Mandatory Metal 3 was the third local metal night at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia held on 16 December 2010. This was the first Mandatory Metal to take place on a Thursday night, instead of a Friday, and that combined with the fact that it snowed a couple inches that day unfortunately kept the turn out rather low. For those who did make it out though, it was a really entertaining show. As usual there were four local bands who played and this time they were Scream/Ruin, A Sound Of Thunder, Iris Divine and Division. While the previous Mandatory Metal show had been more death and black metal based, this one was more melodic and most of the bands used clean vocals (aka non-growling/screaming) at least some of the time. Now if you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that’s not usually my preference, but of course there are exceptions and this show was a great way to stay out of the cold.
The first band of the night was Scream/Ruin, a hardcore band with some thrashy elements based in Loudoun, Virginia. They had a lot of heavy breakdowns and some nice shredding in parts. The vocals were mostly somewhere between shouting and screaming. One thing that sort of set them apart from your typical hardcore metal band is they had atmospheric keyboards in parts of some songs. I’m generally not a huge fan of most hardcore, but these guys were entertaining. The drummer seemed to come from the Lars Ulrich school of drumming, not really too fast but high drama most of the time. I really enjoyed the parts of their songs that had the faster drum beats most, but that might just be my bias for extreme metal talking. Their stage lighting was very dark, with a couple of flood lights on stage that blinked on and off throughout the set. I was right up front most of their set but I’m not sure how well people farther back could see the stage. The video I shot of them is pretty dark too, but the audio is still decent. They were a good opening act and started the show off with a lot of energy.
The next band to play was A Sound Of Thunder. Their lead singer is a very charismatic woman named Nina Osegueda. While they may have a female lead singer, they don’t really sound anything like other local bands that also do, like say Todesbonden, This Means You or Rain Fell Within. This band is more in the vein of traditional and power metal stylistically. While Nina sings very cleanly, it’s not in that operatic style but more of a female rock or metal style. The band itself was more talented than the bulk of the metal bands that have a woman up front just as more of a gimmick. The guitarist had a cool solo with the spotlight on him for a bit at one point, and you could tell the band was really in tune with each other on stage. While they did rock out a lot they had some slower and more melodic parts too, showing some range in their songs. The stage was still fairly dark for them, and since my camera sucks in dark lighting you don’t really get as good of an idea of how they looked on stage, but the audio is listenable enough. They were certainly fun, and while I wish I’d gotten to record their song Walls, probably my favorite song of their set, I did get their closing song Wings Of Steel at least.
The next band to play was Iris Divine from Alexandria, Virginia. They’re a more progressive style band, though that genre label has always seemed a bit vague to me. They reminded me a lot of Maryland’s Periphery, though I wouldn’t call them a djent band. They do have some complex song structures that are also catchy, not a lot of bands seem to be able to do both. The songs have lots of rhythm changes, and the vocals alternate from a rough yelling to singing. Their keyboard player, Farhad Hossain, would step away from the keys to play guitar in some parts, as well as share the singing with their other guitarist, Navid Rashid. Probably the biggest issue I had with their set was that sometimes they had problems harmonizing their voices on the parts where they were both singing together. Either one by himself sounded fine though. Really that’s a minor issue as this band is one that you focus more on the musicianship anyways. The clean vocals as well as the programming and keyboards did seem to fill their sound out with some atmosphere, and there were some more heavy and energetic parts too. You could definitely tell they had put a lot of thought into all these songs. In all I was impressed by them, as this was the band that I knew the least about going in to this show.
Next up was the fourth and final band of the night, Division from Woodbridge, Virginia. I met some of the band members at the first Mandatory Metal show back in August and they had given me a copy of their latest CD, Control Issues (buy it here). It’s definitely grown on me and I was glad I knew some of their material by the time I got to see them live. They opened with their song Hunt, which is probably my favorite song of theirs. Their setlist wasn’t only songs from the new album, but also songs I didn’t recognize from older albums. Both were fun to watch live though. They really put on a show, members of the band were constantly shifting position on stage and their showmanship certainly made it easy to watch them as they walked around on the stage like they owned it. The thrashy and heavy riffs were fun to listen to as well. The two guitarists seemed to be playing dueling solos at points too. I guess you could call them power metal, but vocalist Nick Kelly doesn’t overdo it in that annoying way that reminds me of 80s hair bands like plenty of power metal bands do. He has a good voice and knows when to sustain and when not to, the latter being noticeably rare in the world of heavy metal. They were my favorite band of the night, and they were a great headlining act. The highlight of the entire night was definitely their closing song, a cover of Metallica‘s Disposable Heroes. They really had the audience participation going, and also had Alan Margazano (the guy who organizes the Mandatory Metal shows) of Death Penalty singing back up vocals on that. Those of you who missed the show or left early are lucky that I shot video of it and have posted it below. They really put on a great show, my only gripe was that they didn’t play their song Short Attention Span Society, which is another tune I really like of theirs. But that’s ok, gives me something to look forward to the next time I see them.
In all it was another great night of local metal at the State Theatre. I enjoyed all four bands, none of which I had seen live before. I just wish more people had shown up, the bands really deserved it. I suppose nobody can control the weather, but people really should have come out, it wasn’t THAT bad out. Alan told me there were a lot of people who had bought presale tickets and didn’t even show up! If you missed out though, you can check out three of the bands that played, Scream/Ruin, A Sound Of Thunder and Division, who all have free mp3s you can download on my Download’s page here. You can also see A Sound Of Thunder, Iris Divine and Division play with a few other bands in Richmond at Alley Katz on March 5th, 2011. There will also be another metal show coming to the State Theatre, though not a Mandatory Metal (the next one will be in February). In late January King Giant and Death Penalty are playing a gig, the State Theatre’s first non-Mandatory Metal concert. Details are on the calendar of upcoming concerts. AND don’t forget I’m giving away a pair of tickets to see Gwar on 29 December 2010 at the 9:30 Club, you can enter here for free. You can check out the rest of my pics from Mandatory Metal 3 on my Flickr account here, and as usual I’ve posted all the videos I shot at the show below. Enjoy!