(Live Review) HELL'S HEROES - Day 1 (Houston Texas 3/23/23)
White Oaks Music Hall
Reviewed by: Mark McQueen
The Beard and Little Johnny are here in Houston, Texas for the heavy metal extravaganza known as Hell's Heroes. Almost 40 metal bands from across the world will be here this weekend at the White Oaks Music Hall over the next three days and we are going to attempt to cover as many as possible.
Tonight, on night one of the fest, nine bands are playing across two stages and we are going to try the “divide and conquer” strategy, so, upstairs room bands will be Little Johnny and downstairs room bands will be The Beard. Let the chaos commence.
LABRINTH (review by Little Johnny)
Fest opener: thrash metal. Okay. Lots of hair shaking and jumping around. Vocals weren’t very good. I liked the playing, but I didn’t think they were all that good. Beard says I had to give a ranking, so I say 68/100.
Second band up and first at the larger downstairs room was:
FUGITIVE (review by the Beard)
Fugitive is a merger of some members of Power Trip and Creeping Death. Their music is sort of crossover thrash, (merging hardcore punk with the speed/thrash metal). The four guys that formed the thrash part were pretty good. The hardcore/thrash style singer was something I could have lived without. For me, personally, it detracted from their grade, although their new song “Blast Furnace” was actually very good with that voice. I’m going 78/100.
SONJA (review by Little Johnny)
Sonja is a chick man. She’s a metal chick though. The band jams. It’s not mosh stuff, more like that occult rock stuff that Beard likes. I described it to him, and he said they kind of sounded like Castle. I don’t know what that means, Still, the guitar player was jamming, so I dug it okay. I guess I can go like 75/100.
NECROFIER (review by the Beard)
These guys play sort of a melodic black metal kind of thing. Sounds like maybe Johnny and I should have switched rooms. Necrofier was hard to see because the room is already getting super full with all the fest goers. Pits were breaking out though, so the crowd was loving them. Pretty straight up black metal sound, some ambient stuff mixed in. All in all, I’m getting used to this style and this was solid. By the end I was digging it.
Band number five was supposed to be Greyhawk but apparently Johnny went to find an IPA, and ended up MIA. While I issue an APB, we will move on to band six ...
Hmmmm… more black metal, I’ll bet Johnny’s actually down on the floor in the main room. This is way more his jam than the bands upstairs seem to be. I have noticed that when listening to the vocal sound check of many black metal bands, it kind of sounds like the “Evilest” cat in the universe throwing up a satanic hairball.
This band was another solid act for this style. Good lighting, and good band sound. Admittedly not my thing vocally, but the set was still rolling along well until an amp failure, (which required the band to perform about six minutes of spooky vamping style music). This did bring the grade down, and I’m going 80/100.
Wraith played next in the small room and frankly you couldn’t get in there. Too packed, so they were probably great, but we aren’t going to be able to accurately speak on it. In walking around the venue grounds though, I did find Johnny outside talking to some people and he assured me he would go cover Vio-lence next on the main stage. Take it away Johnny.
Vio-lence? Wonder why they spell it that way? Crowd was massive but we pitted up anyway. Huge banging and even a little surfing. Those guys rock out hard man. Very cool set.
The Beard agrees with Little Johnny on this one. Vio-lence as a thrash band is superb. I have not seen a thrash set like that since Testament and Exodus last October. Great passion and huge crowd support. Band of the night with a 94/100.
TRIUMPH OF DEATH
Headlining tonight is Tom Warrior with Triumph of Death. Basically, an all Hellhammer set (which seems appropriate for a fest called Hell's Heroes). Triumph of Death was warmly received by the fully packed-in crowd who serenaded the band with chants of “Warrior…Warrior… Warrior” and of course chants of “uggggh!” That unique way Tom grunts at the beginning of many of his songs. At one point, (between songs) Tom laughingly listened to the crowd grunt at him for about thirty seconds before responding “Metal guys are famous for a lot of things. I’m famous for “UGGGGHH.” My mother would be so proud.” Funny stuff.
The set was largely quick fast paced Hellhammer songs ( his band that would set the stage for what would later become Celtic Frost). It was great hearing songs like Crucifixion and Massacra. The Beard is giving Triumph of Death a very solid 90/100.
That wraps up Night One of Hell's Heroes. (Stop number four and bands number 14-20 of The Beard & Little Johnny’s 2023 Reviews Tour). Time to head back and get a little sleep. There’s a long two days yet to come.