ARCHSPIRE, AUROCH, GROSS MISCONDUCT & EXCRUCIATING PAIN – 4th Annual Brutalfest Saturday May 12th @ The Astoria

First I must apologize for writing this review over a month later. Many things have come up, and as a result, our projects have been put on hold.

The 4th annual Brutalfest was held at the Astoria, which is located in the Vancouver downtown eastside. The outside of the venue can be sketchy at times due to people asking for money and other services and favors, but once inside, Continue reading

April.21st 2012 @ The Rickshaw Theatre with The Decibel magazine tour there will be blood with In solitude,The Devil’s Blood,Watain and Behemoth.

On this night several came early for this long awaited show. I was one of those who had VIP and was waiting to get in at 6pm as we were waiting for the tour manager named Gypsy to let us in. Soon after getting in,the rest of the crowd filed in. It was to turn out the show would start much earlier then usual for a rickshaw show.

 

Swedish occult metallers In solitude began their set at about 7:02pm to the pleasant smell of incense sticks burning on speakers. I found them entertaining and had good stage presence,Vocaliist Pelle Ahman looked like the classic rock star swinging the mic stand around and wearing the torn blue jeans,sneakers and fur skin on his shoulders. Their songs were catchy and maintaining a heavy feel which had a few banging their heads.

 

Next The Devil’s Blood was on bringing their brand of satanic,occult Psychedelic rock to the forefront. Frontwoman Farida ‘The Mouth’ Lemouchi oozed spirituality as she sang. I did some reading and found that the band treats each performance as a ritual, I enjoyed that and thought it added a interesting element to the set.

 

Sweden’s Watain began just after 8pm, I was told I was in for a treat seeing them and indeed I was, The stage was adorned with the lit candles and flags. Erik delivered as he was in his element and even put his hand through some of the fire and did’nt effect him, he might have been wearing a bit of not visible hand protection I thought I could faintly see.

 

Finally,Poland’s Blackened Death Metal giants Behemoth marched on,driving the crowd into a frenzy with a solid set of older and newer songs spanning their discography Including Ov fire and the void,Demigod,Slaves shall serve,as above so below,and The seed of I. It was great seeing them make it back here. Nergal also made a point of saying how good it is to be alive and to have freedom.

 

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show and to be honest really didn’t have anything negative to say about it. I hope to see these bands again soon.

 

 

 

March 17th @ The Rickshaw Theatre With Abigail Williams,Lecherous Nocture,Jungle Rot And Headliners Deicide

First off Abigail williams began the show,Seeing as it was the second time I have seen AW, It was generic and didn’t do much for me in terms of getting the crowd pumped up for the headlining act to come. I found vocals hard to make out through the sound system as well as bass and guitar.

 

Next up lecherous Nocturne took to the stage,after doing some reading I learned that the bands actual vocalist was not able to be present for the show and instead vocals were taken over by guitarist Ethan Lane and a guest spot by vocalist Ken Sorceron Of Abigail Williams. Again I must add that sound was lacking for vocals and Instruments.

 

Third on the bill was Kenosha,Wisconsin’s own Jungle Rot,seeing as they don’t come to vancouver often,many were excited to see them perform. They played a full set made up from their whole discography. The heaviness of the band seemed to help alot with the previously lacking sound quality. I really enjoyed their performance and I hope to see them again soon.

 

Finally headliners Tampa,Florida’s own Deicide began their set. I personally enjoyed their set alot and could hear all instruments and vocals fairly well,However Vocalist/Bassist did not seem satisfied with the overall quality of the house microphone and spoke abit of his mind to the crowd and the stage hand which was trying to help him wtih find his usual mic and fix the sound which he felt needed fixing. I do feel that overall despite Glen’s remarks that Deicide played a solid,heavy set and hope that they will make a return to vancouver in the near future.

First Two 2012 Shows Reviewed (Wolves in the Throne Room, Iced Earth, Symphony X)

Thanks for your patience as we get our shit together.  Lots of new things happening with VanMetal…

We have a video interview with Vancouver technical death metal band Xenocide that is going to hit YouTube in a matter of days.  Check them out at www.facebook.com/Xenocide .  They have some new things cooking such as filming their music video later this month and a CD release, so follow them on Facebook if you haven’t already.

I myself have had to work crazy night shifts at my day job…perhaps I should start calling it a night job now as it interferes with me attending shows!  I was fortunate enough to catch local death metallers Sinned when they played at Funky’s in January.  They play again later this February–check our our www.vanmetal.ca/events calendar for more details or the Facebook event URL at https://www.facebook.com/events/225671800857562/ .

