Category Archives: Concert Review

The Night the ‘Apocalypse’ came to Daygo

Fleshgod Apocalypse gave the Klown a Chinese New Years to remember a little over 2 months before Ugh Metal came to fruition.

Hey mothaluvas, it is The Klown inaugurating the newest segment which we called Postmortem. To kick this off, the Klown thought he would start with how the Klown helped ring in the New Year two years ago (2016). It was Chinese New Years to be exact but it’s a still new year celebration nonetheless. The Klown would also like to issue apologies in advance if he seems to cut it short when it comes to talking about the bands that performed that night. On the night of February 23, the lineup consisted of six bands in total. The Klown went solo to the Brick by Brick to see this line up of awesomeness which was also presented by the perennial metal e-zine site, Metal Injection.

The night kicked off with the sextet, at the time, from Menifee known as Helsott. It is worth noting that it was the first time The Klown saw them perform. This was also the show in which the Klown mentioned in his previous article, y’know… the one that was about Primal Fear and Luca Turulli’s Rhapsody *cough* check it out! *cough*. At the time of their performance, the band was without a female vocalist, despite that loss, the collective showed no signs of slowing down and started their night with “Vandals Divide” and finished the night with “Agamemnon.” It was a night where The Klown was immediately convinced of Helsott’s continuous rise. As we all know, a lot has happened for Helsott since then and the Klown is glad to have seen them rise. If you haven’t kept up, they’ve been signed with the rising M-Theory Audio Records.

The mighty Helsott before M-Theory Records snagged them!

After Helsott cleared the stage, the night continued with the local melodic death metal act, Theosis. This local quintet is a myriad of our beloved genre and was a treat to behold. Theosis had the ability to switch between thrash, speed and grind. That night, they treated us all to “Bury Your Dead” and “Despise The Obsession” just to name a few. This band also had the talent to create a very calming atmosphere. Aside from the crowd having fun and headbanging to  the band , frontman John Haskins and their then drummer Omar Gutierrez, displayed a lax and cheery attitude that was contagious.

Haskins along with Shane Sarpy’s bass created a powerful combination that kept the crowd pumped and clamoring for more. They were definitely a treat to bestow upon. Although the Klown hasn’t seen them since, he has definitely kept up with them as much as he could. Two of the most recent shows since their reemergence was being a part of the round one of the Wacken Open Air Battle of the Bands USA this year and joining Voices Of Ruin at The Merrow back in April just to say the least.

Theosis having a great time and giving spectators the best of all world!

Helping keep the ever-increasing enthusiastic masses, was a local whose death was greatly exaggerated: Mortuus Terror. For those not aware of Mortuus Terror’s return, they were back and with some new blood in their lineup. The current lead singer is a bro known as Mondo and his vocals are brutal AF. The band kicked off their performance with “God Riddance,” not only was it catchy as hell but in true death metal fashion was on par to that of Cannibal Corpse and Deicide.

The night got more outrageous when they dedicated a song to the ladies called “Devirginized.” It didn’t matter whether it was male or female, the Brick went stir crazy and managed to make a big pit. They were a gem worth keeping your eyes and ears open for but sadly, the collective has disbanded since then.

Mondo of Mortuus Terror gave the crowd an earful with their brand of death metal.

Mortuus Terror left us all hungry for more and filled the Brick with more adrenaline while they waited for Abigail Williams to take the stage. Despite the fact that we had just gone through three bands, the excitement still loomed. Although it was a rather slow start, Abigail Williams debuted some new material such as the song “Beyond The Veil”, which was first promoted as a new track at that time for a brand new album. The very last time Ugh Metal spoke about the black metal collective was twice since this particular date in the same year.

Abigail Williams spoiling fans with a new track.

The black metal segment of the night continued even after Abigail Williams cleared the stage. The Dutch horror black metal titans known as Carach Angren took the stage, and gave all in attendance a twist on what the Brothers Grimm could not do: make fairy tales more metal than they could have been. The quartet started with “Once Upon a Time” as their opener and later performed “Lingering in an Imprint Haunting.”

As the night continued,  frontman Sorceron donned a skull mask over his corpse painted face prior to the beginning of “Spectral Infantry Battalion” during which the Brick had a brief sing-along taking place. Die hard fans sang along and joined new fans in headbanging and moshing till their heart’s content, especially once “Sighting Is Portent of Doom” and “When Crows Tick on the Windows.” Unless you live under a rock the Dutch collective released an album last year and still tour.

Carach Angren sprinkled a little bit of Halloween in to this February night.

Once Carach Angren finished on a high note, the hungry crowd got what they asked for. With just a little over 2 weeks after their latest album King was released, Fleshgod Apocalypse took the stage and treated us all to a royal treat fit for a king. Much like the album, the band started with the intro “Marche Royale” and transitioned in to “In Aeternum.” In commemoration of their new record, the Italian collective performed their first hit from that album, “The Fool.” The band also showcased a bit of their culture by having their opera singer join in. Yes, they have an opera singer named Veronica Bordachinni touring with them and she let out her powerful soprano vocals for the “Epilogue” performance.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete Fleshgod performance without “The Violation” and “In Honour of Reason” from The Agony and Oracles album, respectively. The night ended appropriately with “The Forsaken” for that’s how the Klown and the rest felt when Fleshgod had to conclude the night. As we all know, lead singer/guitarist Tommaso Ricardi and lead guitarist/vox Christiano Trionfera left the band in 2017. Since that moment, drummer Francesco Paoli went back to becoming the frontman and guitarist of Fleshgod Apocalypse like he once was for their debut albums. Additionally, they announced an album in the works and of course, the theft they’ve experienced in Sweden. And to this one, I say to you, ciao bellos!

Tommaso Ricardi getting close and personal with his faithful legion.

Beginning of the End for Slayer

SLAYEEEEEEEERRR kick off their farewell tour in our sunny abode.

Editor’s Note: A very special thank you to our local photographic gem Alison Haertjens for letting us use her Testament pics! Thanks to her, this article will be a little less smutty! Be sure to check out her other pics on her Instagram page! 😉

In 1981, our genre was beginning to grow a bigger pair of balls. Not sorry at all, glam. Metallica still had Dave Mustaine and brought thrash into full force and Anthrax helped the East coast by giving it a booming thrash scene. Slayer, on the other hand, pushed the boundaries and had more speed, power and aggression. 37 years later, the legendary Slayer has grown a colossal legion, have had multiple Grammy nominations (2 of which were won), 12 studio albums, a comic book miniseries, a limited-edition bicycle collection, and their name carved on some die hard fan’s  forearms (and used them as one of their CD face covers). They have even inspired one of the J-OHkah’s favorite drinks at the Brick By Brick, “Raining Blood.”

The biggest news from Slayer this year was the announcement of their retirement. Of course, Ugh Metal and the rest of the metal world was shook but understanding. But in true Slayer fashion, their farewell wasn’t going to be a silent one nor an easy one. They upped the stakes and compiled a dream line up in which San Diego was honored and flattered to kick off their farewell tour on May 10 at the Valley View Casino Center.

