Metal Chick of the Month – Miranda Wolfe

Free the beast within, Miranda!

It has become a tradition here at The Headbanging Moose to kick off a new year with a badass bass player on our Metal Chick of the Month section, and it couldn’t have been any different than that this January 2022 with our metal lady Miranda Wolfe. Born on July 31, 1987 in Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta, Miranda, whose real name is Miranda Gladeau, is not only a fantastic bass player from the Canadian underground scene, but also a talented designer and tattoo artist, and I’m sure you’re going to love her music, her art and her charisma when she’s hammering her bass together with her Thrash Metal band Mortillery. In other words, you better get ready as things are about to get heavy-as-hell to the sound of Miranda’s infernal bass, starting 2022 in style.

It’s simply impossible to pay a tribute to Miranda without talking about Mortillery, as she was one of the founders of the band back in October 2008 in Edmonton together with guitarist Alex Gutierrez and drummer Emily Smits when they decided it was time for their city to have a thrash band that represented the origin of the genre, because although the punk and metal scene had always been strong in Edmonton and there were a few crossover bands, there was nothing specific to that classic 80’s Bay Area Thrash sound at that time. Shortly after, vocalist Cara McCutchen joined the band, and James Guiltner was added as a lead guitarist to finish up what was the original line up. However, the band parted ways with James, replacing him with Alexander Scott, and later in 2013 replacing Alexander with Kent Quinlan. Emily also left the band back in 2010, with Kevin Gaudet being then responsible for the drums. For months the band tried to come up with a name, but every cool name they came up with was taken, and therefore they just made up a word by combining “mortal” and “artillery”.

Playing classic 80’s Thrash Metal in the vein of thrashing beasts Nuclear Assault and singing about topics like hell, death, evil, murder and the apocalypse, the awesome Mortillery, who are by the way on hold for now, released their self-titled debut demo in 2009, their self-titled EP in 2010 (containing the two songs from the 2009 demo plus other songs), and the full-length albums Murder Death Kill, in 2011, Origin of Extinction, in 2013, and more recently Shapeshifter, in 2016, not to mention the band was also featured on the 2016 Metal Hammer compilation Maximum Metal Vol. 218 with the song Radiation Sickness. Not only Miranda played bass in all of the band’s releases to date, but she was also responsible for the booklet artwork for their 2013 album Origin of Extinction, and the layout for their 2016 album Shapeshifter, showcasing another side of our metal lady that will be discussed shortly.

You can have an absolute blast with Miranda and her Mortillery on YouTube by enjoying their awesome videos for the songs Radiation Sickness, Age Of Stone, Torture and F.O.A.D., as well as the live versions for Murder Death Kill and Countless Suicide, and their cover versions for Razor’s Evil Invaders and Anthrax’s all-time classic Madhouse. You’ll certainly notice how metallic, visceral and rumbling the bass lines by Miranda sound in each of those songs, proving she’s much more than “just” a talented bass player, but a true metalhead that nurtures an absolute passion for what she does (also showing a deep passion for her partner, her two cats and dog, and for traveling and touring, by the way). And in case you’re eager for more of the music by Mortillery, you can also find all of their creations on sale and for streaming on BandCamp and on Spotify.

Highly influenced by monsters of metal such as early Metallica, Toxic Holocaust and Judas Priest, our beloved bassist is also huge into Punk Rock and very early Thrash Metal, with bands the likes of Exodus, Exciter, Annahilator, Razor, Broken Bones, Crucifix, GBH, Flotsam & Jetsam, Anthrax and Municipal Waste being a regular part of her playlist. Furthermore, Miranda and Mortillery have already shared the stage with some of their idols such as Death Angel and Anvil, to name a few, with their first show ever being the supporting act to the one and only Toxic Holocaust. As we’re talking about touring and supporting major bands, it’s important to mention that Mortillery use no special effects at all during their live performances, simply because they want their music to be heard for what it is with no distractions. And when asked which bands Miranda and the rest of the band would love to tour with, they mentioned playing alongside Overkill, Anthrax or Helloween would be a dream come true. Moreover, when asked about the metal scene in Edmonton, Miranda and the band mentioned there are lots of really dedicated bands and fans in the city, but the distance to other cities and the frigid temperatures in the winter can be a real barrier to touring, and if you want to check other amazing Canadian bands like Mortillery you should take a listen at Skull Fist, Diemonds, Cauldron, Kobra And The Lotus, Unleash The Archers, Tarantuja, Gatekrashor, Crystal Mess and Untimely Demise, among many, many others.

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In one of her interviews together with Cara, the girls were asked if they have to prove themselves twice as female musicians in a male dominated scene, or if this is not an issue anymore these days. Miranda and Cara simply answered that they don’t need to prove anything to anyone, that they just do what they enjoy and that their sound will always remain the same no matter what. In addition, they mentioned that if you are good at what you do, you should be recognized for that regardless of what sex you are, complementing by saying that they don’t believe that women “need” any special attention just because they are women, and that there was never a lack of recognition for the women that play metal, but just that there’s a lot more of women in the metal scene nowadays. There’s also an awesome panel online called “Women Who Rock” held in 2016 by Napalm Records (which can be seen in full HERE) featuring Fernanda Lira of Nervosa, Tatiana Shmailyuk of Jinjer, and of course Miranda and Cara, covering questions like “What does it mean to you to be a woman in metal?” and “Who’ve inspired you and what got you into metal?”, among other questions, where Miranda mentions Girlschool and Wendy O. Williams, two of the most important names in the history of rock and metal regarding female musicians, as the ones who got her into becoming a musician.

And last but not least, as aforementioned our unstoppable bassist took care of the booklet artwork in Origin of Extinction and the layout in Shapeshifter, and that talent in the arts and design field led her to open her own tattoo studio in 2021, simply named Miranda Wolfe Tattoos, a high detail custom tattooing studio specializing in blackwork, dotwork and traditional, being fully licensed, health board approved and bloodborne pathogens certified. Miranda has been tattooing since 2016 and she has always been a very artistic person who cares a lot about her work and her clients, always putting the most towards each and every piece she does, big or small. Hence, if you want to give Miranda Wolfe Tattoos a try and turn your idea for a tattoo into reality, you can get in touch with her by email, by Facebook or by Instagram, and I’m sure she will provide you with first-class customer service and all the attention you can get from a multi-talented metalhead like her. Who knows, maybe you can finally get that Thrash Metal-inspired tattoo you’ve been dreaming of with a real thrashing tattoo artist like Miranda, right?

Miranda Wolfe Tattoos’ Official Facebook page
Miranda Wolfe Tattoos’ Official Instagram
Mortillery’s Official Facebook page
Mortillery’s Official Instagram
Mortillery’s Official YouTube channel
Mortillery’s Official Twitter

Album Review – Antediluvian / The Divine Punishment (2021)

A lesson in savagery thematically centered around the many manifestations of carnal deviance by a blasphemous horde hailing from the Great White North.

