The Metal Files

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Frost and Fire IV Festival Review, Ventura, CA, October 4-6, 2018

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That’s how I feel today.  Worn out, yet refreshed.  Work has been a bit stressful lately and getting out of town for a few days was just what I needed; even better that it was for the fourth (and final?) installment of the Frost and Fire fest.  This was also my fourth time attending and it’s easily my favorite of the USA metal fests.

As has happened on many travels around the USA for shows, one of my lifelong best friends, Kelz, attended as well.  Here’s how it all played out.  TL;DR?  Understood.  haha

Thursday Oct. 4
I landed at LAX around 1030AM and scooped up Kelz in the terminal.  My friend Soledad had arrived at a similar time but needed to get through customs.  We went ahead and got the rental car and ended up having to wait almost 2 hours for her, which was fine.  Unfortunately she didn’t have a signal in the customs line and couldn’t tell us about the delay.  Once through we picked her up at the terminal and headed up to Ventura.  Doors were at 4PM and the first band was slated for 430PM.  We grabbed a quick meal, checked in then headed to the Ventura Theater to get things going.

This year was completely at the Ventura Theater which meant two things, expensive drinks and no ins/outs of the venue without an all access wristband.  Fortunately a friend in one of the bands granted us a pair of wristbands for the weekend, so that was sweet.  For the record, I didn’t have one alcoholic drink in the venue at all, only a couple of Cokes and Red Bulls over the weekend.

But whatever, here’s the band run down for Thursday:

Haunt – They were a known commodity to me already as I had the EP and LP for a while and had already seen them twice.  Definitely one of my current favorite bands and I hope their success continues.  They sounded great as the fest opener, as expected and I can’t recommend them enough.  I got some good chatting time with mainman Trevor over the weekend.  Solid dude.  Looking forward to hearing more from them.

Lady Beast – I had seen them previously in Chicago and Cleveland and enjoy them live.  Thursday was no different.  They delivered a solid set for sure.

Screamer – I only heard them from the lobby, to be honest, and I thought they sounded fine, but didn’t really get a good perspective of them.

Tanith – This band features Russ Tippins from Satan.  I had already seen them a couple of times and they are certainly one of my favorite newer bands as well.  The vocal work of Russ and Cindy is just perfect for their sound, which as stated before, reminds me of Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep with a touch of NWOBHM thrown in.  Their set was good and we got a couple of new songs.  Unfortunately there were some sound issues.  Didn’t matter, Tanith ruled and the band is full of great people.

Gygax – I saw their Frost and Fire and enjoyed them a lot then, especially with Armand (now in Night Demon) on guitar.  They are certainly influenced, somewhat overly influenced by Thin Lizzy.  I didn’t really see/hear their set as Kelz and I headed out of the venue for a beer and some quick dinner.

Slough Feg – Missed their set, but in general I’m not a fan.

Cirith Ungol – Tim Baker and company delivered a fine set for the masses.  They also debuted their new song, Witch’s Game.  It sounded great live.  The whole band did.

Afterward, we hit Dargan’s Irish Pub for a drink or two then to a quickie mart/liquor store for some room snacks and waters and walked back to our hotel to crash out.  We were both pretty wiped out.  Our waitress there was super cool and had a beer with us after she finished her shift.

Friday Oct. 5

After hitting some breakfast at the hotel and chilling for a bit, we decided to ride up to Santa Barbara to check out a record store.  It was weird how dead that town was at the noon hour on a Friday.  Last year on the Saturday we were there is was quite busy, mostly tourists I guess.  Afterwards we headed back to Ventura, in the most perfect weather ever, and chilled at the hotel a bit.  I got a short nap, got cleaned up and we headed over to Barrelhouse 101 for burgers and drinks before heading back to the fest.  My friends from Mexico, Soledad, Sarah and Jaime joined us and it was a great time to eat, drink and catch up with friends.  Unfortunately we missed Vandallus, Thrust and Cloven Hoof.  I had seen the first two before and they put on solid sets.  I’ve never been a Cloven Hoof fan and really had no interest seeing them.  Here’s what I did see:

Destructor – Cleveland legends.  We caught the second half of their set and Dave Just and the band were solid and sounded great.

Night Demon – They’re Ventura locals and are the body and brains behind the fest.  They are also road dogs and consistently put on one of the best and most energetic live shows ever.  Easily one of my favorite bands to see live…EVER.  Jarvis, Armand and Dustin are a well-oiled machine and know how to work a crowd.  Jarvis is a great frontman.  They delivered their set with precision as expected.  That was my 17th time seeing them!  That’s crazy in an of itself.  Not to mention I consider them close friends.  Definitely connected beyond the music and I thankful for that.

Warbringer – I’ve seen them before and didn’t watch them during their set.  Not my thing.

Midnight – The Cleveland based dark metallers hit the stage with the energy and fury that Athenar and company always deliver.  This was the first time I had seen them since they added a second guitarist.  It certainly beefed up their sound a bit, not that they needed it.  Always an enjoyable set.

