Concert Review – Walter Froebrich Memorial Show (The Rockpile, Toronto, ON, 01/07/2023)

A beautiful tribute to the life of the Metal Mayor of Toronto and his undisputed passion for heavy music. 

INTRODUCTION: AM HERE…

If you have no idea who Walter Froebrich was, let’s say he was the Metal Mayor of Toronto, as I’ve seen many people referring to him as. He was in pretty much every metal concert we all attended i the city in the past 20 years, from Heavy Metal to Death and Black Metal, from Thrash Metal to Deathcore and Viking Metal, and so on, always holding a few beers, always raising the horns, always surrounded by friends, and always supporting metal music no matter what. He even had his own motto, “AM HERE.” Sadly, in November 2022 due to lack of proper healthcare by the Toronto authorities Walter passed away at home after several visits to the hospital, and that brought a lot of grief to all metal fans in the city. If he had received a proper service, if he had been through the required scans and so on, he would still be around us. He will be extremely missed by the metal community in all upcoming concerts in Toronto, no doubt about that. I was going to use the common expression “may his soul rest in piece”, but I’m sure Walter himself would prefer a slight adaptation of it, “may his soul rest in metal”.

WALTER FROEBRICH MEMORIAL SHOW

That’s why on January 7 the Toronto scene came together to celebrate Walter’s life and his passion for heavy music at The Rockpile with the Walter Froebrich Memorial Show, an event organized by Steve Hoeg, Drew Masters, Junior Jr LeClerc and Jake Disman, among others, with no more, no less than TWENTY SEVEN bands playing from 1pm until midnight to a sold out venue, while money for Walter’s family was raised through a silent auction and a 50/50 draw. Unfortunately due to personal reasons I could not attend the celebration, but my friend and photographer Keith Ibbitson of Lower Eastside Photography was there to capture some amazing shots of the entire show, and to provide us with a sense of how awesome everything was and how happy Walter must be whenever he is right now with his homage.

In Keith’s own words, “we raised over 17,000 dollars for Walter’s family. It was a sold out show. All the bands were absolutely amazing! Drew Masters was the MC for the evening. The friends Walter made over his concerts outings just blew my mind! Each one is family, the metal community is one big family, they come together for each other like no other.” And as you can see from the photo gallery below, it was indeed a night to remember, a celebration of life and metal, exactly how Walter would have liked it to be. Here are all the fantastic bands that were on the bill, and as many people have said Walter would have certainly taken a selfie with each one of them…

The House of Haunt
Snake River Redemption
Dominant Species
Madam
Anger by Design
GFU
Dawn Vally
Cowboys from Hell (Pantera tribute)
Disciple (Slayer tribute)
King Moonracer
Byrdy
Fury 44
Sons Of Sabbath
Freeloader
Spades GT
MLC
Omnivert
Devil Witch
The Dominion
The Android Meme
Burdizzo
Crème Flesh
Pillars of Eternity (Down tribute)
Red Lowe (circus performer)
Phear
Chainfall
Gen-X (90’s rock cover band)

In the Facebook page to the event you can find a lot more details about the whole thing, see other photos taken by different attendees, other posts and discussions around Walter and the metal community in Toronto, and so on, as well as a very nice summary of the night on the video below. RIP WALTER! AM HERE!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2022

“Life is funny. If you don’t laugh, you’re in trouble.” – Taylor Hawkins

And just like that, after 880 days of nothing, I was finally able to attend a metal concert this year, just like countless other metalheads who patiently waited for the Canadian government to lift all restrictions due to the pandemic to get back to our normal lives. And it was a busy year concert-wise as you can see HERE, with Judas Priest, Lamb of God, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Cannibal Corpse, Trivium, Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, Behemoth and several others putting a smile back on our faces and the horns back in our hands, because in the end the beauty of heavy music is when it’s played live, right? On the other hand, we unfortunately saw some important names of the global metal scene disbanding such as Nuclear Assault, Tristania and Every Time I Die, plus of course the brave warriors who left us and are now sitting beside the metal gods in Valhalla. Just to name a few, we all mourned the losses of Fredrik Johansson (former guitarist of Dark Tranquillity), Jon Zazula (co-founder of Megaforce Records), Bruce Greig (former guitarist of Misery Index and Dying Fetus), Taylor Hawkins (drummer of Foo Fighters), Ronnie Deo (former bassist of Incantation), Trevor Strnad (vocalist of The Black Dahlia Murder), Alec John Such (former bassist of Bon Jovi), Bob Heathcote (former bassist of Suicidal Tendencies), Steve Grimmett (vocalist of Grim Reaper), Stuart Anstis (former guitarist of Cradle of Filth), David Andersson (guitarist of Soilwork), and Dan McCafferty (former vocalist of Nazareth).

