The Letter Black

The origins of Tooth & Nail’s highly heralded hard rock acquisition The Letter Black actually dates back to the members time in Breaking the Silence. After forming in 2006, the group entered the studio independently with Travis Wyrick (P.O.D., Pillar, Disciple), followed by an impressive streak of 150 shows a year including a last minute call from the T&N to serve as a substitute for a broken up band on the otherwise successful Five 4 Five Tour alongside Dizmas and Children 18:3 (with just two weeks notice), and more recently, Skillet’s immensely successful Awake and Alive Tour. Between constant contact with the label through that all-star producer and their new manager, the Uniontown, Pennsylvania-based band turned their backs on other label offers and signed by
the dotted line.

Upon making it to the major label ranks, the group stumbled upon a similarly named mainstream band and soon shifted from Breaking the Silence to The Letter Black after a suggestion that stemmed from a joke between legendary Helmet front man Page Hamilton and manager Danny Hill. Outside of having a curious ring to it, the new moniker better encapsulates the band’s aggressive instrumental onslaught and literate lyrical disposition.

“All of us go through different chapters in our lives,” suggests guitarist/co-songwriter Mark Anthony. “In these chapters, we write letters of good and bad times. Some letters in our chapters, we are happy to share. Others, we are not so proud of. The Letter Black reminds us of the past mistakes we have made and helps us remember to not keep making the same mistakes.”

After debuting with the aptly titled Breaking the Silence EP, the group expounds upon those poignant reflections all the more on its full-length debut Hanging On By A Thread, encapsulating back breaking rhythms within universally relatable themes to both believers and the world at large.

“The full-length will rock just as hard, if not harder, as the EP,” affirms front woman Sarah Anthony. “We came up with the title because it puts into words how a lot of people, including myself, feel sometimes. A lot of people can relate to it, and that’s what we want.”

“Fire With Fire” is a snarling way to start the disc, as it speaks of standing up to injustice with confidence and fearlessness, followed by “Invisible,” which addresses feelings of restlessness and desperation, but eventually steers listeners towards spiritual embrace as a means of resolution. “Best of Me” revolves around making the most of the talents and gifts given here on earth, while “Hanging By a Thread” cries out in desperation and finding resolution through perseverance.

“A lot of our songs on this record talk about the past and how to move forward from it,” adds Sarah. “The songs talk about hurts and things that we've been through, but they show that it’s possible to move on with you're life and it’s possible to live life without walls built up around your heart.”
All the while, the band evokes the aggressive likes of Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Linkin Park, Red and Disciple, coupled with the classic sensibilities of Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses. Add in blistering production from the legendary Toby Wright (Alice In Chains, Korn, 3 Doors Down), and it’s a riveting amalgamation of female fronted ferocity, meaty melodies, gritty guitars and a thundering rhythm section. No wonder why members have been invited to appear on stage with Hail (including Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Phil Demmel of Machine Head, Dave Ellefson of Megadeth & Tim “Ripper” Owens of Judas Priest), a fellow super group jam featuring Dave Buckner of Papa Roach, Marcos Curiel of P.O.D., Travis Miguel of Atreau and Marcello Rapp of Soulfly, alongside Traa of P.O.D. serving as guest bassist for the band during a benefit, not to mention tremendous impact on the Skillet tour.

“Skillet has such a great live show, so they’ve definitely inspired us to do the best we can in that aspect,” confirms Sarah. “We also gained a lot of their fans and had so many people come up to us on the tour saying ‘I’ve never heard of you before tonight, but you guys are my new favorite band.’”

As for 2010, expect that trend to continue, thanks to an endless stream of concerts supporting Hanging On By A Thread, coupled with a constant fan connectivity off stage as well. “We’d like to get on as many tours as possible, do a lot of shows and build a stronger fan base,” sums up Sarah. “And more than anything else, we want to continue bringing hope to those who have none.”

