By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
When Mark Morton released his debut solo album this year, Anesthetic, he wanted to show the music community that while he is a heavy metal warrior, he is capable of playing different kinds of music. On his record, he was able blend his metal style with funk, blues, R&B, and hard rock, with just a smidge of pop. Morton brought on a slew of guest artists whose voices fitted each song perfectly, from Myles Kennedy to the late great Chester Bennington. He is so proud of his work that he has decided to embark on a small tour to show metalheads what he created. One of his stops was to the Sunset Strip at the famous Roxy Theatre, so Matt and I just had to go. Tagging along was metalcore thrashers Light the Torch and Moon Tooth, whom we did not get to see due to bad traffic.
I have been wanting to see Light the Torch for a while, even when they were originally called Devil You Know. This monstrous group is the metallic spawn of former Killswitch Engage vocalist Howard Jones. He is still a beast of a frontman with a roaring scream that also a melodic touch. Light the Torch released their first album under the new name last year, Revival, and along with the previous two releases during their Devil You Know days, they tore the Roxy a new one. Along with Jones brutal nature, lead guitarist Francesco Artusato savagely bled his fingers by riffing up some kick-ass licks and solos. He and Jones are an effective duo. Ryan Wombacher brings the boom on bass, while newcomer Mike Sciulara kills it on the drums. Jones sang his balls off that night, sweating like crazy, all the while getting fans pumped up. They performed 8 songs off their new album, including “The Bitter End,” “Calm Before the Storm,” “Lost in the Fire,” “Virus,” “Sound of Violence,” and “The God I Deserve.” They even played their Devil You Know material to let people know they were still the same group. The best song of the night was the closer, “Die Alone.” Light the Torch definitely lit a torch on our asses because we ready for Morton.
Full Light the Torch gallery below:
After a quick set change, the black curtain on the stage lifted up and out came Mark Morton, armed with his signature Jackson Mark Morton Dominion guitar. He got things rolling with the blistering “Back from the Dead,” with Sons of Texas frontman Mark Morales handling the vocals because Myles Kennedy was unavailable (LOL, just kidding Mark). He brought sheer, earsplitting excitement every time he screamed to the top of his lungs. He handled himself very well, and nailed each song that was thrown his way, especially on my favorite track, “Axis.” He delivers a killer blues voice on that song. While Morton wailed out the solos, Bad Wolves rhythm bad boy Doc Coyle provided the metal pulse to the beats. Morales band mate, Nick “Rat” Villarreal, was a bass riffing machine. Not only could he pluck it, he could strum and slap it big time just like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Hammering down the crashes and bangs of the drums was Prong & Winds of Plague drummer Art Cruz. Morton and his gang played every song off the record, including “Save Defiance,” “Sworn Apart,” “The Never,” “Blur” (his song off Anesthetic), and “Imaginary Days.”
As a surprise, Morales and Morton brought out songstress Naeemah Maddox to sing the R&B styled “Reveal.” When I heard it live, Morton added a little bit of a funk flavor to spice up the song. Maddox was dazzling on stage as she swayed to the motion of the music, and the crowd fell in love with her voice almost immediately. After the song was over, Morales invited her to stick around to help him sing the blistering “Truth is Dead.” During which time, Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga made a surprise appearance and stomped the yard with his drum kicks. He also recorded the drum track for this song. To end the night with a bang, they played the Chester Bennington song, “Cross Off.” It was kind of emotional not seeing Bennington there, but I felt his presence as I saw Morales pour his heart out when he sang. If Morton was going to end his set with any song, I am glad it was this one.
Full Mark Morton gallery below:
It was Monday night, I was on the Strip, and I needed to go to work the next day. Tired and a little bit cranky the next day, it was totally worth making the trip. Morton dominated the night, and gave his fans an exhilarating evening of heavy metal. Light the Torch was exactly what I thought they were; pure adrenaline and excitement. Both Jones and Morales raged on the mic with intense energy. I hope Morton keeps going with his solo work and gives us some new stuff down the line. While his work with Lamb of God is very important, he has what it takes to have a successful solo career. I look forward to see what he does next. To Mark Morton and Light the Torch, I salute you. Horns up!!!