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Lords of the Trident will play Rock Country MKE on Saturday, Jan. 12. (PHOTO: Mary Sweeney)

Lords of the Trident readies barbarian rage at Rock Country

Many musicians take on a persona. Bob Dylan invented the character of a lonely drifter and duped the New York media into buying his faulty folk backstory. KISS is probably the best metal version of such a characterization, and they were successful at commercially branding it.

However, the Madison metal band Lords of the Trident is now taking this to the next level: a comic book dramatization involving an elaborate backstory.

"Back in the Middle Ages, we were pretty big stuff. We had a bad PR manager who had the idea in 1342, during our European tour, to offer rats with every ticket purchase. We didn't understand the Bubonic plague or those types of things so we went underground about 750 years and came back in 2008. However our diehard fans from the day became just dead fans, so we had to start from scratch."

This is how Fang VonWrathenstein explains the gap between their past and current incarnations.

Lords of the Trident resurrected nicely around founding members VonWrathenstein (vocalist) and Asian Metal (guitarist) as well as longtime bassist Pontifex Mortis. They've been joined in their self-anointed metal quest by Master Hercule "Herc" Schlagzeuger (drums) and Baron Taurean Helleshaar (guitar). When the Baron joined the band in 2015, he brought along a cache of songs.

"He is a writing fanatic; I've seen his notes and he's got 30 songs on the backlog," VonWrathenstein explains. "He wrote about 85 percent of the music for the new one."

"The new one" Fang refers to is 2018's "Shadows From the Past." This solid effort shows a bit of a range and offers strong cuts like "Zero Hour" and "Burn It Down," which features Brittney Slayes from Unleash the Archers. The album was produced by Doug Olson (Nirvana, Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkins), who worked on previous efforts like "Frostbite," 2015's full length album, in addition to dual EPs in 2013 with "A Very Lords of the Trident Christmas" and "A Plan of Attack."

"We met under interesting circumstances in 2012 as we won a battle of the bands, and by the rules, he was going to help mix our EP," VonWrathenstein elaborated. "We kind of hit it off, and I was thirsty to learn more about the recording process. He picked up on that and we've been close friends ever since."

The band has a DIY mentality on the merch, promotions and bookings. ("I have to credit Martin Adkins for a lot of that," VonWrathenstein says, giving a shoutout to the former Sex Pistols drummer.) They used Kickstarter initially to fund some of their recordings. Now they use Patreon, a platform which rewards donors with unique releases and a true kinship with the band.

The upcoming Milwaukee show at Rock Country MKE on Saturday, Jan. 12 will be the CD release for "Pull the Plug," which is an acoustic-style metal record, fully funded by Patreon.

"We gave our fans an exclusive song a month for the last 12 months, and we remastered and sent them out as a Christmas gift for everyone who sent out a certain level," VonWrathenstein says. "The general public will have access to streaming on (January) the 11th, and we will have physical copies for the first time at the show on the 12th."

Following the release, Lords of the Trident will hit the road with a quick tour supporting A Sound of Thunder in Cincinnati, Charlotte, Chapel Hill and Atlanta.

The band's collective approach to the music spread into organizing its own festival called Mad with Power. The event started in Madison in 2017 and grew even bigger last year. Past festivals featured free video and pinball games as well as a bunch of bands from all over the world. It even serves its own line of medieval era beverage: Power Mead, from local producer BOS. In 2019, they will move to working with High Noon and Frank Productions for this event. The seasoned promoter probably won't be handing out rats any time soon.

"I think the scene in Madison is really strong, with new venues and the last five years coming together and a lot of people supporting each other's bands and coming to shows." VonWrathenstein said. "People put us up there with Nashville and Austin. It's good to be a part of something where people genuinely want to help each other – not cutthroat or lone wolf like I hear from musicians in other cities describe. Here we have the 'rising tides raise all ships' mentality."

As for the quintet's future, Lords of the Trident plans to continue its journey to appease the metal lords and hopefully tour Europe.

"We are working with a couple of booking agents to tour Germany and the Czech Republic and Amsterdam," VonWrathenstein elaborated. "We're signed on a label there (Germany), and we want to give the fans over there a taste. We overwrote and overproduced specifically so we could have two extra songs for a Japanese label and get on a tour over there. We are working on that."


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