Akron’s Persistent Aggressor and Actual Form, along with Mortimur from Columbus and Goosed from the Kent/Ravenna area, will fill Musica with heavy metal during a special performance Jan. 11. (Flyer art by Jason Luchka)

‘Old coots’ of Akron’s heavy metal scene join forces for Musica show

by Brittany Nader

Each of Akron’s venues tends to draw in a certain crowd or highlight a specific music style. Whether still active or relics from Akron’s music past, these spots — even in name alone — evoke a rush of memories from attendees and performers alike. Annabell’s is notorious for loud, late shows rarely with a cover charge, while Musica is noted for bringing in larger touring bands and including local artists as openers.

Larry Gargus, a veteran of Akron’s heavy metal scene in the 1990s, has assembled a lineup of bands often seen in grittier spots like Annabell’s and the now-defunct Lime Spider for a reunion show of sorts at Musica on Jan. 11. His current project, Persistent Aggressor, will join fellow Ohio metal bands Mortimur and goosed. Heavy instrumental trio Actual Form will flesh out the bill and bring the musicians’ reunion full circle.

Gargus explains that while their audience is generally more inclined to stumble into a free show in a basement bar, he’s kicking this gig up a notch with a diverse lineup to cast a wider net among today’s local music crowd.

“I wanted to play a different venue for a change, but what we’re faced with is the reality that [some] people won’t pay to go see local bands,” Gargus says. “I’m all for free shows — I like playing at ‘bells — but shows that don’t start till 11, free or not, are a bit tiresome. Plus, we’re all adults with careers, and some of us have families, so there’s that.”

He explains the bands all have a colorful, tangled past with one another. Many of the players have been participating in each other’s projects and performing in local bands for decades. His current band, for example, is comprised of current or former members of Axioma, DeathCrawl, Night In, Abstraction, Don Austin, Soulless, Ascension and The UnHoly Three.

He says each of the bands playing at the Jan. 11 show at Musica have played in multiple groups together in the Akron area since 1990. Gargus was in a band with members of Actual Form, whose lineup includes Ian Cummins on drums, James Haas on bass and Joshua Novak on guitar. He and his Persistent Aggressor bandmates were in another group with the members of Mortimur. Drummer Kenny Royer of Goosed hosts The Blackout Cookout at the Outpost in Kent each year, where he booked Actual Form.

“It’s all very complicated,” Gargus says. “Members of some of the bands have been playing some form of DIY music since then in either basements, VFW halls, YMCAs… basically whatever venue we could get into.”

Gargus says each musician hitting the Musica stage is a veteran of the Lime Spider “era” in Akron, where the venue was a hot spot for up-and-coming indie bands. Where the stage once sat is now home to The Lockview’s dining area.

Downtown Akron may have changed its façade in the last few decades, but bringing these players back to the old neighborhood will likely draw some familiar faces, along with a contemporary crowd that simply wants to hear some hard, fast and loud live music.

“Almost all of the bands playing have an intertwined history […] I’d say the median age is about 38 or 39,” Gargus says. “At any rate, there is a resurgence of heavier music in the area from old coots like myself.”

Persistent Aggressor, Goosed, Mortimur and Actual Form will perform at Musica on Friday, Jan. 11 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. Musica is located at 51 E. Market St. in downtown Akron.

Brittany Nader has been a professional writer and marketer in Akron for the last five years.