On Stage: Love and metal in the air for shows tonight

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Hideous Divinity

While many of the shows on February 14 will focus on love songs and romantic tunes in celebration on Valentine’s Day, there will be a show on February 13 at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com) that will be the flip side of the coin.

The all-metal show will feature Vader as the headliner. Vader is a death metal band from Olsztyn, Poland that has been raising hell musically since 1983. The support acts are Abysmal Dawn, a death metal band from Los Angeles, California; Hideous Divinity, a technical-brutal death metal band from Italy; and Vitriol, a death/extreme metal band from Portland, Oregon.

Hideous Divinity — Enrico Di Lorenzo (Vocals), Enrico Schettino (Guitars), Giovanni Tomassucci (Guitars), Stefano Franceschini (Bass), Giulio Galati (Drums) – is touring in support of its new album, “Simulacrum, which was released in August on Century Media Records.

On “Simulacrum,” the band’s fourth full-length, the Italians open portals to new blood-curdling dimensions via profane riffs, superb drumming, and frightful vocals.

“Simulacrum” was recorded summertime last year,” said Schettino, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

“We’ll never record another album in summertime in Rome. It’s too hot and too crowded. I think part of the blame belongs to me because I was late in delivering several of the songs.

“And, we felt the extra pressure with it being our first record for Century Media. We had to be our best. There was no other option.”

Hideous Divinity’s previous albums were “Obeisance Rising” in 2012, “Cobra Verde” in 2014 and “Adveniens” in 2017.

According to Schettino, “Our previous album, ‘Adveniens,’ marked a clear turn towards a darker, heavily black metal influenced perspective. We felt we had to become something more than ‘that cool technical death metal combo from Italy.’ ‘Simulacrum’ took this musical concept and brought it to a new level.
“We are a death metal band and we will never stop being it. It permeates our way of doing things. From recording an album to the way we jump onstage and face the crowd. In a way, that is sometimes beyond our comprehension and will.”

The band from Rome has more than just metal in its DNA.

“There is always some sort of concept – a cinematic component,” said Schettino, a devout fan of A.S. Roma, a football team from the Eternal City locked in an eternal battle with city rival SS Lazio. “It’s like David Lynch’s ‘Lost Highway’ inside a bigger context.

“We try to keep doing something that is original. We think we are the players but what if we are the spectators of a whole cycle of music that haunts us.”

Hideous Divinity is very popular in Europe – especially in Germany — but still in the process of breaking big in the states.

“With the American market, we just had to take our time,” said Schettino. “It’s expensive and challenging to do a tour on the United States.

“This will be our first time to play in Philadelphia. We have a 35-minute set and all the songs but one are from the ‘Simulacrum’ album.”

Video link for Hideous Divinity – https://youtu.be/KlnqtDP6Kzs.


Vitriol — Kyle Rasmussen – Guitar and Vocals; Adam Roethlisberger – Bass and Vocals; Mike Ashton – Guitar; Scott Walker – Drums – is also tour in support of a new album that was released late last year on Century Media. The album – “To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice” – was released on September 8.

“Our first full tour after the album was released was in Europe,” said Rasmussen, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon as the band travelled from Orlando to Fayetteville.

“Our second tour was a U.S. tour. The album was originally scheduled to be released on October 11. But it got moved forward to September 8 because we were going on the road with Nile and the label wanted it out in time for that tour.”

Like Hideous Divinity, this is Vitriol’s first Century Media album release. Ironically, Vitriol’s first release “Pain Will Define Their Death” (2017) was on a small label from Italy — Everlasting Spew.

Vitriol is described as a “band willing and self-confident enough to take risks sonically with its raw, suffocating yet natural production, musically with its sheer abundance of stellar riffs and unworldly rhythm section, lyrically by its deeply personal and gripping invocations of triumph and tragedy.”

Vitriol’s music is not for the faint of heart. It is “pissed off” music made by “pissed off” musicians for “pissed off” listeners.

“Why is our sound ‘pissed off?’,” said Rasmussen. “Life – injustice and depression. There is this white noise of tragedy from all over the world. It’s overwhelming – really scary.

“We prioritize an emotional experience with our music. I saw a lot of metal bands not prioritizing the emotional part. A lot of them just use the athletic process. A lot of them use metal to refine their chops.

