CAULDRON / HOLY GRAIL / ENTROPIA / BLACK WIZARD @ The Media Club, Vancouver BC, April 19, 2011

Review by Kyle Harcott; Photos by Ted Reckoning

There was no way I was going to miss this night of modern-classic heavy metal, especially at the intimate Media Club. But the show started earlier than I expected, so per my usual luck, I got there in time to catch the last half-a-song from promising local stoners Black Wizard. I didn’t know they were on the bill as well, else I’d have made more of an effort to get there earlier (apologies!).There’s been a lot of buzz around these retro-doomers lately, and I’m going to have to get out and see them soon.

“We’re Entropia. We don’t have a lot of time, and we don’t have a lot of songs, so we’re gonna get right into it,” imposing frontman Angus Lummis informed the crowd, “This one’s called ‘Voice…Behind…the Throne’!” Ripping into their set, five-piece Entropia continue to make headway with their straight-up classic thrash sound – somewhat reticent (on record, anyway) of in-their-prime Testament, but live the band come off even heavier, factoring in those deathgrowl backups of bassist Darin Wall. The trade-off leads of Dave Watson and Mike Fezza are mesmerizing, and each guitarist’s style complements the other’s. Entropia weren’t fazed a bit by the shortened set, and played every song like it was their finale. Especially devastating was the crush of ‘Both Feet in the Grave’ with its ‘Angel of Death’-like outro. Entropia’s crowd wasn’t huge but the handful of moshers down front showed their appreciation by whipping up a gnarly little pit, especially during closing burner ‘Disciples of Aggression’. A tight little set from Vancouver’s current reigning kings of thrash.

During the American leg of the tour, Cauldron did the opening for Holy Grail, so Holy Grail returned the favor by playing openers on all Canadian dates. The Pasadena five-piece took to the Media Club’s stage with bombast, getting the floor all riled up in anticipation. Opening with ‘Chase the Wind’, Holy Grail worked the crowd like the veterans their oldschool sound apes. In fact, as far as audience interaction goes, I’ll give Holy Grail their due propers – especially singer James Paul Luna, who has his heavy metal front man banter down solid, and his foil, lead guitarist Eli Santana, who has just enough cock-of-the-walk, ‘80s guitar-hero pose in his stage presence to keep the punters’ eyes on him when he throws down a particularly tasty lead. To that end, Holy Grail kind of stole the night with their set of classic heavy metal effrontery.

Unfortunately, when HG’s set ended, it seemed like a good chunk of the crowd left the house as well. Not that the Media Club was slammed this night by any means – even at the height of the Grail’s set, head count sat at around 80 or so down front. This may not seem like much, but for a club with a capacity of 150, 80 headbangers packing the front can get a little, uh, cozy.

So when Cauldron took the stage, it seemed like they only played to about fifty or so people. Not that it mattered much; those of us who stuck around were treated to a killer set from the trio. Opening with the mighty ‘All Or Nothing’, Cauldron were in fine form as expected, their brand of Banzai-worshipping eighties metal as good live as on tape. Especially impressive was hearing drummer Chris Steve nail those high-note backups on the song’s last chorus all the while effortlessly hammering out its double-bass rhythm.

“Hello Vancouver”, quipped singer Jason Decay to the crowd, “It’s great to be back in our favorite city on the West Coast… We missed you to death!” As the song tore open, Decay gave a further nod to former Vancouverite Ian Chains, causing crowd cheers for the ex-hometown boy. One of my favorite tracks off the new record, the Dokkenesque ‘Miss You To Death’ went down a storm, everyone on the floor hairwhipping madly in unison. Say all you want about Canada and power trios, but damn, Cauldron have it down pat, the three of them playing off each other like old pros, Decay and Chains even getting into vaguely-choreographed guitar mimics at one point.

The crowd responded especially well to ‘Rapid City’ a couple songs later in the set, the song’s frenetic pace whipping up another mini-pit among the dedicated five or so bangers. One overzealous young fellow managed to get his ass handed to him by a pair of young ladies at the front of the stage, when, fed up with his constant barrage, the pair heave-ho’d his wee ass across the room.

The back half of Cauldron’s set was mostly culled from 2009’s Chained to the Nite, including a scorching version of ‘Into the Cauldron’, with Ian Chains’ outro guitar solo completely out of this world. Unfortunately, I had to bail before the encore, but I’m told they ended with a raucous ‘Chained Up in Chains’, and ‘Chains Around Heaven’.

So glad I finally see Cauldron, and especially thankful that it was in a venue as intimate as the Media Club. Fantastic night of oldschool metal from a bunch of bands who really do it up right.

ENTROPIA setlist
Voice Behind the Throne
Shell Shock
Both Feet in the Grave
Rule By Thrash
Crimson Empire
Disciples of Aggression

HOLY GRAIL setlist
Chase the Wind
Call of Valhalla
For All Eternity
Crisis in Utopia,
My Last Attack
Fight to Kill

CAULDRON setlist
All Or Nothing
Frozen In Fire
Miss You to Death
Conjure the Mass
Rapid City
Fermenting Enchantress
Into the Cauldron
Chained Up in Chains
Chains Around Heaven

Adam has been a photographer for Hellbound since day 1 and also has a hand in the technical aspects of running the site.