By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
The month of August has always been known as the hottest month of the year. It is time to hit the beaches, jump in the pool, and turn up the cold. For metalheads, however, August is a time where heavy metal turns up the heat. For metal fans of Anaheim, Calif., that time would be on August 4th. I headed back to the Chain Reaction, where Matt Martinez was brave enough to enter the all ages club where all Hell can, and usually does break loose. We both went with a couple of friends, Tyler Olsen and Kris Petersen, to see a band that is red hot on the rock circuit, Wage War. They are one of Fearless Record’s most valued artists, having developed a reputation for their ruthless stage presence. They have been working in the studio and are ready to share their latest effort to the fans, Deadweight. Joining them on the road for this tour are metal giants Gideon, and the metalcore soldiers of Philadelphia, Penn., Varials. It was a packed room, which means it was only gonna get hotter once each group takes flight.
After local Orange County group Set Sights finished their performance, Varials took to the stage. They are your basic metalcore band with a ferocious sound and harsh singing. They are label mates of Wage War and are on the cusp of releasing their first album with Fearless, entitled Pain Again. Vocalist Travis Tabron is a vicious wild man on stage, roaring out each lyric with a persistent punch. Combine that, with the collective guitar attack of both Mitchell Rogers and James Hohenwater, Varials stirred up the pot adequately enough, to get the fans to raise hell. They played a good mixture of stuff from their upcoming record as well as their first EP, Failure//Control, from “Anything to Numb” to “Stigmata.” They are still relatively a young band that is still trying to find its foothold in the music world, but they do show tremendous promise. All the major heavy metal outlets have praised them, and I concur, with their worthiness of the praise. They were a good choice for an opener.
Full Varials slideshow below:
Up next was Alabama’s own Gideon. This hardcore/metalcore group has had a huge standing to bringing their style to the righteous metalheads. They recently released their first album with Equal Vision Records, Cold. Their stage persona was massive and the crowd could not contain their excitement when the first word was hollered from their opener, “Costs.” Their frontman, Daniel McWhorter, is a big man who is packed with a lot of energy, and he has one of the most brutal voices. He just knows how to sink his teeth into the ears of all the metalheads and he did just that, in the Chain Reaction, this night. Lead guitarist Tyler Riley does a stellar job at not only playing heavy duty riffs with rhythm player Luke Granered, but he adds a few harmonizing solos. Jake Smelley wails on the drums big time with precision. They were loaded with wicked songs, that are very impactful and fierce, like “Champions,” “Prodigal Son,” and “Calloused.” Eric English of Kublai Khan is their touring bassist, and nails it with each beat. Though not an official member, he gives them an extra kick. Gideon had the fans eating from the palm of their hands, leaving them satisfied and hungry for more.
Full Gideon slideshow below:
The room was humid, and everyone in attendance was dead tired. However, as soon as Wage War opened with their new hit single, “Stitch,” and the crowd erupted. This is one band that has been making the rounds in the metal community. All the fans say they are destined to be the next big act. Wage War has completed their next endeavor, Deadweight, which strangely was officially released that day. The viciousness of Briton Bond’s singing gutted me in the stomach. He has a way of ripping into your souls with his voice. While he screams to the top of his lungs, rhythm guitarist Cody Quistad cleans it up with his wholesome tone, while tearing it up with nasty guitar licks. Lead guitarist Seth Blake serenades us fans to awesome solos and contagious riffs we banged our heads to. From “Don’t Let Me Fade Away” to “The River,” and “Gravity,” Wage War throws a good mix of songs from both Deadweight and their debut, Blueprints. They had my heart rate racing throughout their set list, and I entered the “circle of death,” where I went completely nuts. The sound of Chris Gaylord’s howling bass notes and Stephen Kluesener’s crashing drum strikes aroused my metal beast. I let it off its cage as I could not contain him any longer. Ending it all with “Twenty One,” we raised our fists in the air, chanting their name proudly.
Full Wage War slideshow below:
As soon as it was over, the air smelled of sweat and the floor was slippery. My body was covered with sweat, and my hair was drenched. All the metal loyalists rushed outside to breathe the fresh air. Wage War has dominated the Anaheim crowd, and took everyone for a wild ride. With bruised bodies and bloody noses, the Chain Reaction became the epicenter of a heavy metal epidemic. It was one of the few times I was actually glad to attend the venue. Along with Gideon and Varials, every band raised the temperature of the room with hot blazing rock ‘n’ roll. To Wage War, Gideon, and Varials, I salute you. Horns up!!!