12.07 Metal Thursdays at Ralph’s

By Rebecca Carter

METAL Thursdays Zircon.jpgThe often misunderstood, often underestimated genre known as heavy metal refuses to die (thank goodness) and is experiencing a nationwide eardrum splitting rebirth. With music channels like VH1 and the Classic Rock Channel running metal documentaries and video blocks in heavy rotation, whole new generations of metal bands are cropping up with an appreciation of the forefathers and with a sound of their own. Zeroing in locally, metal has found a niche here in Worcester: The Palladium hosts national and international acts whose fans come from all over to see metal bands that seem to be passed over by Boston and Providence, and Worcester is home to both the Rock and Shock Festival and the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival…And to Ralph’s Diner, a haven for metal and its fans.

Helping to fuel the local scene and electrify the grass roots purists is Metal ThursdaMETAL Thursdays The Accursed by Chris Farmerie.jpgys at Ralph’s, headed up by Zircon bassist Chris Farmerie. “In March of 2006 we got a message from Ralph’s asking us to play a ‘heavy show’ because they were trying to get a monthly metal night started,” Farmerie explained. “It turned out we were actually the only metal band that got booked for the show. The other bands were rapcore, nu-metal etc. I remember being disappointed but not surprised due to the fact that so-called metal shows in Worcester’s smaller venues had been like that for as long as I could remember. Ralph’s offered us the chance to book the next one ourselves, so I took that as a chance to get a real metal show together. A few weeks later we had the first true Metal Thursday and it has been a regular gig ever since.”

For a merge five bucks, fans get four “real” bands from all over New England. Some of the acts that have played in the past include Nocturnum, Coffin Birth, The Accursed, Polaris, Unhallowed and of course local boys Zircon, to name just a few. “Our regulars are an extremely metal-savvy group and expect to see true metal bands at Metal Thursdays,” describes Farmerie. “True metal fans tend to have very strong opinions about what METAL Thursdays Sam Kirsch by Rebecca Carter.jpgmetal is and isn’t. This is something I have to consider when choosing bands. I try to stick to bands that fall mainly under the metal subgenres of Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Black Metal and Power Metal but of course there are some bands that defy a single subgenre categorization and I make the decisions on a case-by case basis. If a band plays a Metal Thursday and the crowd digs them, they usually get asked back to play again in a few months.”
In addition to the bands that perform, Metal Thursday also hosts a “Shred Off,” a long standing tradition in heavy metal where the guitarists go head-to-head in a three minute solo frenzy, amping up the crowd while showing off the skills. Local guitarist and member of Face Full of Shotgun Sam Kirsch has stolen the spotlight and become Worcester’s shredder of choice.

With bands booked for the next few months, Metal Thursdays at Ralph’s is continuing to grow. “I think Worcester is definitely a very metal city,” describes Farmerie. “I’ve brought in metal bands from six or seven different states plus all areas of MassaMETAL Thursdays Polaris by Rebecca Carter.jpgchusetts, but out of the dozens of bands that have played the twenty-four Metal Thursdays so far, only a handful of them are actually from Worcester. Hopefully Metal Thursday’s existence will help encourage more locals to form bands and add to our scene. There are plenty of metal fans here in Worcester, and Ralph’s is such a great venue for metal shows that we have people who will drive from an hour or two away to attend Metal Thursdays twice a month. We’ve got something really good going here and it’s just going to get better as more people find out about it.”

For more info on Metal Thursdays visit myspace.com/metalthursday.

1st pic: Zircon
2nd pic: The Accursed, by Chris Farmerie
3rd pic: Sam Kirsch, by Rebecca Carter
4th pic: Polaris, by Rebecca Carter