They're called Reflecting Darkness, but the Berkshire County experimental metal band will rock in the limelight this Saturday during the Summer Meltdown festival at The Palladium.
The group only entered the scene about nine months ago, but beat out seven other bands in a July 26 Battle for Summer Meltdown, sponsored by Break Thru Music, to share the stage with the shows headliners, Powerman 5000 ("When Worlds Collide") and (HED)Pe ("Bartender").
"We went up fifth or sixth, but were all pretty confident," said frontman Michael Sayers of Pittsfield.
"We've been practicing really hard, and I think it paid off. A lot of the bands had brought their friends, and we only had five there, so it was a legit win. The roar of the crowd was incredible," he said.
The group itself is pretty unique, with members ranging in age from 27 to 47, and carrying a range of experience from working on other band and music projects. Rounding out the group is lead guitarist Sean Adamson of Otis, and his wife and background vocalist Nicole Adamson; drummer Mike Underhill of Pittsfield, former Bloodwar bassist John DiCarlo of Cheshire, and Pittsfield guitarist Nate Calebaugh, formerly of Warsynium and Stairwell Sea.
"Sean's really the mastermind behind the sound we have," Sayers said. "Instead of a basic metal drummer firing things off, we added a drummer who's capable of a more rock-and-roll sound, so you get this danceable metal, instead of just the growls and roars. We've also added a pretty voice. We vary things so you get different styles like blues metal, jazzy metal and this kind of rap metal."
"Basically we're just trying to get people listening and make the kind of music that gets stuck in your head," said Adamson in a Tuesday night phone interview.
He's been playing guitar for more than 20 years, seriously getting into it around age 12.
Adamson said he's been in and out of band projects but struggled to find a group that really meshed and flowed. Then he met Sayers, who helped bring in the other musicians. They got together and practiced for about eight months, then Reflecting Darkness was formally born.
The group dedicates itself twice a week to long rehearsal and demo recording sessions -- practicing nine hours on Sunday and six hours on Wednesday, Sayers said.
"We're not letting ourselves get rusty," Adamson said.
They play all original music, with writing primarily done by Adamson, though "everyone brings their own thing to it," he said.
They've got 18 songs in their repertoire, Sayers said, and are working on more to create enough options to record a full-length album.
"There's a lot of meaning behind what we do," said Sayers. Both he and Adamson said the group has a go-big-or-go-home kind of attitude, which drives them to find ways to write a range of lyrics to partner with a powerhouse sound.
"We want to rumble the house," Sayers said, noting they have their sights set far beyond the Berkshires.
In terms of songwriting, Adamson said he draws on observing and describing people's behaviors, expressing everything from the "Oh my life's horrible and it's everybody else's fault" kind of angst to how it's been watching some of his close friends struggle with heroin addiction.
"But we also have a lot of those silly songs and lyrics too. We don't want to be too serious like those metal guys you seen on album covers with scowls. When you get to know us, we're pretty laid-back kind of goofy guys," Adamson said.
He said he hasn't had any problem at all being in a band with his wife, Nicole; the two have previously worked on projects together, including a cover band.
Sayers said having experienced guys like Underhill, DiCarlo and Calebaugh in the group has helped Reflecting Darkness build a show that's "flavorful" and "doesn't sound like the same old, same old."
On Saturday, the group will have an approximately 20-minute set, Adamson said, allowing them to crank out at least five songs. There will be a total of 14 bands, including the headliners, strutting their stuff on The Palladium's two stages.
"I'm just hoping we go out there and give it our all, and show we have the status to actually impress the producers. Even if we don't get signed to a record deal right away, I'm hoping we can at least get a pretty good fan base," Adamson said.
His vision is to bring a sound and stage presence that's unique for the times, "like Korn and Pantera and Faith No More were when they came out."
Adamson and Sayers said they all grew up in the ‘90s listening to Powerman 5000, which is affiliated with metal's Rob Zombie and White Zombie, and are looking forward to building a similar kind of longevity as a group.
"We're already out looking for more shows to do," said Sayers, "And if we get that same response from the crowd that we did that night we did the battle, I'm pretty sure somebody will be helping us in getting that record deal."
If you go ...
What: Break Thru Music and MassConcerts present: Summer Meltdown featuring Powerman 5000, (HED)Pe. Special guests include the Berkshires' own Reflecting Darkness, along with Eyes Set To Kill, Sunflower Dead, Close To Home, The Relapse Symphony, Future Sex Sounds, The Grey Curtain, MongrelBand, Devlyn Sydus, With Eyes Closed, Transdusk and Age of End.
When: Saturday. Second stage doors open at 3 p.m., Main Room doors open at 6.
Where: The Palladium, 261 Main St., Worcester.
Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 the day of the show. Purchases can be made online at www.thepalladium.net.
About Reflecting Darkness
Members: Lead vocalist Michael Sayers, drummer Mike Underhill, and guitarist Nate Calebaugh, all of Pittsfield; lead guitarist Sean Adamson and background vocalist Nicole Adamson of Otis, and bassist John DiCarlo of Cheshire.
Upcoming gigs: Saturday at Summer Meltdown at The Palladium in Worcester; Sunday at HellzaPoppin' Circus Sideshow Revue at Webster Underground in Hartford, Conn.