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Dwell in Darkness II Festival

Last Friday and Saturday nights (June 10-11) a metal festival was put on in Dayton, Ohio entitled the Dwell in Darkness II Festival. The location was Elbos located in the heart of Dayton and the acts were aplenty. I was not able to go on Friday due to prior obligations so I missed Extol and Incantation who I was really looking forward to see but Saturday was very solid beginning to end. Because I was only there for Saturday’s shows, I’m gonna try to hit the highlights of the day. I know I’m ignoring a few bands but I did take a dinner break and missed a few and there were a couple that were unremarkable. (Note: I will leave links directly after all bands for you all to check them out. Some are only up on myspace.com therefore I will leave that address for you.)

I finally got up to Dayton after a late start from home around 2:30 p.m. just in time to see a bunch of unsigned underground bands that were fairly well polished for the most part. First band that I saw was on the indoor stage was a band named Gathered Here Today (http://myspace.com/gatheredheretoday) from Paducah, Kentucky. This band played its own brand of metalcore, which consisted of mostly hardcore anthems with a death metal feel/vocals. I was fairly surprised at how well they played due to the fact that they have only cut a three-song demo as of yet, and have had member changes of late. But according to Gathered Here Today, some heavy hitters in the record label department have contacted them, so check these guys out.

Next up was Avernus (http://www.myspace.com/avernus) from Chicago, Illinois on the outdoor stage. This five-piece is signed to Flood The Earth Recordings and I had only heard one song prior to seeing them live and wasn’t really too impressed. They played a solid set but I just don’t think that their dark, melodic sound did much for me. They do have another album coming out soon, but even that material seemed too progressive metal to me, which unfortunately I’m really not into whatsoever.

Shortly after Avernus finished on the outdoor stage, I heard the thick sound of brutal death metal coming from inside. Metaphysical (http://metaphysical.cjb.net/) had just taken the stage. Metaphysical is a very solid death metal band that had excellent musicianship throughout their set. I was very surprised not only at their spin on brutal death (i.e. melodic breakdowns and actual singing mixed with growls) but also at their overall intensity while performing. They really stood out of the earlier bands.

Once Metaphysical finished, South Gate (http://southgatemetal.com) took the outdoor stage with much brutality. Although this band was raw and not as musically advanced as some of the other bands that took the stage following them, South Gate put on a pretty decent show. I caught a lot of Black Label Society references (without the Zakk Wylde guitar play of course), and a lot of Pantera influences as well. Like I said, they put on a really enthusiastic show but I just didn’t think that the music lived up to the billing.

Low Chain (http://myspace.com/lowchain) from Chicago was the next band to come on the inside stage. I compare Low Chain to a more melodic As I Lay Dying with some grindcore breakdowns. One song in their arsenal sounded almost emo-ish but for the most part I was very impressed with their arsenal. Their lead singer had a lot of range and reminded me of John Henry from Darkest Hour. Furthermore, their guitarist was excellent and that actually seemed to run rampant throughout this festival (i.e. many good guitarists). Low Chain played a good set and had a lot of energy.

Then, Evermourn (http://myspace.com/evermourn) from Kansas City was up on the outdoor stage. They sounded a lot like Children of Bodom with many Iron Maiden references. I kind of heard some thrash metal towards the end of their set as well, which tells me that this band is pretty diverse. I think once again the only problem that I had was that Evermourn had a few progressive as well as 80’s old school metal breakdowns and solos which didn’t fit their image too well. They were very heavy and played a solid set but every band can’t be immaculate right?

Woe of Tyrants (http://www.myspace.com/wot) (formerly known as Abject Fear) from Ohio then took hold of the indoor stage with a lot of promise. These guys sound a lot like All That Remains but the vocalist doesn’t have the range that Philip Labonte does, but his growls were very much worthy. This five piece featuring two guitarists was very powerful and was maybe the most technical of any band that I saw at the festival. They even had a few speed metal intros that quickly reminded me of Slayer for a minute. Although some of their breakdowns were a bit irritating at times, Woe of Tyrants played a good all-around set.

Directly following Evermourn outside was another band from Kansas City named The Messiah Complex (http://www.myspace.com/themessiahcomplex). How do I describe The Messiah Complex? Hmmm, well, think Soulfly without the (annoying) South American influences and more brutal death metal influences. I really liked this band a lot. They had heavy as hell riffs, great range from their vocalist, and thumping drum- and bass-lines. Their guitarist was the standout though, with heavy riffs and a more melodic feel than most of his guitarist counterparts at the festival. They were fun, energetic, and they rocked out, I can’t wait to see them again.

