Stoner metal with Casino Warrior at Bob’s
By Mike Ritchie
The Cincinnati stoner-prog outfit Casino Warrior are young but have amassed a decent following since last year’s inception. They specialize in “Clash of the Titans”-themed songs about Medusa, mythical beings and beasts including half-man and half-horse centaurs. While still in the metal crib, so to speak, they’re already award-winning musicians and recipients of the Cincinnati CityBeat best hard rock/metal band 2016 category. They have an EP and live record out from their second show/release party and a diverse palate of talent. Their music incorporates everything from Black Label Society, Danzig and Black Sabbath to Biohazard and Corrosion Of Conformity with a strong, healthy love of horror-themed beastly things, weird stuff and anything that gets a reaction that’s of abnormal variety.
When you think about flying unicorns and krakens, casinos usually don’t come to mind. It was singer/guitarist Miguel Richards’ constant online name changing that inspired the moniker.
“Actually it goes back to the Myspace days when I used to change my name a lot,” Richards says. He was bound and determined to start a metal band, though a move to Indianapolis derailed those plans for a bit, but he kept recording riffs and writing songs, calling the project Casino Warrior. When he moved back to Cincinnati, he and bassist Kevin McNair went on a mission.
“We went on a hunt to gather friends and members for the band, to secure the lineup,” he says. Regarding the moniker, Richards elaborates, “It just sounded like it had a cool ring to it, like it could already be a famous name and sort of humorous,” he says. “The music’s serious but there’s also a humorous element to it. It’s kind of tongue and cheek.
“We love to get weird, like [on] the song called ‘Centaur,’” he continues. “I like the fact we wrote a song about a mythical beast. All my tattoos are mythical beasts. We like Greek mythology and once we got the first song written we decided we’re gonna take it in that direction. Especially for the first EP, we wanted every song to be about creatures and put ourselves in that perspective.” They will determine the number of the beasts they write about.
“We have fun with it,” Richards smirks. “None of us are artistic lyricists. It’s our way of approaching that style. I’m not a poet, unless other people think I am.
“Even for future songs, I don’t think we will run out of beasts, we just wrote a new song called ‘Troll,’ and we love playing it,” Richards continues. “There might be a ‘Troll 2.’ Just like the old ’80s movie. We’re having fun with it. Once it gets stale we’ll change direction.”
They may even add an audio clip to the Nilbog-influenced track.
Their first show was in July of last year, winning the musicians a Best New Artist award in 2016. “The Cincinnati Entertainment Award from CityBeat Magazine,” Richards clarifies. Hundreds of bands are nominated and judged by staff and other bands. “They take like 60 bands with the most nominations and narrow it down to like six bands for each category. We were in the hard rock and metal category with bands that were more well known than we are. We were at the ceremony and they announced the winner with ‘Centaur’ blaring and said Casino Warrior. We went f–kin’ nuts, ran up all giddy, spilled beers over each other and gave a great, epic speech.”
The group has acquired a rapid fan base, too.
“At our last show, all the bands we wanted to play with had stuff going on,” Richards says. “We were playing with a band no one had heard of, on a weeknight, a few weeks back.” They thought no one would be there. “Going into it we just decided we’re gonna play our asses off. Everyone there was going nuts and was really excited,” Richards remembers. “We didn’t think many people would be at our shows but now we’re getting a following. People are singing the lyrics, it’s pretty cool.”
Their influences range from the electronic ’80s to NIN, classic rock to grunge. “We have a lot of different influences from each member of the band,” Richards says. “People categorize us as a stoner metal band but we like a lot of classic metal and classic rock.”
“Billy [Buzek] plays guitar, I sing and play guitar. Our whole thing is we have this thunderous rhythm section with bass and drums, it’s the volume we basically go for.” With tree trunks for drums their drummer [Chad Wolary] hits thunder like the gods. “Our drummer is this huge lumberjack. He beats the s–t out of the drums so we get to turn our amps up loud.”
Blind Bob’s will be their first Dayton show, playing Mouth of the Architect’s CD release party. They’re going into the studio soon save for a few out of town shows. They’re playing the Smiling Skull Saloon in Athens, Ohio in July. “We’re real excited to come to Dayton. We’ll come and tear up the town as much as we can,” the band says in agreement.
They don’t do covers with a potential possible exception of Megadeth’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Maybe the Shocker fans can persuade them.
Richards leaves us with these words: “We’re gonna rock Gem City in May, people get ready.”
Casino Warrior plays at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in Dayton. Grand Mammoth and Moira are also on the bill, and Mouth of the Architect headlines. For more information, please visit casinowarrior.bandcamp.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.