Friday, July 14, Ink In The Clink 2017 began with the first of three all-day showcases featuring revolving bands on two stages side by side with the brick and mortar backdrop and towers of the Ohio State Reformatory under the sun. Mansfield, Ohio played host to the weekend of music, tattoo artists, vendors and fans from all over coming to explore ‘the haunts’ within the walls and cells. Attendees roamed the tour path at will, seeing the reformatory rooms and cell blocks, getting their Shawshank Redemption fix. Photo ops in the Warden’s Office, movie room/chapel, Brook’s room, Red’s parole board room and several others locations with movie props located throughout were available.
Friday brought 14 bands (40+ all weekend) to both stages with locals, regionals and nationals bringing their best game to the Mansfield locals and visitors. The guard hall housed 31 tattoo shops with 70+ artists and numerous novelty vendors inside and out. Each day featured an ink contest with Friday’s going to small black and grey, small color and small traditional (5×7 or smaller) and best horror.
The weekend also featured a sneak peak of the Escape From Blood Prison haunted basement attraction filled with tons of death, gore, mutilation and a few rooms so ghastly that no one under 15 was admitted. Brave souls descended into the basement, entering pitch black rooms in the bowels of a haunted jailhouse all weekend. Staff members dressed for the occasion got their kicks stalking concert goers in the crowd as ground level screams and chainsaw shrieks filled the gift shop and sitting room compared to sounds made when no one’s there.
The weekend’s second stage started with Sink The Ship. Krymzon, One Step From Falling, After the Ashes, Olathia, Bonesaw, Unsaid Fate and Mushroomhead while The World I Knew, Line of Defense, Flaw, Otherwise, All That Remains and In This Moment played the main stage.
Cleveland’s Sink The Ship started in the hot afternoon sun. Formed in 2012, they took influence from post hardcore and modern metal mixing the past with the future. Ink In The Clink began with the banging throw down clanks and stomping beats of Exposing The Hype combining hardcore vocals with clean, clear singing. Persevere left singing forsaken for the most part, with allegiance to the screaming style with lasting power against prejudice of difference. The Chase went melodic with clean intro about lyrical discovery, finishing with the heavy rock, pop vibe Out Of Here.
Starting in 2011, with two records spawned, Mansfield’s first local boys Krymzon began with a personal toxic cocktail of thrash, hardcore and speed, mixing Death, DRI, Suicidal Tendencies and Nuclear Assault. Lunacy Divine opened their version of the good word with a hybrid cross-contamination of cross-over styles as the good willed preacher tried to keep the assembled brethren on the righteous path. Diminishment Of Reason was consistent with persistent rhythm and assault. Conforming To The Unknown chomped, hacked and galloped forward with vocalist Ron Wise shouting, ripping throat raw. Two new, upcoming tunes closed the show. The pummeling chaos of For This They’ll Die jelled with its mid-tune bass interplay joined by Quantum Vortex’s meat mallet treatment of Wise’s lungs and circle pit groove. A new record is slated for early next year.
One Step From Falling brought their NY sounds of ‘heady’ metal, a unique musical mixture and submersion into Tool and prog with doses of Deftones. Guitarist Pete Krell’s usual stage attire of prison orange fit it strangely well while bassist Josh Skellett thrashed dreads, did bass tricks, contorting and bending strings as much as his face displaying a variety of maniacal mannerisms and practiced possessions. They were the only band to bust out bongos all weekend.
The mostly cool and calm Paroxysm opened their show with guitar weaving notes of complex structure. Stuck’s trippy bass effects, musical melodies and unique structure made it memorable. They gave tribute to Tool on Sober, with bits of Iron Maiden and melodic prog dealt on Man From Outerspace, going from the stage to the cosmic highways. Wayside ended their time with throbbing, pounding bass and guitar groove.
Southern Ohio’s The World I Knew opened the main stage bringing “trapmetal” from Cincinnati. Rap, hip-hop flavored blasting metal like P.O.D. meets Body Count as Fuck a 9-5 opened, raising the middle finger to a regular morning job or office gig and indulging in the music/metal lifestyle with blitzkrieg speed abandonment. Peppermint Mocha served up sweet and sweaty sounds. It’s what’s Back on the Menu with a more mellow approach to boot stomping the face, with tough love. They covered Dying to Believe ramming heads Parkway Drive style finishing with Death Trap. Vocalist Wesley Merritt worked the crowd from beginning to end, earning horns the hard way spending half the set in the crowd and pit, personally prophesizing face to face to one and all.
