Upon my arrival, Donovan Roth of umpteen loud Columbus bands handed me a mini-bottle of Jack Daniel's and urged me to come inside, where Keelhaul, the longstanding Cleveland quartet affiliated with the late, great Hydra Head label, was busy crushing. Fifteen years of power rained down on me in five minutes, and my mindset was properly configured for Dude Locker's grand finale.
Battle Axe is a joke band of sorts, but they’re the best kind of joke, a group of well-schooled metal enthusiasts celebrating the glorious absurdities of the genre. This is not one of those hokey hair-metal send-ups, or even a straight-faced, detail-oriented Spinal Tap thing. They take the parody just far enough to make their shows feel like a raging Halloween party among friends — horned Viking helmets and bulbous bare bellies aplenty, footwear including Adidas, New Balance and white slippers still visible.
Between gulps from a chalice, members of Columbus heavy-hitters including Lo-Pan, Bridesmaid, 1point3 and The Tenth Generation roared through ridiculous and rejuvenating music. Song titles included “Dagger Hammer” and “Heave Ho!” Others tackled subject matter like forging swords, wizardry and witches (or was it wenches?) in the throne room.
This was particularly awesome because the songs weren’t just clever. They kicked ass — gnarly riffs, incredible power, firm grasp of the art of the shout-along anthem. (Sing it with me: “Sword! Axe! Shield!”) The typical “thick concept, thin content” pitfall was not a problem here. And since they employed two guitarists, two bassists and two drum kits, it sounded humongous.
The good news for you, fun-loving Columbus citizen, is that this wonderful monstrosity will be doing it all over again this Saturday at Carabar, just in time for Halloween.