Contact Us

Hell’s Headbash Pt. 1: Enter The Shadow Kingdom

Black Death
Black Death

Thursday morning, and the Casserole is wreckass long before any band had played. The night before, I found myself scarfing wings at Herb’s and drunkenly appraising gay porn at Now That’s Class with Zack Rose of Nekrofilth. Waking up at the University Hotel & Suites doesn’t help; the entire building is one big Smoking room, though the downstairs cocktail bar is surprisingly legit. But that’s what this weekend is all about—Hell’s Headbash, the grodiest of the festivals, where all bands’ logos are white on black and every fan is sweating peppered cheese balls through patched denim. If you’re gonna be foul, you’ve gotta be tough. Get a soft pack of Reds in the lobby.

Tombstalker
Tombstalker

Cleveland is the University Hotel & Suites of American cities. Sweltering, sprawling, and trying too hard, Cleveland doesn’t give fest attendees the same charming American ambience that New York or even Baltimore does. At least not around the Agora. Sure, if you rent a car and know someone, you can have a lovely and historic experience in one of the country’s classic hubs, but if you’re too cheap to do that you’re shit out of luck. Don’t want to buy food at the festival? Too bad—the whole town is festival food. Eat your chicken tenders and get to the show.

Temple of Void
Temple of Void

Hell’s Headbangers know what they’re doing. The venue lets everyone in at 5:30, and 90% of those waiting to enter immediately line up in front of the barrier-guarded Hell’s Headbangers merch alley, slavering at the Acid Witch banners and Bonehunter shirts displayed therein. In the meantime, there are life-size cut-outs of the label’s various iconic images that fans can pose in front of. There’s the Headbanger-faced Show No Mercy goat, the giant horror bat, and the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath parody with famous metal mascots closing in on a panicked Christ (anyone notice how all the other bands have creepy creatures representing them while Mercyful Fate has King Diamond, an actual fucking person?).

Iron Man
Night Magic

Thankfully, the beer is affordable and the Shadow Kingdom Records bands start soon after entry. Tombstalker are the perfect opener to the fest, playing in Celtic Frost-style half-corpsepaint and delivering riff after tasty metal riff. Temple of Void are fucking killer, spewing out macabre stoner death metal, but their particular style just isn’t what the spiked and studded crowds of Hell’s Headbash are interested in. Soon afterwards, though, the burly doom of Night Magic gets the crowd excited. Imagine Grand Magus via the East Coast and you get Night Magic. They go a little long, but the audience, now thick, doesn’t seem to mind. Coven 13 play a similar style to Iron Man, but their songs are far more enthralling, injecting a sense of urgency into the big riffs and soaring vocals. They also up the satanic element, which, let’s be honest, is what we’re all here for (if you bought a ticket to Hell’s Headbash expecting some secular gym metal, I don’t know what to tell you).

Coven 13
Coven 13

Venomous Maximus sadly can’t make it to the Agora, but they’re replaced by a rare treat: Black Death, the all-black heavy metal band known for injecting color into a predominantly-white genre in the 1980s. Make no mistake, the band’s inclusion is not a novelty—Black Death fucking slay at the Agora. Sure, it is new and cool to see a metal band made up entirely of black dudes play a festival featuring white bands with questionable conservative politics; hell, anyone who’s wandered around Cleveland in the past twenty-four hours has made note of the city’s heavily African American populace compared to Headbash’s mostly-white audience. But the band has the crowd in their grip from the moment they take the stage until the second after they leave. Frontman Siki Spacek is like a black Lemmy, hoarsely growling his way through “Streetwalker” and “The Hunger” like a maniac and wailing on his axe like he can’t help it, all the while sweating his ass off (oh shit, he has a towel! Note to Scab, bring a towel next time).

Black Death
Black Death

While Thursday night is satisfying, everyone in attendance leaves with the understanding that this was an appetizer. Tomorrow promises a 1:00pm entrance time, bigger crowds, more merch, and Midnight at its end. Thursday was all about breaking the Scab; tomorrow will see the old wound bleed.

 —Scab Casserole

This article has been edited to properly reflect the name of the band Night Magic.

Recent News

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://www.invisibleoranges.com using your original account information.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Invisible Oranges - The Metal Blog quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!