LOCAL ACT: Mine Enemies Fall

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Although they’ve suffered some difficult lineup changes, haven’t played their home state as often as they’d like, and titled their first full-length album Exile, Kalamazoo metal band Mine Enemies Fall has thrived on how their music, and the people around them, have come together.

“Honestly, I thought it was crap five years ago,” Mine Enemies Fall vocalist Joe Sonntag told Recoil when asked what he thought of the West Michigan heavy music scene. “Bands couldn’t stay together; there was a rash of young bands that all sounded alike. It seemed the creativity was gone. But then two or three years ago some great talented bands started making noise.”

Citing area bands like Bury the Silence, 2014 Heavyweights winners Withhold the Blood, Kill Tomorrow and Flood the Desert (who Mine Enemies Fall opened for during their farewell show at Mulligans earlier this spring), Sonntag explained how the local scene has improved greatly since he started the band back in 2008.

“The people in MoshPitNation have really done a great job of promoting and bringing the local scene together as a community,” he added. “The big issue is there aren’t a lot of great venues that support independent bands anymore. And that needs to change. The Intersection, Mulligans and Planet Rock have always been supportive of the local scene, but for a scene to grow we need more venues to step up and realize that local and independent bands are professional bands. Some of the best performances I’ve seen in the last few years have come from the local scene.”

That’s high praise, coming from a guy who spends a lot of time outside of West Michigan, screaming his way around the country, and playing massive events like Rocklahoma – where Mine Enemies Fall will return for the third year in a row May 23-25.

“Rocklahoma is an amazing time,” Sonntag said. “Usually there are some really great bands booked and it’s an honor to play amongst some truly legendary bands like [2012 headliner] Megadeth and [2013 headliner] Alice in Chains… Unfortunately that first show there wasn’t the greatest, and it probably didn’t help that the main stage act that night was Creed. I think all the metalheads turned in early… We still got up there and threw down like we do, [and] the fifty or so people that were left drank and partied with us. We did impress the right people and they brought us back last year. I guess we had created enough buzz, besides the fact that we had been playing in Oklahoma quite a bit. We played at 3 a.m. and packed the place. The crowd was amazing! They were loud, moshing, and of course there were so many girls flashing their titties you couldn’t keep track.”

Besides Rocklahoma, and Michigan’s own annual summer shredder event Carnival of Chaos, Mine Enemies Fall has shared the stage with such national heavy-hitters as All That Remains, Chimaira, and Devildriver, among many others, while playing just about everywhere they can. They’d also released two EPS (Threaten and The Bastard Machine) before releasing their first full-length, Exile, last fall.

The band ran out of copies of the new disc on tour before they could schedule a hometown release show in Kalamazoo (finally slated for April 19 at Papa Pete’s) so the delay in getting the album into the hands of local music fans has had to do more with wild demand than anything else.

“Both [EPs] were supposed to be full-lengths themselves,” Sonntag said. “But because of lack of time or money they ended up being EPs. With Exile we had the opportunity to put together a flow to the album instead of just random songs. There is so much more you can do with albums, you can tell the full story, so to speak.”

Recording at their own MEF Studios, the band did not feel as rushed to record as they did on their previous releases, and captured where they are as a band now. The album is the first time that the current lineup – Sonntag, guitarists Alex Kelley and Ian Orion McGil, drummer Nathan Mercado, and bassist Seth Luckenbill – had written together, taking their groove metal past to new energetic heights.

“It’s a lot different, in a good way, than our last two EPs,” Sonntag said. “It’s an extreme belligerent concoction of insanity.”

Listen now at reverbnation.com/mineenemiesfall.–Eric Mitts

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