3.5rating

antediluvian-the-divine-punishment-2021Nearly eight years after the release of their sophomore album λόγος, Canadian Black/Death Metal horde Antediluvian returns with a new full-length opus entitled The Divine Punishment, a lesson in savagery thematically centered around the many manifestations of carnal deviance. Formed in 2006 in Guelph, Ontario, but currently located in Edmonton, Alberta, the band comprised of Haasiophis on vocals and guitars, Aedh Zugna on bass and Mars Sekhmet on drums offers in their newborn spawn a contorted rendering of the spirit, once pure, blemished and bespoiled through sexual blasphemy, turning the album into much more than a return to form for Antediluvian, but a reflection of the band’s evolution from their inception, extrapolated over the near-decade since their last album, to reveal a meticulously sculpted masterwork that continues to push boundaries just as the band has done for the last 15 years.

Eerie sounds ignite the almost 10 minutes of insanity in the opening track Obscene Pornography Manifests in the Divine Universal Consciousness, before morphing into a raw and absurdly grim Black Metal extravaganza where Haasiophis roars and gnarls like a demonic entity nonstop, accompanied by the sulfurous drums by Mars Sekhmet, and keeping the flames of the underworld burning bright this Stygian horde fires the excellent All Along the Sigils Deep, blending the furious Death Metal riffs by Haasiophis with the Black Metal atmosphere crafted by Aedh Zugna and Mars Sekhmet. How the Watchers Granted the Humans Sex Magick in the Primordial Aeon carries a darkly poetic title to a visceral and utterly primeval Black Metal aria by Antediluvian, once again presenting the infernal growling by Haasiophis amidst atmospheric, cryptic background elements; whereas Guardians of the Liminal is shorter than its predecessors but still fulminating to the core, also bringing some progressiveness and experimentations added to their Black Metal sonority and with Mars Sekhmet taking the lead with his rhythmic beats, followed by the no-shenanigans, brutal Tamasic Masturbation Ritual, a hybrid of the most putrid forms of Black and Death Metal where Haasiophis vociferates rabidly from start to finish.

Sadomaniacal Katabasis (Last Fuck of The Dying) brings to us fans one minute of pure, fuckin’ sonic devastation to crush our damned souls before the trio blasts our ears with Temple Prostitute, starting with a beyond disturbing intro and quickly exploding into a dissonant feast of deep guttural growls, frantic beats and obscure riffs and bass jabs, keeping the album at a gargantuan level of dementia. Then get ready for another bestial display of Black and Death Metal by Antediluvian in Circumcision Covenant, with Aedh Zugna hammering his bass supported by the intricate beats by Mars Sekhmet, whereas an ode to the number of the beast entitled White Throne goes on for way too long (if it was a little shorter it would have been a lot more effective, I might say). Fortunately, their second to last blast of demonic sounds, entitled The Liar’s Path, puts the band back on track, offering another crude, boisterous Black Metal exhibit with Haasiophis stealing the spotlight with both his inhumane gnarls and sick riffage. And lastly we have Winged Ascent unto the Twelve Runed Solar Anus, an insane way to conclude the album with its nine minutes of sheer obscurity and hatred in the form of metal music where Haasiophis and Aedh Zugna will pierce your ears with their stringed weapons, while Mars Sekhmet sounds like the apocalypse on drums, before all fades into the void in a truly climatic and sinister manner.

antediluvian-2021This Stygian horde hailing from the Great “Dark” North is waiting for you to join them in their quest for blasphemy and extreme music on Facebook and on Instagram, and don’t forget to also stream their vile creations on Spotify. The Divine Punishment, available for presale from the Nuclear War Now! Productions’ BandCamp page and soon from the Nuclear War Now! Productions’ webstore (as well as from Apple Music and Amazon), is indeed a fantastic display of everything Antediluvian stands for, providing fans of Black and Death Metal with the perfect soundtrack for 666 days of carnal deviance, profanity and punishment, exactly the way we like it when the music in question is so dark and evil.

Best moments of the album: All Along the Sigils Deep, How the Watchers Granted the Humans Sex Magick in the Primordial Aeon and Winged Ascent unto the Twelve Runed Solar Anus.

Worst moments of the album: White Throne.

Released in 2021 Nuclear War Now! Productions

Track listing   
1. Obscene Pornography Manifests in the Divine Universal Consciousness 9:47
2. All Along the Sigils Deep 6:03
3. How the Watchers Granted the Humans Sex Magick in the Primordial Aeon 8:36
4. Guardians of the Liminal 4:13
5. Tamasic Masturbation Ritual 3:15
6. Sadomaniacal Katabasis (Last Fuck of The Dying) 1:11
7. Temple Prostitute 5:14
8. Circumcision Covenant 5:23
9. White Throne 6:42
10. The Liar’s Path 5:39
11. Winged Ascent unto the Twelve Runed Solar Anus 9:02

Band members
Haasiophis – vocals, guitars
Aedh Zugna – bass
Mars Sekhmet – drums

Album Review – Discarded Self / Discarded Self (2021)

Created during a time of personal isolation, the debut solo album by this Canadian metaller ranges from tales of the macabre to introspective trips into self-loathing and personal degradation.

3.5rating

discarded-self-discarded-self-2021Flooding forth with misery and hate comes the first (and self-titled) album from Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada-based Blackened Doom/Sludge Metal act Discarded Self, the solo project from Jarret “Fuzzgod” Beach, who’s also a member of the bands Destroy My Brains and Ashes of Yggdrasil. Created during a time of personal isolation, the album ranges from tales of the macabre to introspective trips into self-loathing and personal degradation that dredge up terrible memories of the past to drown in personal regret. In other words, there is no hope for the future in the debut opus by Discarded Self, only darkness and hatred in the form of raw, unfiltered extreme music recorded at Doom Tomb Studios, featuring an array of local Canadian drummers as special guests, and displaying a beyond demonic artwork by Thahir M (The Black Catalogue) and Angel Carvallo (Avenged Creations).

Featuring B.J. Gingell (of Dahlmers Realm) on drums, the opening tune I Smell Pipes brings forward a cryptic intro accompanied by the low-tuned, damned bass by Jarret, evolving into a sluggish, sinister Doom Metal feast that will put you to bang your head until your neck breaks in half; and it’s time for drummer Jadan Paluck (of Destroy My Brains and Wrought) to crush our heads in Orbitoclast, with Jarret roaring like a rabid beast while he slashes his axe in great fashion at the same time in an awesome display of modern-day Sludge and Stoner Metal. Then get ready for 10 minutes of suffocating Blackened Doom Metal masterfully brought into being by Jarret in Push The Knife, with guest Brett Stewart (of Ashes of Yggdrasil) on drums and backing vocals, with Jarret sounding utterly demonic on vocals and also firing melodious, grim riffs for our total delight. And Jadan returns with his darkened and sluggish beats in the full-bodied aria entitled On The Unlevel, supporting Jarret in his quest for doom. Jarret’s bass punches sound even more menacing than before, not to mention how the aggressiveness and malignancy grow in intensity as the music progresses, therefore resulting in a disturbing Doom Metal feast.

