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The Milestone hosted a heavy metal buffet with Avalon Steel & friends

Avalon Steel blended metal genres at The Milestone with Dogbane, Venus Invictus, and Written In Gray

Photographs by Kevin McGee

Charlotte’s favorite genre-mending, metal-infusing, world famous club hosted a long overdue night of heavy metal on April 15th. The Milestone (see previous description) has been a permanent landmark in the CLT music scene for over 40 years and has seen the likes of R.E.M., Nirvana, Fugazi, and the Violent Femmes, hosting bands who specialize in just about every genre you could ever want to hear live. Saturday night’s lineup was no different, although perhaps more focused on every type of metal you could ever want to hear live. From heavy to doom, power to thrash, bands from every corner of the Carolina’s came together provide the Queen City with a buffet of the dirtiest metal they had to offer.

The night’s lineup was a special one for many Charlotteans, according to the event page’s discussion tab. Old friends reunited at the bar, new listeners dove deeper into the metal scene, and folks were cursing up a storm over the fact that they were going to miss the show. Nevertheless, those who could attend enjoyed Avalon Steel’s headlining set, after openers Dogbane, Venus Invictus, and Written In Gray kickstarted the crowd.

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Perhaps the best part of writing about metal bands is reading their “About” tab on their Facebook pages. A snarky, one-liner that hardly ever makes sense, but at the same time makes perfect sense… You know the ones. Westfield’s Written In Gray is no different as they tease us with only a snippet of what they’re about. Under their “About” tab, they wrote: “Pure. Heavy. Metal. With No Artificial Flavors Or Preservatives.” Don’t bother asking for a more in-depth description because they’ll just tell you that “it’s a long ass story…”

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What’s even funnier is their “Story” tab. I’ve found that bands normally use this opportunity to fulfill some kind of personal quest and communicate their unique and interesting tale of how they got to where they are in a self-righteous, self-masturbatory manner. I hope you can imagine how much I enjoyed reading Written In Gray’s “Story” tab.

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That being said, Written In Gray went the classic undersell route to promote their music. They fall under the traditional metal core genre, with a few variations here and there, but are the perfect opener for such a confused night of music. I mean this in a positive light, of course, because who doesn’t love a night of musical chairs? You can get familiar with Written In Gray through their bandcamp and maybe even write them a more flattering bio.

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Next up: Dogbane. Hailing from the northern Greensboro, this quintet creates musical excursions that center around heavy metal with “a touch of doom.” No wonder they fit on the night’s bill. A fusion of genres with a metal core seems to be the theme as they took the stage at the World Famous Milestone. Their most recent release, When Karma Comes Calling, was the long-awaited follow up from their 2011 debut, Residual Alcatraz via Heaven and Hell Records. When Karma Comes Calling was not only their next release, but a tribute of sorts to the their late bandmate, David Ellenburg.

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To keep the fans need for new music at bay, Dogbane contributed to Rock & Roll All Nite: A Tribute to KISS, with their cover of “Charisma.” The compilation can be found on the band’s bandcamp page, as well as via Versailles Records.

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Charlotte’s own Venus Invictus rounds out our openers for the evening, and jeez, what a band this is. “Experimental music on the rock-metal continuum” is the self-proclaimed description of VI, although you might try out S16’s Andy Frisk’s thoughts in an interview from the band’s early days:

About a year ago, veteran local rockers Tattermask called it quits. It was a pretty harsh blow to fans of the local hard rock/metal movement as Amanda Tattermask and Josh Wright fronted one of the best local hard rock groups the Carolinas had ever seen. Over the course of one full length album and one incredible EP (Carpe Noctem), Tattermask solidified themselves as not only as local rock heroes, but also talented musicians. The Tattermask leaders still had the fire within them though… Finally, the announcement came, and on October 8 at 11:11pm the band debuted their first ever single, and video, “Let’s Not Lose Our Heads…” Venus Invictus, comprised of Amanda Tattermask (vocals), Josh Wright (guitar), Jim Saj (drums), “Tim” (cello), and Harlynn Spectra (bass) not only managed to capture the essence of what Tattermask was, but conquered new horizons with “Let’s Not Lose Our Heads…”

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Now, five months since the release of “Let’s Not Lose Our Heads…” Venus Invictus is out and about the Carolinas, making a name for themselves in a land they’ve already conquered. Regardless, their status in the CLT music scene is one of friendship and talent, learning the ins-and-outs of a new scene while hanging with the same crowd. Get to know VI better by reading Andy’s interview with them here, then head over to their website for the full experience.

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Like what you hear? Consider donating to their fundraiser to help them professionally record their music! Their goal is to raise $1500 to get some studio time and lay down tracks using higher quality tools. Should the band exceed their goal, they promise to use the funds to provide more cool stuff! It’s a win-win for everyone. Their fundraiser is active until May 1st, so you don’t have too much time to dilly-dally around. You can find all the info you need right here!

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Playing to a hometown crowd in CLT’s favorite venue, Avalon Steel finished out the night with their brand of soaring vocals and thundering riffs.

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Thrash, power, and doom tones were shoved in the faces of fans all night long, leaving behind the remnants of a dirty, heavy Saturday night. Avalon Steel is quite good at leaving their vibe up to anyone’s interpretation, as they don’t particularly fill their social media platforms with personal information.

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Perhaps they’re sending a message that communicates the importance of music-only relationships betweens bands and fans; perhaps it means they just don’t really care and only want to make music. Either way, the music is all that’s left for us and it’s a damn treasure because what more could you want from a local band.

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Genuine music, a live show that kicks your ass, and good people to surround yourself with is what makes the CLT music scene so special.

Check out a gallery of the night here! 

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Sheila Walsh graduated from USC Aiken in 2015 with a degree in English. While in school, she won an essay competition for an argumentative essay on why the arts are crucial to the education system. Additionally, she was recruited to play volleyball for USCA and contributed to a weekly journal discussing the life of a student-athlete. She currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

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