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Scene Report

Scene Report: 9 Superb Metal Bands Destroying Southwest Ohio

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Before writing off Ohio as merely the place to stop and see your girlfriend's parents, or the place that 'decides elections' a lot, check out this list of the Buckeye States' fantastic metal offerings. For a place not really known for its 'metal' scene, Southwest Ohio has a surprising and thriving metal community. From make-shift venues and sold-out bars to fly-by-night collectives and densely-packed house shows, Southwest Ohio is teeming with accessible and excellent metal. You can be sure that when you're seeing a band on this list, that no one is going to check your metal card at the door, and that you're gonna have a good time.

In terms of Ohio's 'Southwest', we'll be focusing on Cincinnati and Dayton. These little-big-cities are bastions of musical synergy. You'll find groups born in both their honest love for musicianship and some good ole' fashioned Midwestern work ethic. It is for this reason that Southwest Ohio metal is a non-exclusive genre – every band welcomes anyone to come and give their efforts a listen. What you'll find even more surprising than the mere existence of a metal scene, is the variety of metal offered up by this stretch of the heartland. The following list is comprised of musicians who've dug deep to prove that the Midwest ain't fuckin' around when it comes to metal music.

In no particular order:

Beneath Oblivion

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Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Style of music: Funeral Doom Metal

Status:
Currently recording but rarely touring, active since 2003

Previous labels: Mylene Sheath, 43rd Parallel

Current members: Scotty T. Simpson, Allen Lee Scott, Keith Messerle, James Rose

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One of the few times I was able to see this band live, the wall of sound emitted from the stacks of amps reverberated through my bone marrow. As the fellows from Beneath Oblivion gazed at the ground, their somber and almost motionless demeanor served as a stark contrast to the music that was practically blowing the clothes right off my body. A focused and thoughtful band, you can check out the teaser trailer for their upcoming 2017 release The Wayward and the Lost featuring the track "SATYR" HERE. What I enjoy about these guys is that they're not just loud and reverb-y, they offer something encouragingly unexpected in their music that makes you want to listen more. With 8 albums/splits/lps and another 9th in the works, this prolific band is constantly taking us deeper, going somewhere dark in a way that's almost uncomfortable, but still beautiful and brutal.

Check out the standout track "The Atomic Mother":


Imbroglio

Hometown: Dayton, OH

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Style of music: Experimental, Grind, Sludge

Status: Alive but dormant, established 2007

Previous labels: Redmoth Inc, The Path Less Traveled Records, & Mannequin Rein.

Current members: Darrell J. Gilbert, Josh Deeter

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Imbroglio performs as a mere 3-piece that somehow manages to sound like a stage full of maniacs. This unabashed band is as good live as they are recorded, dripping an impressive amount of controlled chaos into each instrument. Gilbert, lead singer and guitarist, leaves a little piece of himself on stage after every impassioned performance. Their music is a mesmerizing combination of viewpoint and talent. Like the namesake of Sleeping Beauty, I feel a bit like Aurora trying to find the spinning wheel listening to Imbroglio; lost in a trance I can't really fight. When it comes to seeing them live, you may as well resign yourself to getting your finger pricked, because both Deeter and Gilbert are impossible to stop watching as they explode behind their instruments. Check them out if you want to leave your body and feel through someone else's eyes. You can check out music from their 5 full length albums HERE. I recommend starting with Declared Self Hatred.


Mouth of the Architect

Hometown: Dayton, OH

Style of music: Metal, Rock, Prog, Ambient

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Status: Active since 2003

Previous labels: Translation Loss Records

Current members: Dave Mann, Jason Watkins, Steve Brooks, John Lakes, and Evan Danielson.

I hope for Mouth of the Architect that Ohio is finally ready for a band like them. They write compelling music that is well-composed and unafraid to be both grand and technical. Their name often gets thrown into the hat along alongside the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room and Deafheaven, but I feel they offer more progression and controlled energy than their blackgaze counterparts. If anything, I'd draw a comparison to Mastodon, though, with music so theatrical and mounting, comparing might give listeners an unfair expectation. As a whole, they really stand alone, strong in their musical voice and polished recordings. Often referred to as a 'post-metal' band, Mouth of the Architects' band name nods to the construction of the songs, as each song seems to be carefully layered into tracks which can trickle into double digits. However, here is another example of a band which constantly surprises the listener. Even at minute 5, tracks like "Fever Dream" are far away from being boring, dancing around expectation and uncomfortable mood changes or unfocused jamming. Their 2016 album Path of Eight is fantastic start to finish.

