Legions of Metal Fest 2024 (May 3rd and May 4th)
Watchtower remains on the most over-the-top prog metal outfits of all-time. Their songs often came off as excuses to shred away and show off their member’s instrumental prowess, and although the group remains quite obscure, they (along with Dream Theater) spawned countless musical offspring by the ’90s — Spock’s Beard, Dali’s Dilemma, Cairo, Ice Age, Royal Hunt, etc. The Texas-based band first came together in the early ’80s, drawing inspiration from such established challenging rockers as Rush and Iron Maiden — and featuring the lineup of frontman Jason McMaster, guitarist Ron Jarzombek, bassist Doug Keyser, and drummer Rick Colaluca. 1986 saw the release of the group’s debut album, Energetic Disassembly, as Watchtower immediately built a cult following in Europe, where prog metal is widely worshipped.
Just before recording sessions were to begin for Watchtower’s sophomore effort, McMaster left the group to join Guns N’ Roses-disciples Dangerous Toys, and was replaced with former Hades vocalist Alan Tecchio in time for 1989’s Control and Resistance (a demo of McMaster singing the Control songs became a hot item in fan trading circles). The band split shortly thereafter after Jarzombek came down with an ailment that affected his hands, as not much was heard from the group or its members until the late ’90s, when McMaster rejoined the band for a huge metal festival in Germany, which led to further shows opening for Dream Theater and a planned third album in the works. In 2001, Watchtower issued a collection of unreleased demos on the Monster label to tide fans over until a proper third studio effort appears. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
HIRAX began in Los Angeles in 1984, playing with Slayer, Metallica, and Exodus, who were all part of the exciting new metal emerging. HIRAX released their first full-length recording in 1985 on Metal Blade titled “Raging Violence”. The combination of the heaviness of metal and the speed of hardcore became known as “crossover”. Katon W. De Pena’s upper-range clean vocals stood out from the pack.
Metal for independents
Out from the flaming kingdom of death arose STRESS ANGEL in 2020 with their eponymous debut demo. There, the NYC two-piece presented six songs of thrashing death metal that is classic without being retro, and uniquely dark and demented. An auspicious first start, no doubt, and almost effortlessly so. Now, STRESS ANGEL strike with their full-length debut, Bursting Church. Ever aptly titled, Bursting Church is indeed an archaic monument literally bursting – with feral energy, unholy passion, and RIFFS! In one sense, STRESS ANGEL here up-ratchet all of the previous demo’s foremost characteristics – contorted riffery, pitiless battery, shrill screams, and frantic execution – and retain their still-new yet firmly-etched identity. But in another, perhaps-more-accurate sense, Bursting Church presents the duo in an altogether new light, where the classic metal elements underlining that identity are recast in more crazed and idiosyncratic colors: what’s old is new, and vice versa, and anything resembling the “familiar” is ripped asunder into the realm of foreign. It’s a record equally 2021 and 1987, if you will, and the finesse and charisma with which STRESS ANGEL charge through these 11 anti-anthems is utterly addicting. Whereas previous points of reference ranged Aura Noir to Autopsy, Sweden’s Damnation to Sweden’s Obscurity, Bursting Church reveals the band in rarefied, righteously rabid company, off on their own like nomads of the wasteland. No surrender, and no compromise!
The not so distant future has arrived and with it comes Night Cobra. Heavy Metal for an age of discontent. . The quintet mixes a blend of punk and heavy metal set to blow the future apart. Residing in what was known as Houston, TX Night Cobra has risen among the ashes of what is left of this world . Beware of the snake.
Mean Mistreater is a heavy rock band from Austin, Texas, formed in 2023. Armed with heart racing riffs and powerful vocals they meld classic metal and retro hard rock, inspired by bands like Chastain, Warlock, and W.A.S.P.
Midnight Vice is a New Wave Traditional Heavy Metal band hailing from the depths of Tampa’s underground metal scene. With a sound that pays homage to the legends of the 1980’s metal era, they combine crushing riffs, soaring vocals, and blazing guitar solos to create a sound that is both familiar and fresh.
FER DE LANCE
Fer de Lance is a Metal Band based in Chicago. With musicians from Moros Nyx, Professor Emeritus, Satan’s Hallow, Midnight Dice, Sept of Memnon, and Beastlurker, Fer de Lance came together to make uncompromising music devoid of the demands of genre and scene.
VIP includes: Access to VIP ticketholder lounge, Food Buffet, and Band Meet & Greets Note: no specific bands or band members are guaranteed