Some of the Southeast's best metal acts come together for the inaugural Lowcountry Death Fest 

Metal of Honor

click to enlarge The Commoner and I's first LP is currently in the works

Jonathan Boncek

The Commoner and I's first LP is currently in the works

William Manigault is only 19 years old but has made a name for himself on the Southeast metal circuit as a regional promoter for his own 843Core Promotions. As a guitarist for Ladson-based From Dreams to Reality, he's well acquainted with the local music scene, and so he gradually began putting together house shows in Ladson, Summerville, and downtown Charleston. This weekend, his biggest project yet, Lowcountry Death Fest, will come to life with performances by 11 bands from all over South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Here's a roundup of what to expect:

METALCORE | The Commoner and I

The Commoner and I's sound has changed over the years, but the band currently cranks out djent/downtempo metal. "It's a down-tuned style of metal with low vocals, a deeper, more brutal sound," says The Commoner and I's lead singer Zach Hall. The Summerville band, which also includes guitarists Christian Snow and Jordan Cullipher, bassist Trevon Pringle, and drummer Justin German, is proud of their hometown's music scene, which Hall says runs the gamut, stylistically. "The metal scene in Summerville can go from pop-punk to hardcore to deathcore to djent/downtempo," Hall says. "We love what the scene is growing into, and we hope it grows. This music is our passion and our escape." —Vincent Harris


The phrase most commonly associated with Rock Hill, S.C.'s JYNZO is "progressive metal," but the quintet's guitarist and co-founder, Nick Sellers, says that to them, "progressive" doesn't mean early Rush or Dream Theater. "The term 'progressive metal' to us means putting our influences and styles all into one sound and just playing what we want to play," Sellers says. "We just want to push ourselves and each other as much as possible. Calling ourselves 'progressive' allows us to open up our options in terms of the sound we want to go for." These days, Sellers says that the band, which also includes singer Landis Pearce, guitarist Jeffery Seagle, bassist Sam Gibbons, and drummer Corey Phelps, blends many different styles. "As far as our overall sound, so far it's been very ominous, technical, and in some cases soothing with some melodic, ambient influences," Sellers says.—VH

METALCORE | Down Under

click to enlarge Down Under will play their first-ever show this weekend - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Down Under will play their first-ever show this weekend

Death Fest will be the first-ever show for at least three members of Down Under, a deathcore/metalcore band from Summerville, and singer Mustafa Temel says that the band is doing its best to prepare. "We're talking a lot about stage presence and hiding the nerves that we all have, because it's our first time playing for people," Temel says. "And there's going to be a lot of people." Temel admits that drummer James Davenport has caught him daydreaming about the show. He says, "I often catch myself mouthing words and practicing my angry face at work." —VH

DEATHCORE | Induced Insomnia

click to enlarge Summerville's Induced Insomnia recently self-produced its own EP - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Summerville's Induced Insomnia recently self-produced its own EP

The first track on Induced Insomnia's 2014 EP Nikolayev is a musical curveball. The song, called "Anoxia," is an acoustic-guitar-and-keyboards piece that is both soothing and haunting, and it serves as an unexpected introduction to the intensely metallic four tracks that follow —and that's exactly how the band wanted it. "It's always been important to show different elements of the band," says the Summerville band's guitarist Caleb Wyatt. "We like to experiment a bit. We self-produced our EP, because we didn't want it to just be another deathcore EP. We wanted to be a little different and mix multiple subgenres to get a signature sound." Wyatt says that that sense of experimentation will carry over into Induced Insomnia's next recording project as well. "We pull our influence mainly from deathcore and death metal, but on our full-length, which is currently in the works, we want to add some prog-djent elements and add synths."—VH

DEATH METAL | I'll Be an Empire

Based in Atlanta, I'll Be an Empire credits the city's thriving metal scene for their success so far. Vocalist Alex Gignilliat, guitarist Nick Stratigos, guitarist Jake Boyette, bassist TJ Fitzpatrick, and drummer David Boughter all honed their skills in other local heavy bands before the stars perfectly aligned for I'll Be an Empire. "It's so encouraging to know you have a solid group of people backing you and who genuinely dig what you're doing," Gignilliat says. And what they're doing is progressive metal. "Very few sub-genres offer the chance for originality and creative freedom that prog does," Gignilliat adds. I'll Be an Empire released the EP Thelema last August and are working on an LP as we speak. Gignilliat says, "We want to break free from any preconceived idea of what a metal band should sound like, and that's exactly what we're doing with this release." —Kelly Rae Smith


click to enlarge Manigault - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Manigault

