Saturday night in Muncie there was definitely only one place to be – Valhalla! It’s an impressive little hole in the wall bar that is smaller than other clubs, but with a wicked light and sound system that puts the bigger clubs to shame. Accordingly, the place was packed with people trying to catch a taste of the ‘Hoosier Heavy’ that is the Muncie metal scene.
The Cambion was the first band to unleash their metal fury. Hailing from Northern Indiana and currently on tour with Fail to Decay, these guys were just as mind-blowing as the first time I caught them last month at Be Here Now. Lead singer Tyler Stockton always gets the crowd moving. Surprisingly, they played new material, which was not unlike opening up an extremely loud present.
Following the opener was a band from Muncie called Kill the Host. This was my first time catching them, so I was standing by the stage anticipating their set. Their singer Steven Gruwell can growl and I was astonished by how deep his voice went. I was also impressed with their drummer Chris Smiley, who reeled the crowd in with every cymbal crash. They played a song called “Skinner” that had a preamble about how Steven wanted to wear someone’s skin. Although it was a little dark, it was an impressive lead into a phenomenal song.
The third act was Fail to Decay, which is The Cambion’s touring partner from Rochester, Minnesota. I was extremely pumped to hear them since it’s quite a treat to have bands from that far away playing in such a tiny venue. Consequently, they didn’t disappoint. Their guitarist Daren Menz was full of charisma, driving the music with his headbanging, and their lead singer Joshua Carlson was energetic as well. My favorite part about these guys’ set was that I happened to look up at the drummer, and he was actually so into playing that he was shaking his platform.
Last but certainly not least was Mantra, which is a band from Farmland, Indiana. I have seen them perform quite a few times, but each time is always different. Jessie Cochran and Josh Cummins are both lead vocalists which creates an interesting dynamic. They bring a presence to the stage that draws people out of their seats, and I’m always surprised at how many people gravitate to the front. They have a song called “Webs” that’s definitely a killer tune to start a pit. If you ever have the opportunity, I encourage you to catch them live.
This show was one for the memory book. Not surprisingly, the only part I didn’t like was when it ended. I would recommend these bands and will certainly be back for more. Local shows are so wonderful and such a vital part of the metal scene in any city. Please remember to go out and experience a new band every chance you get.