However, one of the biggest losses in the world of heavy music happened right here in Toronto, Canada, as we lost the biggest metalhead of the entire Torontonian scene, Walter Froebrich.  Our super fan Walter, who was a staple in the local scene for over 20 years (and I remember seeing him in every single concert I’ve attended in the past 10 years or more at least), sadly died alone at home last month following three visits to a local hospital due to severe abdominal pain. This is extremely tragic and cannot happen again, as we all have the right to decent healthcare it doesn’t matter who we are. There will be a memorial show for Walter on January 7, 2023 at The Rockpile (details can be found HERE and tickets HERE) with several local independent bands, and we at The Headbanging Moose also want to honor the life of Walter and his undisputed passion for heavy music by dedicating to him The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2022, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums.

1. Kreator – Hate Über Alles (REVIEW)
Let the hate flow through you to the sound of the magnificent new opus by one of the trailblazers of the German Thrash Metal scene.
Best song of the album: Hate Über Alles

2. Lorna Shore – Pain Remains (REVIEW)
The most explosive name of the current Deathcore scene invites us all to dance like flames to the sound of their newborn masterpiece.
Best song of the album: The Pain Remains Trilogy

3. Megadeth – The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! (REVIEW)
The unstoppable Mr. Dave Mustaine strikes again with the sick, the dying… and the Megadeth!
Best song of the album: Life in Hell

4. Rammstein – Zeit (REVIEW)
Germany’s own Neue Deutsche Härte institution wasted no time during the pandemic and is back in action with their fantastic eight opus.
Best song of the album: Angst

5. Behemoth – Opvs Contra Natvram (REVIEW)
A stunning work against religious oppression by Poland’s most important Extreme Metal institution of all time.
Best song of the album: Malaria Vvlgata

6. Arch Enemy – Deceivers (REVIEW)
One of the most important names in metal is back in action with their most solid and detailed album with Alissa White-Gluz on vocals.
Best song of the album: The Watcher

7. Lamb of God – Omens (REVIEW)
Ignore the omens and listen to the pulverizing new album by one of the best and most dynamic metal bands of the past two decades.
Best song of the album: Ditch

8. Amon Amarth – The Great Heathen Army (REVIEW)
Join the great heathen army spearheaded by one of the most respected bands of the current metal scene.
Best song of the album: Saxons and Vikings

9. Hiss From The Moat – The Way Out Of Hell (REVIEW)
There’s only one way out of hell, and that’s to the sound of the incendiary Blackened Death Metal by this Italian horde.
Best song of the album: Generation Of Cowardice

10. Diabolical Raw – Elegy of Fire Dusk (REVIEW)
Behold this grandiose album of Symphonic Black and Death Metal inspired by ancient Central Asian Turkish mythology.
Best song of the album: Face the Judgement

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Abaddon Incarnate – The Wretched Sermon (REVIEW)
12. Cage Fight – Cage Fight (REVIEW)
13. Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse (REVIEW)
14. Stratovarius – Survive (REVIEW)
15. Konvent – Call Down the Sun (REVIEW)
16. Scorpions – Rock Believer (REVIEW)
17. Disturbed – Divisive (REVIEW)
18. Thundermother – Black and Gold (REVIEW)
19. Blind Guardian – The God Machine (REVIEW)
20. Ferum – Asunder / Erode (REVIEW)

In addition to all that, let’s bang our heads with our Top 10 EP’s of 2022 to prove once and for all that not all great albums of the year have to be so long. The EP’s from this list are simply awesome, showcasing the band’s talent and their ability to sound epic even if the music lasts for only a few minutes.

1. Eskhaton – Horracle (REVIEW)
2. Headfist – This New World…. (REVIEW)
3. Sullen Guest – Phase (REVIEW)
4. Pyrrhic Salvation – Manifestum I (REVIEW)
5. Klendathu – Avarist: The Beginning & The End at Once (REVIEW)
6. Through The Noise – Tragedies (REVIEW)
7. Rotten Casket – First Nail in the Casket (REVIEW)
8. Circa Arcana – Bridget Viginti (REVIEW)
9. All Else Fails – The Incident at Black Lake (REVIEW)
10. Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2022? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2022 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2023!

And before I go, I’ll leave you with what’s in my humble opinion not only the best song of 2022, but it also carries a very inspiring message to us all… ROW! ROW! ROW!

Concert Review – Blaze Bayley (The Rockpile, Toronto, ON, 08/19/2017)

A journey through the past, present and future in the career of the unstoppable Blaze Bayley in the form of first-class Heavy Metal for his diehard fans in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Cadillac Blood

I’ll never understand why people who call themselves diehard metalheads would miss a chance to attend a top-notch Heavy Metal concert like what we had this Saturday at the really nice venue The Rockpile, which despite being usually referred as located in Toronto, technically speaking it’s in Etobicoke, an administrative district and former city that makes up the western part of the city of Toronto, around 18km from downtown. The weather was perfect, the beer was nice and cold, the food was great and all prices were very, very reasonable (including the ticket price). And those so-called fans of heavy music keep complaining on Facebook, Twitter etc. that metal doesn’t have the proper support and all those shenanigans. How about instead of just typing, you get up from that couch, head to a place like The Rockpile and support underground metal?

