Ventana on top of their game during their 13th anniversary show at The Agora. Axioma, DOSE, Half Raised Heathens, Half Knocked Out and Helicase there to help out.



One of my favorite things about smaller venues like the Agora is the intimate setting it provides between the talent on stage and the fans filling the room.  It has always been a great place to go if you are looking for a new band to follow or a new sound to get your feet moving and your head banging.  This past Saturday didn’t fail to deliver either of those things. 

Six bands took the stage at the storied venue on this particular evening, each a step towards building a crescendo to the tremendously thrilling stage show of Ventana. This show was a celebration of their thirteenth year of existence.  Such longevity is no easy task to achieve, but once you have experienced the unique visuals and heavy, power-laden sound of the band’s performance, it’s easy to see why they have had the success that they have. 

Prior to the headliner taking the stage there were five other bands were present to help get the party started. Two bands, homegrown Helicase and Sandusky’s Half Knocked Out, kicked off the evening.  Both groups are still looking to get their feet wet and with what I witnessed it won’t be long until they’re fully emerged in the fish bowl known as the local scene.

Helicase and Half Knocked Out at Ventana's 13th Anniversary show.

Half Raised Heathens were up next and boy did they make a statement.  Their sound and energetic display was something to behold. The added lighting effects help bring the total package to a whole new level. HRH definitely brought their A-game which got the crowd moving and inspired the first mosh pit of the evening.  They have a self-claimed “Hoodcore sound” intending to get their audiences revved up, and they were truly successful in that aspect.  With songs like Breakdown, Trashed and Whiskey Dick, their self-proclaimed descriptive image of music that will ‘make you want to punch your grandma in the face’ absolutely held true. 

DOSE and Half Raised Heathens for Ventana's 13th Anniversary show at the Agora. All photos taken by Shannon Hamilton/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Dose brought a different sort of feel to the night.  They added their own unique touch to the night.  Still sticking to the usual growling lyrical sound that this genre of music tends to bring. Dose introduced into the mix a lyrically appealing sound that I hadn’t expected.   Twins, Jeff (drums) and Jay (lead guitar) Morrow are exceptional musicians playing perfectly in-sync with bassist Mike Marczak.  The trio feed off of one another and when mixed with the vocal talents of frontman, Nick Jarrell, Dose is an explosion of in-your face metal such as that of their influences from Pantera and Metallica.  The only negative thing I could find about their performance was actually a positive; because I just didn’t get enough of them.  I know one thing for sure and that’s the quartet from Cleveland earned at least one new fan on the night.

Axioma, another Cleveland-based metal act, was the final band to take the stage before Ventana made their appearance. They had an old school feel about them that produced a simple sound that blared through the speakers demanding the crowd to move their feet and bang their heads.   Their sound commanded attention and was they were an excellent bridge to the headliner.

“Let’s Make America Hate Again”, words painted in white against a black background that covered the stage, was a statement that would set the mood for Ventana’s entire performance.  As the banner fell to reveal the stage, the ominous flags with the Ventana symbol printed on them were the perfect intro as the band was suited up complete with ties and American flag pins.

They opened the night with a new song from their latest release called ‘No Lives Matter’. From there they switched it up between old and new and even tossing in a unique cover of ‘Cry Little Sister’. 

Ventana and Axioma for Ventana's 13th Anniversary show at the Agora. All photos taken by Shannon Hamilton/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Mushroomhead’s Rick “St1tch” Thomas (keys and backup vocals) is the leader of the thirteen year old project while Daniel Fox resides on the throne behind the kit. Tom Shaffner tickles the trine of the six-string, producing some ominous heavy riffs. Scott Beck controls middle of the stage with an occasional guest appearance from Eric Hess.  Hess whose zombielike persona embellished with twitching facial expressions put a visual on the meaning of agony which the tune represents. Collectively the complete ensemble depicts a visual performance that was nothing short of amazing as was the group’s musical talents. A Ventana production is something you must see in person to truly understand what this band is made of. Metal fan or not, this band is worthy of your time and the price of admission.

Article written and submitted by staff writer-Mandy Edmonson…





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Larry Ritter About Larry Ritter

Hello my name is Larry Ritter, or “Big L” to most of my friends. I’m a production supervisor for a major manufacturer of auto parts here in northwest Ohio. I received an Associate’s degree from Owen’s Community College where I graduated cum laude honors. I have a true passion for music, sports, photography and riding motorcycles. My love for these things are surpassed by just one thing, family, which includes two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.


  1. Thanks Larry, we sure to hope to see you soon! It was nice meeting Mandy, and Shannon Hamilton – AMAZING photography! Looking forward to more of that for sure \m/

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