“We always thought it would be great to have a ‘fest for the rest,’ so to speak,” said Beyond Fallen frontman Joe Karavis on the heels of NEPA’s biggest heavy metal throw down.
The NEPA Metal Meltdown, happening Friday and Saturday May 8 and 9 at Diane’s Deli in Pittston, is an event that will indulge your inner headbanger like no other. Boasting 16 bands from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Connecticut, this is an event that was simply too good to be a one-off show.
“Many local and regional bands are friends here and new bands come along and are welcomed,” Karavis said of the initial idea behind Metal Meltdown. The event was conceived by his Luzerne County-based band, with a bulk of the logistics being handled by himself and Beyond Fallen guitarist Steve Jasuilewicz.
“It just made sense to get everyone together once a year and do it for the metal fans and the bands. Last year went so well that the fest wasn’t even over and so many people were asking about next year.”
Noting that metal bands are often excluded from discussions about the local music scene, Karavis revels in the DIY ethic that is common to his genre’s local successes and another reason to hold the event.
“You can sit and be bitter and complain, which does nothing positive, or you can take action to make your own path,” he said. “This isn’t some popularity contest or competition, or anything divisive like that.”
Karavis said Meltdown is a labor of love that celebrates the music and the great artists striving to spread the word of their craft.
“We put in a lot of effort, time and money for this to happen for the fans and the bands, and it’s all very unselfish,” he said. “It is hard because so many good bands want to get on, and the reality is we only have so many slots. The main thing is finding variety of metal styles and putting together the perfect lineups for both nights. This is put on by the bands, and we want to keep it ‘no play to play,’ so we are counting on the bands to step up and help making it a great turnout. Our attitude is, here is a tool for your band – you’ll get out of it what you put into it.”
Emphasizing the need to check out both nights of the event to truly appreciate the musical diversity and sonic intensity, Karavis happily points out there is “no filler” within the ranks of the assembled acts – one of which is York’s Wrath of Typhon; a band excited to make the trip to NEPA for the Meltdown.
“These types of gigs are always cool because you’re playing with a bunch of brothers/musicians that are doing what you love – metal music,” said Wrath of Typhon vocalist Jason Robison. “As an out-of-town band, you get to meet new people who become new friends. It’s the same with the bands; new friends to jam with.”
Robison became acquainted with Karavis and Beyond Fallen through Reverbnation, and in the process of striking up a friendship, Wrath of Typhon was soon welcomed to NEPA a year ago.
“We just started talking, and Wrath was invited to play a gig at The Factory:Underground in Wilkes-Barre,” Robison said. “We had a great time; we had a lot of things in common. It’s a great honor to be a part of this festival. We have Steve and Joe to thank for that.”
It’s exciting to catch up with all the different plans each act has slated for their future.
“Wrath is going to be working on a new record; we have new songs but recording plans have been taking forever – it’s going to happen,” Robison said. “We’re getting ready to record two songs — one cover and one original for a German based compilation; Rancid Vat’s ‘Hostile City USA,’ and a song our wrestler friend The Amish Assassin wrote.”
Longtime NEPA fans can catch up with local favorites Beyond Fallen – a band with much on the table.
“We just flew back home…from one of the best shows and experiences our band has ever had,” Karavis said. “The Ragnarökkr Fest in Chicago was just awesome. We played to a packed house and we had one of our best gigs ever. It’s great to be able to go to another part of the country.”
Karavis and his band are no strangers to this type of large-scale exposure and try to adapt these big shows to those back home. The venue will play a huge role in the anticipated success of the Meltdown. Karavis said Diane’s Deli, which hosted last year’s inaugural event, is very “accomodating.”
Despite the natural aggression and ingrained angst of metal itself everyone is encouraged to check out the wares at the NEPA Metal Meltdown.
“This is for you, the fans,” Karavis said. “Anyone that steps through that door is welcome and considered part of this big heavy metal family.”