In a city, and scene, often overrun by bands playing the songs of the famous groups they idolized, a trifecta hit Fitzgeralds’ stage Saturday night that dared to be different. Even if the musicians weren’t necessarily trying to do so.
Sure, the occasion may have been meant to celebrate headliner Aeternal Requiem’s release of new album Rise — an effort that came to the Alamo City by way of being recorded in Finland. But in the process, the night proved to be a show that was the exception over the rule around these parts.
Supported by young thrashers Metalriser and X.I.L. (Exile), Aeternal Requiem and Co. provided a rare all-local and all-original-music night of metal.
No supporting of national acts. No cover songs. No tribute acts waxing poetic of hits that wore out radio and MTV long ago (see 43-photo slideshow and ATM’s video footage below).
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Copy acts have their time and place. Look no further than two of the men on stage at Fitzgerald’s. New Metalriser bassist Nick Gamboa manages local Megadeth tribute Rust In Peace. And the brainchild of Aeternal Requiem, singer/guitarist Austin Zettner, has played more than a few riffs in Iron Maiden homage group Seventh Son.
In fact, that might be the reason a fan approached the barrier during a short break in Aeternal Requiem’s live re-enactment of its entire eight-song album and requested “Wasted Years” in broken English. Perhaps he recognized Zettner from his tribute act. Or perhaps the man simply wanted to hear that song. But after Zettner politely bent down and told the man without the aid of a microphone he was only playing original songs on this night, fellow guitarist John Catts bellowed, “We are not a cover band!”
The message was delivered long before that, however. X.I.L.’s quartet of singer/bassist Austin James, guitarist/singer Joseph Aguilar, guitarist Quinten Serna and drummer Jordan Hoffart thrashed about on “Full Throttle Ass Kicking,” “The Witching Hour” and “This Means War,” among others (watch ATM’s Facebook Live footage of the latter here), as they’ve been known to do opening for the likes of Overkill and Metal Church.
While all three bands were slated to play 45 minutes apiece, middle artist Metalriser shortened itself to 26 minutes. Aeternal Requiem drummer David Sanchez Jr. was pulling back-to-back double duty but is still in the process of learning Metalriser’s catalog. So original singer/guitarist Joel Estrada, who like Zettner is the lone remaining member of the group he founded, and his new mates gave it their all on “Demise” (ATM Facebook Live footage here), “Hell’s Gate” (watch below) and a couple other heavy hitters. A longer set figures to be in store Aug. 2 at the Rock Box when Metalriser joins local brethren Nahaya and Buried Alike in supporting national 20-somethings Light This City.
Speaking of Nahaya, that band’s bassist Semir Ozerkan has helped Zettner round out the newer quartet version of Aeternal Requiem that was once a trio. But Ozerkan was MIA at Fitzgerald’s, and fill-in bassist Joe Muniz, as Zettner proudly told the crowd, learned 92 pages of music in 2 1/2 weeks. See them play instrumental “Day of Reckoning” and watch album and show finale “So Far” below.
The tunes of our youth may help pack them into, and drive the businesses of, bars and mid-sized venues around town. But it’s going to be an increase in all-original local packages, with metalheads coming out in a solidified show of support, that’s going to make the scene thrive once more, so long as its citizens harbor hopes of rekindling the Heavy Metal Capital’s heyday in becoming the rule, not the exception, yet again.