Music and Show Reviews
by Mike Ritchie
Saturday January 17th Shumatsucon presented the third annual Powerfest showcasing the best of the Cincinnati/Kentucky music scene with a band of merry men making the long voyage from Madison Wisconsin. The seven band bill showcased everything from acoustic scalley-wagged pirates pulled from the ocean floor, armored warlord tyrants dressed to kill, the screaming, yelling frenzy of prog metal, the sound of hayfield’s ‘set ablaze’ like a stagecoach on fire.
The combined forces of a ninja, Spartan Warrior, beaked nosed drummer, Roman gladiator and a druid on stage at the same time. A bizarre carney concoction of Weird Al Yankovic meets punk, keyboards and clarinet and a loud heavy steampunk version of a Led Zeppelin crashing in a land of fiction far far away. The night was a maddeningly fun display of death, Viking and prog metal, and modernized steampunk. Since the first Powerfest the multi-genre event has promoted the most unique, diverse and bizarre talent the area has to offer.
Cincy Powerfest was started by David Sugerman and Anthony Campbell in 2013 to teach themselves the process behind booking and promoting by building ties regionally/nationally with power metal acts. The resulting yearly one-night show was built around strong promotion and friendship, which has become the business model for the event. This year aimed for diversity, bringing a unique and energetic blend of local, regional and out of state bands. With a focus on power metal and an atmosphere of camaraderie, musicianship and mutual shared respect in a larger venue than local shows offer. This year’s show was planned by Anthony Campbell and Kenney Knipe, as well as local Cincinnati booking agent Joe Grizzly and Columbus area fandom convention Shumatsucon, hosted by Matt Geisen.
The vision became reality in 2013 with the inaugural Cincy Powerfest show consisting of Scarangella, Siren, Automaton, Hell Scorched Earth, Schallkrieg and Dethlehem from Pittsburgh. With around 100 in attendance the seed was born at the Thompson House in Newport, KY. In 2014 Powerfest returned with: Dynamite Thunderpunch, Schallkrieg, Hell Scorched Earth, Automaton, Stagecoach Inferno and Winterhymn (2014 US Paganfest touring band) with similar attendance.
This year Cincy Powerfest III’s lineup: Band of Pirates, Siegelord, Scarangella, Stagecoach Inferno, Lords of the Trident (Madison, WI), Ford Theatre Reunion and Automaton brought over 300 to the Madison Theater in Covington KY.
Yes, over three-hundred lovers and visitors of the carnal carnival creation came to listen, dance, mosh, sing, drink and scream. Whether you came dressed as a pirate, powerlord, gothic princess or just in standard all black, everyone got their coins worth.
Preshow started at an early evening hour with Cincinnati’s Band of Pirates a merry crew of grog rockers, who actually encourage piratey piracy, as long as you’re not stealing anything. The gang included Larry Sparrow (a man most a-Depp’d to the stage) Rob Dorsey (a much more lively looking Barboosa), Dave Francy, Loren Muzzy (Loren the Black) unchained and pulled from the bloody deep or whatever crypt he chooses to rise from, and the lady of the sea herself Julie Langenderfer.
For all fans of pillaging, plundering and burning things they played a set of covers and tunes of the swashbuckler’s age. Musical tales filled with dance, decadence and the only thing better than a lot of gold coins, Johnny Cash, and singing songs about gold, silver, bronze, copper, pyrite, tin and other alloy metals. Even a pirate knows that everything that glistens isn’t gold. The songs of the sirens began as fifteen men stood over a dead man’s chest with gold shining in their eyes. It’s enough to make a pirate thirsty for strong drink. Yo Ho Ho more rum please. And now a song of the sea, way hey “Blow the Man Down.” So far it was a perfect storm for looters and merry men, and women.
They played “Hurt”, probably as it’s never been played before or as happy. Though Cash, may’ve had a better chance of not walking the plank back in the day than Reznor. They played a song by that band that got famous in that sleepy rainy town by the sea, Seattle. Intro’d as the riff stolen from Mudhoney. “My Girl,” did you sleep on another ship last night? Now for another oldie the Matey’s stole… and made better. What do you do with a drunken pirate early in the morning? Putt’em in a barrel with a hosepipe or stick’em in the captain’s daughter’s bed?
“Shiver Me Timbers Shiver My Bones,” was perhaps the best middle ground between Muppets and metal fans, Yo Ho He Ho. They take a break from tradition and play “All I know Is, I don’t Know Anything” by Operation Ivy. They break out the headbands and arena lighters for the tune that even Red Beard would’ve approved, cause they’re pirates, on the tall ship they ride. They’re wanted, wanted “Dead or Alive.” With a loud Yo Ho it’s “A Pirates Life for Me.” They finished, rolling one with Syd Barrett.