One of the first touring shows I attended this year was Washington state’s WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM with support form local bands DRUDEN and AHNA (Sun Jan 15 @ Venue).  I was pleased to see the combination of black metal bands Wolves in the Throne Room and Druden; both bands successfully combined the black metal rawness of shrieked vocals, blast beats, tremolo guitars along with the atmospheric and ambience of keyboards (possibly backing tracks in some cases).  I know that Wolves in the Throne Room are mainly just two guys (Aaron and Nathan Weaver), and they have stage/guest musicians for their performances, so it is understandable that they likely used backing tracks for the bass lines.  Still I would have preferred seeing and hearing a real bassist perform for them.   One thing I must say about this particular show was that the band Ahna was rather noisy and unmusical sounding to me.  The band consisted of a drummer and bassist who both took turns on vocal duties.  Perhaps there is a market for this noisy type of music, but this is not my cup of tea–I prefer more variety in my music with at least some melodic and rhythmic variety.

And finally…I was fortunate to get a vacation day (or vacation night?) booked to see SYMPHONY X / ICED EARTH / WARBRINGER on February 14.  Warbringer, although not as noticeable and flashy as the co-headliners, was able to get the audience warmed up with their 80s-inspired thrash.  John Kevill is a commanding frontman.  I know that other metal fans I’ve talked to have criticized Warbringer for constantly being the openers and seldom being the headliners, but I give Warbringer a load of respect for doing what they love playing music–and I hope that they do eventually headline one day.  Both Iced Earth and Symphony X played new and old well-known songs from their repertoires.  I caught myself singing along not only to the old songs but also the new songs from Iced Earth’s new album Dystopia.  I was really impressed with Stu Blocks vocal performance on all of Iced Earth’s songs.  Vancouver should be proud to have such a powerful and versatile vocalist singing for one of the most successful touring metal bands.  His vocal range stretches wide, and he is able to do screams and gutturals too.  I am sure we will miss him from his old band Into Eternity, but what has been lost has been gained in Iced Earth.  Funny how both band’s initials are IE!  Symphony X displayed their musical chops in their power-prog heavy metal–all musicians were technically proficient.  I especially took notice on their bassist Mike LePond who played interesting melodic bass lines.

One comment I had from friends who attended the Iced Earth / Symphony X / Warbringer show is that the drum kit for Warbringer was placed in front of Iced Earth’s drum kit during Warbringer’s set.  This often happens to the openers in a lot of other shows too.  I am curious as to why they don’t just tear down and rebuild the next band’s drum kit as needed–does it really add that much time?

Stay tuned for more to come, and continue supporting Vancouver metal. \m/

SCYTHIA/FORGED IN FLAME/POLKADOT CADAVER/ARKONA/KORPIKLANNI @ THE RICKSHAW, DECEMBER 3,2011 BY JASON MILLS


First local folk metal act Scythia took to the stage. I observed frontman\guitarist David Khan on the floor mingling with the crowd slowly assembling itself on the floor and in the seats before approaching fellow bandmates and informing them it was time to begin their set. After donning and double checking their respective instruments they began. I personally enjoy this band as they have plently of rythym and catchy tunes. Also enjoyable is David’s use of telling stories on stage that set the way for the next song to come and also keeps the folk element true in addition to the songs lyrical content. David’s guitar work also seemed heavier then the previous 2 times I have seen them. I wonder though if it was due to the Rickshaw’s new sound system. Morgan Zentner,the oboe musician,plays well also doing backing vocals occasionally and is very audible,especially since there is a small mic on her oboe so it definitely helps with hearing her work with all the other instruments. She also maintains a good stage presence windmilling and headbanging during her breaks and David’s heavy riffs. Bassist Terry Savage holds great rythym and occasionally dances small jigs whilst performing which is great to see that he is having fun while entertaining. My only drawback is that I wish I was able to hear Keyboardist Scott Thompson’s parts more in the mix. Celine Derval,on drums,contributes as well to backing vocals and hammers out blistering beats without a hitch. Though the set was short due to having 4 more bands to go,it was still enjoyable and I look forward to seeing Scythia again.

