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Review: Various Artists - Classic Metal Fest 2
Various Artists
Classic Metal Fest 2
Venue: Phantasy World
City: Lakewood, Ohio

Show date: July 11, 2002

Rating: 5+/5

Review online: July 18, 2002
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Classic Metal Fest 2

Rated 5/5 (100%) (2 Votes)

I had been waiting for this weekend for months. After seeing that Iron Cross would be playing, I just HAD to attend. After about 11 hours of driving, which included being pulled over at the U.S. border (grmbl..) and missing just about every highway exit I was supposed to take (mega grmbl...), we finally arrived at our hotel in Lakewood, Ohio, a couple of blocks from the venue. I went there with Adrian Bromley of Unrestrained! Magazine. Note that we also made a quick stop in Buffalo to meet with Dan, a cool guy from the BW&BK message board, for some vinyl hunting. Amazing what some people get rid of... But hey, I'm the one who benefits from it, so I'm not complaining!

Thursday night was kind of a "bonus night" of sorts. The bands playing were Zone Eleven, Antithesis, Aftershock, Breaker and Destructor. After meeting up with another BW&BK board cool guy named Dave and getting something to eat, we headed to the venue and, spenders that we are, we headed right to the vendors booth. Low and behold, John from Molten Metal USA was there with an extremely large selection of CDs, including a lot of hard to find stuff. I'll cut this short by saying that I spent a fortune there, and that John knows what he sells and I highly recommend you check out his distro at And in case you're wondering, no, I did not get any kind of rebate for mentionning this here.

Alright, so after drooling over the selection, we headed back to the show, having missed Zone Eleven. Antithesis were already playing. They had a different singer from when I saw them 3 years ago, Ty Cook having left not long ago. Not a bad set, but I had better memories of the set 3 years ago. Check out their two CDs, this is a very good band. Aftershock was next and played an excellent set, we were quite impressed by the quality of their material. Note that this can be said from almost every band we saw at the fest. Most of the bands may not have been big names, but I assure you that the material and the quality of the live sets were right up there with the best. Too bad the attendance was so low. Not only is it a loss to the promoter, but it is a loss to those who ignored the fest just because the names weren't big enough for them. And some people say *I* am close minded?

OK, things get out of control with Cleveland's Breaker. What an awesome band. Very tight set, lots of energy on stage. Add to this that they were almost giving their merchandise away. T-shirts at $6? Next thing we know there were Breaker t-shirts everywhere. Their double CD was also sold for cheap, something like $8-10. I highly recommend their CD "Get Tough!", by the way. It's the kind of album that causes you to exceed the speed limit quite a bit... hehe.

Finally, the headliners Destructor got on stage. Another killer band that I only have good things to tell about. Unfortunately, due to bad timing on our part, we only caught something like 4 songs from their set. Still a performance to remember. They didn't seem to have any merchandise for sale, however.

On Friday we went for some more vinyl hunting (ouch... that was expensive) and managed to make it to the venue in time for K-Octave, only to find out they had cancelled. OK, time to eat then. We ended up at the Pizza Hut from hell. I don't know what kind of bozo runs that particular franchise, but he should keep an eye on his clueless employees. At least the pizza was good. The service was so shitty they ended up with no tip. We got back in time for October 31. I sure am glad that King Fowley decided to leave the drumming to someone else and concentrate on singing, as he is an *excellent* frontman, very entertaining and goofing around on stage quite a bit, fucking killer! During a guitar solo he even went into the crowd and started headbanging to his own band. Crazy set, and probably the best live performance so far in the fest. If you can catch them live, go for it, it's more than worth it. After that was Damien Thorne. We missed this one, I guess we were in the vendors room at the back shopping for CDs and chatting with people.

Pittsburgh's Penance were next and this band was THE surprise of the festival for me. Adrian had told me they were a doom outfit and I wasn't too enthusiastic about that, but as soon as they hit the stage, it was obvious that they weren't your typical depressing doom band. Rather these guys (and girl - Mary on bass - ex-November's Doom) totally rocked the place, the doom part playing a secondary role to a very rocking sound that at times reminded me of 70s-era Black Sabbath - it is more the feeling and the mood of the music that reminds me of them, so we're talking inspiration and not copycat here, people. The band played an excellent set. Adrian got Maria from Martyr Music Group to give a free copy of the CD to both Dan and myself (I don't know if she got him to dance on the counter for that or what - the story doesn't tell :)) and we headed backstage to get the CDs autographed and for a group picture. Another bunch of very cool, down to earth people. I was surprised to learn that this was already their fourth album. Hep, I can't know them all, can I? :)

When we returned from backstage, Anvil were getting ready to play and the first thing we noticed is that there were suddenly a lot more people in attendance. The band played a number of their hits spanning their 20 years career, as well as some stuff off their "Plenty of Power" album, and closing with what is probably their best known hit, "Metal on Metal". Band leader Lips talked a bit to the crowd between songs and was smiling during the whole set, clearly enjoying playing live and also the crowd's enthusiasm (despite said crowd still being quite small...)