Bellevue’s six-piece metalcore outfit, After The Ashes appeared helmed by the double vocals of Adam Lynn and Michael Davis. Arguably still in the embryotic stage, the band started in 2016, and with an EP out they have already played with Devil Driver and other notables. Tomorrow drove, pulsating forward with honest anger and determination. Minutes ticked by with pounding tempo issuing a notice of “make every moment count.” Just Like You began with a screamed, sung decree against domestic violence. Alive roared to life, dripping with the guilt of conscience, drink and actions that can never be taken back. They concluded sending dark, violent souls to the ice cold grave on Into The Darkness.
Begat in 2009, four young North Canton lads made up Line of Defense bringing a modern rock flavor of Seether, G N’ R, Creed and Metallica with Southern flavored stories of hard rock and hard living. Dipping a bit into Rush territory with a modern day Foo Fighters spirit, guitarist and vocalist Zakk Stayer added a nice black fedora for some mid-set style. Follow Me served a high energy pallet of retro-styled, enchanted fuel for the crowd to rock to. Better Off sent the hard luck woman on her way to find something better. Hero For A Day brought cynicism with bluesy feverish guitar work. Cloud 9 flashed images of ‘80s retro, ‘70s rock with modern intent. They took a page from the Man in Black playing Folsom Prison Blues in the reformatory’s looming shadow.
The female roar of Cleveland’s Olathia turned every head from the main stage to those facing the second. Melodic female thrash, played rough with the wild freaky gaze and touch of Chris E. Hellhound opened bringing back retro flashes and flames of the voices that ruled Headbangers Ball from Dio to Doro with the first female lips and lungs to grace the stage. Feel The Earth thrashed things up like a leather and denim clad crowd in the days before cellphone videos, when the show was fully experienced. There’s nothing like being Torn Apart, seeing a great band for the first time. They beat headliners In This Moment by a few hours playing a tune about the infamous Black Widow. Guitars pounded out the metal mantra on Seven Deadly Sins with the face of temptation screaming in your face.
Bonesaw came straight outta Mansfield with no B.S., American made metal. Shaded singer Greg Parman began the shredding onslaught with “no way out” on Disappear. Savior sounded divinely ominous as Underneath ripped from the instruments and Parman’s throat as he thanked the Mansfield hardcore and metal scene for their ongoing support. Compulsion picked up the pace as heads clanged. Muzzle Flash pulled hard and nasty, wrenching and wrecking necks with reckless disregard. Parman snidely mentioned Line Of Defense ‘upstaging’ them a bit earlier but they still played their version of Folsom Prison Blues changing the headbanging to a hoedown. They returned to the metal, ending on face pummeler Shingle Fight.
Cleveland’s Unsaid Fate came out with road hunger on Our Addiction with vocalist Jackie LaPonza. They played a little crazier, a little sweatier, a little more like the Bad Ones. The dramatic tone of Fear Inside was put on public display. One More dripped with icy emotion and mournful vocals. Soldier and Product of Pain ended the originals finished with some Rage on Killing In The Name Of.
The stage, water drums and podium were set for the second stage headliner Mushroomhead. The puppet master-like beat and boom boom of Qwerty began the water splashing twisted masquerade. Sun Doesn’t Rise welcomed the black of night as Laponza joined them for We Are The Truth. They went old school on Before I Die as Out Of My Mind got right back to modern day. The first notes of Solitaire/Unraveling got the crowd bouncing. Laponza returned in gown and mask for One More Day. Things got Crazy near the end as the band amped up for Born Of Desire.
Friday’s mainstage headliners, In This Moment took over as the fury and passion of the crowd erupted in Salvation. The show was a mix of trademark horror show burlesque, Hollywood showmanship, blinding lights and new found spirituality found in the bayou and forest. Maria Brink appeared a combo of the blessed Virgin and the earth mother. Blood was offered and the crowd took it. Brink descended the stage, cloaked in blue as high powered fans thrashed her figure and hair with ceremonial wind on River Of Fire. They played with sharp things, trading knives on Black Widow. Brink spread the black satin wings in flight weaving and thrashing in ceremonial possession on Burn. She took to the piano, slowing things down on Lay Your Gun Down. Introducing the band they jammed out some old school Metallica with a drum solo. Oh Lord brought forth the ceremonial dresses and glowing orbs as Friday night ended with the tainted words of the Whore.