Hell Fire, Screamer, Black Sites and InnerSiege Live in Chicago-October 6, 2022

Hell Fire and Screamer teamed up for a fantastic live metal show.

Date: Thursday, October 6, 2022

Place: Reggies (2105 South State Street; Chicago, Illinois 60616)

Ticket Price: $15 ($19.53 after fees)

Hell Fire are from San Francisco, California. Formed in 2010, the band released their fourth album Reckoning on Aug. 12 through RidingEasy Records. Reckoning is one my favorite releases of this year. It’s seriously great. I love how the album sounds. The band is described as doing a mix of “NWOBHM” (New Wave of British Heavy Metal, that’s actually super old now and not new anymore) and speed/thrash metal. Now there’s so many subgenres that I guess Hell Fire could be considered “NWOAHM” or “NWOTHM” (New Wave of American/Traditional Heavy Metal). Who knows. Anyway you can pick up on their influences when listening to an album like Reckoning. The band went on the road to support the album with their “Reckoning North American Tour,” a 26 date trip with Screamer that started on Sept. 23 in Oakland, California and ended on Oct. 23 in Sacramento. This show at Reggies was on my radar because of the band’s new album. I really wanted to see them live. Hell Fire are awesome. I just discovered them a few months ago because of Reckoning but wish I knew about them sooner.

Screamer are a heavy metal band from Sweden. The group has been around for over a decade, with their first album Adrenaline Distractions released in 2011. Their last album released in October 2019 called Highway to Heroes might be one of my all-time favorites. It’s really damn great. I was listening to it on repeat in the weeks leading up to this show. I don’t think it’s that often you would even get to see bands like this from Europe so it felt lucky to catch them live. They have a new full-length album called Kingmaker out next year on Jan. 13 through SPV/Steamhammer, who the band just signed with in June. Hopefully with the step up in their label Screamer starts getting more recognition because they definitely deserve it.

Black Sites and InnerSiege are both local metal bands from Illinois. Black Sites are from Chicago and InnerSiege are from Peoria. Black Sites released an album last year called Untrue, which is their third full-length. InnerSiege are a power metal band that have been around since 2008. Their second full length album called Fury of Ages released on June 11. I hadn’t seen either band live before so it’s nice they were the openers and I could check them out.

Most of the shows I’m interested in are taking place at Reggies lately. All the bands had a lot of merch for sale before and after the show. They all had a lot of good stuff. Both Screamer and Hell Fire had a lot of shirts available for like $30-35. The CDs were just $12 with the vinyl being $25. Hell Fire had an autographed band photo for sale, which you normally don’t see. Black Sites and InnerSiege also had their own spaces set up for merchandise.

Hardly anyone was at Reggies this night though. I was surprised. When I got there at close to 7:40pm it was pretty much empty. This show took place inside the “Music Joint” area of Reggies instead of the larger “Rock Club” part of Reggies in the next room over. The Music Joint has a bar and tables for sitting/ordering food with a small stage at the end of the room. I wonder how bands/their management/touring people determine what venues to go to and in this case with Reggies even what rooms to play. There were some people hanging out at the bar but not a lot on the floor near the stage when I got there. To me seeing Hell Fire and Screamer together live is a no brainer but maybe they actually aren’t that well known. It’s hard to gauge that when you’re already into the music and just assume everyone else is too. Both bands could have packed the Rock Club easily from my view, which has a capacity of several hundred people. The weather did suck that day too. It had rained and gotten pretty dark outside earlier than usual so I wonder if that had anything to do with the smaller turnout.

Seeing these bands in that intimate of a setting was awesome. I was up front the whole time. Iron Maiden played the United Center in Chicago the day before but seeing all these guys at this show felt pretty cool too. I saw on the bands’ social media that the catalytic converter from their tour van got stolen after one of the dates later on the road. That sucks. Welcome to America. Catalytic converter theft probably really isn’t a thing in Sweden like it is here.

InnerSiege were really good live. The band has great chemistry together. They’re a five man group doing power metal. They’re all older guys in the band. I had checked out their Fury of Ages album beforehand but didn’t know much about them. They started playing at around 7:58pm. At the start when their singer Jeremy Ray introduced the band he said they were from Peoria, Illinois like three hours away and were going to give the crowd some corn field metal. Add that to yet another metal subgenre. They actually did the one thing I wish more bands would do live, especially more local and/or lesser known groups, is to pause and say the name of each song before playing it. It helps a lot to identify songs and connect more with them and the band later on. Ray also plugged all their social media. The guy was really organized. Most of the time when you see bands like that you have no idea what they’re playing or what albums to then check out after the show based on what you liked during the set.