Robert Hayman (of Ashes of Yggdrasil) is the guest drummer in I’m Weak, blasting his drums fiercely while Jarrett is infuriated with both his raspy screams and venomous riffage, or in other words, this is another fantastic option to headbang like a true metal maniac, whereas B.J. is back in action in Cultist Of The Pentagram in total sync with Jarrett’s devilish gnarls, riffs and bass jabs, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline, rage and darkness. Then rumbling bass sounds will punch you in the head in Abused (e)Motionless, with Jarret once again adding his share of evil to the overall result through his wicked growls in a solid display of Blackened Sludge Metal. Jarret comes ripping one last time with his somber guitar lines in Dance Upon The Dead, while Jadan returns with his slow and steady beats; it lacks a little of the punch from its predecessors, though, but it’s still a damn good song. And if you go for the limited edition of the album you’ll be treated to Discarded Self’s cover version for Upside Down as a bonus, just as demented and heavy as the original version from the almighty Fistula’s 2006 EP For a Better Tomorrow.

discarded-self-2021Jarret “Fuzzgod” Beach and his Discarded Self are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, but of course in order to show your true support to underground Sludge and Doom Metal you should definitely purchase a copy of the album from the project’s own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music or Amazon. As already mentioned, Discarded Self was brought into being during a time of personal isolation for Jarret, which proves once again extreme music is the perfect channel for all hatred, frustrations and fear we’ve been experiencing worldwide since the beginning of this endless pandemic. In other words, let’s all succumb to the dark side and join Jarret in his world of insanity and hopelessness, with his solo effort representing the perfect soundtrack to our damnation.

Best moments of the album: Orbitoclast, Push The Knife and I’m Weak.

Worst moments of the album: Dance Upon The Dead.

Released in 2021 Sarcophagus Recordings

Track listing   
1. I Smell Pipes 7:26
2. Orbitoclast 6:35
3. Push The Knife 10:51
4. On The Unlevel 10:04
5. I’m Weak 5:30
6. Cultist Of The Pentagram 5:55
7. Abused (e)Motionless 7:52
8. Dance Upon The Dead 8:27

Limited Edition bonus track
9. Upside Down (Fistula cover) 8:05

Band members
Jarret “Fuzzgod” Beach – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
B.J. Gingell – drums on  “I Smell Pipes” and “Cultist Of The Pentagram”
Jadan Paluck – drums on “Orbitoclast”, “On The Unlevel”, “Dance Upon The Dead” and “Upside Down”
Brett Stewart – drums and backing vocals on “Push The Knife”
Robert Hayman – drums on “I’m Weak” and “Abused (e)Motionless”

Album Review – Juliet Ruin / Dark Water EP (2021)

Bang your heads to the new EP by this amazing Canadian Modern Metal crew, reflecting a turn to darker sounds and grittier vocals while still preserving the spirit of what makes the band who they are.

3.0rating

juliet-ruin-dark-water-ep-2021Formed in 2015 in Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta, from the ashes of a previous project named Fiction of Fate with the desire to fuse a metal sound with clean technical vocal stylings in a way that is both beautiful and beastly, Modern Metal outfit Juliet Ruin has just unleashed upon us all a new EP titled Dark Water, following the band’s 2019 critically-acclaimed album Old Stardust, Love and Chaos. Comprised of Jess Fleming on lead vocals, Kent Geislinger and Wesley Rands on the guitars, Cody Reid on bass and Jesse Bauman on drums, Juliet Ruin are highly recommended for fans of the music by Jinjer, Infected Rain, The Agonist, Butcher Babies and so on, with their new EP reflecting a turn to darker sounds and grittier vocals while still preserving the spirit of what makes the band who they are, all spiced up by the first-class production, mixing and mastering by Diego Fernandez (who also plays the guitar as a guest in the title-track, by the way) and the enfolding artwork by Brandy Black. “The listening experience we are going for is a hard-edged, but catchy experience with lyrics you can shout in anger, but also it leans positive on message,” said the band about their newborn child.

The vicious bass by Cody sets the tone in the Alternative Metal hurricane Dark Water, with Jess bringing forward a fusion of the pop vocals by Shirley Manson (of Garbage) with visceral Melodic Death Metal growls, boosted by the awesome guitar job by Kent, Wesley and guest Diego Fernandez. Then sheer poetry flows from the celestial lyrics (“Banish me like burned down planets / Write my fate with sparkling lies / I am the universe you’re just one sky”) found in Cosmic Vertigo, while Jesse smashes his drums in great Alternative Rock and Metal fashion, therefore inviting us all to headbanging together with the band; followed by Fake Stigmata, considerably heavier and darker than its predecessors, with Jess being on fire with a passionate vocal performance supported by the massive and groovy wall of sounds by her bandmates, in special Cody and his metallic bass jabs. Lastly, it’s time for more of their hybrid of Groove Metal with Metalcore and Alternative Rock in Might, showcasing a delicate but at the same time grim side of the band, with Kent and Wesley firing classic, incendiary riffs throughout the entire song.

juliet-ruin-2021When Jess and the boys from Juliet Ruin said their new EP Dark Water would bring forward an edgier and angrier side of the band, they were not kidding at all. This talented Canadian quintet made sure the EP title was not chosen in vein, investing in a much darker sound and pointing to a bright future ahead of them. Hence, if you want to know more about such up-and-coming crew hailing from Canada, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, stream more of their music and watch their videos on YouTube and on Spotify, and above all that, grab your copy of Dark Water from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, showing your utmost support to the Canadian underground. Juliet Ruin are inviting us all to sail through darker waters together with them in their new EP, and based on the high-quality of each of its four tracks I’m pretty sure that journey with the band will not only be thrilling, but it will also (and fortunately) last for a long time.

Best moments of the album: Dark Water and Cosmic Vertigo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Dark Water 4:47
2. Cosmic Vertigo 4:08
3. Fake Stigmata 4:54
4. Might 4:16

Band members
Jess Fleming – vocals
Kent Geislinger – guitar
Wesley Rands – guitar
Cody Reid – bass
Jesse Bauman – drums

Guest musician
Diego Fernandez – guitars on “Dark Water”

Album Review – Hyperia / Insanitorium (2020)

Are you crazy enough to enter the “insanitorium” together with one of the most promising names of the current Canadian Thrash Metal scene?

Are you crazy enough to enter the Insanitorium, the debut full-length opus by Canadian Melodic Thrash Metal unity Hyperia? If your answer is yes, you better get ready for over 40 minutes of wailing and harsh vocals, melodic guitars, intricate bass lines and hard hitting drums, ranging from traditional Thrash Metal to Power Metal and even Death Metal, highly inspired by a myriad of bands such as Havok, Overkill, Running Wild, Hypocrisy and Gojira,  among others, with the album’s lyrical themes being based around the concept of being stuck in an insane asylum for committing evil crimes and having no way out. Put differently, after listening to Insanitorium, you’ll quickly understand why the band comprised of Marlee Ryley on vocals, Colin Ryley and David Kupisz on the guitars, Scott DeGruyter on bass and Jordan Maguire on drums was one of the nominees for “Metal Recording of the Year” at the 2019 YYC Music Awards and “Music Video of the Year” at the 2019 Stinger Awards, hosted by the CSIF – The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers.