The show officially started at 7 as Cincinnati’s battle coated dark soldiers Siegelord played loud, heavy, death, epic blackened metal. After years of silence and slumber, darkness loomed as growler/guitarist Ulfr (self-described as everyone’s favorite asshole), the beast on the skins Sieven and the sexy butcher himself bassist Warg brought forth the story of a new dark conqueror.
The blasphemous soulless brothers, heavily inspired by anything dark fantasy gave praise capturing this morbid tale in song with dark lyrics and hails to their upcoming release Ascent of the Fallen.
Each track on their upcoming album will serve as a chapter in their own original story. The album tells the tale of Ulfr, Sieven and Warg as they find themselves exiled from their homeworld for worshiping the savage war-god, Ang Ul-Mak. The three berserker-priests and Ang Ul-Mak himself have been cast out for the madness and violent rituals they inspire. Coming into the new world, they learn that the exile has greatly weakened Ang Ul-Mak, and without a proper sacrifice, will die. Soon their mission becomes clear and must explore the new realm and spread mayhem and carnage as they seek a fitting sacrifice to nourish the soul of their dying lord.
Their battle cry shall be heard and heeded and after the last drop of blood, all shall know the story of The Fallen. It was Mad Max metal down the roads of apocalypse.
Ulfr resembled a warlord from the dark enemy of Beastmaster as he proclaimed dark, ominous anthems of destructive and diabolic deeds. “Fractured Pantheon” started with its deceptive acoustic beginning launching into dark, dirty black metal misanthropy and the tale of the exiled warriors. It was back of the dark forest black metal accompanied by a background classical feel. Bring the torches, bullet belts, leather jackets and warpaint for the forest band shot at midnight. “Gate Keeper” was the overseer of the door between lands and realms as the horns of conquest sounded. “Unkillable” was dedicated to Ulfr’s hero Oderus Urungus. “Destination of a Dying God” continued the unholy quest with lots of Venom finished by “Slaughter the Beautiful” and “Totem.”
Formed in 2006 Powerfest alumni Scarengella hails from Florence and proudly revealed their new incarnation at Powerfest. Playing a loud unique crossbreed of prog and thrash, Dream Theater meets Meshuggah they started with the triumphant and true Power Rangers. The revealing “At Close Range” had some Pantera in the chug and Anselmo in Andrew Ris’s vocals and some Korn in Colin Kennedy’s bass. It wouldn’t have been Powerfest without a song about “Dragons, Wizards, Thunder and Shit” and they delivered. “Through The Dream Gate” was followed by Scarnengella’s version of Trivium’s “Down From The Sky.” “When Fingers Clasp” started with a slow thrash rattle building to a Prong-like structure. A tune Tommy Victor could snap his fingers to.
From Louisville, the sluggers, players and proud causers of power spikes Stagecoach Inferno. Reminiscent of a bluesy Biohazard and the answer to what Ted Nugent, Charlie Daniels and CCR could’ve been like in a mosh pit causing metal band. making their second fest appearance the Wild West troubadour’s launched into the Iron Maiden inspired “The Dead and The Damned,” and was truly ‘death on the road’ Eddie style. For anyone that did them wrong, beware they brought the “Hammer & Tongs.” It’s the law of the west, “Atonement” by hook, crook, punishment or payback.
Time to raise your lighters and glasses. This is the west sir, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. That’s “How The West Was One.” They ended on a tale about losing everything you loved in a circle pit and a “Black Blizzard.”
Making the long, weary multi-hour/state soldiers trek from Madison WI. Lords of the Trident came to entertain, and conquer. With a variety of props, costumes and athleticism singer Fang VonWrathenstein took to the crowd twice, winning the minion’s over two weapons at a time. What happens when Manowar and Iron Maiden meet Dragonforce with a touch or two of Greek theater… and tragedy. The other motley brethren include Killius Maximus on Centurian lead guitar, the guitar playing ninja Asian Metal, the hooded foreboding father of death and bass Pontifex Mortis and the beaked Dr. Vitus on drums. Their epic creation and journey can be read here http://www.lordsofthetrident.com.
They started with “Knights of Dragons Deep” because knights and dragons spend a lot of time together. They snuck under the guise of night into the enemy camp to cripple their defenses. Also running amok, swords in hand into the crowd, attacking randomly or with reason; converting those in need was VonWrathenstein. Back on stage he lost all control of his soprano on “Complete Control,” rivalling the peaks of Halford and King Diamond. The song ended with a very pitch-fork-like confetti trident cannon shooting a celebration shower onto the blackened masses. From Chains of Fire “Face of the Enemy” is a modern day manhunt Faceoff done Fight style.
“Haze of the Battlefield” was cast upon the crowd in dizzying array along with the manliest of witnesses, with a little dirty deeds. They also had a sign, to prove its utter and complete manliness to any non-believers. Next was the heralded and somewhat obligatory cover tune. After a group discussion included “Hair of the Dog”, “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Walk This Way” they decided on something completely different going back to the mid-eighties and their love of Jerry Curls and shiny red jackets.
