4.15.11: Holy Grail x Cauldron x Gypsyhawk

I’ve got a lot of hometown pride. I cheer for all the Los Angeles teams, I agree that L.A’s got the best weed (even though I don’t smoke), the best looking women, and the best weather. However, the tiny L.A. county suburb of Pasadena, where I’m from, doesn’t really have too much to be excited about, but, musically we now have three things to be proud of: Eddie Van Halen, and current traditional metallers Gypsyhawk and Holy Grail. I was fortunate enough to see two of these three bands at The Viper Room in Hollywood last week. Can you guess which ones?

I made it just in time to catch Gypsyhawk right as they were doing soundcheck… which was almost an hour after the proposed set times. Did I mention how much I enjoy L.A.’s predisposition to being fashionably late? Anyway, I was pretty excited to see these guys again. I saw them the month prior at a much dingier venue and was left wanting more. They started things off with “Eyes of Ibad,” one of their slower jams, and then went right into their eponymous track, “Gypsyhawk.” Vocalist Eric Harris sounded sharp, and his bass was as prominent as it is on the record. I was pretty impressed at how quickly new guitarist Erik Kluiber had blended with the group since the last time I saw them. His playing is top notch, and it showed during the band’s closer, “Commander of the High Forest,” a tribute to those who burn the ganj. Hell, we were only 5 days away from 4/20. It was only fitting. My favorite part of their set was the jam in the middle of that particular song where Erik and second guitarist Andrew Packer trade guitar solos. See for yourself! Here’s video of Gypsyhawk performing “Commander of the High Forest.” For the second time in as many shows, Gypsyhawk set an incredible vibe for the night only for it to be ruined by a band that didn’t really belong on the bill. Nekrogoblikon was a deathcore style band with a keytar player. Interesting, but really didn’t fit the night’s festivities to be honest. I used the time to have a beer, venture to the pisser and get some fresh air outside. Hollywood was dead due to Coachella. Not a hipster in sight. Beautiful.

Next up were Cauldron from Toronto. I had always heard about Cauldron, but never got around to checking out their music. I was a fan of lead vocalist/bassist Jason Decay’s previous band, Goathorn so I’m kind of upset at myself for not listening to Cauldron sooner. Holy shit were they great. It was almost immediately clear what bands influenced their sound, and I couldn’t help but feel they had a Spinal Tap-esque like quality to their lyric writing. In a good way! I mean, lyrics like, “Miss you to death, longing for a long time..” don’t write themselves unless you’re an awful songwriter, or a witty one. The band ripped through what seemed like a short set that consisted of newer songs “All or Nothing,” and “Miss you to death.” They also played older stuff like “Into the Cauldron” and “Chained up in Chains.” I think the highlight, though, was “Rapid City/Unchained Assault.” This is probably their heaviest and fastest song, and it was met with great crowd reaction, especially the end when Ian Chains tore it up with an Eruption-like solo. Click here to watch Ian Chains tear it up!

Finally it was time to see what Holy Grail could do as a headliner. I’m glad the venue was a little more intimate than a lot of the shows I had previously attended. Holy Grail did not come to fuck around. They took the stage just as pretty much everyone packed the place. James Paul Luna introduced the band and went into “Immortal Man.” From then on it was non-stop headbanging from pretty much everyone in attendance, including lead singer James Paul Luna. It seems as though he’s found the way to rock the fuck out, and not miss a single note while doing it. If you don’t believe me, watch him do exactly that during fan favorite “For all Eternity.” Click here to watch! I also happened to notice that Holy Grail was playing with Alex Lee, former guitarist of Pomona, CA’s Bonded by Blood. Weird, cause I had just seem him play with the band at the Scion Rock Fest. Regardless, he’s a perfect fit for a band that’s so over the top. He and Eli Santana compliment each others playing and stage presence quite well and I expect to hear nothing but great music now that he’s part of the band. The guys played a pretty great set, including songs like “Crisis in Utopia” and “The Blackest Night.” Finally, they closed the night out with an epic performance of “Fight to Kill” which you can watch by clicking here!

After Gypsyhawk, Cauldron and Holy Grail ravaged the Viper Room, I headed home. As I passed through Pasadena, I had a John Bender moment and raised my left arm in the air as the credits rolled. Okay, that didn’t happen, but it should have. There was a real sense of pride flowing within me as I arrived to my place of residence. I knew that some of the best music being made in today’s metal scene was being brewed in my backyard.

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