Big Night at the Ziggaurat
by Jeff Truitt
Reprinted with permission of The Daily Post and Clarion
Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed the local metal scene getting stale. New bands repeat what’s been safely done before, their only innovation, if you can call it that, to turn up the volume.
Maelstrom is the real deal. Expertly straddling the line between old school rock and straight up heavy metal, they churn out their own material and cover the masters with a confidence that sets heads nodding and hands reaching for the air guitar.
Their show at Ziggurat last Friday night started with the explosive guitar riffs of Kalila Yusra, whose sultry sex appeal would be enough to blow minds even if she couldn’t play more than three chords. But she can play, and her fetishistic riffs on “Never Yours Truly” and screaming guitar solo on the moody juggernaut “No Exit” will convince you that she’s no Guitar Barbie and can hold her own against the very best the music scene has to offer.
Supporting her on bass, Bo Valentino combines great tone and killer riffage into a brooding, low-slung bass line that reminded me just how much a band loses when it settles for a bass player who only keeps the beat. Not only does he turn out complicated rhythms on classics like “Stone Cold Crazy,” but he follows up with a sexy performance with Kalila on “Hot Night, Cold Heart,” that will make you wonder if those two shouldn’t check into a hotel after the show.
Of course every good band needs a front man, and vocalist Vic Drake delivers in masterful fashion. His voice has a gritty, urban appeal, equally well suited for the rampaging “Carrion Road” and the darkly soulful “Blue Rumor.” He really proves his talent, though, with his angsty howl on the introspective “If, Then,” where he shows off his range and plays to the eerie harmonics put out by Nevin Prantz on keyboards.
Nevin is a bit of an anomaly. Metal bands usually don’t bother with synth, which if done wrong can make even the wildest steel-stringed tirade take on shades of Duran Duran. But although Nevin is a classically trained pianist, he fits right into the scene, his nuanced and cathartic sub-melodies weaving in and out of the aggressive guitar and vocal melodies and holding their own against moments of frantic drum abandon by Lazaro Thantos.
In sum, this group is solid. Driven by powerful drum beats and excellently crafted vocals and guitar work, Maelstrom is a hard-edged, dynamic act with old school roots and a driven, creative energy. Look for them to go far in this business and be sure to catch them after the show, if you can. They love their fans and someday you’ll be able to say you knew them when.
Highly Recommended: 4.5/5 Stars