Recorded and mixed by Colin Ryley himself at Singularity Sound Studios in Calgary, Canada, mastered by Mika Jussila (Finntroll, Children of Bodom, Ensiferum) at Finnvox Studios in Helsinki, Finland, and featuring a beyond classic cover art by Belarusian illustrator Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust), Insanitorium perfectly represents what Hyperia are all about, proving that despite the fact the band was only formed less than two years ago, more specifically in September 2018, they can already be considered one of the most interesting and hardworking names of the Canadian underground scene, thrashing venues and taking the metal community by storm since their inception. Put differently, who doesn’t enjoy some old school shredding accompanied by soaring female vocals, right?

In the opening track Mad Trance, a movie-inspired intro morphs into ass-kicking Thrash Metal with a Melodic Death Metal twist, with both Colin and David showing what they got with their incendiary riffs before Marlee comes crushing with both her clean vocals and she-wolf gnarls, and a demented scream by Marlee sets fire to the also berserk Starved By Guilt, where the whole band puts the pedal to the metal spearheaded by Jordan’s frantic and vile beats. In other words, it’s simply perfect for slamming into the circle pit like a true metalmaniac, whereas in Asylum it’s time to break our necks headbanging, blending the ferocity of Exodus with the melody of Arch Enemy and showcasing an amazing sync between Colin and David, providing all Marlee needs to vociferate the song’s psychological words (“My dead lover under a cover / Screaming, trapped in monomania / They cringed as I unhinged / I’m drowning, set me free / Straight jacket because of a hatchet / Bewitched, lost in compulsion / I’m banished, mind vanished / Fixated, please help me!”).

Then eerie noises are quickly joined by the band’s strident guitars in Unleash The Pigs, evolving into another sonic onslaught where Jordan brutally smashes his drums supported by the rumbling bass by Scott, while Marlee once again delivers a superb performance on vocals; and fasten your seat belts as Hyperia flirt with old school Death Metal in the high-octane tune Nullified,  a very detailed and dense creation that lives up to the legacy of extreme music, sounding as frantic, aggressive and demented as it can be, and with Colin being unstoppable with his riffs and solos. And bringing elements from the music by Metallica, Megadeth and other fast and furious thrashing masters we have Fish Creek Frenzy, where Marlee’s wicked vocals are beautifully complemented by Colin’s and David’s flammable riffs, not to mention all the energy flowing from the song’s spot-on backing vocals.

Dystopia is another awesome composition bursting with rage, madness and heaviness, all embraced by the insurgent lyrics blasted by Marlee in a mix of Black and Thrash Metal styles (“War, bloodshed, slavery, hypocrisy / Everywhere, everyday it’s all you see / Take a look at yourself and your plight / It won’t end unless we STAND UP AND FIGHT”). Well, do you think they still have energy for more violence and bloodshed after so many thrashing hymns in a roll? Their answer comes in the form of the metallic hurricane entitled The Scratches on the Wall, with the sick growling by Marlee being flawlessly boosted by the bestial shredding by the band’s guitarists, as well as Jordan’s nonstop beats and fills, while pure, unrelenting riffage is the main ingredient in Contagion, sounding at the same time very old school, inspired by 80’s Heavy Metal, but also bringing a fresh, modern vibe thanks to the polished production of the album. Lastly, how about more undisputed, deranged Thrash Metal to close the album? That’s what Hyperia have to offer us all as infernal riffs and fast and rhythmic drums permeate the air in Evil Insanity, and when it’s over you’ll feel absolutely disoriented just the way we love it in extreme music.

The nonstop metal thrashing madness blasted by Hyperia in Insanitorium can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would definitely show my true support to such promising name of the current Canadian metal scene by purchasing their sensational debut album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Dead Pulse webstore or from Apple Music. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and all other things Hyperia, because you know, you have to be absolutely insane not to support those Canadian metallers, and even more “insane” to slam into the circle pit to their melodic, furious and utterly entertaining creations.

Best moments of the album: Starved By Guilt, Fish Creek Frenzy, Dystopia and The Scratches on the Wall.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Mad Trance 4:36
2. Starved By Guilt 3:55
3. Asylum 4:08
4. Unleash The Pigs 4:56
5. Nullified 4:18
6. Fish Creek Frenzy 3:41
7. Dystopia 4:14
8. The Scratches on the Wall 3:57
9. Contagion 4:09
10. Evil Insanity 4:01

Band members
Marlee Ryley – vocals
Colin Ryley – lead guitar, backing vocals
David Kupisz – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Scott DeGruyter – bass, backing vocals
Jordan Maguire – drums

Album Review – Sophist / Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (2019)

Inspired by some of the greatest names of the Black Metal and Grindcore scene, this Canadian duo is ready to disturb our peace of mind with their unholy and blistering fast creations.

soph·ist·ry
/ˈsäfəstrē/
noun
the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

Conjured in June of 2019 in the city of Edmonton, capital of the Canadian province of Alberta, Black Metal/Grindcore duo Sophist has put their blackened hearts and souls into the making of their debut EP entitled Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto, a frantic blend of extreme styles inspired by bands such as Anaal Nathrakh, Mayhem and Napalm Death in order to create a sound that is unholy as it is blistering fast. Both veterans in the local music scene, Michael Sparks (bass, guitars) and Davis Hay (vocals, programming) kept the writing process fairly simple, with Davis defining the drums and song structure followed by Michael’s overlay of bass and guitar. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Davis himself, and featuring an obscure artwork by Unexpected Specter, Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto deals with the esoteric and the occult, with much of the inspiration for the lyrics on the album coming from an alchemical text called Hermaphrodite Child of the Sun and Moon (which you can find available in full HERE).

Musically speaking, Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto is a feast of violent and blasphemous sounds, as already mentioned, with the title-track Betrothal to the Stone: Conception of Mephisto​ exploding into raw, obscure Black Metal after a short and creepy intro. Moreover, Davis roars and gnarls manically while Michael shreds his guitar chords nonstop in this lesson in bestiality, reminding me of truly old school Mayhem. Faster and more demented, Choke on Your Own Bile is infused with Grindcore and Hardcore elements, with Davis and Michael extracting pure hatred from their instruments. Not only that, albeit the drums are programmed, they do sound really organic, bringing even more ferocity to the music. Then get ready for total anarchy in the form of visceral Black Metal blasted by the Canadian duo in A Captive of Saturn’s Scythe, where the insanity flowing from their riffs and beats is perfect for Davis to keep vociferating like a demon, inviting us all to slam into the circle pit with them. And as a beyond special and interesting bonus, the duo offers us the instrumental versions of all three songs of the EP, showcasing the same rage and heaviness but obviously without Davis’ demonic growls.

If you enjoy exploring the darkest pits of extreme music and are addicted to the most visceral and unholy forms of Black Metal available out there, then Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto will undoubtedly satisfy your cravings. Hence, go show your support to Sophist and to underground Black Metal in general by following the duo on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and by purchasing their flammable debut EP from their own BandCamp page or from other locations like Apple Music. And, of course, this is just the beginning for Sophist, as I’m pretty sure Davis and Michael will return with more of their razor-edged, blasphemous creations in a not-so-distant future, carving their names even deeper onto the darkened walls of Canadian extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Choke on Your Own Bile.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Betrothal to the Stone: Conception of Mephisto​ 3:16
2. Choke on Your Own Bile 5:10
3. A Captive of Saturn’s Scythe 2:53

Bonus tracks
4. Betrothal to the Stone: Conception of Mephisto​ (Instrumental version) 3:16
5. Choke on Your Own Bile (Instrumental version) 5:10
6. A Captive of Saturn’s Scythe (Instrumental version) 2:53

Band members
Davis Hay – vocals, programming
Michael Sparks – bass, guitars

Album Review – Solborn / Dark Lights of Delirium (2018)

Welcome to a world of fantasy, childhood memories and beautiful dreams, all embraced by the stylish Symphonic Metal crafted by this very talented Canadian band.