The farewell tour was kicked off by legendary Bay Area thrashers  Testament. It seemed appropriate given how current Slayer skinsman, Paul Bostaph, was once a part of the band years ago. Most importantly, why not? The collective began by playing the title track from their latest, “Brotherhood of the Snake.” They also performed their current hit from the same album “The Pale King.” Before you begin grumbling that only new songs were performed, the Klown shall retort with “guess again, kiddo!”

Chuck Fn Billy couldn’t control himself either on this wake. *blows nose*
(Photo courtesy of Alison Haertjens)

They brought out some oldies but goldies before they called it a night. One of the those being “Practice What You Preach.” They also busted out some favorites from their 1988 breakthrough album The New Order such as “In To The Pit” and the title track. Steve Di Giorgio opened with a brief bass solo while prolific guitarist Alex Skolnick struck his opening guitar solo for the unmistakable start of “The New Order,” respectively. They closed their set with “Over the Wall” which would have set off the clown prez in an instant.

Look at Alex Skolnik kick some serious ass!
(Photo courtesy of Alison Haertjens)

As the fervor of the crowd remained, one of the most iconic Poles took the stage BUT before they did, their banner malfunctioned and soon everyone witnessed the unholy union of Behemoth and Anthrax or BeheThrax! The last time we spoke of Behemoth, it was in our humble beginnings, the second article to be exact. *sigh* Memories! Rather appropriate for Adam Nergal Darski and his band’s second Ugh Metal appearance being our sophomore year. Unlike last time, Behemoth returned to San Diego a little over a decade later. Unlike last time, Behemoth’s return was no longer that of an “up-and-comer” and Nergal and company proved why they are at the peak of their game.

As drummer Zbigniew “Inferno” Promiński climbed into his drumkit, bassist Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski and guitarist Patryk “Seth” Sztyber followed after to take their respective spots. Nergal would then follow from behind of Orion and carried two flaming torches in each hand. Once Nergal tossed the torches aside Seth, Orion and Inferno thundered the beginning of “Ov Flame and the Void” from their 2009 Evangelion album. The real treat from Behemoth that night was when the inexhaustible Nergal announced a new album. Nergal, the benevolent leader of the vast Behemoth army, generously played “Wolves ov Siberia” to garner more anticipation and excitement for the new album that’s due in the near future.

Bassist Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski and frontman/guitarist Adam Nergal Darski flexing their skills on their axes.

In the true art of reintroducing the classics to the new faithfuls,  Nergal busted out a timeless classic before he’d close his set. The Klown is talking about “Chant for Ezkaton 2000.” For those unaware this song  first made its debut in the 2000 Satanica album. Most artists would stash songs and leave them in the annals of time, not Behemoth. Much like the Klown heard it the first time, the song was great and the live performance always feels ceremonious and inclusive. The Polish quartet finished their time on stage with the current hit from The Satanist “O Father O Satan O Son” and donned the notorious blackened devil masks for theatrical emphasis. If you are a fan of Behemoth and hadn’t caught them before, this was just glimpse. The Klown just hopes it won’t be more than a decade before Behemoth performs in his humble abode.

As Behemoth cleared the stage, the second half of BeheThrax took the stage and the Klown was stoked. The New York thrash outbreak known as Anthrax have blessed the Klown’s hometown by playing twice in the last 7 months. Regrettably, Ugh Metal missed the first one when they came to the House of Blues with Killswitch Engage. Pennywise definitely took pity on the Klown and gave him the opportunity to see Anthrax. The quintet made sure we were alive and ready and charged us with extra adrenaline by playing the intro to Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” and The Blues Brothers’ version of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose” as an intro.

Guitarist Johnathan Donais and guitarist Scott Ian getting the pumped up.

Once the playback was done, both guitarist Johnathan Donais and bassist Frank Bello struck the opening chords alongside Charlie Benante’s drums to open up with the non-moshers life story, “Caught In A Mosh.” Before Anthrax continued, the charismatic duo, Joey Belladonna and Scott Ian, interacted with the crowd and pumped them up. The Klown didn’t expect to hear their most recognizable song in their music arsenal so early in the night. If you haven’t caught on then maybe you should be in a “Madhouse” for not knowing that. See what the Klown did there? That was then followed by their other hit “I Am the Law.”

Ian used his larger than life persona to be a hype man while he interacted with Benante and traded off riffs with Donais and Bello. The Klown would feel terrible if he didn’t mention the charismatic man with the powerful pipes. Belladonna’s mighty vocals knew no bounds that it even put the Valley View Casino Center’s acoustics to shame. When Belladonna wasn’t blasting his mighty vocals on stage, he ran around interacting with everyone on stage and fans. Even if you were in the boonies of the venue, Belladonna tried and work with ya just so you wouldn’t feel left out. They also played a favorite of the Klown and Jenny Oh’s anthem “Antisocial” and closed out with an homage to Belladonna’s partial bloodline, “Indians.”

Donais and Frank Bello also did their fair share of hype!

As Anthrax cleared out, the metal congregation was beginning to wind down but not for too long. The most teeming faces of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal took the stage and much like Behemoth, it has been many years since Lamb Of God was last in San Diego. This time, Ugh Metal gets the chance to see these Virginians as the co-headliner on the farewell tour. The roadies wasted no time and once everything was set, and Lamb of God immediately opened their set with “Omerta.” Once the narrative playback finished, Mark Morton, Willie Adler and John Campbell struck their chords and were joined by Chris Adler’s thunderous drumming. Once the aforementioned opened the song with their instruments, the dread locked glory known as Randy Blythe joined in.

For those who have never seen Lamb of God live, allow the Klown to just say they are a treat. The real show is Blythe. In the case of that night, if you haven’t caught on or figured out by then, the crowd had been moshing since Testament got out an hour prior to LoG. With that said, Blythe had enough energy for the rest of us. If he wasn’t stomping from either side of the stage, he was jumping off the steps that were set up on stage. Most frontmen would do those type of things a couple of times, not Blythe. He did it throughout the entire set! The band took it back about 12 years and played their first hit from the Sacrament album, “Redneck.” Most importantly, they hit the nostalgia button 3 years further and played the song that introduced and converted the Klown into the LoG flock, “Ruin.”

Randy Blythe and the rest of Lamb Of God didn’t beat around the bush.

Blythe, in one of his very few breathers, did the usual frontman task and tried to feel out the pulse from the crowd. Of course, after being grateful and reminding us why we primarily came to the show to begin with, Blythe began to highlight his many loves of the Klown’s city. Some of Blythe’s passions happened to be synonymous with Southern California: surfing, skating and punk. After he highlighted his list of interest, he began to introduce the song off of their current cover album under their Burn The Priest moniker and played a cover of  “Inherit The Earth” by The Accused. Not only was the song great live, it brought the crowd back to life. As their time was coming to a close, the collective sent us off with another favorite from their arsenal “Laid To Rest.”

As the metal congregation from Virginia vacated, the main attraction took mercy on us and began the show earlier than planned. This would mark the third time the Klown has seen Slayer and the fourth time for Jenny Oh. In fact, the Klown’s second time just happened to be during the domain’s existence. Why don’t you read their Ugh Metal debut when you get time? 😉 Before the show began, Liquid Metal’s DJ and vox-for-hire Jose Mangin got on stage too not just to hype fans but also do a bit of crowd control. Why? Mangin was trying to avoid the Slayer show being delayed and canceled because of safety concerns pressed by the city’s Fire Marshall. The Klown thought he’d give Mangin a much well-deserved thanks, applause, and credit even if it’s long overdue.

