As Joe’s Grotto continues to host more national acts and has become THE small venue in North Phoenix for metal in general, it is not uncommon to see multiple bands on any given weekend. What is a bit less common is going to a show that showcases eight bands, four of them national, four of them local, and ALL of them good. Certainly makes for a more enjoyable night out, that’s for sure. Shadows Fall, God Forbid, Thy Will Be Done, Trumpet The Harlot, Play For Blood, Lost In Lies, Vivicide, and Bellicose all donkey punched an energetic crowed into the floor without apology.
Vivicide came out swinging tonight with their brand of energetic technical metal. They are self-described as an American version of French Avant-Garde metal. I would describe them as part Thrash Metal; part Death Metal with their own kind of groove while incorporating tasty melodic breaks. While already known in Phoenix as a power house trio with Kevin Coulter on vocals & guitar, Noah Shephard on bass and Dylan Troxel on drums, Vivicide recently added Dru “Dru Tang” Rome on lead guitar adding some amazing fullness and versatility to an already versatile band with his blistering lead guitar work. With their infectious energy, unique blend of humor and brutality they have become a live force to be reckoned with and personally one of my favorite metal bands in the Phoenix Metal Scene. If you’ve never seen Vivicide you NEED to check them out, you won’t be disappointed.
Lost In Lies was next with their own groove laden, straight forward style of metal. They performed a very strong, enjoyable set that kept me interested for their entire 30 minutes. One thing that stood out in particular to me was the vocals of Clint Harber. They are a very dirty, mid ranged, clear sounding hard rock/metal style that reminded me of Robb Flynn of Machine Head, which I tend to enjoy. This was Lost In Lies first show with only one guitarist. I personally liked the much cleaner sound of Andrew Kloeppel’s single guitar attack. He is very solid with both his rhythm and lead playing. A highlight of their set was when they invited Kash Christopher (formally of Play For Blood) up for guest screams for a song. Lost In Lies is rounded out by Pete Szaszfai on bass & Josh Tipton on drums. I really dig Lost In Lies, so check them out.
After some very brief technical difficulties Bellicose was next with their progressive assault with plenty of complex time signatures and changes. This was the first time I’ve seen Bellicose live and immediately I noticed the diverse talent and skill of Eric Seals’ vocal style. With his Philip Anselmo influenced style of screaming and his strong grasp of melody I believe he is one of the best metal vocalists in town. It’s hard to ignore Reggie Grayson’s prowess on his wicked 6 string fretless bass. You can tell just by watching Reggie play that he is a bass monster. Rounding out Bellicose is the alternating rhythm and lead guitar work of Matthew Miller and Charles Lott along with Stephen McGlothen on drums. I really like Bellicose and believe they are likely to make their mark in this town. If you don’t know who they are by now you will know soon enough.
The final local band of the night was Play For Blood and they exploded on the stage and assaulted Joe’s Grotto with a full on metal attack. With their strong, powerful, modern Thrash they really got the crowd going and the pit busted open for the first time of the night. This was their second show with new vocalist Jason Kendall, and while it’s easy to miss Kash as such a strong presence out front, Jason brought his own style range and flavor to Play For Blood. I think he strongly displayed the skills needed to be a quality front man. Seany Ringo is a classic badass as a bass player and is always fun to watch on stage. I think drummer Danny Nelson is very powerful and hard hitting as he delivers the back bone to the band during their live shows. He also possesses some quick feet with his double bass skills. I’m just gonna be honest here when I say I think Joe Rocha is one of the most interesting and badass guitar players in this town with his killer riffing and lead work. With the addition of Jay Macchione on second guitar they have a more powerful live sound. I’ve seen Play For Blood quite a bit over the last couple of years and in my opinion this was by far the best show I’ve ever seen them play. Well done guys, I was very impressed. Play For Blood is definitely a band you want to experience live when you get a chance.
All in all, it was a great roster of bands to see in a single show, and a hell of an intro for the rest of the night that featured some very strong national acts. I have NO doubt that our hometown boys gained some new fans last night.
\m/ DEATH WEDDLE
Oh yeah, and here’s a bonus man love photo:
(Photos used by permission from Seven Bear Photography)