"Cleveland's one of the top metal markets in North America," says Mark Gromen, Six Pack Weekend director and U.S. correspondent for Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, the Toronto-based magazine that sponsors the show. "We wanted to show the rest of the world -- especially Europe -- that we're the real thing. It's not just some local show. It's a big deal on the international scene and hopefully getting bigger."
Confirmed acts include smelting powerhouse Primal Fear, E-Force (featuring former Voivod singer-bassist Eric Forrest), Britain's Shadowkeep (in its North American debut), Germany's Grave Digger (in the first U.S. show in its 23-year history), Georgia's heavily melodic Lilitu, and Chicago's forward-thinking Ion Vein. A set by Seven Witches will be accompanied by an acoustic set by Witches singer Jack Frost and guitarist James Rivera, and epic metalers Crimson Glory will also play unplugged. The weekend show is likely to kick off with a Thursday-night (June 3) showcase of local bands.
"Cleveland is the festival's hometown, and hopefully it will be for the foreseeable future," says Gromen. Last year's festival featured sets by such metal titans as Candlemass, Trouble, Wolf, and Force of Evil. BWBK distributes 25,000 copies monthly in over 20 countries, from Canada to Australia. Tickets go on sale in mid-January; visit www.bravewords.com for more details.
· Modä nightclub ended 2003 by kicking off a new weekly event. Internationally renowned DJ Seb Fontaine hosted the first Ritual, which will become a regular Saturday-night party beginning January 10, with Miami trance-legend George Acosta. Future guests will include funk aficionado Derrick Carter.
Started in 2001, Ritual has also been held at Chicago's RedNo Five and Columbus's Chaos and the Factory, hosting international talent such as Dieselboy, Bad Boy Bill, and DJ Rap. Tickets are available through www.groovetickets.com; visit www.ritualexperience.com for more details.
· Cleveland's Narcissus has disbanded, moving from Scene's Bands to Watch in 2004 list to its historical footnotes. The post-hardcore outfit formed in 1998, earned a spot on the Vans Warped Tour, and was one of the first two bands signed to Abacus records, an imprint of Sony-distributed Century Media, which just released the ominously titled Crave and Collapse, Narcissus's promising third full-length.
"We gave it our best shot, and it just wasn't working," says singer John Pope. "I think we could have pushed it, but we had stopped seeing eye to eye and were emotionally drained. It wasn't anything personal between us. To be honest, nobody gave a crap -- we struggled, trying to get a local following, and people just weren't getting it. None of us had the time or patience."
· Shenoah's debut EP, "Version 0.5," is now available online. The Cleveland modern-rock band features ex-Chimaira guitarist Jason Hager, Ringworm bassist Ben Holowell, and most of Erase the Grey, including singer Jon Sayre. In addition to the seven-song EP, www.Shenoah.net offers a downloadable CD booklet.