Luckily the show pressed on!

As far as setlists and discographies go, the illustrious Slayer began in reverse and opened their set with “Repentless” from their last album (as if the Klown really has to say what the album’s called) which saw the stage props strategically on fire. They then performed “Blood Red” and  “Hate Worldwide” right before the show was briefly halted. Tom Araya himself came out to quell the unrest over the show’s abrupt halt again for the same reason Mangin had made an appearance earlier. Leave it to Papa Tom to know how to talk to his legion and get the show back on track and battle ready. Speaking of battles, the night immediately picked up with Araya commanding his legions by yelling out “war” from the top of our lungs for the performance of “War Ensemble.”

Kerry King shredded so hard he presumably made the stage catch fire 😉

After “War Ensemble,” they took it back to the Christ Illusion album with “Jihad.” This time around, Slayer added a little twist to the classic, “Black Magic.” The twist, that not even M. Night Shamalyan saw coming, was the opening half of “Raining Blood” was used to open “Black Magic.” They played one of the Klown’s favorite songs, “Payback” from God Hates Us All. The classics were played and indicated that the end was nigh. The quartet first continued with “Dead Skin Mask,” then the iconic “Raining Blood” and bulldozed straight to “Chemical Warfare.” As you have already guessed, it wouldn’t exactly be a complete Slayer show without “Angel of Death.”

Gary Holt paid homage to Jeff Hanneman and also shredded so hard he set off the pyros. ;P

All the Klown can say is that that show was F’n awesome! The Klown isn’t just saying that because he’s a fan, or because they chose his hometown first, and definitely not because it was their final show. Not in the slightest. The quartet from Huntington Beach have always been a spectacle to behold and had managed to stand the test of time whether thrash was “dead,” members vacating their spot due to disputes, or in the unfortunate circumstance, death. Even though the mighty Slayer is saying goodbye, it didn’t feel permanent in the slightest but they went all out in a big way.

The scene may not necessarily feel the same without them but it will stay where it has been, and will continue to influence hungry and incoming  talent. The Klown and Ugh Metal send Slayer their best regards and gratitude for their years of service and the music that they have produced along the way. *cracks open a Heineken* This one’s for you, Jeff.

An emotional Tom Araya gave a heartfelt thank you to their faithful legion at the end of the show.

A ‘Sadistic’ Resolution At The Brick By Brick

These ‘Sadistic’ dudes swooped in to give us a memorable show.

On April 6, San Diego’s Brick By Brick was to host a legendary black metal band and an array of black metal acts as support. Without delving off too much, the black metal O.G.s known as Taake were set to play that night, however, for the second year in a row, they have had issues in our country. This time it was due to a different situation. This of course was rather disappointing and worrisome given how the current circumstances escalated quickly. As the bad news inevitably came, Brick By Brick was determined to not let the night die. Most of the original lineup remained with one difference… which the Klown will leave that as a surprise for now.

The night kicked off with one of Ugh Metal’s First Impression alumni Sicarius. It has been a while since Ugh Metal has gazed upon the black metal daggermen. In fact, it was nearly a year ago since Ugh Metal saw them last in the same scenario, and place, and under different circumstances. Despite the circumstances, Sicarius opened and they displayed a lax mood which was not a bad thing, it felt like they were performing a private show for a group of close friends. But once the house lights turned off, the dagger men were no longer messing around. Naturally, the collective treated us to some songs straight from their studio debut album, Serenade of the Slitting Throats.

They sound like Sicarius, they smell like Sicarius, they are Sicarius!

Although the Klown has seen Sicarius before, for those who haven’t done so, the Klown will let you know that if you’ve never been to a Sicarius performance you probably should because Kurt Karcass is a spectacle in and of itself. If Karcass doesn’t catch your attention with his antics such as bashing the microphone on his head, he will come down from the stage and roam around the pit like a predator seeking its prey. This is something that will not only keep you attentive but focused. Before the Klown begins to talk about Empyrean Throne, frontman Andrew Knudsen joined in on the fun. Knudsen was decked out in his stage apparel and joined Karcass and Sicarius’s guitarist/backup vocalist/mastermind Argyris Malliaros, respectively, on vocal duties.

Andrew Knudsen of Empyrean Throne joined Sicarius for the ultimate duet.

Sicarius revisited their very first EP Scorch The Earth and even busted out their tamest song in the album, “The Current.” As usual, the performance was great. Remember the lax mood the Klown mentioned? These First Impressions alumni displayed humorous moments to cap off their evening,  well… Karcass did. Little did we all know that that would be Malliaros last appearance with Sicarius. Whatever happens, Ugh Metal wish Malliaros the best and hope to see him in the near future. We have a feeling that that won’t be the last that we’ll see or hear of him.

As Sicarius departed from the stage comically, the Klown shall now talk about Sicarius’s label mates, Empyrean Throne. Unlike Sicarius, these gents display black metal but in a symphonic approach but you knew that already, right? After all, the last time we saw them perform was for the Helheim show last year. Hell, even Andrew Knudsen had a chat with us back in December. The night kicked off when Knudsen donned his plague mask early on and spread some pontifical incense by swinging an incense boat in the Brick.

Empyrean Throne shows us a ritual that we will not forget.

Unlike last time, Knudsen and the band no longer had prop issues and performed his theatrics with precision. Naturally, the collective performed from their current installment Chaosborne. In an effort to hype the crowd, Knudsen took his mic with authority and began to air the current black metal grievance, Antifa. Much like Knudsen did before with Sicarius, Malliaros joined in as a backup to Knudsen and did a stellar job riling up the crowd some more.

Although Knudsen’s frontman skills were on par, not all credit can be given to him solely. Guitarist Mike Brennan, also managed to take away a bit of the spotlight and even decided to join fans in the pit. Brennan hopped down with his guitar and shredded away in the pit and partook with the small mosh pit that formed around him.

As the black metal royalty cleared the stage, the trve Armenian mountain men took the stage. Unlike the last time we saw them, Highland was placed in the co-headlining spot, the Klown was low key excited to see them. the trio came back in style… sort of. Much like the Throne, the men from Highland spread some incense of their own to set the mood. This time around, frontman/guitarist Gevork Matevosyan went on without a hoodie and brought some memorable props which would please the self-proclaimed trve. No, not sacrificial goats, they messy! The Klown is talking about stand in the shape of upside-down crosses.

Guitarist Narek Avetisian of Highland towers next to the cool new props.

The Klown was glad to see that his excitement was justified because Highland delivered in a big way. Right from the start, the Armenian trio fired off strongly with “Abu Sindi” from their LP debut  Loyal to the Nightsky and kept the night going with “Cimmerian Wave in Abysmal Space” from their 2013 debut, self-titled EP. Most importantly, it was the return of Matevosyan’s crazy eyes! Although not all credit can go to the frontman, the other guitarist and vocalist of the trio, Narek Avetisian did his part as well.