“Our fans have a deep connection with the music. There is a vocabulary – what are you trying to tell. They know how to connect with this.”

Video link for Vitriol — https://youtu.be/44e2ij_XE18.

The show at MilkBoy Philly will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Other upcoming acts at the venue are Michigan Rattlers on February 14, Root Shock on February 15, Emmaline on February 16 and The Blue Stones on February 18.

There will be shows on February 14 that are 180 degrees removed from Thursday’s death metal extravaganza – shows celebrating love and the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

Mary Fahl

One of these shows will be an intimate concert by Mary Fahl at the New Hope Winery (6123 Lower York Road, New Hope, 215-794-2331, newhopewinery.com).

When Fahl performs in concert, there are several musical avenues she might travel. She could take the stage with her band. She could perform a solo show. Or, she could treat her fans to a live presentation of one of her special projects.

“My Valentine’s show is different,” said Fahl, during a phone interview last week from her Bucks County home. “I explore all the aspects of love. I’ll probably sing winter songs – all love songs.

“The theme is not just romantic love. It’s also about love of country and brotherly love – and all the different Greek terms for love…seven or eight terms. I will include all these kinds of love.”

Many of Fahl’s fans have been with her ever since her time with October Project which lasted from 1991-1996.

“October Project had a large body of work and I still perform some of those songs in my live show,” said Fahl. “If I don’t do some of those songs, fans get upset. I also like doing interesting covers.”

Fahl has written and performed songs for several major motion pictures, including the lead song (“Going Home”) for the Civil War epic “Gods and Generals.” Her music can also be found on the original soundtrack of the 2003 movie “The Guys.”

In 2011, Fahl recorded her own version of one of rock’s all-time classics — Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Fahl re-interpreted the songs on an album she titled “From the Dark Side of the Moon.

For many artists, the task of re-inventing songs from an album as iconic as “Dark Side of the Moon” could have been too much of a challenge. Not so for Fahl who crafted a disc that honored its roots but established an identity all its own.

“After making the Sony classical album (“Classics for a New Century”), I wanted to do something that was fun,” said Fahl. “An independent filmmaker I knew wanted to use me in a performance piece. I wanted to do something that I didn’t have the ability to write.

“That’s when I decided to do the ‘Dark Side’ recording. It’s like a classical piece of music. I did not intend to make a cover record. It’s my version and it doesn’t sound at all like Pink Floyd’s version. But, a lot of die-hard Pink Floyd fans have responded well. They like the album — and my live versions of the songs.”

Fans will soon be able to get another version.

“This week, we’re just finishing a surround-sound mix of ‘From the Dark Side of the Moon’,” said Fahl. “My producer Mark Doyle found a long-lost mix that Bob Clearwater did. Bob is a great mixing engineer.

“When they first played the new mix for me, I sat in the middle of a room, heard it and it blew me away. We’ve done a whole new design for the record and I’m thrilled with it. But if you don’t have Blu-Ray, it won’t mean much to you.”

Video link for Mary Fahl — https://youtu.be/nprjAwB1ASw.

The show at the New Hope Winery will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 and $50.

Another show scheduled for Friday evening will feature the appropriately named Valentina Raffaelli.

On February 14, Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684,

www.johnnybrendas.com) will host a concert by Valentina Sounds – a band featuring Italian-born, Philadelphia-based Valentina Raffaelli.

Valentina Raffaelli

Performing and recording as Valentina Sounds, Raffaelli will be celebrating Valentine’s Day as well as the release of her debut album, “Bring on the Fire.”

“Bring on the Fire” is the story about the end of a long-term relationship told in a relatable, true-to-life manner. The songs portray the array of emotions — hope, sarcasm, determination, compassion, anger and sadness — felt during a trying time while still living life in the real day-to-day world.

It doesn’t seem like a musical menu for star-crossed lovers.

“This is a show for everybody – not just a romantic show,” said Raffaelli, during a recent phone interview from her home in Philadelphia.

“Most of the songs will be originals but we are doing some covers. I am getting rid of at least one of the sad songs – also ‘Say You Missed Me,’ which is about kidnapping your lover.”

Raffaelli, the former singer in Sunshine Superman and Sparkle Pony, creates music that is a fusion of catchy melodies and pop tunes, perfectly blended with a background in jazz vocals and a love for composition.

