Oldschool metal lived last Friday night at The Summit as Holy Grail & Cauldron shared the stage with Cleveland’s Black/Thrash metal blasphemers – Midnight.
How many bands can possibly have the name Midnight, I’m wondering? Encyclopaedia Metallum cites only 4, but I’m betting there’s one in every major city in the U.S. Still, it’s not a bad name (even if not terribly original). Had I any talent, I might name my band that as well. Perhaps I’ll change my middle name to it, who knows?
Anyhow, this version comes sporting masks and hoods like a Black Metal version of The Mentors (remember them?). Faceless & snarling, the unholy threesome played a sweaty set reminiscent of what would happen if Motorhead mated with Venom, songs lined with misogynistic & satanic themes (you guys SURE you’re not The Mentors!?) and grinding up the atmosphere like an infernal dump truck. Apparently a few fans, albeit uninformed ones, were in the crowd as the request for “All Hail Hell” was chanted a few times before vocalist Athenar replied quietly “We just played it”. Awkward.
Next up were Cauldron out of Toronto (or ‘Cald-er-ron’ as Midnight referred to them). Six bands with that name on Encyclopaedia Metallum for those of you playing along at home. Anyhow, straight out of the 80′s NWOBHM movement, Cauldron exude influences like early Iron Maiden or perhaps a host of bands that never really made it that big such as Tokyo Blade, Witchfinder General or the Tygers of Pan Tang. Vocalist Jason Decay is a traditional metal screamer, frequently firing off falsetto screeches that would’ve made King Diamond proud. Guitarist Ian Chains is a decent fretburner, and along with Decay played well to the crowd with a few synchronized moves and fanning his instrument over the young lads in front of the stage. With songs like “Chained Up in Chains”, there’s a certain Spinal Tap vibe to these guys but they did know how to put on an entertaining, although somewhat dated, show.
Headliners Holy Grail (pictured) are what I call a ‘Dragon Boy Band’, in that 50% of their fan base will show up in t-shirts with dragons on them. Ok, I’m exaggerating but there’s definitely a D&D undertone – which ain’t a bad thing if you can pull it off without being hokey. Holy Grail does that in spades! Vocalist James-Paul Luna has the kind of pipes you only run across once in a great while – outstanding range without being forced, powerful yet not overpowering. Dueling guitarists Eli Santana & Alex Lee are total shredmonsters, which is mindblowing to witness in a small venue. HG has had some opening slots for bigger acts like Dream Theater & Blind Guardian and honestly, they deserve to see more prime stage real estate as they show a clear ability to deliver frenetic, and nicely melodic songs without trotting around the stage in chain mail and g-strings. Good juxtaposition of oldschool Power Metal stylings with modern metal sensibilities from a band that is relatively new in the scene (but don’t play like it). I truly enjoyed their set!
Not many dates left on the tour as I write this, but perhaps you can catch one of these bands over the summer. If you’re a fan of the more traditional metal, with vocalists who are in fact VOCALISTs, then take heart that there are still bands worth checking out.