Hell wasn’t a bad place to be Saturday night. Or at least a heavy metal facsimile of it, as the burning abyss of afterlife for many proved to be the overriding theme during a five-band extravaganza billed as Hellfest IV at The Rock Box.
Headlined by ’80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal stalwart’s Grim Reaper and directly supported by 30-year-plus Houston natives Helstar (stay tuned for coverage of both), Hellfest IV featured San Antonio’s Las Cruces and IsoLayDead not only teaming with Ignitor out of Austin but having all three South Texas outfits delivering molten metal in more than credible fashion. Staged by Simon Ortega’s Kronic Productions, Hellfest IV at the downtown venue formerly known as 210 Kapone’s saw approximately 150 turn out on the same night thousands caught Chevelle and 10 Years at the 100th annual Fiesta Oyster Bake at St. Mary’s University while fewer than 100 saw the return of Warbeast at Fitzgerald’s.
The Rock Box crowd got their fill of metal in large part to the local acts. Veteran unit Las Cruces, fronted by the impressive voice of Jason Kane — who’s more commonly known around these parts for his involvement with Jason Kane & The Jive — set the stage for Helstar and the British band that has been telling metalheads they will “See You in Hell.” Kane joined rhythm guitarist and band founder George Trevino, lead guitarist Mando Tovar, bassist Jimmy Bell and drummer Paul De Leon in playing a lengthy and rocking set entirely under hellaciously red (and standard) stage lights that included “Revelations” and “Wizard of the North.”
Kane will be back in action with The Jive on Sunday opening for Tracii Guns at The Korova (tickets here), while Las Cruces will bring its Led Zeppelin-meets-doom and gloom metal to Zombies on May 13 ($5 cover) before returning to The Rock Box on May 20 opening for Voivod, King Parrot and Child Bite (tickets here).
Ignitor provided a multitude of interesting aspects to watch on stage concerning each of its members. Lead guitarist Stuart Laurence and drummer Pat Doyle are the band’s original members, though vocalist Jason McMaster is its most recognizable. The frontman of Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth and several tribute groups has been a staple of Texas heavy metal throughout the years. On the audience’s left side of the stage, meanwhile, resided two members who joined Ignitor last year — bassist Billy Dansfiell and rhythm guitarist Robert Williams.
Ignitor tore into tunes such as “Rune of Power,” “Heavy Metal Holocaust,” “Beast in Black,” “Raiders of the Void,” “Island of the Damned,” “The Kaiser,” and “Shadow of the Needle” while debuting “No Sanctuary” from an album slated to be released this summer. It will be interesting to hear the contributions of Ignitor’s newest members meshing with its original sounds of Laurence and Doyle all combining with McMaster’s signature howls on the forthcoming studio effort.
IsoLayDead may have been the band to kick things off, but the local trio of singer/bassist Rick Vela, guitarist John Castilleja and drummer Jonathan James was not to be outdone when it came to unleashing new music. The group opened with “12 Black Roses,” which just happens to be IsoLayDead’s first official promotional video. The track starts out in doom fashion too, then takes off with a steady stream of thrash riffage and pounding of the drums mixing with Vela’s vocal angst that more than set the tone for the evening in the live setting. The track comes from IsoLayDead’s latest CD “Cranial Split,” the title track of which was also played for those who chose to arrive early enough for the 7:30 p.m. start. Other IsoLayDead tunes included “Dispose What You Despise,” “Peace is Deceased” and “Wings of Sorrow” with 2014 offerings “To Kill a Clown” and “Incision” (see setlist in slideshow).
IsoLayDead will join fellow locals Deadpool and Metalriser in opening for Prong a week from today at The Korova (tickets here; listen to the SAMME’s interview with Prong frontman Tommy Victor by visiting the “Suggested” links below).
It pays to subscribe for free to the San Antonio Metal Music Examiner, no matter where you live. Do so below for exclusive interviews, concert announcements, reviews, and all things metal. You can also get your fix via the SAMME Facebook page, follow along on Twitter or StumbleUpon, check out his YouTube channel, listen to podcast-style interviews via SoundCloud and see more of his coverage on AXS.com, and his Alamo True Metal website.