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Well of Night

Hometown: Dayton, OH

Style of music: Black Metal

Status: Active since 2015, planning on 2018 tour

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Previous labels: None

Current members: Max Otworth, Lindsey Pittman, Josh McElfresh, Mark Strunk

Though a band relatively new to the scene, the members of Well of  Night are seasoned metal-veterans bringing world-wide tour experience from former bands such as Acheron. Straight-forward and relentlessly melodic, Well of  Night brings honest chops and black metal flavor to Dayton. This 4-piece group tightens up at the exact right moments, offering insane blast beats and delicious tremolo picking expected from a trve black metal sound. When asked about their vision, WON replied with this, "Drinking from the well was not a choice we made – rather one that was made for us by some unseen enigma. It's jet-black and misty contents were neither liquid nor air, but something cool and in-between. It's effects can be described as producing clarity or hallucination, though none have been able to make the distinction. Witnesses to the madness describe a live performance as having similar effects." …If you want to know what THAT sounds like, click HERE.


Close the Hatch

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Hometown: Middletown, OH

Style of music: Sludge, Doom, Post Metal

Status: Active since 2011, new album due Fall 2017

Previous labels: RedMoth LLC/DGRK Music

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Current members: Shaun H, Shaun O, Josh G, Stephen B

This is another band whose overall viewpoint lies in the 'post-metal' genre.  However, Close the Hatch's albums have a completely different feel when compared to Dayton contemporaries Mouth of the Architect. They've got a raw, bare-bones approach to performing live which highlights their ripping, heavy, and dark moments. Having opened up for acts such as Dillinger Escape Plan and Weedeater, Close the Hatch is a tight and focused drill that continues to forge on, creating an impressive 6 full studio albums in 6 years.

Check out their new single "II" from the fourth-coming album "VI":


Winterhymn

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Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Style of music: North American Pagan Metal

Status: Established 2009, with 3 full-length albums and currently planning a tour

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Previous labels: SoundAge Productions

Current members: Draug, Umbriel, Exura , Varrik, Alvadar, Helgrav

With Winterhymn, there is no shortage of folk/pagan metal trimmings like face paint and fur pelts, stories and honor.  I asked Draug, lead singer and guitarist of Winterhymn, what sets these guys apart from other huge names such as Eluveitie, he responded with:

"What sets us apart from other pagan metal bands, specifically American bands, is our approach to the genre. We are all metalheads first, but love the expressiveness and capacity for storytelling that comes with pagan metal, and we have used it to create our own world, especially on the last album, Blood & Shadow. It's less about "who can we sound like" and more about "what can we create" with this huge canvas and all these instruments."

Check out the track "Dream of Might" from their 2016 release Blood & Shadow:

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Hell Scorched Earth

Hometown: Bethel, OH

Style of music: Death/Black metal

Status: Active since 2010

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Previous labels: Unsigned

Current members: Gabe Dryden, Matt Plunkett, Brandin Henize

Hell Scorched Earth is fun to listen to. They're fast, they're melodic, they're mean, and they've got a gem in their 2015 release Pandemonium. Drawing on inspirations of classical music and what dancing, fiery skeletons must sound like, Hell Scorched Earth  combines speed with calculated leads for a super solid album I keep listening to over and over again.

Check out "Child of Moonlight" from their 2015 album Pandemonium:

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Choking

Hometown: Dayton, OH

Style of music: Death/Black/Doom metal

Status: Active since 2014, currently working on new album for 2018

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Previous labels: Unsigned

Current members: Ryan Mattox, Max Otworth, Sam Jackson

Choking's sound is endlessly abysmal, and lead singer Ryan Mattox's vocals are cruel and deep. Choking offers relentlessly heavy, 10+ minute songs which feel an angry, bitter drive to a funeral home. They're currently working on a new album expected in 2018, and you can check out their full-length album and EP HERE.


Neon Warship

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Hometown: Dayton, OH

Style of music: Stoner/Rock/Blues metal

Status: Active since 2011, currently finishing second full-length album

Previous labels: Smallstone

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Current members: Kevin Schindel, Matt Tackett, Jay Bird, Evan Davell

I have such a soft spot in my heart for energetic stoner metal. To me, it sounds like weird Camero-drivin' space rock. If you happen to be a galactic bounty hunter, consider popping on Neon Warship's self-titled debut album before crushin' a beer and heading out to find your man. Aside from Neon Warship's contribution to metal-genre diversity in Southwest Ohio, they're talented. Like, really talented.  Offering Clutch-like balls-out playing and a spattering of early  70's expressive guitar noodling, Neon Warship drips sweat into some riff-driven rock that will have you banging your head. You can check out their work here.


We are looking for suggestions for the next Scene Report. Does your region have a great scene that people should know about? Email us at hatemail [at] metalinjection [dot] net with your pitch.

View previous Scene Reports here.

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