Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden. Regardless of whether someone’s a casual fan or the most enthusiastic of metal heads, these are some of the most recognizable and influential names in classic heavy metal and within music as a whole. But aside from the heavy hitters known worldwide, Carlos Denogean, drummer for local metal band Salvación, says there’s a lot talent surfacing across North Carolina of which fans should take note. Enter: Thou Shall Rock, Wilmington’s first annual classic heavy metal fest at Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern held this weekend, September 2-3.
Thou Shall Rock is the brainchild Denogean, who started his Wilmington-based metal band in 2009 with guitarist Nicholas Sponsel. With determination to “defend the faith of true heavy metal,” Salvación has since self-released two full-length albums. Their most recent, “Keep Up The Fire,” came out earlier in the summer and is very reminiscent of classic metal of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
“There is an abundant amount of great bands in the area,” Thou Shall Rock’s founder says, “and festivals such as this are a great opportunity for artists and fans alike to reach one another.”
Featuring almost a dozen bands, Thou Shall Rock will kick off on Friday with Raleigh’s Demon Eye, Walpyrgus and The Hell No; along with Greensboro’s Dogbane and Wilmington’s Mortal Man. In addition to Salvación, Saturday players include Humungus out of Richmond, Va., Final Sign, Knightmare, and Children of the Reptile, all out of North Carolina.
encore sat down with Denogean to talk more about the local heavy-metal scene, Salvación’s latest EP and what folks can expect from Wilmington’s first-ever classic heavy metal fest.
encore (e): What made you want to spearhead this festival? Where did it all start?
Carlos Denogeon (CD): I started organizing Thou Shall Rock back in May when Salvación returned from performing at a heavy metal festival in Chicago. I was inspired by some of our peers in the national metal scene who have successfully organized similar events in their respective cities.
e: Tell us about the heavy-metal scene in Wilmington: What’s the fan base like and what are they looking for more of?
CD: The metal scene in Wilmington is diverse and vibrant, and the fan base is equally spirited. My goal with Thou Shall Rock was to showcase the immense amount of talented heavy metal bands in the region. I do believe fans here want to be exposed to more music and show their support.
e: Aside from your band, how did you come up with the lineup for the two-day event? Was it pretty easy to get these acts on board?
CD: It actually was easy choosing because I knew exactly what bands I wanted to perform from the onset. My band and I have performed along with all the bands playing Thou Shall Rock—and I have gone to support their shows on numerous occasions. Although each band performing is very unique, they all are capable of creating vital music that still pays tribute to classic heavy metal. Since I already had a long-standing relationship with all the bands it was not difficult getting them on board. In addition to enjoying their music, I respect them all because they share a common interest in the well-being [of] the state of NC’s music scene and want to do their part in supporting it.
e: What have been some of the “lessons learned” so far?
CD: The biggest lesson I have learned is to not underestimate the willingness of the people in our music scene to show support and give assistance. It takes the cooperation of a lot of individuals to get something like this scheduled, and it would not be possible without help.
e: What else can festival-goers expect at Reggie’s throughout the two days?
CD: In addition to the immense amount of talented acts, I will be spinning choice heavy-metal records from my personal record collection. We are working on a food truck; no vendors have been confirmed as of this time, but I promise there will be no lack of entertainment.
e: What can folks expect from Salvación’s performance?
CD: Salvación is fresh out of the studio with a brand new EP entitled “Keep Up The Fire.” We have a lot of momentum right now with the re-release of our second album out on Heaven and Hell records, which came out earlier this year. In addition to performing numerous shows this year, we are making our first appearance in California at a large metal festival a month from Thou Shall Rock, so we are very ready to rock at the moment. We will be debuting new songs from the EP at Thou Shall Rock, which we are very excited about.
e: Tell us more about “Keep Up The Fire”—did you set out for it to be more of a throwback for fans of ‘80s metal when you started to write and record it?
CD: Classic heavy metal from the ‘70s and ‘80s is what influences us the most collectively as a band. We definitely intended to make a record that paid homage to this style and help keep the tradition of this kind of music alive. Since the beginning this has been the objective of the band. Over the past seven years, we have striven to hone our craft and I think this new release is the closest we have come to reaching our goal thus far. We hope to continue creating new music that exposes people to the genre of music that inspires and motivates us.
e: In addition to these four songs, is there more material you’re working on/playing at live shows?
CD: We have a lot of new material in various stages of completion that we intend to finish after our festival appearances. In addition to hearing some new songs for the first time off our EP, you can expect to hear a set from us that has been battle-tested over the years for maximum response in a live setting.
e: Anything else you’d like to add about your first year of Thou Shall Rock?
CD: I would like to thank you for your interest and support—and I would like to thank all the people at Reggies 42nd St. Tavern, the bands performing, and most of all, those who plan on attending. Keep defending the faith of heavy metal!
For more information or full lineup of bands, visit the Facebook event page. Folks can find presale tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2585681.