Spoken

It won't take long for listeners of Spoken's sixth studio album to be reminded of how hard and fast the band can rock. The three songs that open the album: "History Erased," "Close Your Eyes" and "Not Soon Forgotten," start things off with nine minutes of blazing fast guitar riffs and loud and quick-rising vocals, all bounded by a full-sounding rhythm section. From there the self-titled record diversifies from all-out metal with the mid-tempo rockers and ballads that fans have come to know and love. After two albums for Tooth and Nail where the band explored has more anthemic avenues, the quintet found itself re-examining its hard rock and metal roots on its third record for the label. The resulting album is an 11-song sonic attack that knows when to slow down the pace and when to pounce back like a slap to the face. "We didn't intentionally go for a heavier sound," guitarist Jef Cunnigham said. "We just wrote what came to mind and I think it turned into some of our best material."

Late last year the band's hectic touring schedule slowed enough for them to start working on the record, though they had a few geographical obstacles to overcome before starting.

With members spread across four states each created a secret Myspace for a non-existent band where they would post song ideas for the others to listen to. Singer Matt Baird would download these parts to his iPod, where he began to craft the lyrics for the record. His finished work centers on topics like redemption and restoration, and reaches its pinnacle on the album's tenth track, "When Hope is All You Have," which began as a phrase he used during his father's funeral just before recording began. "There are songs about healing and hope and about moving on after we've made mistakes," Baird said. "I felt some pressure in writing, hoping my parts would turn out as good as the music. But I think it all came out better than I could've imagined." After their internet-aided pre-production, the band decided to set up shop in a one-room cabin in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee for over a month to mold those song ideas into the core of the album. After three weeks of work, Baird joined the band for the final two weeks to add his lyrics to the fray.

With songs in hand the band then headed to Lakeside Studios in Knoxville for a month-long session with producer Travis Wyrick (P.O.D., Disciple), who also produced 2005's "Last Chance to Breathe," a record that helped the band expand its fanbase as it ventured into poppier leanings. "I'm blown away by the finished record," Cunnigham said. "We wrote these songs to please ourselves, to write songs that we wanted to play live and we ended up with a few that were heavier and harder than anything on the last two records."

Wyrick and the band have created a sound less reliant on overdubs and layering and more focused on bringing the band's live show to mind with a more sparse sound that still rocks as hard as ever. Maybe more so. "We wanted to be able to experiment with heavier songs and think further ahead in the lifespan of the band," Baird said. "And with these heavier songs it really feels like a step toward the future and a reflection of the past."

The Protest

After years of hard work and sharing the stage with national Christian Rock acts such as Disciple, Decyfer Down, The Letter Black, Sent by Ravens, and Icon for Hire, Protest for Pluto entered the studio with Grammy nominated producer Travis Wyrick in the summer of 2011. They emerged from their studio time as a new band with a revamped vision and sound. These changes called for a reinvention of the band. Taking on the name “The Protest” the band has set out to make a major impact in the music industry and to spread the word of God through their high energy music and live show. The band believes that as Christians we should “protest” for God’s truth and “protest” against the things that contradict that truth. The band’s self-titled EP was released on iTunes January 31, 2012, and they invite all of their friends and fans to come see them live and be a part of this pivotal time.

RELESSER: (re-less-er, Anglo-French root of the word "release")

Modern Rock / Electronica Hybrid

The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist / songwriter, Asche, RELESSER's music fuses strong melodies with interweaving guitar crunch and electronic synth & sequencing.

Asche's music under the name "Autumn's Descent" has been heard around the world through licensing into movies and in TV shows on MTV & VH1, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, the WB, A&E, the NFL Network, & Disney.

Asche has shared the stage with artists such as P.O.D., ICE-T, Strapping Young Lad, Celldweller, Acumen Nation, the Cruxshadows, Mankind Is Osbolete, I:Scintilla, ManufraQture, Cynnergy 67, Disciple, Our Heros End, Kids in the Way, BM Linx, Gwen Stacy, Stellar Kart, Since October, This Fire's Embrace, the Afters, 9 Lashes, and Icon for Hire, just to name a few.

After doing studio work and remixes for other artists since 2006, RELESSER became a live performance entity in 2012. The band is expected to play one or two festivals in late Summer 2012 before retreating back into the studio to continue working on an upcoming series of releases for 2013. The band hopes to return to the road in 2013.

$10.00 - $12.00

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The Letter Black, Spoken, The Protest, and Relesser. with Spoken, The Protest, Relesser

Friday, August 30 · Doors 6:30 PM / Show 7:00 PM at The Gear Music Venue