2016’s Summer Slam in Johnson City, Tennessee got started off with a bang. Promoter Sean Carden and sponsor Roberson’s Tennessee Mellomoon Moonshine put together an amazing line-up of bands from start to finish. If you wasn’t there to witness the onslaught of metal you should be ashamed of yourself.It was a perfect Friday night to throw some horns in the air. The night didn’t get off to a slow start by any means. Scent of Remains took the stage and began their set with speed and authority. The band had recently obtained a new singer, but after practicing with the band for a period of time he left the band leaving them without a singer for this show. However, original singer Michael Yates comes to the rescue and steps up and takes the mic . It shows how much chemistry and brotherhood the band has that he was able to come back play the show with them so they wouldn’t have to cancel. That is something that fans appreciate. The only reason he exited the band is because he relocated a couple hours away. Every note they struck was with complete perfection. The guitarist Jeremy Powers has an amazing playing style. He doesn’t play guitar he caresses it. His hands move in a way that just glues your eyes to him. Their aggressive in your face music style makes them one of Knoxville’s premier metal bands. If you haven’t heard the music look them up and get yourself a big whiff of Scent of Remains.
Next up was Divided We Stand. They really brake up the night with some welcomed clean vocals. Singer Joseph Turner kept a smile on his face the entire time, showing his true passion for performing. The majority of their songs he sings in a melodic manner. But… There is moments where he reaches deep within the pit of his stomach and unleashed an ear pleasing scream. Because the screams aren’t a common occurrence it makes them that much more special. The guitarist Phil Zimny has a proficient technique and also adds some occasional screams. Divided We Stand was well perceived bu every eye and ear in the venue. Bassist Randy Krouse is constantly moving and slinging his bass around like a rag doll while also playing each note flawlessly. His stage performance just adds another dimension to the already amazing band.
Direct support was the band Shadowed Self. They have one of the most unique sounds I have heard in some time. While the drummer remains behind his kit the bassist and guitarist take the stage in theatrics fashion then followed by the singer. Not only did Shadowed Self sound great but they looked the part as well. They kick off their set with an amazing thrashy sound mixed with some occasional melodic vocals. Bass player Brandon Rice moves around the stage slapping at the neon green strings on his bass. Each member is a major contributor to the band adding another element to their sound and performance that completes them. Singer CJ Ausburn is well polished as both a singer and guitarist. In addition, he was able to get the crowd pumped to the max. Before their set ended they cranked out a Killswitch Engage cover. You can hear a lot of Killswitch influence in the band so it only makes sense.
Finally the time has come for the headliner and West Virginia royalty Byzantine to take the stage. The band recently earned a record deal with none other than Metal Blade. Over the years Metal Blade has built a client list of the who’s who in metal. With 5 albums under their belt Byzantine has finally climbed their way to their rightful place at the top. Their most recent album ‘To Release Is To Resolve’ is an instant classic that will be celebrated by metal heads for a long time to come. They took the stage eagerly awaiting their turn to melt fans faces off. They stage they stepped upon also happens to be the last place they played 8 months ago almost to the day. This time they have new blood behind the drum kit with new member Matt Bowles. This show was his first time playing live with the band, but by his performance you’d never know. He killed it, and was the perfect drummer to fill some very big shoes.
Byzantine is one of those bands that pumps out album quality sound in a live performance. Brian Henderson is a mesmerizing guitarist to both hear and see. He also adds some amazing clean vocals to their sound. His abilities help Byzantine dominate any competition. Henderson shows off his guitar and vocal ability on the track “Justinian Code”, they just released a video for 8+ minute long song last week. Though the video is great, it doesn’t compare to seeing them perform the song live. From the same album they also played “The Agonies” which lyrically tells a story about drug addiction in West Virginia. Most anyone in America can easily relate to the song.
The staple of the Byzantine sound is the founder Chris “OJ” Ojeda, who has a vocal tone that is unmatched. His vocals are that perfect median between clean and un-clean. Each time you hear him sing “Jermiad” it makes the hairs on your neck stand up. The band like always was able to draw every member of the crowd up close to the stage. Members of the other bands watched closely and looked as if they were taking mental notes. Many fans huddled in front of bassist Sean Syndor to see his style of playing first hand. His movements along the frets of his bass is a sight to behold all on its own. He makes it look so easy but I assure you it’s not. Since a Byzantine show is already everything you could ask for we got the only thing we could request. ENCORE! The song of choice for this encore? Metallica’s “Dyers Eve”. The show was an amazing night of metal from the first note struck until the last, Summer Slam 2016 was a success that will remain a great memory in the hearts and minds of every fan that attended.
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We (Metal Nexus) were happy to be a sponsor of the festival, we’d like to thank Sean Carden Promotions, Summer Slam, Roberson’s Tennessee Mellomoon Moonshine, and Bootlegger Graphics, for putting on an amazing show, make sure to follow and support these great people and businesses.