Guitarist and backup vocalist William Manigault and lead guitarist Brian Gillespie have been writing songs together for years, but it was only a year ago that they formed Ladson-based metal band From Dreams to Reality. Joined by Christian Wickliffe (vocals) and Nate DelRio (drums, synths), the four-piece act play intricate, extreme prog-metal, with acts like Sweden's Meshuggah being a major influence. At the Lowcountry Death Fest, From Dreams to Reality will film a music video and debut a few new songs, including "Burial at Sea." According to Manigault, the track is about dementia. "A lot of our lyrical content is about mental disease and various emotions, like rage and depression and stuff that people who are outcasts — the kind of people that would listen to metal and punk — go through and can relate to," he says. "And the band serves as an outlet for all of our emotions so that we can express it in a way that's good and healthy." —KRS

DEATH METAL | Sustenance

Sustenance members Evan Kimmons (vocalist), Andrew Schultz (guitar), Tristen Colvin (bass), and David Boughter (drums) met up and started rocking together in the local Kennesaw, Ga. music scene. That's also where other heavy acts like I'll Be an Empire and A Legacy Unwritten (who are also part of the Lowcountry Death Fest) come from, proving there's certainly something cool brewing in that neck of the Georgia woods. Schultz says the audience is part of that growth, too. "The crowds have become more active and a part of the show itself," he says. "We want to see crowd participation and them going wild while we play." So far, Sustenance has released one EP, Grey, however the band promises big things are around the corner, like a new EP entitled NUP, more merch, and a few videos. —KRS


For a relatively young band, Regions are making their mark upon the deathcore scene at a remarkable rate. Hailing from Charlotte, the band performs on the back of their lone EP, Dead End, a strong album that has earned the members fans from the deathcore audience in the Southeast. Claiming to be "dead set to make a name for themselves" on their Facebook page, it's hard to doubt that their biggest years lay before them. —Isaac Weeks

DEATH METAL | A Legacy Unwritten

With the deft work on percussions by Damian Lorch leading the way, Atlanta deathcore band A Legacy Unwritten currently stands tall as not only one of the most popular bands currently playing the death metal club circuit, but one of the most accomplished. This fact is evidenced by the big acts the five-year-old band has played with, like Aborted and Fit for an Autopsy. Legacy released their third full-length album, Vanitati Mortem, which solidifies the band's spot among the upper echelon of their peers, all with singer Erik Green working as the perfect complement for his bandmates. Green joined the group last year after former vocalist Jacob Ferguson moved to California. "Erik did vocal video tryouts for our song 'The Catalyst,' guitarist Corey Richburg explains. "He stood out big time amongst his peers in the scene. Since then he has become a amazing vocalist and a great fit for the sound of the band we have been known for." —IW

DEATH METAL | Call Me Ishmael

Call Me Ishmael formed in the small town of Clermont, Ga., where there are no rock venues and the metal scene is nonexistent. "I reckon we're the last of the Mohicans when it comes to that," says vocalist William Burchfield. Luckily, the band members — drummer Allen Bradford, guitarist Jonathon Lovall, guitarist Brandon Cape, and Burchfield — still managed to find one another, and the four-piece recently finished recording an EP, Between Rot and Ruin. "The whole EP is based on a very chaotic reflection of my personal past," he says. "It is based on the ruining of one's self and on pure hopelessness because of choice and a desire to go further down the rabbit hole. And in the desire to choose such things, you will never find hope." Call Me Ishmael is currently writing songs for a full-length record, which the band hopes to release in late 2016. —KRS

HARDCORE | Death of a Romantic

Other than the occasional house show in their hometown of Beaufort, Death of a Romantic have to travel at least an hour away to find an audience that truly embraces their hardcore ways, with Charleston-Summerville being the area where they feel most at home. The band of youngsters (all but two are high school seniors) formed last spring when vocalist Michael Alamillo, lead guitarist Sam Bullard, rhythm guitarist Will Dukes, bassist Judd Arnett, and drummer Hunter Murray met through mutual friends and started writing metalcore music together. Since then, their sound has drifted more toward hardcore, a genre Dukes says is a huge outlet for them. "None of us are really angry people on any level, so we're able to take out aggression on stage by flailing our instruments around and even going into the crowd and moshing with them during our set," he says. "It's always fun to keep things interesting." —KRS

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