If you saw the six members of Cleveland metal band Cellbound hanging out at the Dirty Dog, a blue-collar corner bar just outside Parma's city limits, you'd probably tab them for another bunch of Parma metalheads who'd been playing in bands together since high school. Dressed in leather jackets and Metallica T-shirts, they're making jokes about their mascot skull beer bong, which they've brought along, and finishing each other's sentences as they talk about their debut CD, Fallen Angels of the Sui Caedere, which they'll celebrate with an official CD-release show at Peabody's on Friday.
The slashing music on that disc — with its spiraling lead guitars, aggressive rhythmic stomp and perfectly meshed male/female lead vocals (a sound they self-describe as "Pantera meets Lacuna Coil") — adds to the impression that they're lifelong friends. But, in reality, they all met via the Internet and come from all over Northeastern Ohio; no one knew anyone else prior to joining Cellbound. Drummer Todd Alley and guitarist Dave Borowske weren't expecting a woman — the tall, forceful, vivacious Chris E. — to show up to audition when they advertised for a singer back in 2007, but, says Alley, "She came in and blew me away."
Later that year, guitarist Shaun Vanek, singer Tom Herttna and bassist Greg Baise completed the lineup. Baise, who, like Herttna is from rural Geauga County, remembers, "I was sitting on the couch watching the Discovery Channel when Chris called me. They saw my ad on the Internet and said come to practice. At that first practice, I felt this great energy and it didn't take me too long before I realized, I hope they invite me back."
"The sound changed once we added Shawn, Tom and Greg," says Alley. "Shaun's playing is freakishly good. Halfway through the first practice, he knew all the songs. We had to step it up to the next level. At our first show I realized — this is the group."
That show took place at the Beachland, opening for Ringworm. Perhaps as a weird omen, Dennis Kucinich was there.
"As soon as we started the first song, these guys went crazy," says Alley. "It was like a mosh pit onstage."
"I had a black eye and pulled Tom's hair out with my guitar," adds Baise."There's an injury every show," says Chris. "Tom's head was bleeding. Some people who had been with us from the get-go and had seen us through all the changes said it was perfect."
The band went in last summer to record its CD, following up an EP made with an earlier lineup.
"Things flowed really well in the studio, even though most of the material was written prior to us being in the band," says Vanek. "Everyone added their own personality to it."
They had the CD in hand by their Halloween show but decided to wait until spring to officially release it to avoid potential blizzards. Instead, the closing of the Jigsaw derailed their scheduled April show. But they aren't sitting back and waiting for things to happen. They've been writing new material (at their release show, they'll play a new song, "Stolen Silence," which showcases how they use dual lead vocalists to present two characters with different points of view) and playing as many gigs as they can. This summer, they're booked at everything from a metalfest outside Chicago to an acoustic in-store gig at the Strongsville Hot Topic. And, as much as they have the Internet to thank for their existence, they don't believe in the long-distance approach to promoting a band.
"We try to get out and meet people, not sit at the bar," says Chris. "You can be on the computer, you can be on MySpace, but if you're not out there creating an environment onstage and meeting people, it's not going to happen."