Aside from Avetisian wowing fans on his side of the stage, he traded spots with Matevosyan and would sometimes pump others up. Meanwhile the drummer, Michael Samerdjian, effortlessly destroyed those drums like it threatened to convert him to Christianity. Even as their time on stage was nearing towards its impending end, Highland finished strongly with “Nocturnal Deathstrike” and kept the crowd asking for more.

Frontman/guitarist Gevork Matevosyan has a look that can kill!

As it’s been established, Taake was supposed to be the headliner of the night which simply didn’t happen. Thanks to the quick thinking of the Brick By Brick, a replacement with the same prestige was contacted. So, with that in mind, as the guys from Highland retreated back to their black metal mountains, the merciless death metal band known as Sadistic Intent took the reins and entertained our mopey asses that night. Much like some collective gigantic names that the Klown has seen before, these gents required no effort to get a crowd’s reaction.

Once Bay Cortez took center stage he was immediately joined by guitarists Rick Cortez and Ernesto Bueno and the drummer Arthur Mendiola. Without a second notice, the Cortezes and Bueno struck their chords for the beginning of some death metal bliss. In an instant, the Brick went from clamored to fevered. Much like the Grinch’s heart, the pit began to brew and grew three times that night. The crazy part was that that was only beginning of the performance.

Death metal legends Sadistic Intent swooped in to give us a night we will never forget!

As the night progressed, the collective powered through their headbanging, mosh pit inducing set. The soft-spoken Bay took a breather, inquired about our well-being, and announced that they would take it old school specifically back to 1994’s Resurrection EP. Once that was announced, life reinvigorated back into the Brick like a jolt of lightning striking a battery back to life. As the night was ending, the quartet showed an act of charity not once but twice. How? As you may not be wondering, they performed two encores. The second was a real treat as Rick popped out from behind the stage exit and was taken aback by the audience chanting their name and begged for more. The Cortezes relented the plea, promised and played one more before calling it quits for the night.

The Klown didn’t know what to expect from the quartet as he’s never seen them live before. Although the majority in attendance really wanted to see Taake, Sadistic Intent was indeed the perfect substitute for that night. Most importantly, the group revitalized the old school fans in attendance and may have introduced themselves to a new generation of fans. The Klown just hope for two things, for things to blow over with Taake enough for them to come back, and for Sadistic Intent to come back again. Who knows? We may even get them both on the same bill someday. Don’t be a buzzkill, the Klown can dream, can’t he?

Vocalist/bassist Bay Cortez purging out pure brutality.

The Battle for Wacken Part Deux

Monarch were the fifth an final entry of this battle! THE ANTICIPATION!
(L to R: Bassist Alex Pickard, vocalist/guitarist Matt Smith, and guitarist Casey Trask)

Make no mistake about it, you’re not reading that wrong. Ugh Metal meant to go to round one but life had a funny of getting in the way. Damn you, hurdles. The summary of the spoils for round one went to our first impression alumni, Nightshadow. Although we didn’t go, we sent our wholehearted congratulations to them and had a  serendipitous encounter with  Nightshadow’s own Danny Fang and personally congratulated him and caught up. Anyway, without further ado, the sad sacks shall tell you all about round two.

Chuggo: Thank you, narrating scum. The Klown thinks he’s getting more chipper throughout the collabs. Enough about that and now onto what’s important the WackenOpenAirBattleoftheBands… *takes breath* ROOOUUUUNNNND TWWWOOO!

Jenny Oh: Unlike the Judges, Helsott’s Eric Dow, Beekeeper’s Dylan Marks and The Dread Crew of Oddwood’s Wolfbeard O’Brady I wanted a dirrrrrrrteh fight! There can only be one!

C: Settle down, Highlander. There could only be one… in that round. The night was rather interesting to say the least. The Klown was stoked to see how the night was going to go down. Incidentally, it also happened to cap off our March Madness because the NCAA isn’t the only one that has a crazy month. Praise IT!

J: We were all a little mad so much so that we found ourselves in wonderland. And in that wonderland, we found an eccentric bard and his faithful axe man. We looked at these troubadours and were enchanted by their ways, Gus McArthur was their name.  

Vocalist Gordon McArthur and his bro guitarist Honan McArthur worked their magick.

C: I swear… you see the BBC once and you already see yourself as whimsical. But yes, the opening act went by Gus McArthur the trio, at the time of the performance, looked like a bunch of guys who tapped in to their inner Sunflower Dead and leads us to a time when Nu Metal was at its peak.

J: You’re just a jealous bloke! And the magical Gus McArthur #1, who is also known as Gordon McArthur, enchanted us with his spoken words and showed us that badass mythical figures can freestyle too. Gus McArthur #2, who happens to be Gordon’s bro and is guitarist Honan, destroyed any elitist barbarian that crossed his way with amazing riffs! His clean vocals will surely soothe any wounded soul. My god. 

Gordon McArthur showed us how well an enchanted being can free style AND sing.

C: The Klown will confess that he was thrown off but really enjoyed Gordon’s freestyle verse. Not only was it unexpected but rather spine tingling and in-place. Then they managed to pick it up again without a moment’s hesitation. It was pretty bitchin, it’s a lost art.

J: Gordon not only delivered these verses with raw intensity, crouched, and ready to pounce on us with poetry, but he did it in a dramatic but subtle way that only a true story teller can. I didn’t know what to expect from Gus McArthur but seeing them was mind blowing, more mind blowing than that shady caterpillar’s hashish! Which I still think he stiffed me.    

C: He did. Enough of your usual rip off, it is time to talk about a band that the Klown has seen once before. He is of course talking about Sentinel. It was nice seeing them again, however, why don’t you tell them what you thought of them J-Ohkah? Since it was your first time seeing them. 

Sentinel gave us a set we couldn’t forget.
(L To R: Guitarist Jesus Verdugo, bassist Sal Rascon and frontman Daniel Hernandez)

J: I thought they were cooler than Guardians of the Galaxy and Logan combined. These guys can protect us from the elitist scum!

C: I see… so who gonn be protect yer goofy ass from the geeky horde?

J: SENTINEL MAFAKAS! The quintet made us feel alive with their first track of the night “Reborn.” Guitarists Luis Rocha, Jesus Verdugo and bassist Sal Rascon gave us an epic line up, literally, not one person could look away from their epic play. 

C: Right you are. It has been a “minute” since the Klown has seen this quartet. Much like the first time, they delivered and managed to pep the crowd. For the veterans of the scene, they managed to have Rocha and Verdugo do the tradeoff/riff battle that was synonymous with the old school. Most importantly, frontman Daniel Hernandez made sure we were still alive. 

Front man Daniel Hernandez took a break from singing to observe guitarist Jesus Verdugo’s riff-tastic powers.

J: Danny was filled with a vigor that would put any watchdog to shame! And he had a tremendous amount of charisma that is sure to captivate non-power metal fans.

C: Of course, if Danny boy wasn’t focused on us he would allow the stringed set to take over while he pepped the drummer Rory Packard.

J: Speaking of Temblad, holy shit man. They were not fartin’ around and gave us the first pit of the night and thus the “Stratageddon” descended upon us. We were so ready to receive!

