Local metal spotlight: At My Worst and Warheadd

Photo of Warheadd by Jeff Smith, courtesy of the band

Hudai, At My Worst, Natural High, and Warheadd | 01.06.23, 8:00pm | Red Flag, 3040 Locust St, St. Louis, MO 63103 | $13 |All ages

This Friday, Red Flag will host a showcase of local bands: Hudai, Natural High, At My Worst, and Warheadd. We spoke with Warheadd and At My Worst in advance of the show to get a preview of their plans for the upcoming year.

Warheadd is a heavy metal band that draws inspiration from the titans of thrash and groove metal of the 1990s, citing artists like Pantera, Slayer, and Black Label Society as primary influences. The band’s social media bio describes them as “old school metal with a lyrical theme of end times, [a] post-apocalyptic world, and sticking it to the man.”

Warheadd was formed in fall 2018 by guitarists Nicholas “Nico” Viviano and Billy Aichhorn, who both previously played in St. Louis metal band Axeticy. Viviano, the primary songwriter for the band, favors a more thrash-oriented, fast-paced style of playing, whereas Aichhorn is more influenced by sludge and groove metal (“anything that’s slow and has rocks and has balls,” said Viviano of Aichhorn’s playing). Viviano attributes the interplay of these two styles to the uniqueness of Warheadd’s sound. The band’s lineup is rounded out by drummer Scottie Tolliver and bassist Alex Smick.

Photo of Warheadd by Jeff Smith, courtesy of the band

Warheadd spent the past year writing and recording their eponymously titled debut album, which was independently released on November 28, 2022. All recording and mixing for Warheadd was done by the band personally. Stylistically, the album is a sincere and well-executed tribute to the era when thrash metal bands with lyrics about nuclear war reigned supreme, assaulting the listener with groovy breakdowns and highly technical shred-style soloing (e.g., Megadeth, Nuclear Assault, Sodom).

Warheadd also released an EP in 2019, titled Imminent Destruction. Both releases are available on all streaming platforms.

After their upcoming gig at Red Flag, Warheadd is next scheduled to play at the Shamrock Pub on Broadway on February 4th, where they will be joined by Missouri metal bands Degrave (Jefferson City) and Defcon (St. Louis). One of Warheadd’s ambitions for 2023 is to start booking shows in nearby major cities in the Midwest, such as Kansas City, Chicago, and Nashville.

Like Warheadd, At My Worst also released their first full-length album last year, Vice Versa, which is available on all streaming platforms. Since the album’s release in August of last year, At My Worst has focused on performing material from the album in as many live settings as possible, including a headlining show at Red Flag on December 3rd.

At My Worst

At My Worst consists of vocalist Devin Hayes, guitarist Jared Boyer, bassist Darren Pinson, and drummer Eric Johnson. They have been active since 2019, and are currently writing material for a second album. In addition to Red Flag, they have also played at venues like Pop’s in Sauget, IL and Red Fish, Blue Fish in St. Charles, MO. (Warheadd has played both venues as well.)

“Our sound is some kind of -core,” said the band of their music. “Every song has a lot of influences. Every member draws inspiration from a plethora of subgenres. If we had to put a label on it, it’s mostly metalcore, and dips into deathcore and groove metal.”

This reviewer noted elements of melodic metalcore bands like Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold when listening to Vice Versa, particularly in the performance of vocalist Devin Hayes, who brought to mind A7X vocalist M. Shadow at times.

After the upcoming show at Red Flag, At My Worst will be performing at the next on January 21st at the Pop’s Local Showcase, along with local metal acts Sacrifice the Sacred, Nowhere but Down, The Doubted, and Ending Orion.

Red Flag tries to book at least one or two shows featuring local bands per month, especially during winter months, when national acts are less likely to be touring. Local shows are usually organized and promoted directly by the bands performing, or in the case of this Friday’s show, a local concert promoter.

“[Although] we are designed for national acts, every national act was once ‘just a local band’,” Red Flag told us. “Coupled with the fact that there is so much talent in St. Louis, we feel it’s important to fill any dates we don’t have tours booked with local shows.”

The usual ticket price for a local show is $12, with ticket sales being split equally between Red Flag and the bands. Red Flag uses their half of ticket revenue strictly to cover staffing expenses for the evening, and any additional revenue is given directly to the artists. 

As is often the case for local shows, turnout tends to fluctuate as a function of the popularity of the bands performing. Red Flag also makes it a priority to book local bands as opening acts when hosting nationally touring artists.

“We feel it’s important to give every band a shot, and a second and third shot,” said Red Flag. “We do always welcome back with open arms the bands that tend to develop a larger draw, and those bands are usually the ones considered as openers for national acts.”

Warheadd and At My Worst are just two of the many talented local metal bands we have in St. Louis, and I plan on profiling other bands in future articles. Readers who are interested in discovering more local metal should check out our STL Metal Megamix playlist on Spotify, where we have compiled over 40 hours of music from both currently active and legacy St. Louis bands. | David Von Nordheim

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