Time for the second headliner, another unknown to me until that night, Omen. Damn, these guys sure as hell know how to give an electrifying performance. Very tight set. I'll have to get some of their material for sure. Despite the very entertaining performance, I was getting quite tired and was glad when it ended! Alright, two nights down, one more to go.

The first band we saw on Saturday was Iron Cross. This is the band that I just could not miss. One particularity of this band is that they alternate the lead vocals between the two guitarists and the drummer, depending on the song. That makes for some variety and all three are very good at it as well. The crowd was very much into their set and so was I - I didn't headbang nearly as much for the other bands, and at the end of the set I was pretty much spent. They played a lot of their older stuff, including most of my favourites, as well as some of their new material from their upcoming album, and I can say that it did sound promising. Can't wait for this one! We went backstage to meet the guys after their set, and once again we were dealing with very nice people, no rock star ego whatsoever there. They were more than happy to pose for a group shot, in fact I should say shots since the person taking the pics had some 4-5 cameras from different people, and the group got bigger and bigger with each pic, which was pretty fucking funny (OK, you had to be there, but just trust me... ;))

Deceased were scheduled to play, but one of the band members had to undergo surgery, so instead October 31 played another excellent set, with a somewhat different set-list than the night before, but still the same energy. Excellent!

Next up were Vyndykator. We had met vocalist Bob Mitchell (ex-Attacker) earlier that night and found him to be an extremely friendly, very cool guy. I wasn't familiar with their material since they don't have an album out yet (I did get a 3-song promo just before the show, however) but right from the start it was obvious that it is something I'm going to pick up as soon as it's released. Bob sounded as good as ever, and was smiling during the whole set, reminding me a bit of Lips the previous night. Once again the crowd was very enthusiastic and went nuts at the end of the set when Bob announced they were playing an Attacker song.

Overlorde were up next. I had chatted a bit with guitarist Mark Edwards before the show and was eagerly waiting for their set. This is starting to sound repetitive but they also pretty much slayed, yet another excellent performance that at least made the fest a success at the musical level. I got the band's excellent demo at the show, and they're just waiting for a label to offer them a deal to release an album of top quality metal. Labels out there, you know what to do.

I didn't get too much into Skullview's stuff, but I was getting tired and I just felt like sleeping so that doesn't help. Nonetheless, they played a pretty good set and I hope I'll get to see them again when I'm in a slightly better shape! :)

Only two bands left, Intruder and Seven Witches. We stayed almost until the end of Intruder's set (the 80s band, not the other band who decided to use the same name) and they were pretty damn good, even though they had not played live for about 10 years! Once again some excellent metal to headbang to. They seem so much younger than most of the other bands from the same era, that was a bit weird. We didn't stay for Seven Witches as we were just too tired and we had to head back to Canada the next morning. Bob Mitchell was supposed to sing one song with them, while Nunslaughter's vocalist was filling in on the vocal duties for the other songs. Somehow that seemed like an odd choice, and now that I think of it, I wish I had stayed to see how that turned out!

All in all, I pretty much had the time of my life that weekend. All excellent bands, and I met a lot of cool people too. As a bonus, it was sunny all the time. hehe. Even though the fest seems to have suffered from a lack of promotion, the selection of bands was excellent, and there were practically no delays (very little) in the schedule. All bands were allowed about 45-50 minutes to play, so it was possible to enjoy their set, a good change from other fests where bands often have only something like 20 minutes to play. Granted, there were only a couple of "big name" bands, but I don't think this should be a requirement for attending. I found that all the bands there had nothing to envy to bigger bands music-wise. Personally I discovered a number of great bands that I'll sure be reviewing and/or interviewing in the months ahead. It's a damn shame that more people didn't show up just because of the lack on big names... I'm pretty sure that the revenues didn't cover the cost, so that'd be the second year in a row that Brad loses money on this. Will there be a 3rd Classic Metal Fest? I sure as hell hope so.

I took a number of pictures at the fest and uploaded them to a Yahoo! Photos account. You can view them here: I'll eventually put some of them here on the site. Maybe. ;)

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