The room is quiet, with the audience eagerly awaiting the night’s performance. A song begins playing in the background. It builds up in a crescendo, and as the volume climbs, the lights turn on. Out walks the band, hands to the sky, reminiscent of a wrestler approaching the ring.
As the crowd applauds, the band pulls out their guitars and begins wailing as the three singers pull out their signature harmonized attack.
It’s a theatrical approach to opening a concert, but for metal thrashers Illyrian, who are playing at Record City May 17, it’s the preferred method of engagement.
“We’re big fans of using intro tracks,” said Illyrian bassist and vocalist Jeff Perry.
It’s all in the name of standing out from the crowd and having fun, he said. But that isn’t where it stops for Illyrian.
The Calgary-based band prefers not to label themselves as anything other than metal.
“We try to be individuals and be unique,” said Perry, who has been with the band for roughly two years. “It’s tough to pick a specific genre. We try to diversify.”
The band has been referenced as a thrash metal band in the past, Perry said, but he worries that will give the impression that they sound like the big four thrash metal acts — Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, and Megadeth, which isn’t necessarily true.
When discussing music, it’s commonplace to reference a band’s genre and influences by saying who they sound like and specifying where they fit in to the massive music web. But for Illyrian, it’s all about the music and the show itself, not the label.
“At least at our level, there’s a certain energy you get playing live that you don’t get in a studio,” said Perry. “Studios can be clinical. We like that we don’t have to play the same set every night.”
While playing in front of an audience, the band is free to improvise and possibly change parts of the song, such as lengthening or adding a solo, creating a more fluid and less rigid experience.
“We like to keep changing the dynamics. We try to get the crowd involved. People often say our live show shows who we are as (artists.) Playing live is what we love. It’s being out there.”
For Perry, who works as an IT consultant during the day, music is more than just a hobby.
“I consider it kind of a second job.”
Of course the band still spends time in the studio, and is on tour to promote their sophomore offering Round 2: Fight!, which dropped last October.
Co-produced by Illyrian with Casey Lewis of Echo Base Studios and mastered by Sacha Laskow of Perfect Filth Studios, Round 2: Fight! offers 10 tracks and 45 minutes of headbanging, melting-pot heavy metal.
“Between these two guys, they did a great job of showing what we can sound like on an album,” said Perry. “They really helped us grow as a band.”
Originally born under the name Hellborn Death Engines, Perry and drummer Darren May joined founding members guitarist-vocalist Scott Onofrychuk and guitarist-vocalist Brandon McNeil two years ago to create their four piece metal onslaught.
“Darren (May) and I joined up through auditioning,” said Perry. “We offered a couple other things. I had a little more production experience.”
But, before they would join the band, they brokered a deal.
“Our one clause was we didn’t like the name,” he said.
And so Hellborn Death Engines was reborn as Illyrian.
The name Illyrian comes from the popular television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or rather its spin-off Angel.
“In one of the seasons, there’s a character Illyria,” said Perry. “We liked the idea but didn’t want to directly steal, so we tacked an ‘n’ on the end.
“We’re big fans of the show.”
Illyrian’s May 17 show at Record City will be the band’s first time playing in Vernon, and Perry is excited to reach a previously untapped market.
“We’ve never really played anywhere in central B.C. before,” said Perry. “We aren’t playing big stadiums. We’re doing it for the trip as much as the experience.”
Through releasing their sophomore album and touring through new territory, the band has been able to grow and share what they do with their audiences.
“We’re still very much finding ourselves.”
Illyrian will play alongside Awkward A/C and Irradiation at Record City May 17 at 7 p.m. Social Arsonist, The Vth Circle, and Displaced play Record City May 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the doors for $15 for both events, or $10 each.