I liked InnerSiege a lot. The band did five songs in total. They played “Dragon Rider” first, which is off their first album Kingdom of Shadows from 2012. The song rocked, had good guitar solos and was a solid intro for them. After that they did “Firewind” from their new release. During the guitar solos on third song “Calling for Violence” Ray left the stage and put the focus on the rest of the group playing. This song got a lot faster than the first two songs, which Ray jokingly introduced it as being 175 bpm. “Calling for Violence” is the first track on Fury of Ages and has a thrash feel to it too. They followed that up with new songs “Reborn” that had really heavy bass playing to it and then “Echoes into Eternity.” Their bass player Ravn Furfjod would also do some growling vocals on the songs too. The last song they did was “Power.Metal.Glory.,” another track from Fury of Ages that’s a definite metal anthem if there was one. It’s kind of cheesy but it’s also a fun song. It’s basically about how metal gave them purpose, passion in life and a community even when people ragged on them for liking this type of music. The song is set up for the crowd to chant the words power, metal and glory in unison. He tried to get the crowd involved but at that point there were only a few people on the floor. Ray is a pretty charismatic frontman. InnerSiege ended their set at 8:30pm. All the songs were performed really good. It looked like each guy was having a great time on stage too, which added to the good energy of their performance. Everything clicked together. The vocals were kind of muffled due to the set up though, but that also could be because I was so close to the stage. The songs sounded better live to me than on the album. They all were solid heavy/power metal and the band had fun playing them too.

Black Sites were tight. They’re also really good live. I knew of them before this show and had listened to their newest album Untrue a few times already. They seemed like exceptional musicians, especially in person. I don’t know what genre you would classify them as but it’s just some great metal. The band started getting ready immediately after InnerSiege finished and started their own set at 8:49pm. People started to show up and there were more near me on the floor when Black Sites started, maybe around like 20 people. There were also more people hanging back by the bar too. Mark Sugar of Black Sites plays guitar and also sings. It’s impressive how he moved along the fretboard pretty smoothly playing some complex-looking parts while also singing. The band’s Untrue album is really good. The first song they did was “Sword of Orion” from Untrue. It’s also the first track off the album and started the set heavy. Sugar also has a good live voice. Black Sites’ other guitarist Ryan Bruchert went hard the whole set and is a strong player too.

“Call It By Its Name” they did second followed by “Lost Tribes,” which are both from Untrue. I liked “Call It By Its Name” a lot. They followed those songs with “Feral Child” from their second album Exile and finished the set with “Dream Long Dead” from that album too. Exile, which the band released in April 2019, is another great album from them. “Feral Child” sounded awesome live. Their bass player played with his fingers instead of picking. The drummer played super tight and in the zone. At the end of “Feral Child” it got really good with the drummer syncing up his playing with the song’s riff. It rocked live. The drummer again was awesome on “Dream Long Dead.” Black Sites ended at 9:15. Their set went by pretty fast. I really liked “Dream Long Dead” a lot, especially when later into the song was just the band playing instrumentals with no singing. Black Sites feels like an underrated band. The band’s lyrics are meaningful and thought provoking. They play their instruments extremely well. These guys are awesome live and their albums are super good too.

Screamer were amazing. I feel like I say this after every show I go to, but it was one of the best performances I’ve seen. It’s true. They were so full of energy. Two American guys from the Utah-based heavy metal band Blood Star were filling in on this tour, Noah Hadnutt on bass and Jamison Palmer on guitar. I never heard of Blood Star before but they sound really cool too. I’m glad I found another great band because of this show. The bass player from Blood Star had the coolest outfit on, like this leopard button opened shirt along with the classic white sneakers. He looked cool as hell, just total rockstar energy all around. Like I kind of want to buy that shirt to see if I could pull it off. Before they started playing, Screamer all huddled together on stage and high-fived each other like they were the ’90s Chicago Bulls about to whip some ass before a playoff game. They started playing at 9:29pm and opened with their new song “Kingmaker,” which rocked live. It’s also a great opening song. The band’s drummer is a huge dude, like super tall. He should actually try out for the Bulls. It did get more packed on the floor once Screamer started playing. Right away people were into the show. You could just feel the energy in the room immediately change once Screamer got going. Their singer Andreas Wikström rocks. He joined the band in 2015 so they already had two albums out by that point but he does everything great. He sounds awesome live too.

The second song they played was “Ride On” from Highway of Heroes. A lot of the crowd sang along and shouted ride on! as the band played. Screamer followed with “Demon Rider” that’s the opener from their 2013 album Phoenix. After that they did “On My Way” from their third album Hell Machine that released in 2017. Screamer went back to the title track from “Highway of Heroes,” which is slower tempoed song. The sixth song they played was “Keep On Walking” from 2011’s Adrenaline Distractions. The band just has killer riffs and vocals in every song with cool guitar solos through them. The way that Screamer structures their songs just easily gets you headbanging and singing along. It was awesome having the band play literally right in my face since I was up by the stage.

