By: Brett Hoag
Photography: Enrique Sanchez (except where noted)
Paul Resist pulled off a Monumental Metal Festival here in the SoCal area and you were not there. Shame on you, Los Angeles! Shame, I say!! 989 Southern Californian metalheads were in attendance over the two days. Pathetic!! I saw some pics from the recent Power Trip Festival, and I know we have a much larger metal community than that! Here is a smidge of what you missed.
The festival was set in the lovely Garden Amp in downtown Garden Grove; the only drawback was that it had a sharp 10 p.m. curfew, which was just too early for the metal crowd. The venue was perfect, however, for this festival. With 550 seats, not including VIP booths and an indoor stage with room for a few hundred more (I called to verify capacity for the indoor stage and, as of publication, am still waiting to hear back), there is ample seating as well as a large barren "pit" area in front of the stage for moshing. The staff was exceedingly pleasant and helpful and I found the prices not exorbitant like other area venues I won't name (local football teams play there).
The opening band, Ninth Circle, hit the outdoor stage at 1:45 p.m. Hailing from the South Bay area, the trio pumped up the audience with a blistering set of songs from their catalog. Playing to a crowd of about 75 or so, they were true professionals and gave off the energy needed to play for a crowd of 75,000. They left the audience clamoring for more and set the bar high for the rest of the weekend. Well done, lads! \m/ For more on Ninth Circle, please see my interview with them!
Moving to the indoor stage, I was just in time to see Angel Fury wrap up their sound check and scream into a torrid set of metal mania. Led by the charismatic Luna on vocals and kept on time by Mars, this female-fronted metal band blew the room away. The dual guitar attack of this local band (performing for the second time in front of an audience) was on fire. Mike and James complement and feed off each other like they've been playing together for decades. Ulises and Mars kept everyone tight and in rhythm as Luna's vocals painted a heavy metal picture of pain, suffering, light and love. A fantastic performance! \m/
Hail Mary's triple axe attack of Geoffery, Michael and Carey
Paul had a few big scoops for this third installment of his Gates of Metal Festival, one being the performance of another SoCal legend, Hail Mary. Hail Mary? Think the triple axe attack that was formerly in Leatherwolf with a new rhythm section and you got Hail Mary. I am not from here and had never heard of this band before. Wow. They blew me away. It was heavy riff after heavy riff with blistering, smoking solos intertwined in a beautiful web of metal. Their set was glorious and had the crowd frothing for more! \m/
Since I was trying to interview as many bands as possible for you, I couldn't catch every act. Besides, if I did, this would be far too long LOL The Festival didn't slow down from the time it started until the Saturday Headliner took the stage at 8:45 or so. Riot V is one of those bands that have been around forever and have somewhat of a tragic history. You can find an outstanding documentary on the band on YouTube called Riot 'Fight or Fall.' Anyway, this version of the band has been together for some time now, has thousands of miles touring under their belts, two studio and one live album to their name and is headed into the studio to write their next album. Riot V hit the stage with a rousing rendition of their classic, Johnny's Back and didn't let up until the closing notes of their coup de grace, Thundersteel. If you have not had the opportunity to see Riot V live, you should kick yourself in the head. In many eyes, they are one of the best live acts out there. I have seen them play to a crowd of 25 as well as thousands and each show is a juggernaut of metal mayhem and energy. Their current lead singer, Todd Michael Hall (known as the American Air Raid Siren), was a contestant on Season 18 of The Voice and if it weren't for the judges' penchant for pop and country, he most likely would have won the whole shebang. A real treat for the metalheads in attendance was that the bassist and vocalist for Night Demon/current bassist for Cirith Ungol, Jarvis Leatherby, joined Riot V on stage for the crowd-favorite "Road Racing" that had every fist pumping up a storm.
Kudos to Paul Resist and the Garden Amp of Garden Grove for pulling off a fantastic music festival. Everyone had a great time and there were so many bands, my ears may never recover (this is a good thing). I've talked to Paul and know he is already working on Gates of Metal Festival IV for next year. Drop a band name in the comments you would like to see. And be sure to watch this space as I have upcoming interviews with Adamantis (from Boston), Ironflame (from Pittsburgh), Angel Fury and Anger as Art from CA. Until next time, metalheads! Horns up!!