C: Ah chyeah! Shit really picked up once Lorenzo Kemp struck the first chords and unleashed his powerful vocals. But Matthews… the Klown’s nose is off for him. Not to mention Kyle Netland powering the bass. Temblad looked like they were out for blood and had the winner-take-all energy. 

Temblad was hungry to entertain in this battle, and entertained we were!
(L to R: Bassist Kyle Netland, vocalist Lorenzo Kemp, and drummer Marlon Matthews)

J: The mighty Temblad never disappoint, but that night they were ready to eviscerate any competition and were hungry to entertain. But even though this was a battle to the Wacken throne, Lorenzo Kemp gave a heartfelt thanks to everyone, told fans that they make the San Diego metal scene, and sincerely proclaimed “may the best band win!” They then allowed us to “Caress The Rabid.”

C: Of course, all without doing a “Mockery of the Fanatic.” The Klown noticed Temblad newbs being indoctrinated to the sounds of their current album Nevercrown. The erratic and fast paced sounds of Temblad commanded and demanded their attention and definitely got just that.

Lorenzo Kemp from Temblad wasn’t messing around!

J: The ”Mockery…” was so great that it caused the first ferocious pit of the night. This pit was not ordinary one because it shook the Brick to its core! If you thought the pit died there, you got it all wrong because Gravespell joined this battle ring and kept this mother going!

C: It has been a while since the Klown had seen Gravespell. They’re a group that’s definitely worth seeing when they have opened for headliners like Belphegor and Alestorm. This time, the Klown was looking forward to see them as the co-headliners.

Gravespell’s bassist Nick Lepisto and rhythm guitarist Chris MacDonald conjuring up a serious reception.

J: Gravespell threw their gauntlet in the ring and created a pit that threw everyone onto the walls and floors! They effortlessly got a grand reception at the Brick and gave us what we were asking for, their melodic death metal. 

C: Hell, the five-piece even upped the stakes by introducing us to a new one from their upcoming album. The Klown still waits for it, fyi! Lest the Klown forget when the frontman Garrett Davis wanted to open up the pit again.

Gravespell’s Garrett Davis before jumping in to the pit.

J: Oh and they did! Gravespell left us with a memorable performance and were one hell of an opponent. Eek! This battle is too damn hard AND Gravespell was not the last entry! Making this night tougher was the last act of the night, local thrashers Monarch and man were they ready to give it their all!

C: Monarch, they were a force to be reckoned with. They had a pit going, however, they unfortunately had the roughest start, specifically guitarist Casey Trask who was dealing with technical difficulties. Even frontman/guitarist Matt Smith resumed bro duties by stopping himself to help Trask out with his tech issues.

J: Damn you technology! But Monarch were so G, they didn’t let any stupid rebellion of the technical kind stop them from kicking ass. They rolled with all the punches their equipment delivered and gave a hell of a performance. Their jam sessions were to die for and Trask became a one man show too by not only spreading the love around the stage and would get close and personal with crowds by strumming like a mad man in our faces. Motor boat them strings!

Monarch’s Casey Trask was a one man show!

C: Not that he needed to do because he be skilled. The band even treated us all to the sounds from their brand-new album Go Forth and Slaughter. Which for those who haven’t had the chance to check it out probably should. Didn’t you review that album?

J: I did! Thanks for the advert Klown, I might not sneak attack you with pies this time. And you know who else I won’t be attacking with pies or rotten veggies? Monarch! They kept the party going and drummer Adam West was too in to the “Slaughter” fest that night, his right cymbal flung off and kept it going with a grin on his face. Of course, Matt Smith eventually placed the brassy round morsel back in its place. Matt was a great showman, guitarist, vocalist AND roadie, what can’t this man do?!

C: Smith was the true face of bros. Smith and Trask teamed up together for a riff face off, of course even bassist Alex Pickard got in on the action! The Klown’s sure that if given the opportunity West most likely would have found a way to get front and center and do a face off with Smith.

Monarch’s Matt Smith and Casey Trask having an epic riff- off (?)

J: Alas, Monarch concluded their set and quickly dismantled their gear amidst the strong cheers and reception. I’m telling ya, these dudes didn’t let anything stop them from delivering a great show, though I don’t know they seemed a little deflated when they vacated their stage. Screw you technical gear! Eric Dow then came up and thanked the bands and said that him along with Dylan and Wolfbeard would return in a few minutes to announce the winner and emphasize how hard it was going to be to make a decision. I didn’t envy them Klown! Oh and did I mention my anxiety was excited to make a guest appearance that night too?

C: No, you weirdo. But the Klown does agree, he too didn’t envy Dow, Marks and O’Brady. The decision was hard, everyone performed hard and had a unique twist in their own set. Granted, Monarch seemed deflated right after but the Klown could sympathize and understands because technical difficulties can be a huge factor when it comes down to having the judges deciding on a winner. The worst part of it all was the waiting game.

The honorable Jugdes local legend/Beekeeper’s Dylan Marks, The Dread Crew of Oddwood’s Wolfbeard O’Brady, and Helsott’s Eric Dow commending the bands and torturing us with a hellish waiting game.

J: GAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! The suspense man!!! The fucking suspense! Quick, distract me Klown! Do one of your stupid gimmicks!

C: What gimmick?! The Klown doesn’t do gimmicks. He does art and entertainment, you plebeian! Those judges though… masters of suspense, man. Those precious minutes that they claimed that they were going to take…

J: YOU MEAN HOURS! Oh my god! Is it me or was it hotter than our shitty shit shack on a hot summer day??! I…I…I couldn’t take it anymore…Till Dow, Marks and O’Brady took pity on this distressed and sweaty soul. Before anything though, Dow once again reiterated how difficult it was to make a decision and how there were no losers that night. Marks stepped up to the mic too with a pained expression as he gave a heartfelt praise to all the bands that played that night and a big thank you. And when Dow resumed MC duties, at last, the moment we had been waiting for. The winner of this 2nd and final round here in San Diego was announced. They unveiled which band was moving on to THE final round on April 28 at the legendary Viper Room in LA, and who was going to have a chance to go to the heavy metal mecca known as Wacken and be SoCal’s morning star….

C: Holy fuck… you done? The moment of truth came and spoils to the victor. Although the Klown has got to say, he’s glad that somethings were kept in mind and that perseverance was truly a factor. But Ugh Metal was happy to see Monarch as the round two winner for the Wackenopenairbattleofthebands… *takes breath* rroooouuunndd… ttwwwoooo!

Congrats to Monarch! Now “Go Forth And Slaughter!”

J: I wanted to announce our underdog victors too, ya ass! Dammit, oh well. When they announced Monarch the Brick roared with joy and applause and next thing we knew, fans guided one man wonder/guitarist Casey Trask up to the stage who was clearly shocked to say the least and disoriented. I even told him “You won!” as he briefly paused by the steps next to me and he gave me the most lost expression and asked me “I won?” and I said “YES!” Oh the excitement!! Trask hesitantly walked on the stage and looked towards the judges who were waiting for him and the rest of the band. I think I saw the buffering bar hover above his head.

C: Either that or an excuse to avoid talking to you again. But yes, Trask had a look of pure disbelief even as he walked up on the stage. Eventually the rest of his band mates joined him and everyone who stuck around gave them a round of applause and cheered. The Klown still thought it was funny that right before the change of expression, Trask didn’t fully register the victory.

