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Iron Laden: Metal Fest III Comes to Town

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"If you're a metalhead, it is a hell of a show and a hell of a bargain," says Rob Mason about Metal Fest III. His effusiveness only makes sense: he's the creator of the event and a devout banger on top of it.  "As a metal fan myself, I'm like, 'My ass is going to be there. If you miss this, you've missed O-U-T.'"

Mason's baby -- Indianapolis Metal Fest III -- invades the Old National Centre Sept. 20-21. The IMF's free preshow starts at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, and it's followed by Saturday's ticketed event, with doors opening at 11 a.m. (Tickets run $35 in advance or $40 the day of the show). With 43 bands performing on two stages, this European-style festival will showcase nearly every genre of the music from extreme metal, death metal and thrash metal to Nu metal and a wicked mix in between, Mason says. Nationally acclaimed artists will share the stages with local talent to present a hell-raising medley of metal-to-the-bone performances.

Cleveland, OH-based metal sextet Chimaira is one of the headliners for Metal Fest III. - ALEX MORGAN
  • Alex Morgan
  • Cleveland, OH-based metal sextet Chimaira is one of the headliners for Metal Fest III.

"I've been a musician for more than 20 years, grinding away in the clubs and being snubbed by promoters until we got signed," says Mason. "I wanted to put together a festival that has national acts but also allows locals to play a major part in it too. At Indianapolis Metal Fest the locals are the cake, and the national acts are the icing."

When he's not coordinating colossal concerts for the black-clothed, chains and leather-clad community, Mason shreds it as guitarist in the band "Betrayed with a Kiss," which will also perform at the show.

Mason's wife, Sarah, who is the co-promoter and a longtime headbanger herself, says every member of the metal fan base will find something that speaks to them at this event.

"Rob has a mission of rocking a European-type festival in Indiana. There are plenty of metal festivals, but I don't know of any here that are pulling the kinds of bands we pull," she says. "It'll feature death metal and black metal that nobody would ever bring here, especially [organizers like] Live Nation."

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When her husband steps off stage, the metalhead of more than three decades, intends to enjoy his creation as a concert-goer himself. One act he's looking forward to seeing most is the progressive-thrash metal band "Byzantine" from Charleston, West Virginia.

"I love their new album," he says.

After several years off the tour circuit, Byzantine will return to the road to perform at the Indy event. Byzantine fans are rumored to be equally as excited, with some driving from other states just to see them play.

This pleases the band's front man, vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Chris "O.J." Ojeda, but he'll be the first to admit that the band is all about the sounds, not so much the showmanship.

"We just plug in and play. I don't do a lot of stage banter because I'm corny and I ramble," Ojeda joked. "We're going to be performing songs off each of our four albums in chronological order. It should be fun for Byzantine fans and hopefully not too boring for people who don't know us."

Ojeda, describes his band as, "four dads, part redneck, all metal."

Once Ojeda's group packs it in for the night as performers, he says he's looking forward to feeling the noise of some of the other acts. After learning more about the men behind the metal and watching some of them online, Ojeda is hell-bent on seeing Angel Vivaldi, Maggot Twat, Affiance and Chimaira. 

"It's a fantastic lineup of underground bands representing all corners of the hard rock and metal genres. It has a very European-style festival feel to it," he says. "As long as people come with an open mind and some ear plugs, they should have a blast."

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