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(Live Review) WITCHAVEN + TRAITOR + WRAITH - Reggie's, Chicago (8/16/23)


By The Beard & Little Johnny


If it’s a new night, then there must be a new show to review, right Johnny? Indeed, there is, and tonight The Beard and Little Johnny will be attending event #49 and bands #224-227 on The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023.

This time we will be checking out an event in Reggie’s second and smaller venue “The Music Joint” for L.A.’s black thrash of Witchaven, with support from Traitor, Wraith and Axxios. Looking like another Little Johnny mosh-fest.


Fortunately, Reggie’s serves decent food and exotic beers, The Beard opted for chicken strips with Buffalo sauce and a Mango Chili Beer. Johnny ordered up some Tater Tots, (one of his new favorites lately), and a Hazy IPA. Light crowd early so the Beard actually got a decent seat at the bar. Johnny of course will be near the stage front.


Opener Axxios hails from northwest Indiana and they are allegedly an up-and-coming thrash act. The crowd is still light at 8:00PM this Wednesday, and Johnny has most of the main floor to work with. We shall see if it fills in as we go.

AXXIOS

Axxios is a five-piece band and features a singer with a bald dome and a big red beard. My first thought was either lumberjack or large Dwarf from Moria, but he sings in the high register (which is opposite what one would expect given his appearance), so it’s like Rob Halford meets Helloween ... but done thrash and therefore not clean or clear.


They did one song in the vein of power metal and the Beard can see how that style could work well with his voice. The Beard is awarding points for a lot of animation from the bass player who visually also looked like he could have been Toni Iommi’s brother.

Overall Axxios was not a bad band, but in listening and watching, one is led to think small fest act. This is why they are opening on a Wednesday in Reggie’s smaller room. The Beard will go 75/100 for a fine performance.



Next up, (also hailing from Indiana), was Blackened Speed Metal.

WRAITH

Wraith is a four-piece speed metal act in the vein of Bewitcher. Very reminiscent of Bewitcher, (just not as strong or clear on the vocals).


This gave Little Johnny a chance to “pit” though. Look out everyone.


At this point there were probably between 50-75 people, so the smaller floor did fill up, and once the circle pits started, it was “hold your beer in both hands”. By this point the Beard had moved on to a black lager from Warpigs Brewing. (Trying to keep my beers Metal).

Wraith was good speed metal with a dose of black lyrics. The Beard enjoyed their set and bought a t-shirt. With these smaller touring groups, a couple t-shirt sales can really make a difference, and unlike the major tours, at 20 bucks they are affordable. When the guy at the Ghost merchandise table straight-faces you with a request for 45 bucks, you truly want to ask him to put on a mask and hold up a pistol just so it feels better. The Beard almost never buys from the majors, but heartily supports the independents.


Wraith grade 85/100



Third on the stage were Speed Metal mavens.

TRAITOR

Traitor hail from Pennsylvania and are touring behind their latest release, Last Hope for the Wretched.


Clearer and cleaner vocals than anyone else this evening. This was a more traditional speed metal with high screeching vocals and runaway locomotive drumming. More pit time for Johnny, while The Beard remained in defense mode. Traitor was more polished, melodic and professional sounding than the other two so far, so I must grant them a slightly higher grade.

For the most professional sounding act of the day, Traitor gets 87/100. Sadly, even after giving their table a full once over, the Beard just didn’t care for the look of any of their shirts.



Finally, around 10:30pm, West code Black/Thrash headliners

WITCHAVEN

Witchaven hit the stage touring behind their third full length release, Unholy Thrash Attack. (Yep, can’t have a more “Little Johnny” sounding album name than that). Let’s see if The Beard can get just a little smaller here and wrap “both” hands even tighter around his beer.


Now, these guys are the closest to death metal this evening. Vocals are rough sounding and from a vocalist who looks like he was formerly in Insane Clown Posse. None of the other band members adorned themselves with any corpse paint. Points for the guitarist though who most definitely tears it up with the hair whipping head banging speed metal approach.

Crowd, at this point is full for the size of the club room, (maybe a hundred), which is decent for a Wednesday at 10:30pm, but unlike Wraith, the pits are initially tamer. At least far less than I was anticipating through the first few songs.


Then, the song "Blood Sacrifice" began and frankly “shit got real”. One guy’s glasses went sailing from a really hard hit. (Alert the Chicago Bears coach, we just found our edge rusher.) Both guys seemed okay, no legitimate fight broke out and thank God it wasn’t Johnny.


The last few numbers for Witchaven were the kind of chaos I suspected, (including about a six-person pile-up as the pit sort of imploded on itself at one point), and this kind of crowd response moved the grade of Witchaven up to 84/100 even though I was never a fan of the vocal part.


The music and participation the last 20 minutes were crazy, and the Beard respected the crowd. Plus, I held on to my beer this time.



This wraps up stop #49. Time to pay the piper, (bar tab), and retrieve Little Johnny before heading on back. A decent workout for him and all the bands were enjoyable for me. I think I am starting to enjoy thrash music more as well as the crowd participation chaos. In a few days, we will hit our landmark 50th show and there’s still a lot of 2023 left. You all know the drill, read concert reviews from the Beard & Little Johnny every Wednesday and Thursday at your home for Metal.

The Mighty Decibel.


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Thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny

Until next time ...

Stay Heavy

And

Horns Up!!!


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