Bray Road: Unstoppable Thrash from the Midwest USA
Written by Brett Kihlmire
Since 2011 Bray Road has bringing old school thrash metal to the Midwest with fury and determination. Like the legendary beast that haunts the place from which they take their name, the band has made a name for itself in Wisconsin, but their legend is growing well beyond the borders of their home state.
Despite the determination of the band’s founder, guitarist and lead vocalist Nino Nienas, Bray Road has been marred by near constant lineup changes in its six years on the scene. And despite going through far too many drummers, one off session players, and suffering from lack of commitment from many of its past members, the band unleashed a killer full length album Feast Upon the Helpless in 2016.
Fortunately, the band has finally found a stable lineup with the recruitment of Mike Ashenbrenner (bass), Rob Pearson (guitar) and Jester Mendoza (drums). All of which have come together to blend their preferred styles into a cohesive metal assault.
“When you associate yourself with people that don’t want to put up much effort or more, they’re holding you back and wasting your time,” says Pearson. “This time he [Nino] has people who aren’t amateurs, who can go off in their way and learn the shit.”
A band full of tight musicians that are serious about their craft, Bray Road has returned with this latest iteration stronger and more determined than ever. The band has expanded far beyond their local stomping grounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, playing shows as far as Rhinelander, WI, Minnesota, and Chicago, IL. Some of the notable venues they’ve played include the Cobra Lounge (Chicago), The Wisco (Madison, WI), and the former metal hot spot, Metal Grill (Milwaukee).
““You can only play so much locally. You get that natural urge to expand,” says Ashenbrenner. “Milwaukee’s home, it’s not going anywhere.”
“As individuals, I think we played every fuckin’ hole in the wall,” adds Pearson of their hometown.
Of course, the band plans to expand ever further from their hometown, for as Nino puts it: “If you’re not going to take it up a level, what’s the point?”
And though the band is playing as many shows as possible, they’ll be going into hibernation for winter. Why is that? Because they have an extended play to finishing writing and recording for April, 2018!
As of this writing, the band has been playing a few of the new tracks live, but hasn’t released anything officially. For fans of the band, the tracks you’ve probably heard already are the title track ‘Formation,’ ‘Ties That Bind’ and ‘Bloodgutter.
According to Nino, the band is keeping with their tradition of writing every song with a message or a theme. For example, ‘Formation’ is about blindly following the pack and being what some would refer to as being a “sheeple.” On the flipside, ‘Bloodgutter’ is more of an inside joke, for the band practices in a space that began as a slaughterhouse – the bloodgutter still runs the perimeter of the room!
If anything is certain, it’s that Bray Road is going to come out swinging with this new extended play. The band kicks everything up a few extra notches and thrashers everywhere are going to love what they hear.
For more information on Bray Road check them out on Facebook or visit www.brayroad.com. And if you’re interested in chasing the Bray Road Beast itself, head over to Elkhorn, Wisconsin where this werewolf-like creature is known to prowl the darkest of nights to search for fresh victims and inspire the heaviest of metal.