Pittsburgh metal, Toledo tiesWritten by Brian Bohnert | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Six years ago, Alex Piehl packed his things and moved from the Glass City to the Steel City, nearly 230 miles from the place he called home.
But on June 30, the 28-year-old musician is coming back; and this time, he is bringing the high-energy, melodic and technical sound of Pennsylvania heavy metal to Headliners for the 2012 Toledo Music Festival.
Sponsored by Innovation Concerts, the Toledo Music Fest will run from 2 p.m. until midnight and will feature more than 75 bands on three stages over one day.
Bands participating in the show include Tropic Bombs; OnceOver; Gold; Sixx Digit; Hour 24; Doja; Josh Davies; The Charlies and In Hell and Fury. More acts will be announced as Headliners continues to have openings, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Among the extensive list of talent is Bury Thy Kingdom, a Pittsburgh-based rock quintet. In the group, Piehl, the bass player, is joined by Zach Dunham on vocals, Todd Johnson and Vince Snyder on the guitars and Josh Douglass on drums.
The band formed in 2008 with Johnson, Snyder and Douglass as founding members. After a few lineup changes over the years, Kingdom finally completed its court in early 2012. Piehl joined the group in January.
“We all started in different bands,” Snyder said. “Before [Piehl and Dunham] joined, we were all amongst the same inner circle. We all sort of had mutual friends …”
Loosely defining their sound as “progressive metalcore,” the group’s members prefer not to label themselves. Dunham and Snyder write the majority of the band’s music and they said each song speaks for itself independently.
“Rather than find a genre to define us, we just write whatever we’re feeling,” Dunham said. “We write differently for every song we play.”
Influenced by bands like August Burns Red, Periphery, Within the Ruins, The Human Abstract and Born of Osiris, the members of Bury Thy Kingdom said their focus is on the technical mechanics of the music and not on one particular sound.
“My influences are Veil of Maya because of their staccato breakdowns. They’re super crisp, super clean,” Dunham said. “Not a lot of people can put a label on us. Our music is melodic, technical metal.”
Bury Thy Kingdom currently plays smaller venues throughout the northeast. Both Piehl and Dunham said it is often difficult to book shows in the city because most Pittsburgh promoters keep a gap between large and small acts. This is something, Piehl said, Toledo has made a success out of not doing.
“Even the biggest local bands in Pittsburgh have hard times selling tickets,” Piehl said. “People don’t realize just how special Toledo’s music scene is. In Toledo, the same promoters book local and national acts, so smaller bands get to play in front of larger crowds. It’s not like that in Pittsburgh. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to get back to Toledo.”
Piehl, who was with many metal bands throughout his time in Toledo, has extensive touring experience with groups like Simple Wisdom, MUHA, Arlington Ave and Seven Remedies. Since joining Simple Wisdom in 2002, he has toured throughout the Midwest, including West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.
“I’m kind of the old man of the group,” he said. “The other guys are sort of new to the touring scene, while I’ve been touring for years … When I was with Simple Wisdom, we even went on the Warped Tour for two years.”
While Bury Thy Kingdom’s music is the focal point of the group’s appeal, Piehl said that is not the only aspect of the group that draws a crowd.
“Beer drinkers like us because we do a lot of high-energy stuff on stage. Usually in a set, I’ll throw my bass 30-feet in the air for fun or I’ll grab it by the neck and swing it around,” Piehl said. “But musicians are our biggest fans because they know what we do and they appreciate our technical style. … It’s like a circus without the face paint, bright colors and tents. We put on a hell of a show.”
Bury Thy Kingdom released its first official album in 2011, “Ascension.” The group is currently in the writing stages of their follow-up album, set to be titled “Edge of the Sea.”
“Right now, we’re still trying to complete some of the important musical parts,” Snyder said. “We hope to be in the studio by the first week of August.”
The band recently played a show in Toledo, performing alongside Once Over, Raine Wilder and Goodbye Blue Skies at Frankie’s Inner City on May 19. With a local tie and an appreciation for Toledo-area promoters, the guys of Bury Thy Kingdom said the Toledo Music Festival will hopefully be the first of many trips to the Glass City.
“We’re not trying to do a one-show pass,” Piehl said. “Toledo’s still a very unique experience. With the level of promotion and the quality of the bands, it’s a diamond in the rough.”
Tickets for the 2012 Toledo Music Festival are $10 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster, Culture Clash Records, RamaLama Records, Shakin’ Street Records, the Headliners box office or through any of the featured artists.