Mindmaze plays the Courtyard

Mindmaze plays the Courtyard

Sunday August 14, four bands played the Courtyard Lounge in Englewood. Dayton’s Letters to the Blind, Cincinnati’s Warcurse, Iris Divine from VA, and MindMaze from Allentown, PA.

Letters started it off with the black metal tinged beginning of “Suffocate.” Ringing in the cyber power metal, prog influences with some thrash flavor. They pulled from the mighty book of Priest mixing Maiden and NWOBHM sounds with Ripper Owens vocals. Vocalist Chaz Bond had the vocal  appearance of Dio and slightly resembled Glen Benton (without the inherent evil, one would assume).

“Creed of Honor” will come with a new video soon. A strong tune dedicated to our serving military forces.

“Colors Fade” slowed down the march a bit with a bit of ballad-like introspection. They offered their version of Killswitch’s “My Curse.”

“Beauty and Chaos” was all about the technical chug, ying and yang of what life throws out as you live. “Letters to the Blind” brought out the technical leads. Don’t be the status quo, we’re not robots believe what you want because you want to, for your reasons. “Bow to the Machine,” better a lone wolf, than a sheep.

WarCurse came on with unit battalion force hammered, hardcore punk with vintage thrash.   With ‘80s to ‘90s Sepultura, Overkill, Exodus and Slayer influence fist banged into the mix with Kreator and Destruction.

A loud, head-banging, hard chugging barrage of nuclear assault on hardcore, old-school thrash came down. All were pit-worthy tunes, played by the denim clad, buttoned down and tatted, bare knuckled brethren.

Vocalist Tarek Puska’s harsh but clean vocals merged Billy Milano and Henry Rollins’ styles into his own.

Sirens hit as the thrash plunder began with the non-Mustaine “Dawn Patrol.”  “Severed Crosses” was down and dirty from start to finish. “Final Days” hit hard with iron-fisted gloves predicting the end to come. “Sands of Time” left a hand mark to the ear and boot-print to the face and head.


Iris Divine brought the Dream Theater, Opeth atmosphere, built like Tool, with even a lil’ bit of Stryper and Skillet, for diversity. They played several tunes from their record Karma Sown.

There were some prerecorded bells and whistles but the band played their hearts out.  Vocalist, guitarist Navid Rashid’s all clean singing voice gave a nice range and touch to the evening’s collective vocals. Later during Mindmaze it was debated who had been the least heavy band on their mini-tour’s nightly bills Iris or Mindmaze.

“Fire of the Unknown” was calmer, more melodious with a harder rock vibe, like Stryper merging with prog beats.  “In Spirals” could be their 2112.

The title track to their next album The Static and the Noise was inspired by that original feeling every musician had, when they picked up an instrument for the first time and started playing.

“In the Wake of Martyrs” was charged with theatrical chug, proggy guitar pulls and interplay, head-banging breakdowns and hints of steampunk.

Mindmaze brought the banners, playing for the Sunday faithful that stuck around.  Vocalist Sarah Teets thanked those that stayed saying they’d rather play for an intimate audience that was into it, than a thousand people that looked clueless and weren’t. Playing tunes from their first two records and trying out some new ones they started with, “Slave to the Cycle,” a hard rock progger, incorporating moments of Queensryche and Maiden. It was the last night of their mini-tour, then back home to the studio. In a rare form of cross-band-promotion both Iris and Mindmaze’s logo were featured on the kick drum. Teets explained the bands shared a bill one fateful night and got along well enough to travel together.

It wasn’t ‘80s night but they were “Breaking the Chains” their own way. “End of Eternity” sent messages from the other side with Euro metal flare. They toned it down near the end for the atmospheric older song, about pirates “This Holy War.” Teets broke out the flute adding some classic chemistry for all us scallywags.

They (did) finish the evening taking a covered trip back to the ‘80s Sunset majesty, when former meat throwing, born again rock legends were still young and starting out. “I Wanna Be Somebody” too, someday. Teets finished saying it was great to be in a city with a great multi-band scene.


Images by Mike Ritchie

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