Subterranean, Chicago, IL.
By Joe Who?
Are you ready to bang your heads, throw the horns up high, and whip out your custom air guitars? In the immortal words of the late great Macho Man Randy Savage... Oh, Yeah! What a great way to spend a Saturday night. "Classic" metal rules, and it was on full display when I witnessed Cauldron and Holy Grail, two great bands that are doing their part to keep true heavy metal music alive. I had this particular show on my calendar due to the fact that it met all my qualifications; schedules meshing, quality bands, plus I've never seen either of these groups live before.
So I ventured down to Chicago to a venue called Subterranean, located in the heart of Wicker Park right by the infamous "Six Corners" intersection. The tri-level complex provides a down stairs dance club, while the up stairs second floor offers a small concert hall with another narrow stair case that takes you up to a third floor balcony area. Due to my late departure, I unfortunately missed local openers Kastasyde, (www.facebook.com/kastasyde) and Apocrypha, (www.facebook.com/apocryphaband) but managed to arrive a few minutes before Cauldron hit the stage.
Ironically the last show I saw here was a local gig with Chicago underground metal legends Usurper. So I knew the layout of the building in advance, and I also knew that the small floor space would fill up quickly, which in turn causes an obstructed view. Thankfully that problematic scenario didn't come to fruition when I walked in and discovered a sparse crowd of about 30-40 people. Of course all the die-hard metal heads were front and center making it easy for me to locate a spot on the right side of the stage. Not soon after settling into my environment... BOOM! .... Cauldron was in our faces cranking their killer opening track "All Or Nothing" with the crowd erupting into total fist banging mania!
The Canadian metal trio stormed out of the gate, and proceeded to dazzle and delight everyone in attendance with their melodic / nwobhm inspired style. Bassist / vocalist Jason Decay kept the in-between song banter short and let the music do the talking for him instead. Speaking of which, all three members held their own individually and as a unit. Drummer Chris Steve provided a hard hitting groove, while Jason Decay supplied a tight rhythm, and guitarist Ian Chains riffs and solos were the iceing on the cake.
The forty-five minute set focused mostly on new songs from their latest release entitled "Burning Fortune", but, they also had time to play a few gems from their previous album called "Chained To The Nite" as well. Some choice cuts included; the aforementioned opener "All Or Nothing" with it's killer riffing, the catchy as hell "Miss You To Death", centerpiece synchronized-crowd-headbanging soon-to-be-classic "Rapid City", (Complete with Ian Chains extended guitar solo "Unchained Assault"...) and set ending anthem "Chained Up In Chains". Biding their farewell, the crowd responded in kind by chanting Cauldron! Cauldron! Cauldron! Great performance from a band that really succeeds at making memorable music, and who also totally capture the essence of the early eighties metal.
Pasadena California metal outfit Holy Grail was up next. I was really looking forward to seeing them because I missed their previous appearances in Chi-Town supporting the likes of; Amon Amarth, Exodus, and Blind Guardian, plus their full length debut offering entitled "Crisis In Utopia" is such a great album, I had to experience it in the live setting. After a brief intermission to set up equipment and soundcheck, the band promptly hit the stage, and showed us all what they were capable of.
The groups extensive road work revealed a well oiled machine firing on all cylinders. Their unique bled of traditional (nwobhm) mixed with speed, death, and power metal(s) really enhances the music and demands your attention. Guitarists Eli Santana and Alex Lee, (Alex is formerly of Bonded By Blood, and now a new member of the band...) pumped up the crowd with their dualing riffs, catchy hooks, and shredding solos, while the thunderous playing of bassist Blake Mount and drummer Tyler Meahl made the ground shake, and frontman James Paul Luna sent shivers down our spine with his fantastic vocals.
Highlights included; fist pumping set opener "Immortal Man", groove-oriented Norse mythology inspired "Call Of Valhalla", the post-apocalyptic death metal riff driven title track, and a speed metal masterpiece finale called "My Last Attack". As the co-headling main event came to a close, the chant of... One More Song! One More Song! One More Song! echoed in unison, prompting the band to come back out for an encore. More than happy to oblige the request, they ended the evening with the high-octane speed-metal anthem "Fight To Kill", which made the small enthusiastic audience roar in appreciation.
If your a fan of "Classic Metal", you really can't go wrong with either of these bands. The next time they roll into your town, check them out, you won't be disappointed!
CONCERT REVIEWS >