After grunge hit, around 1992, the mosh pits started thinning, and rock clubs such as the Lone Star vanished. Mortal Reign had ruled as Kansas City's monsters of metal since 1985, but, Sylva says, "Everybody who was anybody was all of a sudden nobody. We were frazzled." In 2002, the group snuffed its own flame.
While three-fourths of the final Mortal Reign incarnation formed Hate Inc. , which embraces a more modern industrial sound, singer Kurt Halupnick left the music scene to join the Blue Springs police force. A motorcycle-riding, bar-stool-tossing giant with a wild mane, a handlebar moustache and a room-shaking roar, Halupnick embodied the metal-rebel image onstage and off, making his career transition especially surprising.
"He was pretty crazy," Sylva recalls. "He really acted the part. He always used to tell us he was bohemian, and whatever that is — I don't know — he believed in it and thought he was one of them."
Halupnick died on July 2, and his funeral demonstrated the dichotomous nature of his personality: Guitars and leather jackets lined one side of the coffin, and his police uniform and honors, including a medal of valor, bordered the other.
To honor Halupnick's memory — and to raise money for his infant son Cole's medical expenses — Mortal Reign decided to reunite for a one-off gig. Hate Inc. headlines the concert, and that band's singer, Steve Brown, will be one of four vocalists attempting to fill Halupnick's gargantuan steel-toed boots during the Mortal Reign performance. Following the template of a classic-era set, the show begins with ominous taped entrance music ("We wanted it to sound like a gothic funeral," Sylva says), races through seven thrashers and culminates with the group's signature tune, "Bring Out Your Dead." Mortal Reign plans to welcome fans and opening acts onto the stage for a massive sing-along, which should make for a wild scene.
This time, no one's cutting the power.