“Rider of Death” sounded so killer live, which is one of my favorite songs from Highway of Heroes. During “Rider of Death” Palmer kicked this untouched round of shots off the stage that a guy from the crowd brought for them. They landed right at my feet. Palmer was moving around a lot on stage and they were in his way apparently. The Music Joint at Reggies has a pretty small stage too. The whole thing of shots went all over the floor. I don’t know if the guy bought them or they were on the house from the bar but it was a lot. After the song Wikström kind of sarcastically said something about wanting to take a shot and Palmer said they were in the walking zone. Screamer also did “Can You Hear Me” from Adrenaline Distractions after this. I liked this song a lot too, especially the lyrics of the chorus and how they’re sang, “Sometimes life is just pure rock ‘n’ roll.” That’s so true. “Hellfire” is another new song from the upcoming album they played, which Screamer dedicated to their touring mates Hell Fire. It’s another solid live song. Kingmaker is shaping up to be another strong album for the band. They followed that up with “Shadow Hunter” from Highway of Heroes. It’s another badass song. Screamer ended their set with “Out of the Dark” that’s also from their last album at 10:15pm. Afterwards they all got together and bowed on stage. It got pretty packed inside Reggies for Screamer. There were maybe 50-60 people there. I think Screamer ended up doing 11 songs in total.

When the band’s set was over you were just left with all this positive energy. The time and songs just flew by. All the songs were so good. Those Screamer guys were all super cool. I actually liked Screamer’s set more than Hell Fire’s, which I wasn’t expecting. Their set had a good mix spanning their history and future too. Screamer are a must-see band live. I can’t wait for their Kingmaker album next year and hope they come back to Chicago in support of it. The band is incredible and I hope they keep growing and getting more people into them. Swedish metal!

Hell Fire crushed it live too. Them being from the San Francisco area and playing a form of speed/thrash, as a metal fan you’re mind immediately goes to classic bands from that city like Metallica, Exodus, Testament and many others. Hell Fire does take at least some of its influences from those bands. Jake Nunn on vocals/rhythm guitar and Tony Campos on lead guitar were awesome together. The two make a great pairing, especially live. They feed off each other’s playing and energy incredibly well live, which comes across on their albums too. Campos definitely seemed like a California dude. He had super cool vibes. At 10:33pm the lights went out and the intro to the song “Reckoning” started to play. The guitar playing and solos on this song are just killer. Hell Fire opened with the song and then went into “Mania” next from their 2019 album of the same name. After that they did “Addicted to Violence” and then “It Ends Tonight” that are both great songs from the new Reckoning album. They then played “On the Loose” from Mania. All these songs rocked live.

Jake Nunn is a cool frontman. He definitely has the chops and talent for it. He previously did a great cover of Mercyful Fate songs this year with Hell Fire and also sang “Metal Meltdown” by Judas Priest for an upcoming tribute album. It’s not easy to cover both King Diamond and Rob Halford. Kai Sun, Hell Fire’s new bass player who joined the band in 2021, was in this squat-like stance on stage almost the whole time they played. I would be dead after like a few minutes of that but he kept it up the whole night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone play that way live before. He also played with his fingers instead of a pick too. Both Nunn and Campos had a great stage presence as well. Mike Smith on drums was killing it behind the kit as well. The whole band sounded fantastic in person.

Hell Fire did a cover of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” as their sixth song that actually worked pretty well. I always love when metal/punk/hardcore bands cover stuff outside their genre, especially something you wouldn’t expect like a Pat Benatar song. They did a nice job with it. Hell Fire played “Medieval Cowboys” from Reckoning next. This is a super cool song with great guitar playing and attitude behind it. Before going into the song, Nunn said that Cellarmaker Brewing Company in San Francisco named one of their beers after the song. That’s super cool. Hell Fire then did “Conquerors,” which Nunn said they haven’t played much. It’s a standalone single they released in May 2020. It’s a cool live song too. They went into “Free Again,” the self-titled track from that 2017 album. It’s another great live song.

Hell Fire ended around 11:15pm with “Warpath,” the opening track from Mania. The riffs and guitar solos in this song are awesome and were great live. There were a little less people on the floor for them than Screamer but it still was a decent showing. They ended up doing 10 songs in the set. Hell Fire are an awesome and fun live band. The band’s strong point is definitely the dual guitar playing and riffing they put together in their songs. They kill that part live.

I bought some merch after the show. Both bands were at their tables selling their stuff. I picked up a Screamer tour shirt, their Highway of Heroes CD and Hell Fire’s Reckoning on CD. The shirt was $30 and the CDs were $12 each. I got to fist bump with Andreas Wikström from Screamer after telling him how hard they rocked. I also got to tell Jake from Hell Fire that Reckoning is one of my favorite albums of the year. He seemed really cool.

The combination of Screamer and Hell Fire on tour together makes for a mighty show. These two bands should be on every metal fan’s radar. If you haven’t seen them live yet, go do it at some point this year or next.

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