“I have been in the United Sates for 11 years in January,” said Raffaelli. “I fell in love with an American – a man from Philadelphia — when I was living in Italy. I was studying film and contemporary art at the Universita di Bologna.

“He waited until I finished college and then encouraged me to apply to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. I came to Philadelphia and studied there. I learned about voice and music—and I studied piano. I started meeting musicians at University of the Arts. Then, I took a songwriting course and I was hooked.

“Putting a band together was easy. The first band was Sunshine Superman back in 2017. Then, I was in a band called Sparkle Pony with my ex-husband. It was a folk/bluegrass/Americana band that ended in January 2019.”

All the while, Raffaelli was writing songs and preparing for what came next.

“I started writing an album without knowing it,” said Raffaelli, a native of Forte dei Marni.

Forte dei Marmi is a seaside town in the northern part of Tuscany that is a major vacation destination for Italy’s upper class. In Italian, “Forte dei Marmi” means “Fort of the Marbles.” The town takes its name from the fortress that rises in the middle of the main square.

“I knew I wanted to make a full album,” said Raffaelli. “Then things started deteriorating. I moved out and began living on my own in January 2019. The biggest chunk of songs was written between December 2018 and May 2019 and then I got into the recording studio in June.”

Raffaelli had a CD Release show at the Locks in Manayunk in November and another in her native land over the Christmas holiday.

“I had a very successful album release show at the Locks with my friends and Philadelphia family,” said Raffaelli.

“I was surprised at the amount of people who came out to support me. I got emotional when I realized I’d be singing all these personal songs for friends. I also did a release show in Italy in this beautiful place called Villa Bertelli.

“For the show on Valentine’s Day, I’ll be joined by two backup singers – Sara Mingle, who is a great choreographer, and Maura Blanchard, who I used to teach together with at music school. They’re both Philadelphia girls.”

Raffaelli will be in party mode this weekend.

“My birthday is February 15 so I’m celebrating at Friday’s show,” said Raffaelli, who will also be performing on February 23 at “Winter Doldrums 2020,” a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at Ardmore Music Hall.

Video link for Valentina Sounds – https://youtu.be/6zKa7tCk38A.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s, which also features The End of America and Britt Thomas & The Breaker Boys, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Other upcoming shows at Johnny Brenda’s are Solidarity on February 13, Ben Ottewell and Ian Ball on February 15, and Telefon Tel Aviv on February 18.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present ‘Better Than Bacon – Bacon Gives Back to Wings For Success” on February 13, Raymond The Amish Comic with Steph Termini on February 14, The Hoppin’ John Orchestra on February 15, and Open Mic with guest host Zachary Grim on February 16.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host “Strange Love: An ETC Theatre Company Valentine’s Show” on February 14 and Jeffrey Gaines with JD Eicher on February 15.

The Colonial Theatre (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610- 917-1228, www.thecolonialtheatre.com) will host “Point Entertainment presents Jake Shimabukuro and Sierra Hull” on February 14.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host Dancing With MaryJane on February 15.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will have Splintered Sunlight on February 13 and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe on February 14 and 15.

Living Room at 35 East (35 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, https://thelivingroomat35east.com) will present “Real Talk: The First Twenty Presents The Path to Spiritual Resilience” on February 18.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present Craig and Aislinn on February 14.

118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com) will have Geno Besconte on February 13, Ile on February 14, York Street Hustle on February 14, and Greg Davis & Wally Smith on February 16.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) presents Lisa Chavous on February 14, and Michael London and Friends on February 15.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Eddie Levert on February 16 and Queensrÿche on February 19.

Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, https://annenbergcenter.org/events) will present Alicia Olatuja on February 16 and Mummenschanz on February 16.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will host Jason Boland & The Stragglers on February 14, Dan Tyminski on February 15, Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. on February 16, “Murder Mystery: Murder At Anonville Manor” on February 16, Brother Joscephus & The Love Revolution on February 16, Bluegrass Jam In The Bar on February 18, and UFO on February 19.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will host Manhattan Transfer on February 14.

Now through February 23, the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting the well-loved musical “Cabaret.”

The classical musical opened on Broadway in 1966 and won Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Original Score.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $63 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

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