The Alamo City’s storied heavy metal scene, which once turned local and national bands’ careers on its collective heads resulting in the moniker Heavy Metal Capital, is so rich that rare is the night a bulk of it joins forces under one roof at the same time. But that’s what took place last Saturday when a contingent of San Antonio’s “Homegrown Heavy Metal Legends” descended on Fitzgerald’s for a collection of metal talent, knowledge, stories and history.
Some were on stage for roughly 7 1/2 hours of music, including the 30-year reunion show of Nutron, veteran classic Texas metallers Syrus, 32nd anniversary celebrators Byfist, 40th anniversary mainstays Seance, plus Zero The Hero and Baad Newz. And some of the oft-labeled royalty around these parts were on hand to sign classic autographs of themselves as unveiled in Juan Herrera’s book “As Viewed From the Pit: Photos of the South Texas Metal Scene 1978-89” including Fates Warning and Sebastian Bach drummer Bobby Jarzombek, Watchtower guitarist Ron Jarzombek, Militia vocalist Mike Soliz, Riot V bassist Don Van Stavern and vocalist Buster Grant (see 90-photo slideshow below).
The latest chapter that added to the San Antonio scene’s own voluminous book won’t soon be forgotten. Emilio Ledezma, who these days makes his mark in Ledezma Lethal Legends which will perform at 10 p.m. tonight at Fitzgerald’s, resurrected his former band Nutron with Danny Trejo of Trejo on vocals and the double-neck guitar. They were preceded by Syrus, whose revolving door of singers has currently landed on Alfred Pena. The group formed by guitarists John Castilleja and Al Berlanga unveiled forthcoming track “Last Warrior” (ATM footage below) among its Tales of War classics, although time constraints forced them to cut out a pair of other new tunes (setlist in slideshow).
Byfist, led by original rhythm guitarist Nacho Vara, had a telling set for a couple of reasons. First, it paid homage to another local outfit by playing Juggernaut’s “All Hallows Eve” before vocalist Raul Garcia called up Helstar veteran James Rivera to take his place and join Byfist’s instrumentalists on Helstar’s 1984 track “Burning Star” (ATM Facebook Live footage here).
Then an emotional Vara could barely get through his introduction of “Mary Celeste” given that it was the first song he wrote for Byfist with the late vocalist Vikk Real. Vara at one point turned away from the crowd and walked toward the drum set before he was comforted by bassist Stony Grantham. Vara, who also pulled double duty in Seance — giving him approximately 70 years of music between both artists — then summoned the strength not only to get through the song, but to put his foot down and play the entire tune front and center under the main spotlight, away from his usual dimly lit spot stage left, as Garcia wrapped his arm around him in smile and song. Watch the band culminate its set with “In the End” below.
With longtime local disc jockey Brian Kendall spinning tracks between bands, it was no rest for the weary as far as Vara was concerned as Seance preceded Byfist. “Woman,” “Should’ve Known” and “Heavy Metal” (below) highlighted the band’s set as vocalist Danny Fonseca, founder and lead guitarist Robert Perez, bassist Ruben Hernandez and young pup drummer Octavio de la Pena joined Vara in providing its usual fun and energetic set.
Zero The Hero and local trio Baad Newz got things warmed up prior to the bar filling at its peak. Watch Zero The Hero in action below on “You Bring Hate” and on “Valley of the Bones.”
Another book of the local metal scene could very well begin with what went down at Fitzgerald’s: the drinks were cold, the metal flowed, and the stories and history were told. All in a night’s work when it comes to San Antonio heavy metal. But even this evening was a bit more special than most.