By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
The Chain Reaction is not always my favorite venue, but it is one of the best places in Anaheim, Calif., for not only a major headliner, but also for up-and-comers. One night, I saw Wage War wreck havoc, and then I saw a young group from Sacramento, called Sentiment when they opened up for Make Them Suffer. This all ages venue is really good for any band looking to get noticed. On Thursday, September 14th, Matt Martinez scored a show for us, that featured a band that had our guitarist friend from Davey Suicide in it. Straight from Las Vegas, Nev., they are known as Cry Venom. This newly formed band is looking to conquer the metal world, with their take on Neo Power Metal. Having just released their debut album, Vanquish the Demon, they are hitting the road on the Vanquish the West tour. Joining them along for the ride were five other young groups, two of which we missed, but I am sure they did well, based on the energy that we could feel resonating from the crowd. Intrigued by the power metal style, I was curious to see what made Cry Venom special, in their own right.
The first band that we saw that night, was San Diego’s own Reaction Phase. This instrumental, progressive metal trio, caught my attention with their remarkable musicianship. Guitarist Trevor Jackson shook the audience to its core with his melodic riffs and solos. Ratnaksha Lele poured out his soul on the drums, whooping it with poise and charisma. I have to say, the best part of the group is the enormously talented bassist, Sean Colt. Rocking out on a six string bass, Colt was a wild man on stage, slapping the bass, and jumping and swirling all over the area. Reaction Phase performed three songs, but they were all over 8 minutes long. They include “Times Overture,” and “Avaritia.” The technical prowess of their artistry is remarkable. I say to them, keep doing what you are doing.
Full Reaction Phase slideshow below:
The Digital Masquerade took to the audience next. This is a band that plays heavy metal and hard rock, blended with a mixture of shock rock with dark overtones. The members sport different kinds of masks, with the theme of zombie ghouls and masquerade party goers. Guitarist Trevor Tripoli, donning a Phantom of the Opera mask, was a shredding virtuoso, especially on their newly hit single, “Straight Jack.” Big Jim stood out the most, with his thumping bass beats, and wearing a zombie mask. At first, I thought it strange, seeing him wearing a monster mask unlike the other members, but he explained that some of their songs dealt with zombies and death, so his mask is bridge between both worlds. From “Black Death” to “Queen of the Zombie Apocalypse,” Digital Masquerade brought raw energy that has been missing in a lot of rock bands today. Vocalist Kurt EP has a real Corey Taylor like quality to his singing. He can be ferocious and melodic at the same time. Along with Red D’s awesome drumming, Digital Masquerade is a rare diamond that, with a little polishing, will shine brightly in the metal scene.
Full Digital Masquerade slideshow below:
Up next, it was Til Death, from Fullerton. This is a heavy metal band that is full of aggression and angst. What was really cool about their performance, was that their debut EP, Photographs, just got released that very day. In a way, their show also acted as an album release party. Frontman Mike Notte has a forceful, but smooth approach to his singing. Somehow, it matches the speed of their heavy metal sound. Their guitarist, Dalton Jaimes, impressed the shit out of me with his haunting melodies and razor sharp solos. His playing reminds me a lot of Dino Cazares of Fear Factory. With songs like “Ghost in Old Sin City” and “For the Wolves,” Til Death was another band chock full of electric skill, that are finding their place in the music world. The group has a well-built rhythm section, in bassist Nick Kozono and drummer Travis Knalson. They together create and deliver the heavy backbone of the band. This is one band I hope will stick around for the long, til death do they part.
Full Til Death slideshow below:
At last, the headliners, Cry Venom marched onto the stage. Immediately, I was blown away by their craftiness and musical proficiency. Davey Suicide guitarist, Niko Gemini performs as their bassist, and was surprised at how good he was picking at the strings. I always knew he was a talented musician, just did not know this talented. Lead guitarist and founder, Jacky Vincent brought a classical approach to his solos, that could be compared to Yngwie Malmsteen. His best solos come from “Stronger Than Steel” and “By My Side,” in my opinion. Unfortunately, due to visa problems, their frontman Aleksey Smirnov was unable to perform. Luckily though, their friend, and French rocker, Boots took over and was a slayer of the songs. He told me that he had to practice the vocal ranges that he was not used to, but I saw him giving it all he’s got, and was determined to nail it, which he did, rather well.
I tell you what; I was really dazzled by their keyboardist Colton Majors, as well. He had marvelous energy and skill when it comes to tickling the ivories. He played a keytar, as well as an elevated standing keyboard. Both Majors and Vincent would take turns performing effective solos, the best being on “Second Wind.” Drummer Wyatt Cooper was a surgeon on the kit, operating with speed and grace. The song, “Kiss the Blade,” tells a very important message about suicide and how it affects everyone involved. This is a tune that needs to be shared, especially since we lost two iconic frontmen (Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington) to the controversial, but unavoidable topic. My hat is off to Cry Venom for tackling this issue.
Full Cry Venom slideshow below:
Vanquish the West tour was a big success in Anaheim that night. While it was not a packed house, enough fans came to give their support to these gifted groups. My only complaint would be to Boots mic because I could not really understand him. Either something was wrong with the microphone or there were issues with the sound board. Rather than let that be an issue, Boots carried on, and made the best out of it. I hope Smirnov works out his visa issue soon, so we can watch him lead the group. Every band that night, minus the first two we unfortunately missed, came and kicked ass. These are young bands with a lot of potential. Where the road takes them is beyond me and will have its obstacles, but from what I saw and heard, they are up to the challenge. To Cry Venom, Til Death, The Digital Masquerade, and Reaction Phase, I salute you. Horns up!!!