Founded in 2014 by songwriter and keyboardist Anri Tsiskaridze, who was born in the Republic of Georgia and moved to Canada in 2008, Edmonton-based Symphonic Metal band Solborn (or Sōlborn, if you prefer) has suffered a few lineup changes and a noticeable musical evolution since their inception, until the band reached their final shape and form in 2018, culminating with the release of their debut album Dark Lights of Delirium. Featuring a dark and somewhat futuristic artwork by Pierre-Alain Durand (3mmi Design), Dark Lights of Delirium represents a world where you get to travel and witness fantasy, the mind’s beautiful plays, and fly through the clouds, walk on beaches on a moonlit night, and lay in the meadows of your childhood memories and be at peace with yourself and the worlds that surround you, all embraced by the powerful and symphonic arrangements delivered by McKenna Rae on lead vocals, Cody Lloyd on lead guitar, Mike Bell on rhythm guitars and growls, Dylan Mooney on bass, Anri Tsiskaridze on keyboards, and Danial Devost on drums.

Four years in the making, Dark Lights of Delirium is thematically and loosely based on Carl Sagan’s astronomical series ‘Cosmos’ (as well as Neil D. Tyson’s modern reboot of the series), with its lyrics taking your imagination to worlds of fantasy and memories of the most precious times of youth, childhood, and feelings of love and dreams. The songs dive into the escapism that Symphonic Metal is steeped in, where history is presented in a dream-like light, and fantasy and reality poetically collide. Starting with the revelation of an endless universe, soaring through the themes and imagery of the purge of knowledge, imaginary inner worlds, striving to find happiness or meaning in life, and ending with the tragic story of the execution of Giordano Bruno, whereby the narrator speaks to us as Bruno. Every song has its own individual meaning but still connects to each-other, and is still a part of the whole journey.

A cinematic, ethereal intro titled Aurora, led by the smooth piano notes and the imposing keys by Anri, sets the stage for the 7-minute aria Ad Infinitum, exploding into a modern and vibrant fusion of Melodic and Symphonic Metal where McKenna mesmerizes us all with her gorgeous voice, while Danial makes sure the word “heavy” is part of the music through his pounding, violent drums. The album couldn’t have started in a better way, and things get even better in Beast Of Oblivion, considerably more breathtaking and electrifying than the previous song, with McKenna having an interesting “beauty and the beast” duel with Mike, while the same Mike together with Cody slash their guitars beautifully from start to finish. Then Dylan’s rumbling bass and Danial’s fast and precise beats dictate the rhythm in another Symphonic Metal feast titled Pale Blue, bringing forward some stylish lyrics (“Visions in my sleepless night took me to the moonlit sky / I stood in awe before the greatest show / And took a step away from what I have ever known”), and of course I would love to see them giving life to this metallic symphony during their live performances; and slowing things down a bit and being highly inspired by iconic bands like Nightwish and Epica, the band delivers another solid tune named Arcane Shores (Compass to Light), showcasing gripping guitar riffs intertwined with the flammable keys by Anri and McKenna’s passionate vocals.

Time for McKenna and her ethereal voice together with Anri’s gentle piano to take us to a world of love and peace in the enfolding ballad Crestfallen, with the song’s taste being nicely enhanced by all background orchestrations, flowing flawlessly until its climatic finale, whereas whimsical sounds ignite the epic and beyond symphonic Starbreathe, a song perfect for closing your eyes and embarking on a metal journey together with Solborn. Furthermore, Cody and Mike are on fire with their riffs and solos, slashing our senses while Danial doesn’t let the energy level go down not even for a single second, not to mention Anri’s futuristic (and therefore amazing) keyboard solo. In Voyage To The World’s End we’re treated to a galloping exhibit of classic metal music embraced by the stunning orchestrations by Anri and Danial, offering our avid ears over eight minutes of the best Symphonic Metal you can think of, including thrilling guitar and keyboard solos, spot-on breaks and variations, serene piano passages, epic orchestral moments, and once again presenting classy and poetic lyrics (“Paint my memory where we lay in haven of time / Play music of creek, sounds of wild clashing winds / With new life, awake from delirium / Spread your wings, come fly away with me”). And last but not least we have Last Curtains Fall, the perfect name for a closing song with the bass by Dylan bringing thunder to the sound while McKenna continues to deliver her romantic and fiery vocal lines. Although the overall result is not as thrilling as the rest of the album (and a bit too slow at times), it’s still a solid and entertaining creation by this skillful Canadian act.

Solborn might not be revolutionizing the world of Symphonic Metal with their music, but who said they were supposed to do that in Dark Lights of Delirium to succeed? They stuck to a well-known formula, added their own personal ingredients and twist, and voilà! There you have a full-bodied, imposing and enfolding album of classic Symphonic Metal (available for a full listen on Spotify, by the way). Having said that, if you want to know more about the band and show them your true support, don’t forget to check out their Facebook page and YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their music, and purchase your copy of Dark Lights of Delirium from their own BandCamp page or webstore. Because, as you already know, there’s nothing better than some first-class symphonic music to embark on an epic adventure through the eccentric realms of your own thoughts and dreams.

Best moments of the album: Beast Of Oblivion, Pale Blue and Voyage To The World’s End.

Worst moments of the album: Last Curtains Fall.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing 
1. Aurora 1:19
2. Ad Infinitum 7:08
3. Beast Of Oblivion 4:52
4. Pale Blue 5:07
5. Arcane Shores (Compass to Light) 4:53
6. Crestfallen 4:44
7. Starbreathe 6:04
8. Voyage To The World’s End 8:47
9. Last Curtains Fall 6:53

Band members
McKenna Rae – lead vocals
Cody Lloyd – lead guitars
Mike Bell – rhythm guitars, growls
Dylan Mooney – bass guitar
Anri Tsiskaridze – keyboards, orchestra
Danial Devost – drums, orchestra

Concert Review – Striker & Unleash The Archers (The Velvet Underground, Toronto, ON, 10/01/2018)

Do you want to know how to easily brave a cold and rainy Monday in Toronto? Striker and Unleash The Archers had the perfect recipe for that last night when they took our beloved city by storm.

OPENING ACT: Lutharö

Not only last night in Toronto was cold and rainy, but it was also a Monday, the day of the week all of us usually feel like doing absolutely nothing. However, when that same Monday offers us a night of pure Canadian Metal with the amazing bands Lutharö, Striker and Unleash The Archers at the small and very cozy The Velvet Underground, why not facing that shitty weather (I know it could have been a lot worse like what they’re having in Calgary now, but it’s still shitty) to meet some friends, enjoy a few beers and bang our fuckin’ heads to the best metal music you’ll find in the entire country? That, my friends, is the recipe for a packed (and hot) concert on what was supposed to be another boring Monday night, as simple as that.

