Monday, November 11, 2013

Rock Harvest II: Ashes of Ares/ A Sound of Thunder @ House of Rock, 11/7/2013

I went to the much metaldramafilled and kind of Pricey ($25) Rock Harvest II to see Ashes of Ares and A Sound of Thunder. This was the first concert of 3 shows at the House of Rock that was initially slated to have like 30 bands of various fame levels, but many rarely seen, to play for the charity Fallen Blue. Various reports of bands dropping off, reasons why, conflicting stories, and a tiff with Metal Sludge's Stevie Rachelle all fed into the who is actually playing factor. Bands dropping off until and including the day of! This is no Maryland Deathfest here, people. I did see a number of people including Nick and Bobbie, Dave, Tom, Brian B, the A Sound of Thunder crew, and maybe someone else.

I think that there was something fishy about the whole event, announcing so many bands in advance, and then varying  "reasons" or explanations why some bands dropped. And some conflicting information from said bands. I don't know what the real story is, but when you have a charity event and have what seems to be non truthful advertising, then something just doesn't jive with me. And to top it all off, they were announcing acts for Rock Harvest III (2014)- as if they had everything together for 2013!!!  I feel bad for people who bought the hype and got the VIP tickets in advance (and took off work, arranged travel, etc.).  I recall seeing people post about basically no band that was advertised that they had bought tickets for was even playing anymore! And there were 2 more days of this! I can't speak for those days as I didn't go those days. 

Consider the Headliners used to be (Thursday)- Circle II Circle, Ashes of Ares, Cage; (Friday)- Flotsam and Jetsam, Heathen, and Raven; (Saturday)-  Tuff, Love/Hate, Femme Fatale. Not to mention the ton of other bands that were supposed to play. They were reduced to (Thursday)- Ashes of Area, (Friday)- Raven, (Saturday)- White Trash. A drastic change. Read some Metal Sludge
So I got there, and I knew a few people I knew were there, walked in with Bobbie and Nick, after parking in about a half full lot. As we entered, I saw the guy at the door pass out some CD samplers (free?), and wave people in. From reports of my friends and my own observations, it was not crowded at all. I figure there were maybe about 100 people there total, including bands! As we got there, I hear A Sound of Thunder go on! Right on time!

After I hit the loo, I sauntered around and perused the floor. I spied a CD 'yard sale' ($5@) in the back, next to some sort of weight or slimming thing. In the next room, people were milling about and I saw a table for Ashes of Ares, A Sound of Thunder, Rivera Bomma, and maybe one of the other bands.  Just as I finished my circuit, I caught the last part of "Queen of Hell."  SO overall, way less crowded than I expected,and definitely an intimate show. I was pretty sure I saw Matt Barlow carry around a stool as well.

A Sound of Thunder had a pretty decent length set and had a solid set as well. They did play their IMO least inspired new song ("I Will not Break"), but even their slow ballad ("I'll Walk with You") sounded very good that night. I didn't enjoy hearing it live the last time, so maybe it's grown on me, or the House of Rock PA was extra nice that night. Whatever the case, I recommend you see the video and take a listen.  My favourite song of theirs, "Time's Arrow" sounded extra great, and Josh's solo was more frenzied than I recall. Despite a little drum problem, the A Sound of Thunder gang had one of their best performances that I'd seen this year this night. I was expecting some more Rock moves from Jesse and Josh's guitars... maybe next time. Also of note: Cleavage. I think my one complaint (other than moar songs!) was that it was not. loud. Enough! 

At this point I rambled to hang out with people and check those tempting CDs (a sickness I tell you!). I somehow only walked away with a pre-'hard' Pantera and an October 31 CDs.  The man manning the booth had a KILLER Heavy Pettin shirt on, and we briefly discussed the awesomeness of that. 

Rivera Bomma, who had the bassist from Symphony X apparently, went on next and I really didn't notice. I am not sure if it was the sickliness or distracted by friends, or just the kind of smooth/generic sound they were providing, but I only half paid attention. They became background noise- I had checked out a couple songs earlier, and they weren't bad, but they weren't great. I did watch most of a song, they had a singer who reminded me of (classic) Geoff Tate with his scarf, vest, and kind of high singing (I will say I don't think he was rude to the fans or the like, so please do not misunderstand me).  I can't really say much about them other than they didn't sound bad, but just not attention grabbing. I kind of wish i had head more, but they just didn't seem interesting to me. I think they had less people watching them than A Sound of Thunder, but I can't really recall. 

Ashes of Ares took the stage at 10:40, which was surprisingly on time. They were initially slated to play at 11:50, and then the day of, they posted on bookface that they had change to 10:40, because surprise surprise another band dropped off (these guys were from Greece, so I think they had known before the day of...). But Matt and gang played their whole album, as advertized, and on time, as stated. So I cannot complain about that, or about how amazing they sounded- despite Matt Barlow apologizing about Post-nasal drip. I will say that they too were not as loud as I had thought they should be. I was able to listen to the whole set without earplugs about 3 or 4 people back. They also had a bit of drum problems, causing the show to linger a little. This delay wasn't really felt, because Matt and Freddie Vidales (the guitarist) cracked jokes while Van Williams complained about blowing a snare.  The topics ranged from a heartfelt comment about the charity (Matt is a police officer in real life still), and trying to cut down on the goddamn cursing cause Freddie's kid(s) were there LOL. 

Anyways, on to the performance, some guy came on and announced Ashes of Ares and "The Messenger" strangely started over the PA... and then became live as the band came out!  I swear they sounded very close to the album sound, with a tinge of live rawness. The vocals were surprisingly rich, as Freddie and the bassist provided some awesome backing vocals. I mean this was almost Michael Anthony level harmonics helping out. That is not to say Matt slouched at all, cause he was singing with all his (sick) might, I thought. Matt riffed a little about not getting licensing for one comic themed song ("Punushment"- The Punisher duh), and dedicated "On Warrior's Wings" to a fallen friend. :(  I thought every song sounded great, and the solos were fab. However, on one song (I can't recall which), Freddie did slightly mess up on chord. That's about it. At the end, as I was clapping, the bassist threw a handful of picks into the crowd- I mean into my eye, cause that's where they hit.The first one landed, and someone who was not injured grabbed it. Then some kind soul pointed out one near my foot as I rubbed my eye.

So as I grabbed a shirt ($20) that Matt himself wrangled out of some box, I coughed to myself that this was kind of worth it. I drove the long drive back home and stumbled into bed, trying to get some sleep before work and the next show (Morbid Angel!). 

A Sound of Thunder
A Sound of ok pictures
Me with Matt Barlow
Ashes of Ares!
Ashes of Ares rocking
Ashes of Ares finishing their set

A Sound Of Thunder (8:19- 9:00)
  • Queen of Hell
  • Time's Arrow
  • I Will Not Break
  • Power Play
  • I'll Walk With You
  • Out of the Darkness
  • A Sound Of Thunder
Rivera Bomma ( ? -10:11)

Ashes of Ares (10:40- 11:42)
  • The Messenger
  • Move the Chains
  • On Warrior's Wings
  • Punishment
  • This Is My Hell
  • Dead Man's Plight
  • Chalice of Man
  • The Answer
  • What I Am
  • The One-Eyed King