Who knows why speed metal's gene pool has all but dried up since the genre's mid-'80s heyday. Maybe it's because the hermetic, painted-on jeans worn by most thrashers of that era were so damn tight that reproductive capabilities were forever limited as a result. Whatever the case, there can be no denying that quality, no-holds-barred thrash has become a rarity in metal circles and has long been relegated to the depths of the metal underground.
Which is what makes the second annual Classic Metal Fest such a can't-miss event. Loaded with two dozen old-school power and speed metal bands, this is a metal fest with few peers. This year's lineup boasts Canuck greats Anvil, whose breakneck, ultra-technical thrash set the curve for the future of speed metal on 1982's Metal on Metal. Omen, another underappreciated metal forebear, is also slated to appear. No man who came of age in the late '80s could forget the sexy, semi-nude blonde on the cover of the band's overlooked Escape to Nowhere, but the music contained within was just as attention-grabbing, with fire-breathing leads, towering drums, and high-pitched vocals that sounded like singer J.D. Kimball got his nuts caught in his zipper.
And there's plenty more. Seven Witches, fronted by former Savatage guitarist Jack Frost and featuring Armored Saint bassist extraordinaire Joey Vera, makes its only U.S. appearance this year at the fest, along with Intruder, Damien Thorne, and many others. The metal-mad German press is all over the event -- in fact, there may be as many Teutons as Clevelanders there. It will be preceded by a night of local trad-metal featuring Breaker, Destructor, and three others. It's all going down at the Phantasy, which should be packed tight. Just like the Levi's.