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

The first band of the night was Hamilton-based female-fronted squad LUTHARÖ, playing an extremely fun, crisp and pleasant fusion of 80’s Heavy Metal with modern-day Melodic Death Metal the likes of The Agonist and Arch Enemy. Spearheaded by the talented she-wolf Krista Shipperbottom, whose vocal style, hair and looks remind me of The Agonist’s stunning frontwoman Vicky Psarakis, the band delivered a solid performance for the fans at the venue who probably had zero knowledge of the band before the concert. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of all songs they played last night, but I do remember the names of my two favorite ones, I of the Axe and their newborn tune Unleash the Beast, and in both cases all band members kicked some serious ass. Having said that, don’t waste your time and go check their music out on YouTube and on BandCamp, and keep an eye on their Facebook page for news and tour dates, because you never know when Krista and her henchmen will mercilessly attack your hometown.

Band members
Krista Shipperbottom – lead vocals
Victor Bucur – lead guitars, backing vocals
John Raposo – guitar
Ruslan Lypovsky – bass
Cory Hofing – drums 

STRIKER

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

After a short break, where fans either went to the washroom, got another beer or checked out the merch from the bands, it was time for my favorite Canadian band of the past decade to show everyone at the venue that Canada is indeed a land of first-class Heavy Metal. When award-winning Edmonto-based act STRIKER hit the stage, we all knew it was going to be a heavy, melodic and utterly entertaining performance, kicking things off with the opening track from their 2016 album Stand in the Fire, the electrifying Phoenix Lights, followed by two of my favorite tracks from their latest albums, Born to Lose, from their 2017 self-titled masterpiece Striker, and Heart of Lies, from their brand new opus Play To Win (to be officially released later this month). Needless to say, after such action-packed start, the game was already won by Striker.

And the quintet comprised of frontman Dan Cleary (what a voice, ladies and gentlemen!), guitarists Tim Brown and Chris Segger, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown kept blasting their fusion of old school Heavy Metal and Hard rock with contemporary Power Metal without giving a single second for us to breathe, impressing us all with their level of energy, professionalism and passion for what they do, with incendiary songs like Former Glory and Pass Me By (both from their 2017 self-titled album), and especially the high-octane Full Speed or No Speed (from their 2010 album Eyes in the Night) and the metal hymn Fight for Your Life (from their 2012 album Armed to the Teeth), representing to perfection what the music by Striker is all about. At a given moment of the show, when Dan was introducing us to the next song to be played (I don’t remember which one he was talking about, but it was of course amazing), he asked the crowd if there were any fans in the house of the music by metal giants like Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Anvil, complementing his joke by saying they were not going to play any of that, but “some old school Striker shit”. Well, who said we were expecting them to play any cover songs? When the band in question is a fantastic one like Striker, we want to listen to their own songs, and I can’t wait to do that again when they return to Toronto in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
Phoenix Lights
Born to Lose
Heart of Lies
Lethal Force
Crossroads
Former Glory
Too Late
Out for Blood
Pass Me By
Locked In
Full Speed or No Speed
The White Knight
Fight for Your Life

Band members
Dan Cleary – lead vocals
Tim Brown – lead and rhythm guitar
Chris Segger – lead and rhythm guitar
William Wallace – bass
Adam Brown – drums

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

I was so entertained and electrified by the concert by Striker that I completely lost track of time, not knowing exactly what time their concert ended and what time the main attraction of the night, the unstoppable Vancouver-based metal warriors known as UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, hit the stage at The Velvet Underground. And keep in mind it was a Monday night, which means most people would be checking their watches all the time counting every minute to go home. Just like Striker delivered a flawless performance, the band led by the warrior princess Brittney Slayes was absolutely on fire on stage from start to finish, inspiring the fans to ignite some mosh pits (all pretty good except for a silly moron with a moustache that was either too drunk, too high or way too stupid to respect everyone else, to the point Brittney had to call his attention to stop acting like a jerk), to do some crowd surfing, to raise our fists in the air and to sing along every single song with them.

Still promoting their 2017 opus Apex, the quintet formed by the skillful, humble and sympathetic Brittney Slayes on vocals (sending hearts with her hands to the fans during the entire show), Grant Truesdell on the guitar, Andrew Kingsley on the  guitar and harsh growls, newcomer Nick Miller on bass and Scott Buchanan on drums returned to the city after three long years, proving how hard it is to travel and tour inside Canada, but that excruciating wait was definitely worth it. Firing the most awesome songs from Apex such as Awakening, The Matriarch and Cleanse the Bloodlines, mixed with battle hymns from their previous albums like Time Stands Still, Tonight We Ride and my favorite of all, Test Your Metal, from their 2015 opus Time Stands Still, Unleash The Archers fully captivated our senses during their whole concert, also showing their awe for the amount of fans that gathered at the venue on a rainy Monday night (and yes, I have to repeat that again) to celebrate metal with them (and to sing A-Ha’s Take On Me which was coming out of the speakers after all was said and done).

Today is Tuesday, most of us might have been really tired the entire day and probably bored at work (as Brittney herself said, fuck work!), but happy to have witnessed a true feast of the best Heavy Metal made in Canada you can think of. As already mentioned, let’s hope none of the bands take too long to return to the city, and that they play at a bigger venue so that a lot more metal maniacs from Toronto and from other parts of the province are able to enjoy the lesson in heavy music given by such distinct bands, even if they play on a snowy Monday night in the middle of the winter, with chilling temperatures and bitterly cold winds. Do you think you have what it takes to ride with Striker and Unleash The Archers under such adverse conditions? If you love metal music as much as I do, I’m sure you’ll be there with us.

Setlist
Intro
Awakening
The Matriarch
Cleanse the Bloodlines
Test Your Metal
Dreamcrusher
Time Stands Still
General of the Dark Army
Tonight We Ride

Encore:
Apex

Band members
Brittney Slayes – vocals
Grant Truesdell – guitar
Andrew Kingsley –  guitar, harsh growls
Nick Miller – bass
Scott Buchanan – drums

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Album Review – Striker / Play To Win (2018)

Blending classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal and 80’s Hair Metal, one of the biggest exponents of contemporary Canadian metal music strikes once again with a brand new album, always playing to win.

Champions in blending classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal and 80’s Hair Metal, Canadian shredders Striker are back with another good album titled Play To Win, the sixth in their undisputed career and a follow-up to their two previous award nominated winning albums, their 2017 breathtaking self-titled opus Striker (nominated for a JUNO award, winner of an Edmonton Music Award and Western Canadian Award) and the WCMA + EMA award winning album Stand In The Fire, released in 2016. That means this Edmonton-based squad comprised of frontman Dan Cleary, guitarists Tim Brown and Chris Segger, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown has been on an absolute roll in the past few years, not only delivering first-class metal for our total delight, but also spreading their music live across Europe and North America with bands like Sonata Arctica, Dark Tranquility and Warbringer, along with festival appearances at 70,000 Tons of Metal and Bang Your Head Festival, proving why they’re already considered one of the biggest exponents in contemporary Canadian Heavy Metal.

