Some of Metal’s Heaviest Hitters Will Headline Fest at Westside Bowl

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Into the Darkness, a metal rock festival featuring 26 bands, will take over Westside Bowl this weekend.

The brainchild of Thomas Haywood, owner of the Cleveland-based Redefining Darkness Rising record label, it will feature headliners Imperial Triumphant, Deceased, Horrendous and Macabre.

Haywood was looking for a place to showcase some of the bands on his label, as well as a few established acts. He believes he found the ideal location in Westside Bowl, citing its two stages and its easy accessibility to interstate highways.

The promoter wants road-trippers to flock to the event and has priced tickets “aggressively” as an incentive. Advance ticket prices are $30 for a two-day pass, or $20 for a single day at Day of show admission is $40 for the weekend pass, $25 for one day. A block of discounted hotel rooms has also been reserved for festgoers; check for details.

Nate Offerdahl, co-owner of Westside Bowl, said Into the Darkness will be one of the more “highly coordinated and well-produced” festivals presented at his venue. He says it’s a good fit.

“Youngstown has a long reputation for supporting this kind of music,” Offerdahl said, “and bringing in bands from all over the country was the whole idea of opening this place.”

While Haywood’s primary goal is to gain attention for the bands he represents, he brought in some national acts as headliners.

“The idea was built around it being a showcase for bands on this label, but I needed to get bands that could draw,” Haywood said. “I had to find bands to please the older metal fans.”

He hand-picked a quartet of headliners that runs the gamut. Chicago-based Macabre will anchor the opening night’s final slot. On Day Two, that honor will go to three bands: Deceased, Imperial Triumphant, and Horrendous.

“Macabre has a funny, unserious side,” Haywood said, noting the band is working on something special and unique for the Youngstown event – some “extra bits of gory fun and theatrics.” 

The New York-based Imperial Triumphant might have the most unusual background of all the bands at Redefining Darkness.

“They are avant-garde black metal jazz,” Haywood said. “They are the current darlings of extreme music and have a wild presentation. They had Kenny G on their last record. Their music is out there.” 

Haywood’s label released an early Imperial Triumphant album. “Then they outgrew us,” he said.

The Washington, D.C.-based Deceased is “a seminal death thrash band,” Haywood said. “They’ve been around for decades and were part of the early stages of death metal.”

Haywood describes Philadelphia-based Horrendous as “an up-and-coming” progressive death metal act.

Haywood has long been part of the metal world and has worn every hat: performer, label manager and, now, promoter.

The Cleveland native studied at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles and played bass in black metal band Abigail Williams.

After returning to Cleveland, he ran the sound board at the now-closed Peabody’s, a venue for metal bands. He also taught at the Fairmount School of Music, where he started a rock program.

In 2015, he started two labels: Seeing Red and Redefining Darkness.

Here is the schedule for Into the Darkness:


(doors open at 6 p.m.)

Main Stage (upstairs)

6:45-7:15 p.m.: Hanging Fortress
7:55-8:25 p.m.: Axioma 
9:05-9:35 p.m.: Mutilatred
10:15-10:55 p.m.: Wraith
11:35 p.m.: Macabre

Trophy Room Stage (downstairs)

7:20-7:50 p.m.: Cleansing Humanity
8:30-9 p.m.: HAMMR
9:40-10:10 p.m.: S*** Life 
11-11:30 p.m.: Bear Mace


(doors open at 1 p.m.)

Main Stage

1:35-2:05 p.m.: Vicious Blade
2:45-3:15 p.m.: Kryptik Mutation
3:55-4:25 p.m.: Throne 
5:05-5:35 p.m.: Intoxicated
6:15-6:45 p.m.: Scorched
7:25-8:05 p.m.: Scattered Remnants

8:45-9:30 p.m.: Horrendous

10:10-10:55 p.m.: Imperial Triumphant

11:35 p.m.: Deceased 

Trophy Room Stage

2:10-2:40 p.m.: Torn in Half 

3:20-3:50 p.m.: Corrupted Saint 

4:30-5 p.m.: Atomic Witch

5:40-6:10 p.m.: Black Mass

6:50-7:20 p.m.: Maul

8:10-8:40 p.m.: Tombstoner 

9:35-10:05 p.m.: Oxygen Destroyer

11-11:30 p.m.: Sentient Horror 

Pictured: Imperial Triumphant is one of the headliners of Into the Darkness. Photo by Alex Krauss Photography.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.