If you do that, perhaps you’ll face an electrifying band like the young and restless thrashers from CADILLAC BLOOD, a completely independent act from Keswick, Ontario, located 70km north of Toronto. Blending elements from Thrash Metal, Punk Rock and Rock N’ Roll in their music, and being clearly inspired by bands such as Volbeat (by the way, the band’s name comes from Volbeat’s classic album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood if you haven’t noticed yet), Metallica, Motörhead and Anthrax, the quartet comprised of Luke Morrell on vocals, Tyler Morrell on guitar, Sean Murphy on bass and Dean Fraser on drums delivered an excellent warmup to the fans that were there for Blaze Bayley, being extremely professional and excited from start to finish, in special Luke who didn’t stop jumping and headbanging for a single second while singing at the same time. Unfortunately I don’t have their full setlist, but you can go to their BandCamp page and check out songs like Crow’s Nest and Devil’s Brew, both played by the band on Saturday.

Band members
Luke Morrell – vocals
Tyler Morrell – guitar
Sean Murphy – bass
Dean Fraser – drums

BLAZE BAYLEY

When it was time for the unstoppable BLAZE BAYLEY to hit the stage with his Endure and Survive World Tour 2017, at around 10:30pm, The Rockpile was not even half full, maybe due to lack of better promotion or because the pub was a bit far for fans who rely on public transportation to move around, but I think those are just excuses for our society’s growing laziness to do anything that’s not online. Blaze deserved a much bigger crowd (he even joked it was his fault, as he asked that only true metalheads attended his concert), as he’s been doing superior music being totally independent, with very little support from anyone but himself and his bandmates. His music is powerful and vibrant, his lyrics are poetic and meaningful, and his energy on stage is simply fantastic. What else do you need in a metal concert?

Anyway, the brave fans who were at The Rockpile had the absolute pleasure of witnessing an amazing performance by Blaze and his amazing band formed by the talented Chris Appleton on guitars and backing vocals, Karl Schramm on bass and backing vocals, and Martin McNee on drums, who are not only the guys who recorded the first two parts of the kick-ass Infinite Entanglement trilogy with Blaze, the 2016 album Infinite Entanglement and the 2017 follow-up Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II), but who are also three quarters of British Heavy Metal act Absolva, a great underground band highly recommended for lovers of old school metal music.

When Blaze was in Toronto for the last time, at the now defunct Hard Rock Café in 2014, he was supported by a Canadian Iron Maiden cover group named Maiden Quebec, and although they were a very good band, Blaze’s performance was somewhat hampered by their lack of chemistry. Fortunately for the fans at The Rockpile this Saturday, Blaze and the guys from Absolva were in perfect sync, a reflection of their years working together, delivering to the crowd a top-notch setlist encompassing the best of Blaze’s past, present, and even future (if you think of Infinite Entanglement as an evolving project), playing simply the best songs from Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden and his unparalleled solo career. From the very first notes of the inspiring Endure and Survive, to the speed and violence of Blood, Dark Energy 256 and Man on the Edge (see his intro video to this all-time classic HERE), and the epicness of The Clansman, their performance was flawless.

As I mentioned before, Blaze is a metal poet, and there was always a reason for a song to be inserted in his setlist, always bringing a powerful message to the fans who were singing along all lyrics with Blaze. For instance, his speech about how we all fail and how we all must stand up from our failures and fight our fears again and again in Fight Back, from his latest album, only shows how much he loves what he does and how much he’s passionate about Heavy Metal, as well as how he said us fans are his “home” in the emotional Calling You Home. Of course there was also room for lighter topics, like when he explained the origins of Wolfsbane and how we all would feel “sexier” after screaming the words “man hunt” during Wolfsbane’s biggest hit Man Hunt. By the way, the “duel” between Blaze and the rest of the band during this song was awesome, with Chris and Karl stealing the show with their refined techniques. Blaze made sure he acknowledged the undeniable talent of Chris not only as a guitarist, but also as a songwriter and producer, something we can easily see through his work with both Absolva and Blaze Bayley.

After the last song of the setlist, A Thousand Years (my favorite track from Infinite Entanglement), Blaze and the guys stayed at the venue for a free autograph and photo session with their fans, not charging a single penny as most band do nowadays with their “meet & greet experiences”, as a sign of his respect and admiration for us, supporters of independent music. All band members were very nice and courteous with everyone, talking about their tour across Canada and the US, their plans for the future and other topics. And all true metal fans who attended the concert on Saturday went back home with a huge smile on their faces, something that happens every single time you see a concert by the metal warrior Blaze Bayley. As simple as that.

Setlist
Endure and Survive
Escape Velocity
Futureal
Blood
Silicon Messiah
Fight Back
Virus
Calling You Home
Stare at the Sun
The Clansman
Man Hunt
Man on the Edge
Dark Energy 256
Lord of the Flies
A Thousand Years

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums