.
Springfield’s Abrade the Regal is a band that has and will play, well, just about anywhere and seem to fit in no matter who’s on the bill. With a mix of grunge and rock, they can please just about any ear and leave it ringing. Starting with Fight for You, they mix a recipe of rock and STP meets Creed with the cretin Creedins rightfully getting their asses kicked. They don’t plan on stopping ever and will See You in the Afterlife at the great big gig in the sky. They spent most of their stage time Screaming at the World that there’s way too much to be pissed about. But they always Reach the End with style.
The new and improved Gathering Mercury version late 2013 and beyond debuted bassist Parisa Samavati and keyboardist Alyssa Welker playing with a harder more aggression edge. Singer/guitarist Ashley Stacy turned up the spunk and machismo, surrounded by a bill of heavier bands. They got Down With the Sickness immediately, showing off their Disturbed new creation. They brought out the tranquil Bliss to calm everyone down. While the rain brought floods outside, we got off on a Halestorm inside. They debut new tune Detox and play show set closer Carousel.
The second reps from C-Bus and returning M&L cast mates Amongst Villains brought back the hard driven southern rock sound that kept them coming back. Josh Marshall forsakes his seasonal sweater (bah, hum-bug) switching to denim, and we don’t blame him. They start with the anti-networking anthem Every Bridge Burned then Marshall laid his Henry Rollins singing voice on crowd pleaser Black River Ruin then hits vocal weight on Heavy Is the Crown. My Name In Vain’s Dave Nester helped out behind the kit. They came with mistletoe, warm salted nuts and kisses for everyone.
Columbus scene vets Overtheory came to Dayton to spread their version of intellectual hard rock. Slamming bodies forward, they showed McGuffy’s what Alrosa, O’Shecky’s and all other venues ‘up the road’ already knew. Played crowd favorites for new ears Decide, Fatal Flaw, Break and new tune Solution, bassist James Guest, once again managed to not self-decapitate during the set, hard as he may try.
Dayton’s champions of Christ-like metal War Of Change came waving the flag of spiritual warfare high. Birthed early in 2012, they’re following in the hallowed footsteps of Alice in Chains, Pillar, Disciple, Pantera and many other metal warriors. Singer Johnny Baxter came out gas masked, dressed for combat. He’ll make you a believer of the shield and otherwise. Though he resembled a bearded Last Samurai, he charged the stage like a protesting/determined William Wallace ready to take a few souls to a better place. He pulled the best Lajon Witherspoon out of his throat for the bass-groovin opener Our Allegiance, singing out a loud battle cry for all our brave men and women fighting for our freedom. We’re put into the stranglehold of a Stronghold. They played the crimson Sabbath for U2 and on any given Bloody Sunday. Hero is about the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. When the devil delivers temptation and brings the evil, This Means War. Speaking of temptation, Baxter also confessed to being a 20 year A-Z recovering addict, heroin bringing him to his knees during the last two. Finding God during a 2 year prison sentence and released in May 2010, he’s been clean for three years and three months, as he loudly, triumphantly proclaimed ‘yes, HE is real.’ They finish, filing a biblical Chapter 13 on Revelations refusing to be marked by the beast.
Back from Flint Michigan, Avenue Sky returned with new material and some familiar favorites. It’s another ‘show of a lifetime’ and was the return of the Day of the Intruder for these hard rock melody makers. What We Seek takes a hard thumpin sound of Disturbed with some metal-core screams slide-fingering into some nice metal rhythms. The slow but heavy beginning melody of Pattern of Descent took us ‘down there’, picking up some meaty riffs on the way below. They slowed it down (a little) with the speed of Dragonflies, playing rock that could blow out most coffee house windows. They paid tribute to the Deftones with the dreamlike eerie Passenger car ride with Matt from In The Cut. They also paid tribute to Iron Maiden on the opening riff of Don’t Make Waves. Avenue Sky incorporates hard rock melodies, with loud, heavy riffs borrowing from both metal-core and NWOBHM bands creating a distinct musical hybrid of Lamb of God, Disturbed and Deftones.
Event MC’s In the Cut took the stage to the late night devoted standees. The Xmas Aftermath intro played signaling in the hellaciously happy holiday season and maybe taking a piece from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Opening up Wasted, they played two new tunes but there’s Dust on the lyrics sheet as DeDoncker multi-tasks. They go six degrees of Kevin Bacon on Tremors. They got the Eye of the Tiger for Rocky IV displaying a profound love for 80’s training montages with the song they ripped off/wrote No Easy Way Out. F-Drago! Apollo lives and comes back as a robot to fight later (it was past midnight and past a few drinks). Until the End came off the new CD, a fun fan sing-along. In the words of hand-written guitar slogans everywhere, lettuce faq and Cross the Rubicon. Also from the new CD, Our Hearts Our Fire followed by dark ballad If Tomorrow Never Comes. DeDoncker took a minute as the set progressed to introduce/serenade the family matriarch as Mrs. DeDoncker had the best seat in the house. The next tune they wrote in the 70’s and sold it to a little known band (at the time) called Journey. Then they went their Separate Ways. They’re headlining the fourth Moshpit & Lighters show and thankfully no one Left Bleeding. Some of their shows have been known to Break personal-space boundaries. They reminded us we’re all imperfect mortals trying our best to walk the right path From Eden to Exile. They finished the fourth M&L with some loving Hatred Divine encoring with an old-school tune all about Love.