The night of October 26 was somewhat eventful and also capped off Ugh Metal’s busy month. The night before, the overlord and founder of LA based metal site Metal Assault, Andrew Bansal celebrated his birthday back in his city’s home base. Bansal was a bro and decided that a one-and-done shindig was simply not enough and decided to extend his birthday festivities into the Brick By Brick with Huntress. Talk about better to give than to receive, eh? So on that note, the night bolstered a great lineup that attracted any metalhead.
The night kicked off with a band that Ugh Metal has seen once before back in the summer, the metal upstart Meltdown. The Klown felt pretty stoked to see these paisas from Tijuana once again. Much like the last time, they delivered a solid opening for the night’s festivities. Even their warm-ups are awesome as hell, it even fooled The Klown into thinking the show was officially in full gear…again, till he caught.
The Klown likes to assume that that’s a good way to market yourself in case you’re shy or if you have curious attendees wondering what the band is selling. The collective began strongly and immediately emphasized the spirit of the old school heavy metal that are synonymous with the likes of the legendary Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Accept.
One of the songs that the collective treated us in the beginning was “The Final Chapter.” The frontman/guitarist Ian “El Pelosauve” Roa tapped into his inner Niklas Isfeldt of Dream Evil for some grandiose high power metal vocals. Although this time Roa didn’t have to endure technical difficulties and do a quick stand up routine, he still did his job as a frontman. Roa hyped the present crowd, invited them to get near the stage for a closer look, and was thankful to the early birds. The appreciation fest would not end there.
Roa gave a quick shout out to the birthday man, himself. He called Bansal up and performed a modified version of “Las Mañanitas” as he walked towards the stage to give his thanks, greetings, and acknowledgement to all. The band continued the festivities with “Kill The Night” and featured some pretty bitchin’ guitar licks, and sweet drumming from Alfredo “El Peligroso” Acuña.
The night finished with “The Living Dead” where Roa really stood out, ran around like a madman on stage, and was very interactive with everyone. Hell, the Klown even got in on that action when Roa hijacked Acuña’s high hat and ran around with a drumstick to make sure that everyone, including yours truly, hit it before their time was up.
After Meltdown cooled off, Malison took the stage to resume this jamboree. Malison should be familiar with y’all if you keep up with Ugh Metal. Aside from the name being tossed around a couple times prior, this would mark their second appearance in Ugh Metal. The trio from Oceanside became a quartet for that night’s festivities.
Unlike last time, however, the band took in the services of Nightshadow’s Danny Fang as an additional guitarist to add some extra twang into the mix. The locals kicked off their performance with “Seeker” which featured Mario Lovio and Fang’s guitar skills. The collective also premiered songs that were new to most attendees and shared classic songs with their loyal supporters.
From their batch of hits were “Death Crawlers” and “Nightmare: Pursuit” which do justice to the power metal genre, and have a bit of a signature twist from Malison. “Beyond The Sun” is still great to hear especially because it was upbeat, and highlighted Steven Rodina’s vocals and bass.
Speaking of Rodina, he’d keep the crowd riled up and controlled through his charisma, jokes and humility. Much like Meltdown, he extended his gratitude and wished Bansal a happy birthday. The band closed out with their theme song “Malison” which featured Lovio’s multiple solos and tradeoffs with Fang. Malison, just like last time, stood and delivered strongly and left fans satisfied, and gained more followers that night.
As the locals vacated the stage, the all female quartet from across the pond took the stage. “What are you talking about Klown?” He is talking about JOANovARC, plebian! Just like the historical figure that they named themselves after, they came and conquered. It is worth noting that this was their first time in the U.S. and had a mini tour. The best part of that deal is that we, as in those who went AND the Klown, were fortunate to be present for it.
San Diego also happened to be the final stop of their tour. With all that to digest, the hard rock group began their siege and broke in the crowd with some songs from their 2016 debut LP (Ride Of Your Life) such as “This Way.” During this performance, Lead vocalist/bassist Sam Walker, and rhythm guitarist/vox Laura Ozholl released their voices to the masses.
It would be a disservice if the Klown didn’t talk about lead guitarist/backup-vox Shelley Walker. This woman was a spectacle because she wasn’t simply rocking out and dishing out guitar solos, the guitarist got the crowd moving by engaging them. In fact, some audience members that began to trickle in caught a glimpse of Shelley doing her thing and she would introduced the band to fans that were fashionably late. They also treated us to a feel good anthem called “Seeds Of Summer.” This was perfect because most times in San Diego we don’t even know when summer officially ends.
The collective busted out a new song that night but, unfortunately, yours truly didn’t get the name of it. Still was catchy as hell though and featured all the stringed women singing together making their hard rock song into a harmonic and melodic one. The quartet dedicated “Girls Wanna Rock” to the other ladies that were present and also treated everyone to their catchy ode to the land of the rising sun with “Say Sayonara.”
JOANovARC were quite the display and even though they’re not “metal” enough for the elitists and staunch, they provided a nice change of pace you didn’t know you wanted. In fact, most peeps that saw these women present had a smile on their face like the drummer Debbie Wildish.
As mother England’s hidden gem cleared, the stage was being set for the hunt. A face that Ugh Metal and San Diego is familiar with, Eli Santana, stepped out alongside the other members of Huntress and began to shred away. As guitarist Blake Meahl and Santana shredded, the femme fatale known as Jill Janus came out and graced everyone with her presence before letting out some powerful alto-soprano vocals for the start of “Sorrow.”
Things picked up some more when Huntress dished out their first hits from their 2012 debut studio album “Spell Eater.” Janus even ditched her fancy jacket to show how serious she was about the enchanting us.
The night got better when Janus took a breather and announced that they would be playing a new song from an upcoming album that they’ve been working on. On that note, the band performed the ironically titled “Oh I Know It’s Bad” which can be described as a throwback to the old hard rock sounds and compositions popularized by ZZ Top and Heart.
A bit after, Janus once again took a breather and introduced a song with an anecdote and the history behind it. For those who didn’t know or weren’t aware “I Want To Fuck You To Death” was written and gifted to Janus by our patron saint of metal, Lemmy Kilmister upon a meeting that they had years back. We all enjoyed the song so much that even the birthday man graced us all at the pit and joined in the festivities. Why not? It was his shindig, damn it!
Before performing the rest of the set, Janus and company took the time to thank everyone and gave Bansal some birthday wishes. For those who don’t keep up with Metal Assault, Janus and Bansal have a long standing friendship so the Grand Poobah of Metal Assault wasn’t just going to get a simple “happy birthday.” No sir, Bansal was summoned to the stage, was serenaded a metal version of “Happy Birthday,” was given a shot of some good stuff as Janus stood in front of him to cheer and shimmy, and wished him a happy birthday before pecking him on the cheek.
After the Maharaja of Metal Assault departed, Huntress took it back to their debut album again by performing “Children.” Huntress capped off their performance with their most recognizable hit from the same album, “Eight Of Swords” in which Janus mesmerized everyone with her siren like screams as well as her appearance. Much like some of the songs before this one, Janus would have her signature golden blonde hair flowing like a witch harnessing some power before unleashing it to hex someone.
After the “Eight Of Swords” was performed, the Klown witnessed an ending he’s not accustomed to seeing. Janus ordered Santana, Meahl and bassist Eric Harris to drop to the floor and give her 20 push-ups! Janus added that it should be known that “Huntress is a tough mistress and needs to keep her men in shape.” Huntress’s skinman Tyler Meahl left his kit and stage and ignored Janus’s order which she simply quipped with “Uh-oh looks like someone needs a spanking!” We all laughed, as did she and thanked us once more before taking off altogether.