Over and Over with Valor and Vengeance
Fullerton’s Slide Bar stands as a reminder to today’s generations of the good ol’ 80′s rock and metal atmosphere, not just with the abundance of memorabilia from bands of that era, but with the Sunset Strip-like atmosphere. The difficulty of parking, the lingering urine-scented parking garages and the ill-tempered homeless men bumming smokes and money really showed the craziness of the decade. December 12 proved no exception when Huntington Beach metal act, Valor & Vengeance, played as part of the Rock-N’-Roll Kitchen’s Metal Mondays.The roster of acts to perform that night ranged between all the other sub-genres, which provided a variety of preferential taste for all in attendance. Latvian metal heads RelicSeed appealed to all the thrash fans with their array of fast tempo songs that drew heavy influences to Slayer. The standing room left plenty of space for people to watch, but the few who gazed upon them nodded their heads along with the songs with small grins etched across their faces.
Mouth of the Serpent took to the stage following RelicSeed’s enthusiastic performance using the same gear, minus the guitars and cymbals. The abundance of fans dressed in all black took precedence over the front of the stage and the booths. A girl dressed in more than one color walked by while the band tested out the sound levels of the amplifiers. Her appearance seemed normal anywhere else, but during this concert her outfit almost looked inappropriate. Vocalist Max Reis checked the vocals of his microphone, exclaiming ridiculous phrases like, “Syphilis, syphilis, makes you go blind.”
A couple minutes later, the PA technician gave the band the thumbs up. The lights dimmed and the band broke out into a deafening wall of chaotic death metal. The chugging of distortion heavy guitars, blast beats and screeching vocals drew heavy influences from bands like Whitechapel and old Bring Me The Horizon. Reis departed from the stage near the end of their set list while the band performed a metal musical interlude, complete with gratuitous amounts of breakdowns, riffs and solo sweep picking. Many of their songs ended with abrupt stops, making it easy for when one song ends and when another begins.
The band tore down all the equipment leaving an almost empty stage. The members of Valor & Vengeance,along with some road hands, helped to carry a large banner with the band’s name to the back of the stage. The size of the banner took up most of the stage, covering any unwanted sights. Metallica blasted over the PA, emphasizing the overall feel that Metal Monday aimed to address. Lead guitarist Johnny Death killed time during setup to indulge in some guitar pyrotechnics. Death played the memorable riff to Dio’s “Holy Diver” while dreadlocked bassist Paul Perry adjusted the many knobs of his bass rig.
Valor & Vengeance began their set list fifteen minutes past their estimated play time, but the venue did not seem to care. The lights dimmed and the band’s introduction blasted over the overhead monitors. While the sound clip induced an ethereal mood, it lasted uncharacteristically long, leaving the band motionless for several moments until their first song “Save Us From Ourselves” started.
Vocalist Norman Matthew displayed remarkable stage presence with charisma and with a look of slight insanity. The gaze he had during the verses of the band’s songs gave the impression that the front man was crazy, but his energy and great use of the limited stage had the crowd taking a note from his gaze. The thrash metal influences drew out a small mosh pit along with headbanging from everyone, including the metal vixens who dressed like dominatrices, leather, heels and then some.
Songs like “Silent Protest” and “Saints and Sinners” drew in more of the metal influences of bands like Motley Crue and Black Veil Brides, utilizing the fast tempos and coherent vocal melodies. Following the song “Over and Over,” the band took a little breath for air. The humidity of the venue combined with leather stage clothes left the band drenched in sweat. Johnny Death amused the crowd with covers of “Shout at the Devil” and the theme song for Top Gun. Many of the songs had the overall metal sound, but the second to last song, “Endlessly,” aimed to please the “she-devils” according to Matthew. Valor & Vengeance’s set list ended on a high note with the song “Memories.” This song acts as a mission statement of the band in that the song encompasses the goals of the band musically, with soaring vocals, precision guitars and heavy metal drumming. This song ended not only their performance, but the last performance of 2011. The venue felt compressed, but the atmosphere following their performance felt anything but.
As of yet, Valor & Vengeance are in the process of planning a tour in the spring. Catch them in a city near you.