The King of Pop was honored, gang war style, including a mid-song, one arm bare fist fight, because no one wants to be defeated, especially on stage in front of a full house of metalheads.
They have a new CD coming out, fittingly on Friday the 13th (ma-ma’s idea). It makes a lovely gift for your bloody valentine. Time for a highway to the danger zone and they’re sending you straight to Top Gun like an Iron Eagle. “Skyforce” harkened the airborne warriors and gave Fang another chance for a cutting edge meet and greet, this time with meat cleavers. Everyone survived (officially).
From Lexington, came something wicked. A carnival driven side-show with punk appeal and a bizarre bit of performance art played with keyboard, clarinet, drums, accordion and guitar. Ford Theater Reunion came to play some games, led by the dangerously sexy, limber and possibly multi-personality of Alex Ford. Think Pink possessed by the spirit of Wendy O Williams as a self-styled contortionist.
‘This song is about monsters,’ she slowly whispered into the mic. As the deceiving Kalliope started, “Connoisseur” brought the speed metal out of the accordion and drums. Next was a skin eater, he’s gonna get ya, he’s gonna get cha, he’s the boggie man… wait, he’s just an “Alligator” and a misunderstood swamp walker. But he is a mean mother, don’t mess with him, if you knock him in the air, you won’t get luggage.
Ford Theater Reunion is Weird Al Yankovic meets the Missing Persons (who did play together once in April 1982) and Roxette jammed together real pretty in a plasmatic package. They threw down on “The Ballad of Buffalo Jones.” It was enough for a big top blow out.
Automaton’s story started with singer David J. Sugerman’s aka Duncan Batchworth III discovery of Steampunk. (A combination of cyberpunk and period corporate high-tech resistance groups with a mixture of hardcore fans inspired by Jules Verne’s writings largely based around creating their own costume period outfits imagined in 1800’s science fiction).
After falling in love with it and deciding that while area band shows were lively and creative, they lacked the heaviness he looked for. In 2012, he met drummer Anthony Campbell aka Mechanic James O’Brian at a thrift store and bounced around ideas. After a few local shows they played the second Steampunk Symposium, as well as Up in the Aether in Detroit, Cincy Comic Expo and opened for touring metal bands such as 3 Inches of Blood and the Warriors of Metal festival in Columbus.
Ryan Carney aka Captain Luther Meade and Kenney Knipe aka Professor Markus Wolverhampton comprise the other members. The idea involved a compelling stage show with acting, inspired by their favorite music (mostly Iron Maiden) and presented in a playful and adventurous story.
The lyrical/storyline setting of Automaton is a fictional alternate world where there are two nations bitterly divided. Ionia is the freshly industrialized strong nation of aristocrats surrounded by the large and tribal colony of Rekelar. Ionia cannot control Rekelar and out of disdain print The Azimuth, a propaganda spouting newspaper used to cover up the toxic waste dumps on the countryside. Duncan Batchworth III is the heir to The Azimuth’s media empire and doesn’t agree with his father’s practices, so he hires the press to run a new issue and deliver in mass to Rekelar exposing the corruption. With information compiled by Ionian professor Dr. Markus Wolverhampton, who joins the adventure, they join the Airship Initiative, and her crew Rekelarian smugglers Captain Luther Meade, Isaac Grimwood (a stowaway and brew master’s apprentice) and the charismatic mechanic James O’Brian.
They deliver the newspaper across the Ionian border, but are ambushed and shot down. The surviving crew hides to regroup and finish the delivery. They return to Ionia on a covert mission to rescue a group of Rekelarian resistance fighters from a prison and hijack a new airship. The rebels learn that Rekelar is responding to the news with a full-scale war and a newly finished war-forged machine called the Automaton, and they’ve already begun marching toward the Ionian border city. To be continued…..
They started showing off the new technology with the “Age of the Smokestacks.” Extra, extra read all about it, propaganda, controversy, the truth is finally told, government cover ups, toxic facts revealed “Hot Off the Press!” It’s also what Megadeth might sound like playing Iron Maiden.
It was time to “Stand and Be Counted,” for what you’re about to read. They’re the dealers of fact and fiction. They’ll make (up) the headlines, until “Dunc” decided to come clean. Now for a “Maverick” tune brought to you by the stroke of a quill and a big ass blimp. Have no fear, the “Journeymen” will “Construct” or borrow a new machine to give “Rise of the Ruined Nation.”
Near the end, Batchworth invited all the bands to come back up to throw down and celebrate a triumphant evening in front of the screaming crowd. There are already whispers and a spirited push for next year’s show.
All images by Mike Ritchie www.facebook.com/mike.ritchie.338
Read more from the pit articles and reviews by Mike Ritchie on his web site www.coveringthescene.com