Project Independent Tour Kicks Off At Whisky
With a buzzing anti-major label sentiment palpable in the air Thursday night, April 27th at Hollywood's famed Whisky A Go Go, I was fortunate to have the red carpet rolled out for me with V.I.P. treatment, for which I am eternally thankful to Jeff Totten, I.R.A.T.E. and The Project Independent Tour. I truly celebrated in the fact that I was witnessing one of the real success stories of underground metal this year. I also must say that I was more than taken aback at the overall turnout and strong sense of unity in the air.
The first band on the stage was Los Angeles, California's Enthraller, a well-polished death metal outfit, sounding as if it were birthed from the deep haunted bowels of early era Fear Factory combined with the ever popular Slayer double-bass monster doomsday sound. The band consists of Stephen Bowman on lead vocals, Raymond Bowman on drums and backing vocals, Shane Downs on guitar, with Dave Gonzalez on-Bass and David Garton on rhythm guitar. They produce one of the more dark and overtly death-themed thirty minutes of opening slot performance I've ever seen.
Stomping immediately into a gravel-throated howl, Novato, California's Hostility snapped everyone to attention with the thundering aid of Brandon Sigmund on bass, Tony Vorrises on guitar and Andrew Holzbur on drums. Greg Haran, the man behind the murderous microphone, pronounced before everyone in attendance that his band was there to represent metal. This is an impressive musical unit that should have a record deal very soon. Taking from Pantera and Slaves On Dope, yet making their own strong identity known, Hostility finds its main strength in furious offerings like Draining The Blister and Common Ground. The size of the pit was starting to grow by the time this band left the stage. They earned that honor this night.
San Pedro, California has unearthed the brutal grindcore specialists Demolition Pit. A band hellbent on delivering to everyone breathing their same oxygen supply, an onslaught of one 'ass-kicker' tune to the next. From Be My Side, Down 4 Life to Area 51, they punched it out in breakneck, go for the killswitch speed. They call to mind an early Biohazard but certainly have a Suicidal Tendencies sound ala Rocky George era. They had several bodies excited and circling through the mosh pit, soon turning the stage over to Grain from Arlington, Texas.
Grain is going to be a force to reckon with in the metal world. Citing influences from Crushpoint, Blitzt, Red Element to Polyphonic Spree, the band is fronted by D-Spot who seemed to waste no time in getting people jumping up and down in place, wildly. With songs like Calling In Favors and One Less Life, Grain is a unique musical group in Rock n Roll today that can combine well written choruses with crushing sonic grooves. They are another act that I easily see being signed to a label soon and with a bright future ahead.
Los Angeles has an underground golden boy in I.R.A.T.E. - a hometown hero metalcore band celebrating their new album release entitled "Brothers of the Same Struggle", a 2-cd set, featuring a compilation of twenty unsigned bands on the nationwide Project Independent Tour. Lead singer, Erik Ulrich is a natural stage performer with a great sense of spirit and mischief. Jamming out titles like Traitors, History, Pride and Socialite, the band was loud and proud in its strongly independent theme with Rudy Hewlett on lead guitar, Eric Buell on bass and Jason Berglund pounding the drums. Their fiery cover of Oingo Boingo's Dead Man's Party set the tone for the rest of their high energy set. By the end of the night they had fans on the stage and we're definitely hearing a lot of supportive cheers from the crowd.
I bumped into Jeff Totten of Project Independent Tour afterwards and we shared big smiles at the strong sendoff performance. Totten leaned over to me and proudly exclaimed, "Well, only twenty-nine more to go."
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