Valentine’s Day Massacre at The Courtyard

Valentine’s Day Massacre at The Courtyard

It’s said that love can be a real icy cold-hearted bitch. Whether it’s an ice pick to the back, heart or below sub-zero temperatures that feel like a cold sickle to the spine. Saturday February 14th’s music brought out the heat and warmed the coldest metal heart from dusk and her cold embrace after the sun went down. Though the outside was an icy tundra, inside the Courtyard was a loud metal wasteland, cupid’s hand must have been shaking too hard to shoot arrows.

Cincinnati’s Split the Abyss started behind the scenes at the School for the Creative Arts during a performance of Little Shop of Horrors. A meeting of the minds between Max Kessler and drummer Woody Corsini took the basic seed, turning and twisting the veins into a warped brutal version of a metal family tree. Stabbing branches into Slayer, Kreator, Fates Warning, Death and Morbid Angel amongst other distant dismembered kin. Guitarist Mark Green was found (safely) through a Craiglist ad in 2008. 2010 brought their live debut and release of their self-titled debut. After Facebook brought them their bassist, Matt Hamlin in 2012 they spent 2013 writing their sophomore effort With Savage Intent released in November.

The show began with them sporting their very finest in thrash metal t-shirt attire. Lead vox/rhythm player Max Kessler had a unique metal look of Kevin DuBrow and a demented young Slim Goodbody (it’s the hair). They started the clean growl style “Commanded by Fate” to play what they play and do what they do. When metal gets in the blood, it makes its mark permanent, possessing the heart and soul (in a good way). “Metathronin” hit with an old-school beat-down, slamming the proverbial spiked metal glove across the face. They borrowed from World War II history with pit paced speed on “Carnage Beacon” and played a tune about a big ass battle tank. They musically lit up on “Sour Diesel Ride.” Then they jabbed the poor girl cannibalistically, full body, right up the ass “With Savage Intent.” “Fall of Heavens” ended the show.

Lewisburg’s Half Lit is an instrumental three piece led by the guitar playing smoldering of Robert Petering. Matt Garwood on bass and Ian Ordmann on drums played a loud, healthy collection of groovy, proggy thrash metal with hungry riffs. They were just all “Hanging Around” doing what they do starting out with some bluesy groove oriented jams. They threw out a handful of “Damnation” and a “World War” in a “Pine Box” on a “Saturday Night.” They took a page from Mr. Mustaine’s style book and got a little Rattle-Headed on a few tunes, playing a song in the vein of their own version of “Dawn Patrol.” No vocals were needed when the music did the talking and the notes spoke the language. From technical thrash they went a little funky with prog, playing a heavy Rush sound with some Primus influence. They finished with “It’s My Life” a musical tale of life as a devoted metalhead.

Troy’s Blanche Devereaux plays and performs metal like they are extracting demons from your inner most self. Basically yanking them out, wadding them up, and before you can breathe relieved, ram them back in. It’s better to have your personal demons contorted, disoriented and confused by the external environment before reinsertion. Mikey Devereaux’s bellowed growl complimented the maniacal sounds from Danny Miramontes and Jeremy Stone. It’s got thrash, metalcore and a bit of black metal putting The Black Dahlia Murder on Cannibal Corpses’s alter of sacrifice. They took the stage burning away the cold of the night on ”Noctural Consumption.” They encouraged all to step in the fire and “Man Up.” It only burns a little. They have been around for a while and seem to keep getting heavier.

Dayton’s Forces of Nature took the Courtyard stage again. They could not control the weather but they could play music that’s earth shaking with a stormblast of loud metal. Classic opener “Magnus Lee” vibrated the speakers. They took the crowd on a demented storybook trip through the “Forest of Corpses.” Disney, it wasn’t. It looked like “Mary” will always have self-hatred issues, quote Forces “Nevermore.” The galloping pace and melodious interplay of “Holy Lights” brought out the slower looming “Apocalypse.” Many might welcome the prophesized end time’s vs the ‘snow-blinding’ seasonal ‘white death.’ Marc Godsey took the occasion to thank former Pantera cover band Half Lit for playing tonight and the other bands and for inspiring Forces to play again, way back when.


All images by Mike Ritchie @

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