The after party was at San Souci across the street and I got in there right as it was getting filled up to see my friends in Blood Star.  Kelz and I chugged our Billys (local drink) and rocked out to their awesome set in that tiny room.  They sounded great!  From there I was wiped out and headed back to the hotel to crash out.  Another band, NovaReign, was about to play but I was disinterested.

Saturday Oct. 6

Same breakfast routine, but did sleep in a little longer.  After chilling for most of the morning and into the noon hour, we finally got cleaned up to go find lunch.  We met up on the street with my Detroit friend Megan and hit a Thai place.  After that?  Nap time, or at least that was the plan.  Our room faced the park area and there was an arts festival going with some shitty DJ music blasting the bass.  I maybe have fallen out for a little bit, but it wasn’t enough.  But we soldiered on!  Off to the Ventura!  While there, I saw the Eternal Champion guys roll in to set up merch and such.  I am a founding member of the band but have now been out of the band longer than I was in it!  I buried a hatchet (perceived or otherwise) prior to their set.

Sacred Few – I only knew their one song from the old Cleveland Metal compilation so they were pretty much an unknown.  Their singer, Sandy, is the only original member and Midnight was the backing band.  It was quite an enjoyable set which started at 330PM.  Sandy sounded great and you could tell that she was having a great time.  She was really sweet to talk to as well.

Vicious Rumors – On tour for their Digital Dictator re-boot, VR delivered a solid set and the current singer sounded great.  I’ll see them again in Austin soon.

Attacker – They sounded killer and it’s always a pleasure to talk with Mike, Michael and Brian.  Great dudes and funny as hell.

Eternal Champion – This was my first time seeing them since my departure from the band.  It was a bit weird.  I watched about half of it then went back out to the lobby to hang with some friends.

Visigoth – Jake, Jamison and company did what they always do…THEY OWNED THE STAGE AND CROWD.  Jake is one of the best standalone frontmen in the business and the band overall sounded great.  I wish I could see them more often.  It was made even more special with Manilla Road’s Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick on vocals for Necropolis in honor of the passing of Mark Shelton.  RIP.

Ashbury – Prior to their set, Rob from Ashbury gave me a copy of their new CD and a steel pin for my vest.  “Love and Respect, Sean.”  Just hearing those words from him means the world.  He said he wanted my review of the album, good, bad or indifferent.  I’ll get working on that soon.  They delivered another fine set and they are the perfect band for this fest.  Most everyone loves them.  They were great.  They always are.

Satan – Hail Satan!  What more can really be said about them?  Plenty!  They were slated to play all of Court in the Act and it was great to hear the full album played live, especially Hunt You Down, which they rarely play live.  They were absolutely great and played a couple from their new album, Cruel Magic, along with some other early songs and some from their more recent catalog.  The whole band is so energetic and Brian Ross’ vocals are still top notch.  They were the perfect end to a perfect festival.

After the show, we were all saying our goodbyes before getting thrown out of the venue.  Neither Kelz nor I care to go back to Sans Souci for the after party bands as it was already packed in there.  So we headed back to the Irish pub with Christian (Venomous Maximus, ex-Eternal Champion [there are a lot of us!]) and had a shot and a couple of beers before they closed it down.  As we walked back up to the hotel, Satan was there unloading gear and beers and invited us to hang out with them.  Didn’t have to ask us twice!  Brian Ross’ drink of choice is called a Firemeister which is a combo of 1 full shot of Jager and 1 full show of Fireball.  Sounds awful, right?  It is.  But if Brian is serving them up, I’ll generally not say no.  Fortunately he didn’t have much left, so I feel like we dodged a bullet.  haha.  We also had a couple of beers.  It was Kelz, Heather from Graveshadow, Brian/Graeme/Steve from Satan and Charlie/Cindy/Shauna from Tanith and me.  Time flew by quickly and all of a sudden it was 5AM (7AM Texas time and 8AM NC time for Kelz).  I threw in the towel.  We had to be out of the hotel by noon to head to Hollywood to see Satan again Sunday night.

That’s the wrap for the fest, this wonderful perfect fest in one of the most beautiful cities in the USA with the best weather we could have ever wanted.  Jarvis has wavered on whether or not this will be the last one or not.  I personally hope not.  It’s really a great fest, well-run and I thoroughly enjoy seeing a lot of friends that I don’t see regularly and meeting new friends.  Getting to spend time with the bands, my friends from Germany (thanks for the scarf, Kiri!), Soledad, Jaime y Sara from Mexico, Stephan from Switzerland, Kit Ekman, Christian from Venomous, Ollie from KIT, Thilo, Henri, Rodney, and all of the USA friends.

See all setlists here.

Written by The Metal Files

October 10, 2018 at 11:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. […] little to no sleep from staying up till almost dawn with Satan after their Frost and Fire IV concert the night before, Kelz and I scooped up one of my Austin friends and headed down to […]

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