Arts and Entertainment

Heavy instrumental: Steelscape jolts Bremerton music scene

Instrumental metal band Steelscape plays Winterland.  - Chris Carter
Instrumental metal band Steelscape plays Winterland.
— image credit: Chris Carter

For Steelscape, all the traditional roles of a metal band are filled, except a singer.

The Bremerton band, which will play its next show at 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at Winterland, 1220 Sylvan Way, is completely instrumental.

The group often fields questions about the absence of lyrics in their music. Lyrics go against their style of music, Steelscape drummer Josh Neumann said.

“There is no screaming vocalist that you find in most metal bands; this helps us stick with a more progressive sound,” Neumann said.

Without a vocalist, the band is free to break away from the traditional verse-chorus pattern that is coupled with more streamlined artists, highlighting the different instruments instead of a lead singer, Neumann said.

The band consists of four players: two guitarists, John Ronkar and Kevin Crew, bass player Matt Orosz and drummer Neumann. It has a self-recorded album, “Blueshift.”

Steelscape’s music comes from a variety of influences, including mainstream bands such as Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden. The band members share a common interest in metal, but they have all found inspiration in a variety of music.

“I say we share about a 20 percent interest in the bands we listen to,” Orosz said.

Having a large array of music helps keep the band’s sound from going stale, Orosz said. New metal bands have a tendency to be pulled toward the mainstream sound, a sound of which many fans have grown tired.

“We get bored easily, even with our own music,” Orosz said. “So if we are getting bored with our music, our audience must be as well.”

Metal bands aren’t Steelscape’s only inspiration. While Neumann is personally influenced by the Canadian rock band Rush, classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven have formed the band’s music structure in one way or another.

“Listening to classical helps because composers like Mozart wrote music without a vocalist in mind,” Neumann said. “This is exactly what were doing, but with metal.”

When the band formed in 2002 under the name Celipsis­, a lead singer was as much a part of the group as any other position. This changed when their last singer moved out of Washington and they could not find a singer who complimented the progressive metal they play, Neumann said.

“While we were searching for a new singer we found that lyrics were just clouding our music,” Neumann said.

The band went through many auditions, searching for a versatile singer; one who was able to work with their non-traditional style of metal. The search for a lead singer turned up short, Orosz said.

“It got to the point when the auditions just turned out to be long, awkward moments,” Orosz said. “Everyone says ‘Oh, I want to be in a band,’ but there is more to it, like being a source of inspiration.”

Since the band embarked on its instrumental journey, it has been featured in two snowboarding films: “How the West Was Won” and “Saturday Night Ride,” directed by Kurt Jenson. This is an opportunity many local bands do not get and Neumann said it could be the first big step in the band’s career.

“When we were offered a deal with the movies we were like ‘Heck yes,’” Neumann said. “Whole new windows have been opened for us.”

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