While the candy, roses and warm fuzzy cards were bought last minute around the country, the Old Crow Bar in Middletown brought what every lovely metal maiden with a big heart wanted on Valentine’s Eve. Loud, screaming metal and a bunch of guys in masks that looked very familiar with the phrase my bloody valentine. Kutting Edge Promotions brought the heavily hyped show to Middletown with four bands gracing the stage with Old Glory backing them up. Papa Squat eased us in, Fighting the World turned up the bravado and volume, Secret Circle Society brought the Femme Fatals and somewhere either south of heaven, the equator or in a forgotten corner of parts unknown came Shadowkasket. Some directors make horror movies, some actors appear in them and some bands become them. It’s well known that heavy metal and horror make romantic bed partners, even if you’re being killed in one. Since the heavy breather with the gas mask and pick axe didn’t show up, Kutting Edge decided to have a heart shaped massacre anyway. Complete with an on stage proposal.
Papa Squat opened the show with a laid back sound incorporating grunge, acoustics with a folk sound starting with the hypnotic effect of “The Road.” The Killswitch got pulled, engaged early on “Fixation on the Darkness.” “Wolf N’ Sheep” started loud Opeth length with mid-tune acoustic breakdowns and crunchy mountain men prog with some sludge on the bearskin boots.
The heavy drive on Flaw’s “Only the Strong” represented the Louisville natives. They played up some American Head Charge “Loyalty,” finishing the heavy string bender “No Alibi” with some Cobain angst strains and sorrowful ending notes.
Mayfield’s Fighting the World ignited engines, rocking the crowd with an infectious mixture of punk, metal, multi-style charm. Middle fingers were the currency of respect for the set with number ones stretched out loud and proud everywhere. Singer Randy Trimble had the size and range to carry the show amongst a stage of men, distinct in appearance.
“Fear” opened with a hardcore old-school horror punk vibe with thrashing fingers on the necks. The evil Elvis with Danzig vocals came out with the intro organ keys and the gleaming eye of the “Vampire.” Beware the frigid shaking fangs. “Sick Society” had a crunchy circle pit vibe that made you wanna dance with some sweet high pitch ending vocals.
If you were a kid/teen in the 80s your parents no doubt told you to turn down that damn “Devil Music” (and read the bible) more than once. You just plugged in the headphones and cranked it louder, we all did.
Secret Circle Society proved they were “Special” opening with a cynical themed, Babes in Toyland’ish tune. They probably wished you were a beer to. “Sweet Pain” brought back the Heart of the 70s and the moody-altering effects of the 60s. There was just “Something about You” and bringing back the music of the Laurel Canyon scene and there was just something about covering Cutting Crew that holds death’s embrace.
“Right Now,” Van Halen it wasn’t, though Dawn Rose sounded like she was channeling Grace Slick a little. “Sweet Dreams” were made of these. Nightmares were made of the walkers, “Zombified” in your sleep. What a “Wicked Game” to play (if Daryl gets bit on any given Sunday).
Middletown’s Shadowkasket could be the warped bastardized creation of Rob Zombie, Slipknot and creatures from the pillaged Carribean. Some unspoken deep woods bayou shit must’ve happened behind the crooked trees they brought on stage with leaked swamp gas and potent moonshine. Gregorie Kreep, Skar Apollyon, Murdock Jones, Khan (in Kirk voice) and Ruddy Shadows form the masked brood.
With faces only Ed Gein could love they bashed out “Bury me in the Shadows” getting the crowded room moving, cramming to get closer to the horror show. Heartrate held steady but dropped on “His Last Breathe” with a weird mix of clean, screeching vocals like Perry Farrell sharing stage space with a croaking Randy Blythe.
Riffs with rotting teeth cursed the “Cold Sexy Dead Witch” with a horror punk flavor and Zombie’s razor cut dreads thrashing the old spell-casting necro-bitch harder into the ground. “Darker than Blacks” spooky techno opening built to a moody Godsmack meets Tool middle ground with guitars screaming influences from Metallica to Death.
“Claw your Way,” dripped with acidic bad intentions crawling out from one of Uncle Alice’s nightmares. The beast in black haunts your journey out of the grave, back alley or fight back to your bed as Ripper vocals joined the chase.
“Hypocritical Fucked up Mind” dove straight onto the Morbid Angel alter, allowing for a circle pit reaction, with a little Mudvayne and a loud Hellyeah, finishing in the early morning dripping Valentine red.
Images by Mike Ritchie