Mixed and Mastered by Hendrik Udd at Hendrik Udd Recording Studios, and featuring not only an old school artwork by Elvis Amaral (HipnoFX Audiovisual), but also the fantastic Randy Black (Annihilator, Primal Fear, Destruction) as a session drummer, who by the way also recorded the album Stand in the Fire with the band, Play To Win will please all fans of traditional metal and rock, keeping the name of Striker relevant and strong in the scene. “Play to Win: if you want to win you have to play the game. Find the rules and break them. This is our 6th album and 3rd independent release. If we followed the rules and listened to the industry people we’d have gone absolutely nowhere. Play To Win is about listening to yourself, following your own path, and playing that 5th ace hidden in your sleeve. This album is designed to light a fire under your ass and get you moving, and we made sure to get the most modern, ear melting sounds possible. It’s all about where metal is going, not where it has been, and this is our soundtrack to success,” commented Tim about the album.

And Tim and Chris begin slashing and shredding their strings from the very first second in the opening tune Heart of Lies, where the band delivers their usual ass-kicking fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, with Dan declaiming the song’s chorus beautifully (“Another victim to a heart of lies / Can’t see the truth behind those venom eyes / Another victim to a heart of lies / On deaf ears will fall the eagle’s cry”). Then leaning towards pure 80’s Hard Rock and Glam Metal, in special the crisp and passionate vocal lines by Dan, we have Position of Power, with William and Randy maintaining a solid and rumbling background throughout the entire song; followed by Head First, a good song that gets a bit too commercial at times, but that obviously brings Striker’s old school punch, sounding very rhythmic, groovy and melodic. In addition, Tim and Chris are once again on fire with their riffs and solos, making it a highly recommended addition to your road trip playlist.

Blending the music by Iron Maiden with Motley Crüe, Stratovarius and Van Halen, which in the end resulted in sheer awesomeness, Striker offer us the thrilling On The Run, showcasing a brilliant vocal performance by Dan while William keeps extracting that metallic sound we all love form his bass, whereas The Front is another classic song by Striker, also feeling as it was taken from an 80’s Hair Metal album. It’s a bit too smooth compared to the sonic massacre from their previous albums, but the crisp sound of the guitars and the precise beats by Randy make it very enjoyable and fun. The title-track Play To Win, a mid-tempo feast of rockin’ sounds, sounds even more inspired by the golden years of Hard Rock than ever, with the guitar riffs and solos by both Tim and Chris getting sharper and groovier, and albeit its lyrics are extremely cheesy, the message the band wanted to send is there (and that’s what really matters in the end). Then despite the excellent vocals by Dan, its tuneful guitar solos and a pleasant vibe, the power ballad Standing Alone never really takes off, getting way too mellow compared to what Striker are capable of doing.

Back to a heavier and more epic sonority, those talented Canadian metallers fire an electrified Heavy Metal and Hard Rock tune entitled Summoner, inspired by many classics by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and other behemoths from the NWOBHM, also presenting the best guitar work of the entire album in my opinion. In Heavy Is The Heart the band shows how to do a proper power ballad, bringing passion to the musicality without forgetting the always needed dosages of electricity and rage, again presenting an inspired Dan leading his bandmates from start to finish. However, the closing tune Hands Of Time is another generic song that sounds and feels extremely soft if you’re a longtime fan of Striker, lacking the same potency and kick from their already classic tunes. Put differently, it’s far from being a bad song, but as we all got used to a lot heavier riffs and faster beats by Striker it’s hard to truly relish it.

As a huge fan of their self-titled album released last year, which I personally considered one of the best metal albums of 2017, I felt slightly disappointed with the final result in Play To Win. Nothing to worry about, though, as I guess I’m being too harsh on the guys from Striker, almost “demanding” that they had released another Heavy Metal masterpiece instead of actually enjoying their new album. There’s still a lot of top-of-the-line music to savor in Play To Win, available from their official website as a digital download or as a special edition CD, as well as from iTunes and Amazon, and you can also follow the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel and listen to more of their music on Spotify (if you don’t do all that already). Striker are a band that keeps winning no matter what with each and every release (despite singing in their previous album that they were “born to lose”), and the flame of Canadian metal will remain alive and vibrant while we have those skillful metalheads from Edmonton among us, always playing to win.

Best moments of the album: Heart of Lies, On The Run and Summoner.

Worst moments of the album: Standing Alone and Hands Of Time.

Released in 2018 Record Breaking Records

Track listing
1. Heart of Lies 4:04
2. Position of Power 3:41
3. Head First 4:02
4. On The Run 3:52
5. The Front 4:02
6. Play To Win 3:49
7. Standing Alone 4:56
8. Summoner 4:04
9. Heavy Is The Heart 4:54
10. Hands Of Time 3:47

Band members
Dan Cleary – lead vocals
Tim Brown – lead and rhythm guitar
Chris Segger – lead and rhythm guitar
William Wallace – bass
Adam Brown – drums

Guest musician
Randy Black – drums (session)
Lindsay Robinson, John Kennedy and Nathan Schadeck – gang vocals

Concert Review – Boonsdale Fest 2018 & Wacken Metal Battle Canada Final (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018)

After a year of silence, Wacken Metal Battle Canada returned in full force in a unique partnership with Boonsdale Fest to decide which underground band would raise the flag of Canadian metal high on “The Holy Land” of heavy music.

INTRODUCTION: BOONSDALE FEST AND WACKEN METAL BATTLE CANADA UNITED

There’s nothing better than a night of ass-kicking heavy music in the always fun month of June in the city of Toronto, and to make things even better how about uniting at The Opera House the 2nd annual Boonsdale Fest, organized by Boonsdale Records and featuring the bands MokomokaiOperus and Borealis, with the 2018 edition of Wacken Metal Battle Canada, where the Best from the West Hammerdrone battled the Best from the East Centuries of Decay for a place alongside the greatest names in the history heavy music at Wacken Open Air later this year. As there was no Wacken Metal Battle Canada in 2017 (each year Wacken allocates 28 slots at W.O.A. for the Metal Battle winners from 28 different countries, and due to the increasing number of countries some are asked to pause for a year to give the chance to others to participate, which was what happened to Canada last year), this year several Canadian independent and underground bands were more than eager to participate in the competition again, with qualifying rounds happening all over the country starting January 12,  until Calgary’s Hammerdrone and Toronto’s Centuries of Decay reached the desired final round in Toronto this Saturday.

In 2016, Wacken Metal Battle Canada crowned Death/Thrash Metal band Profaner as champions, who then by the way advanced to be 2nd place at the international Metal Battle at W.O.A. that same year, so who would be granted the chance to represent Canada at the biggest metal festival in the world in 2018? Well, it’s time to rumble to the heavy music by Centuries of Decay, Hammerdrone, Mokomokai, Operus and Borealis, and wait for guest judges Gustavo Valderrama (Navaja Music, Electric Flow), Tim Henderson (Bravewords.com), Andrew Epstein (Zombitrol Productions, Alan Cross’ A Journal of Musical Things), Chris Gonda (PureGrainAudio.com), Charlie Felix (Sound & Noise, Live Talent), Oscar Rangel (Operus, Ex-Annihilator), Wojtek Sokolowski (Operus) and Luc Lainé (CFLX 95,5 FM) to decide which band would rule them all!

