Friday, June 28, 2013

Holy Grail lay down some pyrotechnic heavy metal at the Arch on July 6

In some ways, it must suck to be a modern metal band these days and have to deal with people on the internet or in person always questioning your "tru-ness". You know, the type of people who try to act as scene police and will always question your band's sincerity, if you haven't heard of the same obscure bands that they have heard of.

They have certain "rules", and will always try to prove your band's falseness, even if you aren't false in the least. For California neo-traditionalists Holy Grail, they incurred the wrath of these types of people a few years back while on tour. You see, they were partying after a show in Seattle, when a bunch of "tru-til-death" youngsters came up to them and kept asking about their influences.

"They were quizzing us on all these bands, asking if we ever heard of them. They must have been about 18-19 years old and they were so serious about this. We told them to just relax and enjoy themselves," explains lead vocalist James-Paul Luna. "But they kept going. One even told me that the old-schoolers wouldn't like us if I screamed too much in our songs. I looked at them and said "old-schoolers", you are only 18 years old," finishes Luna.

"It's like you're always on trial," adds lead guitarist Eli Santana. "You can't please everybody." For the record, Luna's influences lean toward the classic vocalists in metal such as Dio, Halford and Gillan, while Santana finds influence in the Big Four thrash bands (Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax), as well as shredders such as Paul Gilbert and Richie Kotzen, as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan and that raging Swede, Yngwie Malmsteen. So you see, their credentials are quite impeccable.

On their new, album, "Ride The Void", which features the axe-work of new member Alex Lee (ex-Bonded By Blood), the band lays down an exhilarating and quite catchy racket, where they combine all their influences into one complete statement. You'll hear traces of trad metal, power metal, shred, doom and even death metal in its grooves. Santana said that the addition of Lee gives the band another weapon in their arsenal. Lee's Shrapnel Records-style shred compliments Santana's own style in a major way. He even helped them form the intro piece, "Archeus", which kicks off the album in high style. But don't even try to classify their music as one certain sub-genre or another. They like to keep the description simple. "We make heavy metal music. We don't try to pin it into one specific genre. We call it heavy metal and leave it at that," said Luna.

The new album also features a gorgeous cover by renowned film concept artist, Dylan Cole, who won an Directors Guild Of America award for a "little known" film named "Avatar", as well as working on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon". He also worked on the recent re-launch of the new Conan movie. This is where the band's livelihood intersects with their cover artist's livelihood. Santana was living with Cole and he needed a model for some concept art for the new Conan movie. So he asked Santana, because he needed someone with long hair, and Santana said yes, which meant he had to pose in some armor while wielding a sword, which was actually a prop used in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The best part is that his band-mates showed up because they were about to start a tour and he was totally posed out in full Conan mode. He even got his name in the credits for the movie. "It was quite funny. But if you know me, acting like that is par for the course," said Santana with a laugh.

After this current headlining run in the states, the band, which also features drummer Tyler Meahl and bassist Blake Mount, will head over to Europe for festival season, as well as another proper tour of Europe, because according to Luna, they haven't toured over there that much and they plan to correct it. So here is your chance to catch an up-and-coming band in an intimate setting. Come celebrate the holiday weekend with some explosive heavy metal. (It should also be noted that Alex and Eli will be doing a guitar clinic before the show. For info and pricing e-mail

 666 Days Of Presents: Holy GrailAnti-MortemSever The DramaSaturday, July 6 2013Arch Street Tavern85 Arch Street Hartford, CT, 0610321+ - $8 - 8pm

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