By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images (Sleep Signal photos by Jose Corona)
When I first got approved for the Danzig’s Blackest of the Black Festival in 2017, one of the featured bands that would be performing that weekend was Orange County’s own Atreyu. This band is one of those groups responsible for helping shape what defines the metalcore sound. Unfortunately, they performed on a day I could not attend due to prior obligations. However, this year, they have just released their newest hit album, In Our Wake, which meant they were about to hit the road once more. When it comes to groups hailing from the O.C., Atreyu is one of those acts I have been told to check out. On December 13th, they made their last stop of the year at the House of Blues of Anaheim with Memphis May Fire, Ice Nine Kills, and Sleep Signals. Anaheim was going to become a sea of metalcore insanity.
I first saw Sleep Signals when they came to a restaurant/bar in Long Beach with Cold Kingdom. Despite playing on a small stage that evening, they knew how to put on a show. At the House of Blues, I felt the venue was better suited for the kind of energy they project into their set. Like a keg of dynamite, they exploded onto the Anaheim scene. The boys of Minneapolis, Minn. helped get the fans excited for a rock concert with their modern metal style. Vocalist Robert Cosgrove did a bang up job with stellar singing, while guitarists Cody Hess and Sean Fitz were riff-making machines. Sleep Signals was cranking out smashing tunes that fans were happy to hear like “Means,” “The Harbinger,” “I’ll Save You,” “Edge of My Sanity,” “Suit & Tie Suicide,” and “Welcome to the Masquerade.” This was a much better performance by Sleep Signals, and they have won over the Anaheim crowd.
Full Sleep Signals gallery below:
This will be my 3rd time seeing Ice Nine Kills in 2018. Fresh off their latest release, The Silver Scream, the horror-inspired metalcore group from Boston, Mass., ravaged the House of Blues, dressed up as iconic slasher film characters. Longtime frontman Spencer Charnas, looking like a tough version of Freddy Krueger sporting the iconic bladed work glove, terrorized the fans with his razor sharp screams and melodic singing. Monstrous riffs and cutthroat solos were played to perfection by lead player Justin DeBlieck and rhythm player Ricky Armellino, who dressed like Jason Voorhees and Georgie from IT respectively. Bassist Justin Morrow, going as Jigsaw from the Saw series, thundered away with some powerful beats, while drummer Patrick Galante, who was dressed as a victim, wailed on the kit like a madman. Ice Nine Kills treated the fans with songs that were inspired from some of the greatest horror flicks of all time like “The American Nightmare,” “Stabbing in the Dark,” “Me, Myself & Hyde,” “A Grave Mistake,” “Merry Axe-Mas,” and “ IT is The End.” Horror never sounded more viciously magnificent until Ice Nine Kills came around.
Full Ice Nine Kills gallery below:
Memphis May Fire is one of those metalcore acts I have wanting to see ever since listening to 2014’s Unconditional. They are one of the few metal acts to hail from Nashville, Tenn., a place where it breeds more country stars than metal stars. Matty Mullins continues to be a brute force every time he grabs the microphone and belts his guts out. Kellen McGregor laid down nasty lead solos, while touring member Samuel Penner gave the music the rhythmic crunch that makes Memphis May Fire sound the way they are. They have been having major success lately, which continues with the release of their 6th album, Broken. Their set list for the night was a huge mix of songs from almost all their records, including “Sever the Ties,” “Prove Me Right,” “The Old Me,” “Stay the Course,” “No Ordinary Love,” and “Vices.” Their new may be called Broken, but Memphis May Fire was as solid and steady as they have ever been. They cut through the bullshit, spit out gut-wrenching tunes, and got into your face. Memphis May Fire came and conquered the night.
Full Memphis May Fire gallery below:
Known as one of the pioneers who helped revolutionize the metalcore sound, Atreyu ran onto the stage and hit the fans with “In Our Wake.” Ever since reforming in 2014, they have been kicking ass and taking names in the metal scene. Frontman Alex Varkatzas is one savage mother when he hollers into the microphone. He is full of angst and joy at the same time. Brandon Saller not only kills it on the drums, but his melodic singing is splendid to hear. To me personal, I see Saller as the Don Henley of the alternative metal world. The guitar work was glorious that evening, thanks to the duo everts of lead guitarist Dan Jacobs and rhythm player Travis Miguel. Throughout the evening, Atreyu laid siege to the House of Blues with their combination of alternative metal and metalcore. With their newest release at the helm, In Our Wake, the OC natives gave their hometown city an energetic and chaotic performance with songs like “Becoming the Bull,” “Anger Left Behind,” “Ex’s and Oh’s,” “The Crimson,” “Bleeding Mascara,” “The Time is Now,” “Falling Down,” and “Blow.” Taking a quick breather, they returned to the stage after the fans chanted for them to return for more. They did a 3 song encore which included covers of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” They ended the night with their classic hit, “Lip Gloss and Black,” a good choice to leave the fans satisfied.
Full Atreyu gallery below:
The whole night was filled with metalcore excitement, and Anaheim was the perfect to close out the tour. I know it sounds bias, but from what I have seen in these past 2 years, the crowds at the new House of Blues in Anaheim have been getting more crowded with each new band coming through. Atreyu gave 110% for the evening, Memphis May Fire slayed their set, Ice Nine Kills brought chills and thrills, and Sleep Signals rocked the house. 2018 was coming to a close, and these groups helped end it with a bang. To Atreyu, Memphis May Fire, Ice Nine Kills, and Sleep Signals, I salute you. Horns up!!!