CENTURIES OF DECAY

Centuries of Decay @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

Precisely at 9pm Toronto’s own Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal act Centuries of Decay hit the stage at The Opera House showing why they were chosen Eastern Canadian Metal Battle champions, led by the deep and very melodic growls by vocalist and guitarist Devin Doucette. Formed in 2014, the quartet released in 2017 their debut self-titled album, available for a listen (and obviously for purchase) at their own BandCamp page, and that album was basically what the metalheads at the venue had the pleasure to witness them playing live. With songs getting close to or even breaking the 10-minute mark, something unimaginable for any artist or band from most non-metal styles that are in pursuit of stardom, Centuries of Decay inspired everyone in the crowd to bang their heads nonstop and feel embraced by their atmospheric music, generating a very nice and interesting feeling in all of us. That’s how exciting progressive and atmospheric heavy music can be, and if these are just the initial steps in the promising career of Centuries of Decay, I can’t wait to see what those four metallers will bring next.

Band members
Devin Doucette – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob McAllister – lead guitar, backing vocals
Matt Hems – bass
Derrick Doucette – drums

HAMMERDRONE

Hammerdrone @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

After a quick bathroom/beer break, it was time for the winners of the West Hammerdrone to make a lot of noise and crush us with their unrelenting Melodic Death Metal, opening their performance with the violent Dark Harvest, the title-track from their 2017 opus Dark Harvest, which you can buy directly from their BandCamp page, a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization the Dark Harvest Commando. Frontman Grahma Harris was on fire during the entire concert, growling and roaring (and also making faces) like a beast, while his bandmates Rick Cardellini (lead guitars), Curtis Beardy (rhythm guitars), Teran Wyer (bass) and Vince Cardellini (drums) delivered a well-balanced fusion of the more harmonious lines from Melodic Death Metal with the sheer heaviness and aggressiveness of old school Death Metal. As a matter of fact, you can download for free a live EP by Hammerdrone titled Rituals of Battle from their BandCamp page, just to give you an idea of how awesome their music sounds live. And after Hammerdrone’s concert was over, I knew the judges were going to have a very difficult time deciding who should be crowned the 2018 champions. Well, at least they had a few more excellent concerts to go until then.

Band members
Graham Harris – vocals
Rick Cardellini – lead guitars
Curtis Beardy – rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Teran Wyer – bass, vocals
Vince Cardellini – drums

MOKOMOKAI

Mokomokai @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

When Peterborough-based four-piece band Mokomokai began blasting their electrifying blend of old school Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, I guess we could say it was the “official” start of Boonsdale Fest, and let me tell you it looked like their Rock N’ Roll party had no time to end. Formed in 2011, and having a distinct name inspired by the preserved heads of Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, the quartet formed by John Ellis on vocals and guitar, Bobby Deuce on the guitar, Jeremy Pastic on bass and J J Tartaglia on drums put everyone at the venue to dance with their flammable music, playing songs from their 2017 album The Poison Whiptail, like the excellent Heavy Metal Sky, as well as a cover version for the classic The Wizard, by Black Sabbath (check out the original version HERE), taken from their 1970 masterpiece Black Sabbath, with John even playing the song’s traditional harmonica. After such high level of adrenaline, I have only one thing to say about Mokomokai: if they visit your hometown, don’t miss the chance to see them kicking some serious ass live.

Band members
John Ellis – vocals, guitar
Bobby Deuce – lead & rhythm guitar
Jeremy Pastic – bass
J.J. Tartaglia – drums 

OPERUS

Operus @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

Perhaps the performance by the following band of the night, Toronto-based Epic Symphonic Metal squad Operus, was the most peculiar of the entire event due to all the unique elements found during their concert (and one of them was definitely not on purpose). Formed in 2005, this six-piece act put on an extremely entertaining and atmospheric show still promoting their 2017 album Cenotaph, featuring Oscar Rangel (ex-Annihilator) on the guitar, cellist Robin Howe adding an extra touch of epicness to the band’s music, masked-frontman David Michael Moote with his passionate and theatrical performance, J.J. Tartaglia back on drums to play a completely different style from Mokomokai, and an injured bassist Wojtek Sokolowski who twisted his ankle right at the beginning of the show, but who refused to stop and managed to play their full set before going to ER (and that’s what I call a true metalhead!). That’s another band I highly recommend you go watch live if they’re scheduled to play at a venue near you, and you can find their latest album available on different platforms such as iTunes if epic and symphonic music is your cup of tea.

Band members
David Michael Moote – lead vocals
Rob Holden – guitar
Oscar Rangel – guitar, backing vocals, growls
Robin Howe – cello, backing vocals
Wojtek Sokolowski – bass, backing vocals
J.J. Tartaglia – drums 

BOREALIS

Borealis @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

Last but not least, the festival ended with another very progressive and melodic band named Borealis, formed in 2005 in the Ontarian city of Orangeville, who also delivered a solid and delightful performance playing songs from all of their five full-length albums, such as Revelation, from their 2015 album Purgatory, and The Awakening, from their brand new opus The Offering, released earlier this year. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Matt Marinelli (who had his bottle of water wisely placed on his mic stand looking like he was going to deliver some “wah wah’s” with his guitar when he was actually just thirsty as hell), guitarist Ken Fobert, bassist Trevor McBride, keyboardist Sean Werlick and drummer Sean Dowell, Borealis did not disappoint their fans, filling all empty spaces in the air with their classy Melodic and Power Metal and keeping everyone pumped up even with the clock getting close to 2am. That’s another band I highly recommend you go check them live as well as go after their discography, because it’s not only top-tier metal music, but the overall production of their albums is also outstanding.

Band members
Matt Marinelli – vocals, guitars
Ken Fobert – guitars
Trevor McBride – bass
Sean Werlick – keyboards
Sean Dowell – drums

AND THE WINNER IS…

Centuries of Decay – 2018 Wacken Metal Battle Canada Winner

…Toronto’s own Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal squad CENTURIES OF DECAY! It was indeed an amazing concert, and I’m sure they will proudly carry the flag of Canadian metal high during their journey through the holy land of Wacken. Actually, I really wish Wacken Metal Battle Canada could send two bands to the festival, because Hammerdrone were just as demolishing and professional as the Metal Battle winners. At least now more people will get to know Hammerdrone and all other bands of the night, which in the end is the ultimate goal of the Metal Battle and of festivals like Boonsdale Fest, keeping the fire of metal alive by always presenting to us fans new incredible bands from the underground scene. For instance, there was this old school, diehard metalhead (drinking beer at an insane speed of “two tall boys every five minutes”, but who was still able to walk, talk and headbang as if he was having just water) who asked me right after Operus if there was still more to come, and when I said there was still one more band he showed a huge and honest smile and said “this is great, eh?”, and if independent bands can still extract that type of reaction from a veteran like that guy, well, that’s another proof that metal music will never die. Now let’s wait until next year to see which new name will represent Canada at W.O.A. 2019, and if you already have your tickets for the festival this year, don’t forget to go say “hi” and raise your horns to the guys from Centuries of Decay.