When I first moved to Boise some eight years ago, I assumed the Treasure Valley would be a musical wasteland, especially for metal. Having spent my life in San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, and other large cities, I could not fathom that Boise would have much to offer. As it turned out I had my head planted squarely up my elitist arse. The Treasure Valley is not only home to some amazing musicians and incredible bands, but the metal community is one of the strongest and most welcoming I have yet to experience. When Traitors Gate bassist Colby Dees reached out and asked if I would MC the Heavy Metal New Year’s Eve bash at The Knitting Factory I was floored and honored. It certainly turned out to be a memorable night featuring five of Boise’s best heavy bands and a large gathering of the Family in Black and Idaho Death Militia members.
Kicking off the night, Tulpaa took the stage first. For most in the crowd this was a first look at one of the Valley’s most intriguing new bands. Their sound meshes together elements of black and folk metal with nuances of many other things. It’s quite unique, as is a 7-piece metal band that features a cellist, a percussionist, male and female vocalists, as well as the usual array of guitars, drums, and bass. Fronted vocalists Raider Dean and Morkenna Fornjotsdottir, the band also features Hannah Maddox (percussion), Steve Chavez (guitar), Dean Gehrmann (bass), and drummer Marlon Roubideaux. The New Year’s show marked Tulpaa’s debut on the Knitting Factory stage, and one of their first with new cellist Will Reynolds. The band turned out an excellent show that included the set highlight, “Rotting in the Gallows.” with Morkenna and Hannah taking over vocal duties. Even the crowd sang along with that one. The rest of the set included; “Fires Die,” “Hallucinations,” “Manipulated,” and “Drought.”
The night also marked the return of Rise of the Fallen, performing their first show as a quartet. Over the fall the band stripped down to the core of vocalist Kegan Stucki, drummer Scott Mifflin, guitarist Daniel Rodriguez, and bassist Jeremy Franklin. No longer a two-guitar band, it put the onus on Rodriguez to deliver, and he did in high fashion. Rather than hearing holes in the sound without a second guitar, the band sounded clearer and stronger, with Franklin filling the void quite nicely. Rise of the Fallen also sounded tighter than I have ever heard them as they blazed through songs like “No Lord to Follow,” “Survivors Are We,” “Aisle 9,” “Project Society,” and “Politricks.” Stucki, as always, owned the crowd with his stage presence and personality.
Vault7 has been on a tear this year, including an opening slot with Anthrax this fall. They are also in the running to perform at Rock into Spring in Las Vegas later this year. Saturday night’s show marked the Boise debut for the band’s new bassist Paul Blair, who added some much needed punch to the band’s sound. Taking nothing away from the stellar performances of drummer Dennis Goodman, guitarist Brian Hoyt, and frontman Nathan Polnow, Blair’s debut truly stood out. The guys have finished recording their debut album, and hope to have it ready for mass consumption later this month. Fans got a heavy dose of the record at the show as the band ripped through the cuts; “Shadow of Vacancy,” “Soulgo,” “Fear Nothing,” “Digital Heart,” “Too Long on our Own,” and the Sabbath-esque “SLBS.” They also performed “Deception” and “Come to the Deep,” both of which have aired on Metal Nation Radio. Vault7 continued the running theme of the night, being that every band on the bill delivered an amazingly tight performance. As one fan stated: “Every band brought their A game.”
Next up were our X Fest Battle of the Bands winner, Traitors Gate, all tuxed up for the occasion. The guys are just about ready to drop their debut album (which is excellent, by the way), and they had a couple dozen copies on hand for the show. They played much of the record Saturday night, including fan favorites like “Killing Fields,” “Static,” “Dear Ms. Kelly,” “Plausible Deniability,” and “Acceptable Losses.” The rhythm section of drummer Tim Allan and bassist Colby Dees were dialed in tightly, with Dees bass in particular really cutting through. Guitarist Ken Mansfield delivered as only he can, despite getting a little muffled in the mix. Vocalist Mister Y prowled the stage in his charismatic and menacing manner, winding the crowd up and delivering a sense of excitement and celebration to the evening.
Closing the evening out were Treasure valley stalwarts, Black Tooth Grin, who always deliver a crushing set of riff driven revelry. Vocalist Justin Arthur knows how to work a crowd and Saturday was just another night at the office. Guitarist Jeremy Schmidt delivered a metric shit ton of heavy riffage, with bassist Lou Miller and drummer Derek Sanford cementing the foundation. The guys brought up their better halves on stage for the midnight countdown and even broke out a cover of Corrosion of Conformity’s “13 Angels” dedicated to our own Neeka Rodriguez. After opening with “Witch Hunt,” BTG dug out a set of classics including; “This Fucking Bullet,” “Shine On,” “Season of the Crow,” “Drifter,” “Plastic Jesus,” and “Ghost.”
Every time I step into The Knit lately, it seems Gary Pike has made improvements to the building and the sound, and things just continue to get better for all the bands and fans that pass through its doors and across its stage. Huge thanks to all the bands, all the fans, and the mighty Knitting Factory Staff, as well as our own photographer Katarzyna Cepek who captured many memorable moments of the night.
Click on any photo below to view as a slideshow.