J:  Congratulations to Monarch! And we raise our horns to the amazing bands that competed in this battle. We are so damn lucky to have so many diamonds in the rough, and who ever said San Diego does not have a scene is sorely mistaken and sad. Special thanks to the incredible judges and Eric Dow for vouching for our city and making these rounds happens here, we love you long time! We will put a ring on our metal scene. On to the next and final battle! And may the best band win!!!

Behold! The winners of Wacken Battle Metal Round 2! MONARCH!!!
(L to R: Bassist Alex Pickard, vocalist/ guitarist Matt Smith, drummer Adam West and guitarist Casey Trask)

Norma Jean Gives The Soda Bar A ‘Reedemer’

Hold on to your hats! Shit got crazy at the sold out Norma Jean show last month!

On March 10, we felt young again once we walked through Soda Bar’s entrance. We felt like we were taking a break from the madness of 2018 and stepped back to a simpler time like 2006.  It was a time where MySpace reigned supreme and when our angsty selves were cladded in studded everything. In 2018, we are older, sweatier, and angstier,have slightly improved our fashion sense and we were headed to the sold out Norma Jean show! Together we celebrated the 12th anniversary of their 2006 breakthrough Redeemer and what a night!

Starting off the night were metallers Greyhaven who were anything but gray. The quartet shined and stirred the venue with their rich fusion of prog and mathcore swag and performed mostly from their latest album Empty Black. They warmed us up and got our blood flowing in this rainy day with the impetuous “Mortality Rate” which is sure to hook any casual listener and fan alike. Did I also mention that we finally discovered who let the dogs out? Sneaky Greyhaven did! “10 Dogs…” to be exact. Oh, never mind they are not the culprits but their song “10 Dogs- Red Heaven” was another song that grabbed our attention much like a cuddly canine would. 

Brent Mills of Greyhaven ready to kick our asses.. by getting us in the feels.

Greyhaven wasn’t done winning over the crowd and let loose their hit “Echoes and Dust Pt.1” which was bubbling with an extra dosage of subtle pain we couldn’t help but drift to because we can save it and make its pain go away! The quartet kept things fresh and belted out “Blemish” which has more of that mathcore riff goodness from Nick Spencer. The band ended their set with that tamer “Echo and Dust Pt.II.” Brent Mills purged out pure and raw emotion which was made stronger with every erratic song and cut deeper with every note Spencer, bassist Johnny Muench and drummer Ethan Spray delivered. Greyhaven will leave you in awe and wonder and will have you asking yourself, where have they been your whole lives?!    

Greyhaven hit the spot and were the perfect openers but if you thought this rainy night was gonna cool us down, you are wrong! The quintet from New Jersey known as Toothgrinder bit deep and hard, and next thing we knew, the catchy riffs in the beginning of “The Shadow” filled the dimly lit interior. Toothgrinder set in the mood with the “Phantom Armour” and Justin Matthews showcased more of his clean vocals in the haunting “Facing East From A Western Shore.” 

Toothgrinder gave us a much needed dosage of mathcore

We cruised on an unforgettable voyage with “Let It Ride” which had traces of that suave stoner rock influence. Their night ended the supernova called “Blue” which is also how we were feeling when it was their time to go. Toothgrinder gave the packed venue a show and performance they wouldn’t forget. The band’s intensity pulsed through the every body and corner with every passionate growl and thrust and Matthews delivered into every verse. What a treat!    

Now don’t let the band name of the co-headliners fool you. Christian heavy metallers Gideon not only showed ignorant swine like ourselves how hard they can throw down but also reminded us that we shouldn’t let the name fool ya. Sure Gideon they may sound tame just like the quiet but friendly IT guy at your job and because of that you think you’re gonna chill out with us old folk but nope! Gideon is teeming with so much energy, vigor and attitude…gahhh!

Gideon don’t fuck around!

As soon as Tyler Riley strummed the first strings to “Cursed,” the entire area surrounding the stage came alive, godspeed. No pun intended. Things got more cray when the faster paced and super empowering “Survive” and “Freedom” was played… oh who am I kidding? The whole fucking set was a sweaty and beer soaked pit-tastic fest we couldn’t get enough of! Yes I have a the biggest shit eating grin as I am typing this.

Not one person was left unturned because the crowded venue became a mega pit once the quintet took began their set. When vocalist Daniel McWhorter screamed in to the mic “I want to see a fucking pit!” not only made us ignoramuses giggle because Christians curse too but because we knew we were gonna get slammed by the human rogue wave. BRING IT! Gideon wasn’t gonna leave quietly and poked the pit with “Bad Blood” and triumphantly concluded with “Champions.” Gideon wasn’t like anything we were anticipating and holy shit, you will believe!

Daniel Whorter of Gideon poking the rabid pit

Now it was time for the men, the myth, the Redeemer, the Norma Jean! Vocalist Cory Brandan was taken aback to see the crowd go nuts and acknowledged that this was their first show in California and in San Diego in a little over a decade and that “we clearly don’t come to California enough.” Brandan said as he scanned the dense crowd with bewilderment. Norma Jean unleashed “A Temperamental Widow,” and the volatile “The End Of All Things Will Be Televised” and they treated us to the catchy and unmistakable classic “Songs Sound Much Sadder.”

Brandan not only tore the Soda Bar apart, but also revealed pieces of his core and shared a lot of personal anecdotes behind the meaning of some of the songs such as “Cemetery Like A Stage.” “Cemetery…” was about the vocalist’s dad’s untimely death which was caused by a drunk driver when he was just a child and the aftermath of his father’s death. Brandan also revealed how their hit “ A Small Spark Vs. A Great Forest” was about the depression he dealt with after his divorce, and “Amnesty Please” is about forgiveness and how it is a state of mind that “even though you don’t agree or like what that person did to you, you forgive them.” Shit got real.

Vocalist Cory Brandan of Norma Jean got deep.

Norma Jean didn’t just get deep and made us cry a little and empowered us through the frontman’s personal tales, they delivered more classics from Redeemer such as “Blueprints For Future Homes” among more tracks from the breakthrough album. The band capped off their epic and sold out show by taking us way back to 2002’s Bless The Martyr And Kiss The Child titled “Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste.” We were blessed to be part of that ceremonious mess. We felt young, alive and ansgty, and hoping for more Norma Jean in the future.

Septicflesh And Dark Funeral Sell Out their Black Mass Orchestra

Septicflesh gave us a hell of show on this sold out stop.
(L to R: Vocalist/bassist Spiros “Seth Siro Anton” Antoniou and guitarist Christos Antoniou)

Although it is not much of a confession, assuming you keep up with us, Septicflesh is an Ugh Metal favorite. Another favorite of ours is Swedish black metal greats, Dark Funeral. Both of these band’s albums received the Ugh Metal album of the year spots from the Klown’s sis and the Klown himself last year and the year prior, respectively. Septicflesh and Dark Funeral teamed up for a show of epic proportions at Ugh Metal’s stomping ground, the Brick by Brick who were granted the honor of hosting the two on February 23.

