Metal, Mayhem, and Mentally Ill Judges: The Battle for Heck Recap

The world of metal music is a subculture unlike any other. It’s loud, wild, and unapologetic. And in the midst of this chaos, there are always new bands vying for recognition and fame. One of the biggest opportunities for up-and-coming metal bands is the Battle for Heck, a battle of the bands event that promises a spot at one of the biggest metal festivals in Mexico City. But what many people may not know is that these battles are not just about the bands competing. There is a whole production behind it, with judges and hosts working tirelessly to pick the best band to represent their region. And one of these judges was none other than our very own fearless leader, Mojo El Diablo. Mojo recently gave us a glimpse into his experience as a judge and host for the Battle for Heck, and let me tell you, it was quite an adventure. For those who may not know, the Battle for Heck (we’ll just call it what it really is – Hell) is a series of battle of the bands events organized by the legendary punk rock band Holy Grall. It all started back in 2002 with the first ever California chapter event held at Que Sera and The LBC. And since then, it has become a highly anticipated annual event, drawing in metalheads from all over. But getting back to Mojo’s journey as a judge, it all started with him donning the infamous Judge Death helmet. For those unfamiliar with Judge Death, he is a character from the British comic series 2000 AD. He serves as the antagonist of Judge Dredd and became a favorite among metal fans because of his dark and twisted persona. So there was Mojo, in his Judge Death helmet, ready to bring some serious metal judgement. And the first band up was Massacre Rage. While they had a cool-looking singer, they ended up sounding like a generic version of Slayer. But what was even more disappointing was the fact that they didn’t have a bass player. As Mojo put it, “by default, they’re not winning.” Next up was Coatl, a band that Mojo described as the “chemistry of Sonic H but death metal.” They had a male and female singer who switched off and brought the most people to the event. They were definitely the standout band and hands down winners in Mojo’s book. But the next band, Dogs Are Cool, proved that it’s not only about the music. They were a pop-punk metal band that didn’t really fit in with the heavy metal vibe of the event. However, they had some connections at The Whisky and ended up bringing in a good crowd. Plus, they had an inflatable dog that they threw into the audience. Now that’s something you don’t see every day at metal shows. The last band of day one was a typical thrash band similar to Megadeth and Slayer, but they didn’t leave much of an impression on Mojo. Day two kicked off with Glue Balls, who delivered a “kick to the nuts but in a good way” according to Mojo. They were followed by Kings versus Gods, who had an Anthrax vibe going on. The third band of the day was a metalcore band that had some OC hardcore vibes and brought in a lot of hot chicks (because we all know women love good music). But as Mojo pointed out, this is where things start to go downhill – “that’s why the whole world sucks now because women took over.” The final band of day two was Weaponized, led by Nightmare Nick (shout out to these awesome bands mentioned!). They brought the house down and were declared the winners by a landslide. Day three saw the battle move to Santa Barbara, and Mojo arrived a little late (oops…we’ve all been there). But he made it just in time to witness some seriously hardcore bands. The first band had a gothic Deftones with some Orgy and Stabbing Westward mixed in, while the second band was a thrash three-piece who made a joke about “Pantara on more meth.” The third band was an all-female group who seemed to be trying too hard to be goth, but didn’t quite hit the mark. And then came the final band of the evening – the ultimate winners. Not only did they have a badass helmeted dude (shout out to the chick singer, Rian Jude from ShadowVessel!), but they had great stage presence and theatrics that blew everyone away. Plus, they were just plain awesome. In conclusion, Mojo’s journey as a judge for the Battle for Heck was one wild ride. And it just goes to show that there is more to these battles than just deciding who plays the best music. It’s about bringing together a community of metalheads, supporting new bands, and having a hell of a good time. So here’s to metal, mayhem, and mentally ill judges – may they continue to rock on forever.

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