Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Scream and shout: Toledo Metal Fest brings at least 11 bands to town


Chimaira, a Cleveland band, performs a mix of hardcore and metal.


Have a hankering for the clangor of an electric guitar turned up to about 11, with a bass drum beating your kidneys into submission?

Feel like thrashing around like a live-wire moshpit madman while bellowing in a full-throated yowl to the sounds of Chimaira or Ringworm?

Do you like it when the music is so loud and so fast and so nasty that it makes your ears bleed?

If you're from Toledo, it's probably in your DNA.

At least that's how Pat O'Connor explains Toledo's long-standing, deep-abiding affection for heavy metal music in all its forms.

"It goes way back to it being kind of an industrial city," said the owner of Culture Clash, who has been selling records in Toledo since 1973. "The pounding of the machinery, the hard work of the average man, translated into metal [music] starting in the late '60s."

John Rockwood, another longtime observer of the local music scene, agreed with O'Connor's assessment and said the city's industrial heritage with its clanking machinery and blue-collar ethos makes it a natural for one of rock's most down-to-earth, angry genres.

"It's a suburb of Detroit and it's a metal town," Rockwood said. "It's like Alice Cooper said one time, 'Hollywood people wear their leather jackets out. In Toledo they wear them 24/7.'●"

(Rockwood was paraphrasing a quote Cooper gave The Blade in 1996.)

All of which is a perfect setup for this weekend's Toledo Metal Fest Weekend at Club Bijou, which will feature at least 11 bands, including Ringworm of Cleveland tomorrow night and Chimaira, another Cleveland band, on Saturday night.

Both bands play a mix of hardcore and metal - fast, rhythmically intense, loud with dark lyrics about society's many ills - that gets at one of the core issues involving modern metal: There are subgenres for the subgenres.

Screamo, emo, industrial, death, radio, hardcore, black. They're all titles that in front of the word "metal" describes a unique version of a type of music that most people agree spun off from early Black Sabbath about 30 years ago.

"There's just so many genres of metal right now," O'Connor said. "It's easy to say in general that's what Toledo likes, but when you subdivide it into all the genres, it's just too hard to figure out."

Rockwood agreed and said that there are so many bands that seem to follow the same sonic blueprint that it's difficult for casual listeners to figure out what's what.

"There's so much out there. How do you keep up with it? Let's face it, the music business is a business. This stuff is being packaged and sold because people buy it."

True, said John Nittolo, a promoter with JNP Promoters of New Jersey, which often brings rock and alternative bands to Toledo. The music sells because folks in blue-collar cities like Toledo love it, he said.

"For 30 years that I've been hearing about Toledo, it's a town that likes the edgier rock music," he said.

Which is why metal bands with national followings traipse through here every week, regularly playing Club Bijou or Headliners. The city also has produced a few acts of its own, including the now defunct Lollipop Lust Kill and Premonitions of War.

One of the first of the local metal mongers was Damien, a group led by Chuck Stohl, who came of age in the early '80s when the music had more finesse and a premium was placed on fast guitar solos.

Now it's all about "tone," he said, with bands focusing on their collective sound far more than who can rip off a killer solo. "In a weird way, when you hear a solo it's almost like old music, almost like it's an older style," he said.

Rockwood said metal also has a visceral appeal to young people for a pretty simple reason, one that has fueled rock and roll rebellion for a couple of generations.

"Your parents don't like it, it's outlaw, and you identify with it," he said.

Let the roaring begin.

Tomorrow will feature the Metal Fest pre-party with Victory Records recording artist Ringworm playing in the Underground, which is in the basement of Club Bijou, 209 North Superior St. It's an all-ages show and tickets are $8. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are available from Ticketmaster.

Saturday will feature Roadrunner Records artist Chimaira as the headliner in Club Bijou. Opening acts are Cursed Eternity, Stemm, Habitual Coersion, and Axiomatic. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets, $15, are available from Ticketmaster.

Sunday's show will be hosted by Juliya and Marianela of Fuse TV's Uranium show. Bands for the afternoon event include Byzantine (Prosthetic Records), 7th Plague (Metal Blade Records), Dissonant Hatred, Forever Lost, and Detrahis. Doors open at 2 p.m. Tickets, $12 in advance, are available from Ticketmaster.

The shows are sponsored by Hardcore Marketing of Cleveland and local radio station WIOT-FM (104.7).

Contact Rod Lockwood at:

or 419-724-6159.

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