C O L U M N S
Unleash the Archers / Striker / Helion Prime / Rapheumet's Well
The invaders came swiftly, cutting across North America with weapons of steel and sound...
The Maywood is a live music venue just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, USA and on a slightly warm and muggy Tuesday night Sept 25th, when most people are expected at work the next morning, the venue sold out for a four-band bill of heavy metal consisting of two Canadian bands, one from California, and one from North Carolina. Standing outside waiting for the doors to open, we all perked up with anticipation when the soundcheck tests filtered through the walls.
North Carolina band Rapheumet's Well (pronounced Ra-few-mets) started us off with some symphonic death metal. They had seven members on stage consisting of a bassist, drummer, keyboardist, two guitarists, and two singers. With all of these people up there, a fair block of sound filled the venue. Best I can describe them is an eclectic mix of blackened death, sci-fi themes, and synthesizer. Shay Hecate's extreme growls and semi-shrieks went well with Taylor Maltba's ethereal operatic vocals and all of the members were solid instrumentalists. Check them out if you're into Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septic Flesh, and even Dimmu Borgir.
Look for their compilation "The Elder's Anthology", a trilogy featuring selective tracks remixed and remastered from their three previous albums Dimensions (2014), Exile (2016) and Enders Door (2017). It will be out in late October on Test Your Metal Records. Check out their first single "The Betrayer" here: [YouTube Link]
Shay Hecate - Lead Vocals
Taylor Maltba - Clean/Operatic vocals
Hunter Ross - Guitar
Daniel Presnell - Guitar
Alex Rush - Bass/Vocals
Joshua "Nassaru" Ward - Drums, Keys, Vocals
Following Rapheumet's Well, Helion Prime took the stage and raised the energy bar to the next level. Formed just four years ago in 2014, this California group was the youngest of the bands on the bill. Vocalist Michael Sozos couldn't make it due to visa issues, so filling in as lead vocalist was another high-quality singer named Mary Zimmer from the band Santa Marta.
The five member band had excellent stage presence and was able to engage with the audience easily. The crowd stayed amped on their power metal and thought-provoking lyrics throughout their set. The guitar solos were spot on, the drummer kept the beat driving; the whole band was in sync with each other. It was all unassuming black shirts and classic guitars. Much respect for class act Mary filling in and hopefully they can work out their vocalist issues going forward. Helion Prime was well suited for getting the crowd ready for Striker and Unleash the Archers.
Their new full-length, 'Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster' just came out on AMF Records at the end of August. Check out their new video "Silent Skies" here: [YouTube Link]
Mary Zimmer - Vocals (touring)
Sozos Michael - Vocals
Jason Ashcraft - Rhythm Guitars
Chad Anderson - Lead Guitars
Jeremy Steinhouse - Bass
Alexander Bosson - Drums
At this point, we ran into a couple of the members of UtA a nearby food truck and challenged then to a quick game of Cornhole. Final score was 15-11.
Team Maximum Metal: 1
Team Archers: 0
Next up from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was Striker, a band that tends to fall into the "Traditional Metal" category or for us simpler folk, they play old school metal. Often, a trad album release is recorded with a throwback production. That sound quality really belies the live experience because Striker had an immense sound, no doubt from Dan Cleary's impressive lead vocals augmented with harmonies from three extra mics from the two guitarists, Tim Brown and Chris Segger, and bass player, William Wallace, all backed by the skin pounding of drummer Adam Brown. This was a high-energy set that really peeled the posters and paint from the walls.
Looking back at our own review/interview archives, we've covered Striker since at least 2010 [link] which shows why they have such an extremely refined performance; they're stalwarts pushing the heavy metal load at maximum efficiency with the dial at "Full Speed or No Speed". Of all the bands, these guys gave the most crowd-interactive set, constantly choosing various people in the crowd to acknowledge, fist bump, and point at. I don't know if they could be more interactive without handing us their instruments to play ourselves. If you still love leather jackets and heavy metal patches, check out Stiker!
Their new full-length, 'Play to Win', will be out at the end of October through Record Breaking Records. The band's new lyric video for their first single "Heart of Lies" can be heard at the following link: [YouTube Link]
Dan Cleary - Lead Vocals
Tim Brown- Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Chris Segger - Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Adam Brown - Drums
William Wallace - Bass
Touring for their most recent album, 'Apex', headliners Unleash the Archers hit the stage to a white hot crowd that came together like an iron phalanx. Playing with a hybrid of traditional and power metal mixed with some melodic death vocalizing, the Archers opened with all guns blazing, striking with swift singles "The Awakening" and "The Matriarch".
"This one is slower paced, but it's made for headbanging!", proclaimed phenomenal vocalist, Brittney Slayes, as they tore into the 'Apex' central core song "Cleanse the Bloodlines"; band and audience headbanging in unison to the crushing riffs from Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley and the skin skills of Scott Buchanan. Props also to their touring bassist, Nick Miller, who brought tons of energy. "Time Stands Still" had long hair flying and fists pumping as the Archers tested our metal cred. Moving into older epic tracks like "Dreamcrusher" and "General of the Dark Army", every time Brittney hit her jaw-dropping notes and soared into the stratosphere, the crowd erupted in amazement and approval. The set ended with the incredible, crowd-favorite single "Tonight We Ride".
"One more song!" ... "One more song!" ..."One more song!" ...we all chanted. Though their set list showed they were finished, the band came back out for an encore of their glorious title track "Apex"; one more chance for us all to feel immortal. Follow them to "Apex" here: [YouTube Link]
Brittney Slayes - Vocals
Scott Buchanan - Drums
Grant Truesdell - Guitar, Vocals
Andrew Kingsley - Guitar, Vocals
Nick Miller - Bass (touring)
I'd really like to note the audience at this show. A lot of people I spoke to drove a fair distance and said what a pleasant, fun event it was. I think there was a mutual feeding of emotions going on here--positive bands fed into the positive crowd which fed back to the bands; an upward circle creating a wholly positive atmosphere overall.
At most of the shows I've been to, the staff is ushering the crowd out so they can close up. After this show and until close, all the bands' members hung out in various spots in the club, chatting with fans, signing merch, or just taking in the thanks from fans. It was an environment where a drummer could be at your left, a bass player to your right, and a guitarist and vocalist in any direction you turned. In an age where digital likes and thumbs up are cherished, it's an absolute pleasure to just give a personal handshake and say, "Man, you all were awesome!!!"
All in all, this was four plus hours of high quality heavy metal at a fantastic price. If this tour is heading near your town and you're on the fence about going, get off the damn wood, buy a ticket and go! If you have a little extra change to spare, look for a VIP upgrade for the guaranteed meet up of the band. This kind of show does what successful media does--it takes you out of your own reality of work and stress and into a new world. For a handful of hours, the Universe only exists in a small radius and music cures your every ailment. Maybe that is a form of the "apex" that Brittney sang about.
Thank you Unleash the Archers, Striker, Helion Prime, and Rapheumet's Well for your time and talents!
In days long past, when a conquering horde rode through a territory, often there was no battle and no need to slay the entire populace. People gave themselves up willingly just like we all did at the Maywood.
There is a suburb of Raleigh named "Apex".
Cellphones were NOT constantly in the air.
At different times, multiple mosh and circle pits started.
Maywood employees were upbeat and helpful.
No Powerclown merch anywhere.
The stripped steak and cheese sandwich was gatdamn tasty.
Appropriate that the 1981 fantasy film "Dragonslayer" was on the club TV.
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