Twas the second night of 2016 and all through The Courtyard every creature was stirring, welcoming the new year with loud intensions and two day hangovers. Split the Abyss, Saint Christopher, Eyes on Orion, Vital Stomp, Tyler Henry, John Hendry and the El Nino influenced winter Forces of Nature started the new metal year off strong.
Making their Courtyard return the Cincinnati foursome Split the Abyss was a man down for the evening but made it work as a trio. Bringing punk, thrash and old school influence with “Carnage Beacon” and the “Weapon Miester.” “Throne Drowned in Blood” growled the story of countless wars over power and armies fighting for rule. “What Will Survive” went heavy on spoken/yelled punk and mosh pit ready riffs. Max Kessler played the evening’s mad scientist playing intricate alchemic riffs and solos on the strings. The full throttle “Radical Schism” ended the early evening onslaught.
Making their Courtyard debut Saint Christopher brought a thick NWOBHM sound and knew they were in the right place when they saw the sign that said Welcome Metal Heads. “Disciples of the Metal” brought out the wrath child in each of us. “Murder of Crows” sounded like 80s Maiden meets thrash. “Army of One” was dedicated to the armed forces and freedom they provide. “Chapman’s Protocol” summoned the damned to their fatal/final chambers. “Do not Resucitate” sent word that’s its too late for this one or the assholes not worth the effort.
We all have our issues, sweating bullets in our “Mental Prison.” They finished with a heavy medley of Seek and Destroy, Raining Blood, Trooper and Paranoid.
West Milton’s Eyes on Orion brought their loud deathcore, screamo, djent to the stage and had some loud fans with them. With raw riffs and flooring breakdowns a mosh pit would’ve been imminent if room was available. Slipknot went death industrial on “Disease” while “The Gift” carried a mechanical; the machines are coming alive feel. “Mass Perversion” was requested for, one more song.
Piqua’s Vital Stomp brought out a slew of short but brutal tunes, everything from 80s games to drunk idiots were covered, starting with the slow building march of “Miss Lead.” To every drunk, stupid, unsavory character that’s started or tried to start sh- in a bar while others are enjoying the music, “Panzy” was a call out dedication. “Uno” was a loud tribute to the game almost every kid from the 80s and up played. By the way, skip a turn and draw four! “Fur-Bur” was, well… a fill in the blank kind of tune. “Cold Teeth” shattered with booming guitar and bass groove as Josh Mahan yelled out, finishing the night with “Phase.”
Before Forces went on, they brought some young blood on stage in the form of Tyler Henry. The young prodigy showed off some shredding skills, proving the future of the DMF burns bright. Half Lit’s John Hendry also came up for the ‘warm up’ on “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” If anything else can be said about the night, anything can happen at a Forces show, improvised, unintentional or planned.
Ball breaker “Magnus Lee” always got the first nut shot to the audience. Their “Forest of Corpses” may be more the result of Vlad’s vengeance than lost souls under MT. Fuji. Oh Mary, Mary, why ya still buggin? People mosh and head bang in your honor when your song is played. “As Seen On the boob tube,” the world’s going to hell so let’s just enjoy all the good sh- that’s left.
They offered a horn’s in the air tribute to Lemmy. Then played new tune tribute to one of the founding fathers of the DMF, “Meet the Maiden.” The sweet, nauseating stench of symbolic rotting candy and uneaten foot longs meant the “Dark Carnival” was here. It’s a winter wonder fun land only It could enjoy.
Images by Mike Ritchie