By Andrew Bansal
June 14th 2013, The Joint, Los Angeles CA: Local bands Witchaven, Madrost, Internal Corrosion, Fenders Ballroom Band and Hereticide came together to play the Joint’s monthly metal Friday night, a show that was free for everyone aged 21 and over. Seeing the national and international touring bands come through and play in LA is all well and good, but the local shows bring a different kind of vibe, a sense of community with the bands, friends and fans uniting, and it’s always great to experience that. Last night was no exception, as all these LA-based bands got up on that stage one by one and attempted to do the best they could for this crowd which was growing rapidly in number as the evening progressed. I was very much looking forward to this show, and it turned out to be quite an interesting night on many counts.
At around 8.15, the show was kicked off by death/groove metal band Hereticide. They weren’t bad by any means, and unlike one or two of the other bands that have played at this venue in the recent past, they didn’t compel me to leave the building. I’ve been told that they are a very, very new entity, having been a band only for the past six months. Considering that, it came as no surprise to me that their music was a little all over the place in terms of the genre. It seems they haven’t found their sound yet, which I’m sure they will in due course of time. There’s also room for them to get tighter with their performance. As of right now, they were a decent opening act for a show like this.
I had heard a lot of good things about Fenders Ballroom Band, a cover band that pays tribute to a whole era of bands that played at the old Fenders Ballroom in Los Angeles in the 80s. For those in the crowd old enough to have been around in those days, this set was surely a trip down memory lane, with the kind of punk and metal covers you don’t really hear being played by your run-of-the-mill cover bands. The first part of their set was very much punk-oriented, with bands like Cro-Mags and S.O.D. covered, but they ended it with a series of metal tunes by Venom, Mercyful Fate, Exodus and Slayer. I particularly enjoyed their renditions of ‘Black Metal’, ‘Bonded By Blood’ and ‘Black Magic’, and even though they weren’t played perfectly, it was fun to listen to those songs nonetheless. They had different singers to suit the requirements of the various types of songs, and overall played an entertaining set. This should have been the first band of the night, because they certainly warmed up the crowd in the best way possible.
Next up was Madrost. I was impressed by their performance at last month’s Thrasho De Mayo, but I was definitely curious to find out how they come across at a better-sounding venue. Last night I got that opportunity as guitarist/vocalist Tanner Poppitt arrived with his band mates to devastate this gathering at the Joint. In the truest sense, they blew away the crowd with their ferocious set of tunes played with the kind of strength and vigor that forced all those unfamiliar with the band to take notice immediately. Besides his monstrous growls, that pocket-sized dynamo Tanner truly won the crowd over with his high-pitched screams that were a glorious throwback to a bygone era of old-school thrash. Their music itself sounded dynamic and powerful, and the sheer unpredictability of it was reminiscent of the very early days of Megadeth. You couldn’t tell what was coming next, but you had a fair idea that it was going to be awesome anyway. Tanner, who looked like a miniature version of how Dave Mustaine used to look in his youth, displayed all the traits of a born rockstar, not only with his performance but with his attitude and crowd interaction, well backed up by his band mates who were efficient at their respective instruments. Madrost is a band everyone needs to check out, specially in the live setting. As soon as they were done playing, I thought I had already seen the best band of the night. But I would have been happy to be proven wrong, and with that in mind I waited for the next two bands to see what they had to offer.
After such a fantastic set by Madrost, it was going to be hard for anyone to follow it up, and unfortunately that task had to be handled by Internal Corrosion. At first, I was completely underwhelmed by their music and on-stage persona, considering what I had just seen from the previous band. But as the set progressed, I was able to appreciate them more and more, specially their guitar work. With that said, I was still not finding myself digging the vocals much. I felt the vocals needed to be delivered with a lot more intensity and aggression, and would have fit the music better if that was the case. It was interesting to note that samples were played on the PA in between songs while they tuned their instruments. They went from some weird synthpop sample to start a thrash song on a few occasions, which I thought was hilarious so I’d give them credit for that. But overall, they could certainly get better at their live performance than what they came up with last night.
And finally, it was time for the mighty, the constantly performing Witchaven. Having seen them just a couple of weeks ago open for Warbringer, I didn’t really expect anything new or different but I haven’t gotten to the point of being sick of them yet, so I find their shows to be fun even if they play the same set every time. While they were setting up, I was bewildered to find that the bass player was completely absent from the scene, and sure enough, they played the set without a bass player. I know that the bass is only a rhythm instrument but if you know your metal, you can easily tell when the bass is absent, and identify the negative impact it has on the strength of the music. But, Witchaven being Witchaven, they don’t give a fuck about anything, and nothing or no one stops them from doing what they do. Frontman Henry Montoya made a quick announcement during the set about the bass player’s absence, and proceeded to play on as usual. Despite the familiarity of the music, the crowd was totally into it and mosh pits were going at full speed. ‘Empty Chasm’ was easily my favorite song of their set. The song is so perfect for the live setting, with such a catchy black-thrash riff, it’s impossible to not like that one. But aside from that, I wouldn’t necessarily put this Witchaven set amongst the best ones I’ve seen from them.
All in all though, it was an enjoyable night of metal, brought to us by members of the Los Angeles metal community itself. Madrost did end up taking the ‘best band of the night’ title in my opinion, but every other band contributed something to the show in their own different ways. Good times at the Joint! \m/