(Live Review) LORDS OF THE TRIDENT + SUPPORT - W.C. Social Club, Chicago (01/26/24)
By The Beard & Little Johnny
Well, tonight marks event number one on the 2024 calendar. Your Metal reviewing duo of The Beard and Little Johnny are here at “The W.C. Social Club” in West Chicago for a quartet of power metal bands featuring Madison act The Lords of the Trident, with support from Knights of the Round, Sacred Dawn, and Acracy.
The venue itself is basically a bar with a double sized elevated stage (which at least made it look professional and not cramped.) Standard bar venue sound and lights. This was the kind of place Prezence played back in the 1990’s when the Beard was running lights for them. Tonight, for our inaugural event meal, the Beard is hitting the Buffalo Wings and Blue Moon while Little Johnny is having something called a Roadkill Burrito and a Zombie Dust IPA. (ED: Whoa - watch the ride home Johnny!) The season has officially begun.
First up tonight, Chicago’s power/prog act Acracy. These guys have been around since 2014, but have to my knowledge only released one full length CD, 2019’s Doorways to Destiny. The lead vocalist, Albert Rybka, had a voice that resembled Geoff Tate in sound and possessed a surprisingly good range even if not as much full-on power. I can close my eyes and vocally hear a Queensryche Empire era sound. The band behind him was solid, but unspectacular, although about midway though they hit on one particularly good progressive groove. Bassist Clint Pagel looked very much the rock star and was more upfront and expressive than a lot of bass players. Lead guitarist Clint Davis, (and what are the chances of having two Clint’s in one band?), looked like he was having an enjoyable time up there, regularly smiling and laughing at Alberts stage antics.
There was already a decent sized crowd for the opening act, (maybe a hundred), so there was a degree of crowd response and interaction. Some areas where I believe Acracy could improve were Alberts mode of dress. In my opinion, he needs a little more identity than just jeans and a T-shirt. His voice, especially when he goes to the higher registers, is expressive and flamboyant. I think his on stage persona should reflect that aspect more in his choice of stage attire. The other thing I would suggest is to tighten the prog style wandering a bit. Acracy bill themselves as “writing music without borders.” Occasionally, a meandering progressive expression in a song has its place, but I felt with Acracy that sort of thing was too prominent in too many numbers and several of their songs would have been better with crisper transitions thereby making the other numbers more of a standout. I can understand songs are a band's baby and everybody wants to get their stuff in, but for an opening act Accracy’s selections were just too “busy” for me.
Going to go a 77/100.
The Beard was afforded a great opportunity between bands to spend some time with Tony Spillman of Spillage (who just released their fourth album Phase Four). Great catching up on some old rock tales between 50-year-olds.
Second up were Chicago long time act Sacred Dawn behind their 2023 release Dismal Swamp. Sacred Dawn is ultimately prog/power, but their music also fuses aspects of thrash and doom as well. Vocals by Lothar Keller were clean with a touch of the Amorphis type sound and had good power metal screams. Musically, songs had long solos, (exemplifying the prog aspects of their music), but they were not superfast, or endlessly wandering. I would say they actually lean a bit into a power doom type of vein.
As this was my first live experience with Sacred Dawn, I felt they had a good sound that easily slipped in and out of genres while honoring them all and remaining good metal music throughout. Johnny dug the aggressive mix even though they were not a circle pit type band. Still, for his first night out in 2024, the lad enjoyed stretching out his headbanging muscles.
I am awarding Sacred Dawn a very solid 85/100.
KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND
Third up tonight, were Chicagoland’s Knights of the Round who brought a mix of video game power metal. Instrumental in nature and with plenty of audio enhancements, Knights of the Round were truly akin to a virtual reality role player game soundtrack brought to life, (specifically Final Fantasy.) An interesting concept, although one I was not familiar with. Basically, it was watching guys jam a live version of an RPG soundtrack.
Little Johnny had wandered over to chat with the Sacred Dawn guys at the merch table, so he did not offer much opinion on this current act. He did end up with Sacred Dawn's latest CD Dismal Swamp and without using my credit card for a change, so “Good job little dude.”
Meanwhile, I am awarding Knights of the Round a 73/100.
THE LORDS OF THE TRIDENT
Headliners, The Lords of the Trident are a long time Madison act combining prog and power metal into a mix of D&D and pirate songs. The band members all have their unique on-stage identities such as singer Fang VonWrathenstein, dual guitarists The Baron, and Asian Metal, cowled and robed Bassist Pontifex Mortis, and drummer Master Hercule Schlagzeuger.
Upon first glance LOTT can present as a bit cartoonish with some of their “effects”, including a flaming microphone, oversized sword, and funny glasses, but underneath the schtick you realize the singer actually has sufficient range and power, and lead guitarist The Baron plays very skillfully, at one point doing a serviceable version of "Eruption" by Van Halen.
Having seen these guys about 8-10 times over the last ten years, I can safely say a couple of things. First, LOTT are always a decent act, and they certainly have a small, but rabidly loyal, following. That said, they are also an act that is really only meant to swim in a certain size pool. At someplace small (like the W.C. Social Club), they can be the main event, but at say Milwaukee Metalfest, they are going to be onstage early in the bill.
Essentially, this is a talented and hardworking group that seems destined to remain a goldfish in a bowl with occasional visits to a bigger aquarium tank, but they are never going to be main staging the major venues. That is not a knock on them, it is just the law of the jungle. There are Hyenas and there are Lions. LOTT are a pack of perfectly solid Hyenas and, for me, they are enjoyable to watch anytime for an hour doing their act.
I award Lords of the Trident 80/100.
That wraps up show number one and bands 1-4 of 2024. Thanks as always for reading along. Remember to also follow along on your home for Metal, The Mighty Decibel, and stay current with the Beard on our TikTok at thebeard0728 or just #thebeardandlittlejohnny for videos of all the bands we review. Plus, this year, watch for the Beard Frogs and Princes for a “best of the rest” accounting and reviews of the other non-metal events the Beard attends. For now, though, we are signing off and reminding you to embrace the Metal and of course.