Sound check: Metal fans can display holiday spirit for good causes

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Playmate Daniella Dior will make a special appearance at the Fifth Annual Cleveland Holiday Metal. (Kalen/Special to the Beacon)

Per the genre stereotypes, heavy metal and its followers aren’t generally considered empathetic, kind or giving.

That is of course an old fallacy based in part on frightened parents and scary record covers. On Friday and Saturday at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, metal fans can display their holiday spirit and headbang for a good cause at the Fifth Annual Cleveland Metal Holiday Food Drive to benefit the Cleveland Foodbank, the Lake Humane Society and Friends of the Cleveland Kennel.

This year, a dozen bands will rock out for a good cause beginning on Friday night with Euclid’s melodic Dark Arena, Cleveland throwback thrashers Soulless, Cleveland death metal veterans Embalmer, F--- You Pay Me, ’80s-inspired “dirty rock ’n’ roll band” the Vulgar Devils and Alternate Reality.

On Saturday, Cleveland power metal legends Shok Paris, whose 1984 album Go for the Throat is highly regarded as a classic in the region and the genre, will perform songs from its upcoming album, Full Metal Jacket. Also on Saturday will be the female-fronted quartet Global Warning, Ground Zero and Black Death Resurrected, a current iteration of the 1980s Cleveland power metal band Black Death whose 1984 self-titled debut earned it the title of “the first all-black metal band.”

I remember seeing Black Death’s album back in 1985 and thinking “Hey, cool. An all-black metal band!” It was definitely the first and possibly the only heavy metal album cover I’ve seen featuring dudes with Jheri curls. Original bassist Greg Hicks, who I’ll assume is no longer rockin’ the curl, is still with the band. The band’s debut album is set for a 30th anniversary release from Auburn records next year.

Rounding out the Saturday lineup are sleaze-rockers Slitt and Scum Park Hooligans.

The two-day event will also feature appearances by Playboy model Daniella Dior and the Red Hot Heathens Outlaw Burlesque troupe and an original piece of 8-track tape art by popular Cleveland artist Derek Hess — who has worked with bands such as Pantera and NOFX — will be raffled off.

Admission is free, but you’d have to be a special kind of jerk not to bring at least one nonperishable food item and/or a bit of cash for all the rock being offered.

Last year’s food drive garnered 2,711 pounds of food and $2,400.

Random acts of live music

Hey, have you been to Joe’s Downtown in Akron to see a show yet?

Me neither, and I’m sorry about that, but this weekend there will be more reasons to head to Joe’s.

First up tonight will be Eric Martin, lead singer of early ’90s arena rock band Mr. Big which had hits with Just Take My Heart, Green-Tinted Sixties Mind and the Hot 100-topping acoustic power-ballad To Be With You, from 1991. Martin’s on the road by himself doing the solo acoustic/storyteller thing, which given the era when Mr. Big was a pretty darn big band should make for some interesting and wild tales from the road.

Billy Morris, Mike Protich of Red Sun Rising, Joey Depasquale from Disco Inferno, Liquid, Dave Brooks and Alex Screchengost, a singer/songwriter from West Virginia, will join in on the unplugged/storytellers-themed evening. Tickets are $16.

Then, on Saturday night, Sunset Strip holdovers L.A. Guns, who seem to be here so often perhaps it should be called L.A. to Akron Guns or something more clever, will perform with Liquid opening. Tickets are $15 and $25.

Hey, have you been to the new Jilly’s Music Room formerly known as the Northside to see a show yet?

Me neither, and I’m sorry about that but this weekend we can all remedy that by going to see prolific mono-monikered singer/songwriter/activist Zach who will be celebrating the release of his 57th album (I think), The Antidote, with a show featuring his talented backing band the Bright Lights (keyboardist Michael Marotta, lead guitarist Charlie Trenta, bassist Neil Keating and Chris Maneri on drums).

Actually, The Antidote is “only” the Akron Life Magazine’s Humanitarian of the Year winner’s 15th album and his fifth with the Bright Lights.

Entry is free but donations will be accepted for Zach’s nonprofit Love Initiative which “seeks to spread random acts of kindness from individuals to our community.”

One more show: Down at Ripper’s Rock House on Friday night will be Hillbilly Hotrodz, a rock ’n’ roll power trio featuring former members of the Godz, Strutter and Dark Age who will be playing music from the band’s as-yet-unreleased debut album.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmxabram.

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