After The Messiah Complex, I took a little bit of a break and got some grub. But I made sure I returned for one of the best bands out right now in my opinion, Hell Within(http://www.hellwithin.com). Hell Within just came out with “Asylum of the Human Predator” back in April and they’ve been on tour in support of that album which will continue into a U.S. tour after a stint over in Europe. Hell Within was completely unbelievable to say the least. They played four songs off of their new album and one Slayer rendition which all sounded excellent. The P.A. system on the inside stage wasn’t that great, so the vocals were a little hard to hear but what I did hear sounded good. The entire show sounded right off of their album musically. The drummer was pulsating with his double bass and the bassist laid the groundwork with his thumps for an excellent show. The guitarists were even better than on the record. The solos and breakdowns honestly made you stop mid-headbang and say “wow”. Intense live show and I can’t wait to see them again.

Next up on the inside stage after Hell Within was Nuclear Blast signer’s All Shall Perish(http://allshallperish.com/). I have got to give this band a lot of props for coming all the way from California to play the festival. I’ve been following this band since their release of “Hate.Malice.Revenge.” back in 2003 so it was great to finally see them live. All Shall Perish played dead-on to their album, the songs meshed together very well and it was like listening to their album at full volume. The standouts in this band was definitely the bassist and the drummer. They make the transitions sound great in their music.

Now for the biggest disappointment of the entire day, Into Eternity (http://www.intoeternity.net/band.php) was next up outside. If any of you have followed my reviews on these guys, I thought “Dead Or Dreaming” was so-so and I thought “Buried in Oblivion” was pretty much atrocious but for some reason I had my hopes up. With all the coverage these guys have been getting, there’s got to be something that I’m missing right? Wrong. Sorry, but I couldn’t even take them. “Beginning of the End” was the best song that they played. And I had to sit through so many bad songs off of “Buried in Oblivion” to hear the only one that I actually liked on the album. They are good musicians, but they are too progressive for me. And their lead singer was way too eccentric, go see them live and you’ll understand (picture Kid Rock in an 80’s hair metal band with annoying vocals).

Into Eternity was so bad that I went to the inside stage to see if there was another band inside that wouldn’t drive me to drink. Once again, I was wrong. Fast Eddie’s from New York had taken the stage. With opening comments such as “This is a song about eating pizza” and “This is a song about raping little kids”, what could I really expect? So I drowned my sorrows in a couple of beers inside and took in the insanity. I mean this band was bad, pretty much comical, with polka-ish keyboards overlaying hardly heavy riffs and unremarkable drumming. Even the vocals were bad, thank God there was more to come.

After that four beer binge in ten minutes, I was delighted to hear the faint sound of metal in the background. Well, kind of. Bobaflex (http://www.bobaflexwarriors.com/) had taken the outside stage after Into Eternity. Now if you’ve never heard of Bobaflex, I’m going to try to define them the best I can because it’s tough. Trippy grindcore with numerous elements of underlying metal I guess is the best way to put them. I didn’t mind their show, I didn’t like them originally but they were fun to say the least. At times, they really surprised me musically because of how technical they sounded. Bobaflex played an awful lot of their new album entitled “Warriors”, and if you are into Cephalic Carnage and want something even more strange than “Kill for Weed”, check out Bobaflex.

Last but not least was Prosthetic Records own, Byzantine (http://byzantine1.com/) on the inside stage (sorry Broadzilla (http://broadzilla.net/), I missed the finale). Byzantine was another band that really surprised me. I had heard a lot about this five-piece from West Virginia and even had their album “The Fundamental Component” but for some reason I hadn’t really listened to it that much. Well, Byzantine are as heavy and thick as they are brutal and chaotic. I was shell-shocked at their thrash metal shell with such melodically intense breakdowns. They had excellent guitar play and drumming throughout their entire set. Their new bassist didn’t sound bad by any means and I think he’ll fit right in with the sound on the new CD. And of course, O.J.’s vocals were precise and attacking at times. Byzantine played some songs off of “The Fundamental Component” but mixed it in well with the new stuff. I am really anticipating their new album, which comes out on July 12th, check it out.

So that was my day up at Dwell in Darkness II. Special thanks to Will who put the festival together, all the guys from Hell Within (Bubba for the upcoming concert info along with the horrendous broken down van story, and Matty and Tony for the pic), Metaphysical, Gathered Here Today, The Messiah Complex, South Gate, Rev.9 and Low Chain for the samplers and demos, and everyone who helped put this festival on. Can’t wait to do it again next year and look forward to pics from the festival and reviews on the demos.

June 20, 2005
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