Monterey’s seminal metal band returns and reunites.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Sitting outside of Morgan’s on a sunny winter afternoon, Mica Maniac and Gator Collier can recall the night when Monterey’s viral heavy metal music scene emerged from the underground. Maniac tugs at one of two black goatees that hang from his chin like inverted devil’s horns as he talks about a packed 2000 show at the now defunct Viva’s, where his band, Legion Victorious, performed with fellow local heavies Liquid 8 and Relapse. “That was the start of Monterey metal,” he says behind dark sunglasses. “It was packed. I was blown away.”
According to Maniac, Monterey has never been the same since. “It just picked up,” he says, while a stocking-capped Collier nods. “Every show was packed. All of a sudden all these kids came out of their garages with all these other bands.”
During the band’s first incarnation, Legion Victorious—Maniac on guitar, Collier on bass and lead vocals, Matt O’Meara on drums, Jeff Drew on second guitar—played songs at hyper speed with nightmare-inducing vocals. Some, like the almost 10-minute long “Crush the Infidels,” featured complex arrangements.
Maniac says the band was unique in Monterey. “We were the heaviest thing,” he says. “We were the only extreme death metal band.”
But, in 2002, O’Meara moved out to Kansas with his mom, and Collier followed a little later. Out in Wichita, the guys tried to keep the Legion Victorious name alive, but they found it was hard to keep their heads above water financially. “It wasn’t that bad the first couple of months,” Collier says. “But then it went downhill pretty fast.”
While Collier and O’Meara were struggling in the Midwest, Maniac started playing with melodic metal band Sol Asunder. When they moved back to the area, the guys hooked up with Maniac and decided to see if the band still had that metal magic. They instantly realized that they still had chemistry. “A few practices and it was basically like we didn’t split up,” Maniac says.
Since regrouping, the band has been practicing at a rehearsal spot far out in Carmel Valley. The guys say they have written four new songs—described as faster than their old stuff—and recruited a new guitar player to take the place of Jeff Drew. The new bandmember is Josh Gonzalez, a guitarist who has been laying down heavy riffs for years with other local metal acts like Liquid 8, FSU and Sick Beyond.
Maniac says he hopes to reach a new crop of local young folks—ages 16 to 22—who are growing their hair out and banging their heads. When asked how Monterey, known around the world for its sophisticated food and golf, could produce such brutal music, both Maniac and Collier say the same thing at the same time: “There’s nothing else to do.”
As for what the uninitiated can expect at Legion Victorious’ reunion show at the Lava Lounge this Saturday, the bandmembers are also in agreement.
“It’s going to be brutal,” Collier says.
“It’s gonna be the heaviest show that has hit Monterey in a
long time,” Maniac adds.
LEGION VICTORIOUS play the Lava Lounge, located in Club Octane at 321 Alvarado St. in Monterey, Saturday, Feb. 26, at 10pm with Retribution and FSU. No cover. 646-9244.