The first to take up the stage were the local boys in Sergulath. Sergulath should come to no surprise to you all, they’ve been featured once before here after all. Although the Klown and his moody sister missed out on what may have been the majority of their set, because of the line that the show garnered, the Klown was cold as hell but listened to what permeated through the walls and it sounded pretty good. When the Klown finally got inside, he had the pleasure of indulging on two and a half songs.

Brothers David (on the left) and Daniel Correa (on the right) of Sergulath conjured up an insane reception.

The Klown heard the sounds of the brothers Daniel Correa’s guitar and David Correa’s keys blending together to make a mix of folkish undertones and thrash.The band really had the party going and spectators were treated to an over enthused band but not as much as frontman/guitarist Daniel. Aside from being overly grateful by the reception and chosen to open, Correa continued to hype everyone and even made time to dedicate the final song, “Death Attack,” to a friend and birthday boy  of his named Matt. The night ended with an animated Correa thanking all of those who made it through the door to catch them on time, and announced their next show in the summer.

After the locals departed the stage, the local Vikings in Helsott took the stage and began to conquer the swelling masses. If you have been keeping up with Ugh Metal from the start, Helsott is one of the names that has been quite synonymous with the site. In fact, Ugh Metal has partaking in a few conquests with them. That night, Ugh Metal saw a new chapter in their saga and introduced two new faces and the return of a familiar one. The Klown is speaking of Sicocis’s riff masters Rafael Ortega and Ernie Rodrigues filling in from Sin City and the return of bassist Mikey Muller.

The mighty Helsott making that stage their bitch!
(L to R: Guitarist Rafael Ortega ,frontman Eric Dow ,guitarist Ernie Rodrigues)

The band kicked off the night with the performance of the totle track from their EP “The Healer.” When the big man, Eric Dow, took his breather, he did what he does best, he hyped up everyone. Dow whole-hearted thanked everyone and then announced the departure of Dave Walston which would lead to Dow formally introducing the Sicocis shredders and reintroducing Muller. The band also took it back to their 2012 Folkvangr EP, announced that they would perform it in its entirety and began with “Folkvangr.” As things were picking up, the biggest let down was that the rest of their set was cut short.

The band expressed disappointment, as anyone would expect given an abrupt finish. The public, however, expressed more of a backlash and collectively shouted “let them play!” Helsott, as usual did a great job getting the blood flowing albeit an abrupt and shortened set. For those who have yet to see Helsott live and fancy themselves pagan metal fans, they are a must! Regarding Walston’s departure, the Klown wishes him the best and hopes that there isn’t a wedge between him and the band.

As Helsott cleared the stage, rising Colombian black metal band known as Thy Antichrist were ready to takeover and continued to have the crowd’s blood pumping. As the rest of the band kicked off the set with a guitar solo instrumental, the Klown even spotted his sibling’s emotional support goat, or so he thought. As the cloaked goat headed figure made its way to the stage, frontman Andrés “Thy Antichrist 666” Vargas revealed himself from under the cloak and detaching the goat’s head off of him as he settled himself center stage. Right from that moment, the Klown knew that he and the rest in attendance were in for a treat. Once that cloak was gone Vargas meant business.

Jenny Oh’s emotional support goat joined Andrés “Thy Antichrist 666” Vargas of Thy Antichrist on stage.

If his otherworldly appearance didn’t speak enough volumes then his voice did so on a literal sense. Ever the present symbolism, Vargas wouldn’t just simply flash our beloved coat of arms, the horns but he would do so repeatedly while gripping the microphone, and when taking a bow. Vargas may have been the star attraction through theatrics and appearances, but the Klown would be remise to not talk about the rest of the band who did a fantastic job providing the soundtrack.

Lead guitarist of the trope, Robert “Abyssvs” Coronado was doing as much action as Vargas especially when Chris “Oricuss” Stropoli chimed with his powerful, speedy drumming for the performance of “The Great Beast.” The song also happened to come from their latest album Wrath of the Beast which was released that same day! The band dialed is back by a decade by performing “Destroying the Myth” from their 2008 Human Pandemonium split album with fellow Colombian black metal band, Infernal. The performance was great and if you haven’t seen Thy Antichrist live, the Klown definitely recommends that you should. If the performance didn’t get you in the pit then Vargas’s appearance and performance will and it will definitely leave a lasting impression.

Vargas and guitarist Robert “Abyssvs” Coronado made sure there was never a dull moment.

Although Thy Antichrist birthed the night’s black metal atmosphere, we began to prepare for a funeral after their set was finished. In this case, the funeral came in the form of black metal greats Dark Funeral. As the band settled themselves in the stage during the darkness, Janne “Jaloomah” Jaloma’s clashing cymbals opened and set the tone as the ever-authoritative Mikael “Lord Ahriman” Svanberg began the unmistakable opening riffs of “Unchain My Soul” which was accompanied by Andreas “Heljarmadr” Vingbäck spoken word’s monologue which transitioned to a screech right after. Even though Lord Ahriman experienced technical difficulties, he continued on and didn’t miss a chord like a boss.

Mikael “Lord Ahriman” Svanberg didn’t let any little tech difficulties stop him! \m/

The collective took it old school by revisiting 1996’s The Secret of the Black Arts Debut, 2001’s Diabolus Interium, and even revisited 1998 with the title track of their Vobiscum Satanas album. The night also saw Heljarmadr really interact with fans, showing the crowd that he’s not one bit shy. The pale faced front man crouched towards clamoring fans near the stage and sang in their faces like a dark serenade, and would reach his hands over for some literal hands-on interactions. Our Lord, with his mastery of the guitar and facial gestures followed along and had us all, including yours truly, enamored by his stage presence.

Heljarmadr of Dark Funeral…need I really say more!?

The same can be said about secondary guitarist Bo “Chaq Mol” Karlsson and bassist Fredrik Isaksson. As their set was coming to a close, the band briefly teased all. The Klown even thought it was over as they cleared the stage and the house lights came on briefly. After a much-needed breather, Dark Funeral came out with their encore set which began with the Easter classic “Nail Them to the Cross.” As the set officially closed, the band definitely made their presence known and delivered. The Klown had never seen them before and finally had the chance and can say with conviction that they were nowhere near disappointing. In fact, if you’ve never seen them yourself, they are definitely a band you don’t want to skip, whether or not you’re trve.

Frontman Andreas “Heljarmadr” Vingbäck and guitarist Mikael “Lord Ahriman” Svanberg of Dark Funeral..that’s all I’m gonna say.

As Dark Funeral cleared the way, the stage was set for a symphony. Unlike most symphonies, the Greek greats in Septicflesh do it differently. Yes, the Klown is aware that they don’t exactly sound like Hans Zimmer or John Williams, smart ass reader but the premise is there. As true masters of the craft, the anticipation built greatly as the dramatic playback sample permeated the Brick. One by one, drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner, guitarist Christos Antoniou, and Sotiris Vayenas took the stage.

As they took their places, the man with the greatest hair to ever bestow the Brick, stood front and center and indulged us with his powerful vocals and bass strums. The Klown is of course talking about the mastermind Spiros “Seth Siro Anton” Antoniou. Maestro Antoniou opened this dark symphony with a song from the new album and took us back 2011’s The Great Mass. The band unleashed “The Vampire from Nazarene” in to the darkness that was literally created and later had us bow down to the “Pyramid God” during which the maestro demanded that the crowd show him destruction inside the Brick by Brick.

