The thing that might most surprise you about local metal band Downsoul is that, well, they aren’t all that surprising.
“We’re all your basic kind of Mainers,” said James Nickerson, vocalist. “We aren’t brooding artistic types. We’re regular kind of people you meet every day. I think people tend to think metal guys are all really crazy and intense, but we’re just typical Mainers.”
Typical Mainers that play brutal, melodic metal, that is. Downsoul, which is set to play with hard rockers 10 Years and fellow local bands Till We Die and Losing Tomorrow at 103 Ultra Lounge in Orono on Sunday, are kind of a Maine metal institution. Eight years since first getting together to rock, the band continues to evolve and grow.
The three core members — Nickerson and co-guitarists Michael Murray and Mike Grant — were all in a high school band called Demolition Crisis, which played hard-core punk. The three friends were ready to move onto something a little harder, however. The black shadow of metal drew upon them, you could say.
“We wanted to further our musical ability. Plus, we all really loved Metallica,” said Nickerson.
With the addition of drummer Josh Doucette, Downsoul spent five solid years practicing, playing and sometimes recording. No real plans to make it big. The only goal: playing awesome music with friends, and doing their part to support Maine metal.
“We all love the music, and the people in the scene,” said Nickerson. “It’s not the easiest music to get across to people, but the people that love it are amazing.”
In the past year the band has added to the lineup bassist Wes Delaney, formerly of area punk band Dugen, and keyboard player Sarah Nickerson, who used to play in Some Damned English City, a piano punk group. Few metal bands have keys in their sound, so the addition of Sarah — wife of the lead singer — adds a new layer of depth to the music.
“She didn’t come out of metal, but she’s on board with playing it,” said James Nickerson.
Downsoul released a full-length album last June titled “In the Wake of Warning,” recorded locally. Nickerson believes it’s a coming together of elements for the band — it’s a culmination of eight years of practice, practice and more practice.
“I think everything really clicked this time,” he said. “I’m really proud of it. We wanted to veer away from the typical subject matter of metal, which is often really angry and full of hatred, and instead focus on something a little more uplifting. And the guitars are just totally brutal. It’s awesome.”
Downsoul has had the opportunity to play with some great bands, from GWAR to Powerman 5000. Nickerson credits the local clubs and venues that will actually book metal shows for helping to keep the scene afloat, through good times and not-so-good times.
“Places like the Ultra Lounge have been saviors of Maine metal,” said Nickerson. “It’s hard to even have the chance to even play sometimes, so we’re really grateful to all the places that support it.”
Downsoul will play with 10 Years, Till I Die and Losing Tomorrow at 103 Ultra Lounge on Sunday, Dec. 14. Doors open at 8 p.m., tickets are $10, and the show is all ages. For information, visit www.myspace.com/downsoul06.