Raising Horns: Symbolic, Alchemy, Aghori & And Ever rock San Diego

Review by Sebastian Vazquez & Chris McFly, photos by Chris McFly

January 28th 2017, Brick By Brick, San Diego, CA: The highly anticipated CD release of Symbolic’s fifth album was held at San Diego’s metal hub, Brick By Brick, featuring local support acts And Ever and Aghori, and Tijuana, Mexico’s Alchemy.

Symbolic’s newly released record ‘5ive’ is an expression of the power prog metal quintet’s new approach in delivering shorter, streamlined songs that grab striking attention and leave you wanting more. ‘5ive’, one could say, is a dramatic turn in their sound in comparison to previous releases like ‘Xenatopia’ and ‘Nevertime’, as those records were concept pieces and featured longer songs, ranging from 7-11 minutes in length, with progressive elements in time signature changes and the like. One could also say that ‘5ive’ encapsulates the band’s original timbre, a culmination of many years of fine-tuning their sound and in my opinion, it is their best record to date. The band’s finesse in the ability to reproduce their distinguished sound without making any overwhelming changes to their style is impressive enough. The band was about to present all of this new material at this album release show.

By 8PM, the Brick By Brick’s crowd was piling in as a number of dedicated local fans from all over San Diego slowly packed the venue to see the performance of ‘5ive’ in its entirety. The band’s draw count was impressive enough for less than a handful of local acts, demonstrating San Diego’s growing and loyal fan base coming out on a Saturday evening in anticipation of Symbolic’s set.

First up was And Ever, a four-piece band with their hard-hitting sound and message of Christian faith. The quartet wasted no time as they were able to bring their signature sound of heavy metal paired with lovely harmonious vocals that truly captivated the crowd. A great addition to the already amazing line up, And Ever definitely held their own and were an amazing start to a great show. This female-fronted, faith-based metal outfit is surely to continue making waves in the San Diego metal scene.

And Ever

And Ever set list:
01. Intro: Renew My Tarnish
02. Dark End Heart
03. Forgive
04. Ashes of Clarity
05. Everlasting
06. Surrender
07. Sleeper
08. In the Sky
09. Illuminate
10. Synthetic

The second band on the bill overwhelmingly changed the tone of the evening, in a good way, by delivering to the crowd a fast-paced raw metal sound, similar to the likes of Judas Priest and Accept. Tijuana-based traditional metal group Alchemy has been rapidly making its mark on the scene as they recently even opened up for Megadeth last year, and frequents Brick By Brick in support of bands that are similar to them in musical style, and Alchemy always draws a great crowd. Vocalist Carlos Yeme, clad in leather, brought up the energy with his high-flying kicks, cartwheels, and death stares while delivering power vocals. Their tune ‘Fake Illusions’ changed the dynamics to a slower, Sabbath-type feel that led to the traditional metal canon of fast galloping and power chords. The following song ‘To Live and Die’ opened up with a melodic solo and really showcased guitarist Jonathan Duran’s talent. The band played with genuine enthusiasm and an infectious ambiance that left the audience head-banging and raising metal horns and fists. The vocalist introduced the song ‘Killer of Dreams’, highlighting the current political climate in the United States and delivered a feel-good message reciting, “Don’t listen to the dream killers. Because YOU… are the best.” The band closed out the evening with an original piece titled ‘Motor Be Thy Head’, a tribute to heavy metal legend Lemmy Kilmister.


Set List:
01. Nameless
02. Fake Illusions
03. To Live and Die
04. Faith
05. Through the Night
06. Killer of Dreams
07. Motor Be Thy Head

More Alchemy photos:

The next act, Symbolic, were all set to perform ‘5ive’ in its entirety. Roughly seventy people turned out in support of the group, and many were waving their freshly purchased CDs around with giddy. The band’s introduction piece drew the lighting down to a calming blue as they went on stage and fans erupted in a fervent roar. The driving opening song, ‘Alternate Breed’, had many head-banging as the opening guitars and drums delivered a riffage similar to the likes of Iron Maiden, and by the time vocalist Scott Bruce came in, the band’s electric energy drew the crowd in what must have felt like a metal nirvana for many. On ‘Devil Be Me’, the band’s signature song from the record, guitarists Steve Potts and Louie Borja played melodic shredding solos while drummer Steve Elias powered through with clean double bass patterns. I could actually hear many fans singing along to the song and Scott Bruce had excellent stage presence, looking fans in the eyes while singing with them. Let it be known, that for a group that makes even a large stage look small, they have an incredible stage presence with their smiles, head nods, and more smiles.


The song ‘Tower of Babel’ slowed things down a bit and was a perfect piece to introduce the following tune, ‘Rescue Me’, having a similar style and feel of the likes of Fates Warning and Dream Theater. The record’s canon of shorter songs, often less than five minutes, really made it feel like Symbolic was on stage for an incredible amount of time. But song after song, without much banter and the typical frontman jibber-jabber, Scott Bruce kept the crowd enthused. With absolute humility, he gave thanks to the security staff, bartenders, sound and lights staff, and finally Wovenwar, for purchasing the venue and turning it into a metal hub that San Diego metal fans have come to adore. The closing track ‘Transcenders’ brought an end to the band’s high-energy set with harmonious guitars and chugging bass, and a solo section leaving everyone wide eyed and open-mouthed. It was a show for the ages, especially in the San Diego metal scene.

More Symbolic photos:

Related MA link: [Interview] The Power of 5ive: In Conversation with San Diego prog metal band Symbolic

Set List:
01. V
02. Alternate Breed
03. King Has Fallen
04. Almost Human
05. Devil Be Me
06. The Tower of Babel
07. Absolute
08. Chameleon
09. No Ordinary Life
10. Transcenders

Aghori had the honors of closing out the evening. Frontman Dustin Keimig, clad in all black and dreads, drew whatever energy was left in the crowd after the first three bands, and continued the show with a refreshing sound of alternative metal with heavy and clean vocals. The band, largely differentiating in sound from the previous three acts, kept the metal alive with guitarists Jason Smith and Dante Chaya opening their set with a driving sound. Aghori stormed the stage, powering through some minor technical setbacks regarding the monitor levels. They had the home field advantage, as they were able to give the crowd the final punch with their heavy, melodic metal and demanding stage presence. One of the larger bands in San Diego, their ability to retain the crowd and keep the majority of fans from leaving really shows the passion and energy this band has, since many bands in the local scene that play the final spot on the bill have to deal with attrition as the evening draws to a close. Aghori definitely wrapped up the night with an explosive performance that was a great finish to an epic night of local heavy metal.


Aghori set list:
01. For Evolution
02. System Crash
03. Fortify
04. Can’t Feel
05. Sweet Sting
06. The Inevitable
07. Too Metal for This Shit
08. Burning Corpse
09. That’s How the Shit Goes

If you like what you’ve read, make a donation of any amount and help keep Metal Assault running full time!

If you live in the LA area, buy tickets to Metal Assault Night at The Viper Room Vol. 1!