I waited for this show the entire month, eager to see the finest metal bands Central Florida has to offer. They showed up and rocked it, much to my delight. The Haven in Winter Park was the venue for this free show, small and cozy, but with enough room between the bar and the stage for all the concertgoers to enjoy the show and even enough space for an impromptu mosh pit.
Cory Britt and Collin Morrison opened the show with a beautiful acoustic performance. Britt’s vocals were amazing. I have seen them with their band Breathing Theory a few times, when they are cranked wide open, and Cory has mastered a wide range of singing styles, but I hadn’t yet seen him this way, soft, yet powerful, and deep like a dark river by night. Collin’s expertise with his chosen instrument was evident as well, the notes emanating from his acoustic axe pleasing to the ears of all present.
The pair played four songs, among them “Fireflies”, “Close Your Eyes”, and my favorite, “Spider to the Fly”. The boys are fresh from the road, having been working on their new, as yet unreleased album, and touring up north, including a stop at the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania for an event called “Ink in the Clink”. I recommend that you follow these guys on Facebook, they are super cool, and if you haven’t already, check them out on their Youtube.
Armada washed away all the mellow mood that had settled on the bar as they roared in like a tidal wave, opening with the first track off their album, “Like An Anchor”. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this group, composed of former members of bands such as Modern Day Escape and I Woke up Early for My Funeral, but was duly impressed. They are barely six months old, but have been perfecting their sound in anticipation for their album Of An Ocean, which was released yesterday: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/of-an-ocean-ep/id1142429362.
Their sound is hardcore, sounding like something in between Breaking Benjamin and Black Veil Brides. Vocalist Jerimiah James belts out clean, but fast lyrics, while drummer Josh Lough backs him with some awesome death growls – all without missing a lick. Their set consisted of the songs from the new album, which is everything in their current repertoire. If these guys keep producing music of this caliber, and work as hard as they have been, I feel like we will be seeing them at bigger and bigger events.
Bloodlines was up next, and I will say this: If you have ever seen any djent/hardcore band, you have seen them all. Bloodlines featured heavy guitar breakdowns, fast, triggered drumming, and singer Austin Robinson grunting unintelligibly into the microphone. If this is your thing, please look them up on Facebook: BloodlinesFL.
The highlight from Bloodlines’ set was when Purpleman from Sonic Assault radio joined the band onstage wearing a unicorn head. It’s not every day you get to see a head banging unicorn. If that is something you see every day, you might want to see a therapist, or your life is better than mine, one or the other.
After that, Dark Summer was up. This metalcore/alternative group hails from Orlando, and they were awesome! They came to melt some skulls and stir up the moshers. Their high energy was not missed by the crowd who embraced their sound and spirit, reflecting the energy back onstage. Singer Troii Peak reminds me of Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage, rapidly switching from Sweet, clean vocals to dark, throaty growls, and the band’s sound is also very similar. Guitarist Zakk Varnum, a force to be reckoned with, had a great onstage presence, and handled his guitar with the ability of someone who had been doing it for many years longer than he. Their set consisted of songs such as “Illusion”, “Done My Time”, “Cage for Two”, “Rise”, and “Devil with an Angels Grin”.
During the last song, Troii jumped off the stage and dragged me into the small mosh pit, which I thought was great! One of the best things about these small venues has got to be the interaction between the band members and the audience, and this was certainly a memorable one.
After their set, I approached Troii about a set list, and he gave me a copy of their ep Rise to review, which you can check out HERE for yourself . If you like bands such as KSE or All That Remains, this will be right up your alley. Look for my review of Rise in the near future, and look for Dark Summer to be playing near you soon. You won’t be disappointed if you do.
The final act for me was Burning Fair Verona. I’ve never heard of this group, and wasn’t sure what to expect—lies! Complete fabrication! Burning Fair Verona was the reason I was here! Cory Britt and Collin Morrison’s performance was definitely the icing on the cake, but BFV was definitely the cake. As soon as I walked in, I bought their new shirt, which looks like an Ouija board, and vocalist Anthony Marra gave me a free sticker, which is prominently displayed on the back window of my van, aka the creeper van.
So one could say that Burning Fair Verona is just another metalcore band, just another long-haired punk growling into a mic, but if you are an old metalhead like me, you will find comparisons between the double guitar sound produced by Evan Ursitti and bandmate Derek Tsuboi is along the same lines as those of Judas Priest’s K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. They have brought an old thrash sound into the modern era, and somehow improved it.
I find many parallels to the past and if the band ever grants me an interview we will discuss this. But just as an example, compare Testament’s “Over the Wall” with BFV’s “Moth to Flame“. Now, I’m not trying to say that they copied the sounds of other groups, perhaps they have never even heard these groups, but they definitely echo them, but at the same time push boldly forward into the future of what music can be. That is why I am proud to display my Burning Fair Verona swag.
I would like to put another link to the past in your head: Compare the “Moth to Flame” video with that of Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell”. This is what heavy metal is all about, folks. Bands that honor the past, while reinventing the sound, while keeping the mosh pits thumping, while being wonderful all at the same time. That is Burning Fair Verona in a nut shell. Oh yeah, and their set was fantastic. Do yourself a favor and go see them where you can. They have a big show coming up where they open for ATTILA, Chelsea Grin, Emmure and Sylar November 18th at The Orpheum in Tampa.
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