The Brick By Brick bowed down to Spiros “Seth Siro Anton” Antoniou of Septic Flesh

The night also took us back 5 years back to the Titan album with “Prototype.” The maestro’s concerto didn’t halt just there, as he would back track to some of their contemporary pieces as well as some other well-known classics. One such masterpiece was the Klown’s favorite, from their 2008 album with the same name, “Communion.” When the maestro began to introduce the great “Communion,” he commanded we all engage with the song’s chorus, every time it played. The maestro even participated in example to show us all how it gets done.

The night bolstered a powerful presence as well the powerful sounds that the band could offer. Although Septicflesh experienced technical difficulties, the band pulled through and proved why they’re at the top of the game. The Greek collective’s armada not only was a great one but also kept the sold-out crowd tamed thoroughly. The Klown had always wanted to see both Dark Funeral and Septicflesh they didn’t disappoint one bit.

Spiros “Seth Siro Anton” tore our faces apart in this symphony of destruction.

Pissed Regardless Unleash The ‘Birds’

Matthew Gerkin of Pissed Regardless was more fierce than Hitchcock’s Birds!

What better way to jump back on the concert saddle than going to a hardcore punk show because we are totally hardcore too! Don’t even try to dispute that, our Gam Gam said so and she don’t mess around! But this article is not an ode to us but an ode to the lineup of local bands near and not so near that added a much needed dosage of grit and sweat to our Friday night. We all joined local punkers Pissed Regardless at the Soda Bar on Feb.9 to celebrate the release of their latest EP Feed The Birds. Before these fierce five got up on that stage, an array of badass bands tore a new one on that stage.

We dove head first into the hardcore grooves of Surface Report which also happened to be their first time playing at the Soda Bar. The quartet performed mostly from their 2017 album Stand By… and let me just say  we all did anything but stand by! These hardcore mofos laid out the first track “One At A Time” which has calculated and paced riffs a la Gojira, yes that damn great! If you are craving the eclecticism of Dillinger Escape Plan, “Quid Pro Quo” will hit the spot. If you’re not feeling any of those bands, no problem because these hardcore gents had more of their own unique brand. 

This may have been Surface Report’s first time at the Soda Bar but they sure knew what they were doing 😉

Surface Report may have started things out with those two killer songs, but once we hit mid set, the quartet enlisted their unpredictable “Lackey” and “Constellations” among others. The karate kids in the venue were bouncing around with enthusiasm recharging their strength but bid their time to bust out their moves. By the time Surface Report wrapped up their set with “Sidelines,” we were shook with a riveting energy and hunger for more. If you wannabe shook too, dive deep and check out their bandcamp here! 

The Soda Bar was rumbling for more of that hardcore stuff, stuff more hardcore than a soda and Mentos cocktail, Burn Infinite sedated our shakes with their grit and started with the explosive duo “Boiling Point” and “InVein.” The quartet showed SD how they throw down with the unmerciful “Wrath Of The Gods,” stirring the karate kids in the venue and churned our know what I mean, ya nasty bois and gurls! Taylor Stevens’ thick vocals fueled the rage and intensity of each track they belted out to the masses.

Taylor Stevens of Burn Infinite was not afraid to get up on our grill! That’s what the kids are saying right?

If you think that’s all I have to say about Burn Infinite, well think again! These guys were not done there and had one more final wave of face melting goodness to dish out because it wouldn’t be a hardcore show if they hadn’t. Stevens even joined the pit while as they capped off their set with the vicious “En Fury” and cast their swift and final “Judgement.” If you haven’t seen these guys, well damn you are missing out my friend because you don’t mess with Burn Infinite! Because not only will they light the fire under your ass but they will most likely melt it too. Time to separate the mice from the (wo)men, check out their Bandcamp if ya gots the guts!

National City natives, Nerve Control, revived the ember Burn Infinite left behind and doused it with more raw and hardcore kerosene when they took over the stage. These guys unloaded an unprecedented energy that will make you wet yourself with sweat and other bodily fluids your body decides to secrete.  Needless to say Nerve Control gave everyone a major nerve to stir that pit up! The band continued to send us on an ultimate overdrive with their passionate performance and their intense tracks.  

Nerve Control’s Elton losing his nerve.

Vocalist Elton would hunch over and conceal his face while he gathered all the energy around him before unleashing it in to a sonic boom! Nerve Control broke the time and space continuum and next thing we knew, it was their time to go. That’s right, and just like that they were dunso! Man… Nerve Control will not leave you blue balling but they will leave you wanting more, and because more is better, see what I mean and check out their Bandcamp here.

Keeping the theme of short fuses alive and well were Short Temper and I mean the band, I’m not talking about the Ugh Metal staff’s issues. The quartet suckered punched us with “Dug Your Grave” from their split with fellow badasses Forged and kept it going with “I Don’t Need” before jumping right into “Cut Off.” The crowd was more flared up than that California reaper pepper you are definitely not going to eat!

Short Temper brought more grit and glory to this Friday night.

Short Temper was raging so damn hard, they had minor technical difficulties. While they were trying to get the problem fixed, bassist Devlin told a nice little hippo joke which I will totally adopt if I remember it and pass it off as my own. Once they were up and running and gave us a set we will never forget, the band teased the crowd with their last song “Secrets (Slapshots)” by starting off this badass song with Disturbed’s David Draiman’s signature “ouchie” cry, you know that “Uh-ah-ah-ah-ah!” Those stinkers! Ok tough guys and gals you think you can handle Short Temper?! Well check out their Bandcamp here if you dare! Short Temper kept the frenzy going till we were  all…

Pissed Regardless… Oh I mean the killer band, not us! Because our happy asses were having a great time! These locals wasted no time and went in for the kill and were ready to feed us their latest EP, Feed The Birds. The quintet started with their classic “Not So Swift” which is off of their 2013 debut self titled EP. Pissed Regardless immediately sprinkled a new song “No Reprieve” to follow it and it’s so damn great and empowering it’ll make you “drop dead!” *raises fists*     

We were far from pissed when Pissed Regardless took over the stage.

Now this special release party wouldn’t be completely okay or alright if Pissed Regardless didn’t unleash the vicious flock on us and “Feed The Birds.”  These exuberant dudes kept the flock going with the ultra frisky “Empty” and the irresistible “Lipstick On A Pig.” PR’s flamin’ hot set didn’t stop there! They continued their badassery streak by adding more classics into their set such as our beloved “Shit Sack” and “Taking It Easy” ‘cause it was Friday night man!

If you were looking for a quiet walk in the metaphorical park on this Friday night, you came to the right place because Pissed Regardless and their hardcore squad delivered a release show you will  never forget! Oh wait that doesn’t make much sense does it? Well I know what I said! And there was lots o’ good booze and merch too! Which I think tops a quiet stroll in the park because did I mention it was a Friday night?! It was a great way to start our year and left us feeling far from pissed. If you wanna get a feeling of how brutal these Birds were, then check out what the Klown thought of this EP here and get your copy here!

Pissed Regardless spared no one from their ravenous beaks and tunes… ok they don’t have beaks… that we know of…