 

Cleveland,Ohio’s forged in flame were up next. This band very much reminded me of fellow American band Saliva judging by the vocal style and instrument arrangements. I Found the music to be very generic and as a result nothing different from most other bands. They are called metal and rock,however my opinion is that I thought their music could only be categorized as rock and they didn’t seem to play anything heavy enough to be called Metal. I also found that much of the set sounded similar to the previous song,giving the set the unfortunate feel of repetitiveness. I also feel that more guitar and bass volume would have been necessary to give them more heaviness and depth to the set. Vocalist Gary Kane did however acknowledge the crowd and appreciative of the turn out for the show.

 

Next The Polkadot Cadaver hit the stage from Rockville,Maryland. Doing research on this band,I discovered they are considered to be Avante-Garde Metal which is a very experimental style,employing innovative,large-scale experimentation and unconventional sounds,instruments and vocal style for metal. I found them to be interesting as a result,I thought they sounded like a odd mix of European polka-style dance music and rock. I might not be admittedly a fan of this but nonetheless I thought it was interesting to hear and see. Vocalist todd smith was charismatic and entertaining especially since the band had decided to play a cover of Michael Jackson’s famous tune ‘Billy Jean’. The bands wiki however, said he also plays guitar,but he did not play it this night and instead just chose to focus on vocals apparently. I did notice that drum and bass sound was lacking during the set but might have just been me or may not have needed to be as high for the style of music Cadaver performs, as it is far different then any style of metal im used to. This band did seem to be liked by many in the crowd and had several moving and dancing. Todd did also call for a wall of death which the crowd happily went for. It was a treat to see close up as I had not been that close to a wall of death before.

 

Next up a band I was looking forward to see as much as korpiklaani themselves,Russia’s Arkona. I was pleased at the bands performance,however,I felt that they relied a lot on backing tracks to enhance their live sound. For example they have one actual band guitarist,Sergei’lazar,however I could hear a second guitar amongst several other instruments in the backing tracks mix. So it make me wonder was the band not able to find a second guitarist or hire a touring guitarist? Neverless I feel the backing tracks are something to get used to in the current music scene as they are very common as much as I would prefer to see actual musicians on stage playing the instruments. Bass could also have used more volume as I feel the back tracks almost drowned bassist Ruslan ‘Kniez’ out unfortunately and it was hard to hear his basslines. But despite this I did really enjoy their set and loved the energy the whole band displayed. I also appreciated ethnic wind instrument player,Vladimir ‘volk’s ability to change instruments frequently and not lose his place or rythym with the rest of the band during his instrument changes. Also commendable is Maria ‘masha scream’ Arhipova’s ability to transition easily from melodic clean vocals to her impressive guttural’s which she is know for being among the best of female metal vocalists to do so readily. So despite the the backing tracks taking much from the actual stage musicians I felt it was a solid set and I would want to see arkona again in the near future. Fun fact : Arkona was formely known as Hyperborea before being changed to Arkona in 2002, Arkona in history was the last Pagan Slavic stronghold destroyed in a crusade led by Bishop Absalon and King Valedmar in 1168.

 

Now the headliner,finnish drinking folk metallers Korpiklaani graced the stage. They played their fan favs Beer,tequila and vodka among others. This being my first time seeing them I was not disappointed. Excellent stage presence was shown by Singer/Guitarist Jonne and Kalle also on guitars. I believe I was able to hear most instruments clearly except Juho’s accordion may have gotten a bit buried amongst the other instruments,but at least I could hear his work to a point. I have to say I enjoyed the set a lot and soundwise was perfect nearly and clearly the crowd did not seemed bummed after the set. They were also a fun band to see and next time they come around I think I shall catch them.

 

 

Abigail Williams/Hate/Keep of Kallessin/Mayhem @ The Rickshaw November, 21, 2011 By Jason Mills

First Phoenix,Arizona’s blackened metalcore act,Abigail Williams,[Named after a famed Salem witch trials accuser] took to the stage. Rythym Guitarist/Frontman Ken Sorceron nearly had the band start without bassist Gryph wotawa,perhaps because he thought Gryph was slow getting to the stage and Ken also briefly said he didn’t know where Gryph was,however before Ken and the rest began,Gryph was on stage a few seconds later and donned his bass and the set began.

The bands earlier work including their debut album,in the shadow of a thousand suns in 2008, has been compared to symphonic black metal/extreme metal acts,Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. I however did not notice such similarities. It might be because they could have been playing tracks from their up and coming album,Becoming,which is slated for release on January,24,2012. To be honest I haven’t listened to the band well enough to say for sure what albums the songs they were performing were from. Listening to and watching the set I feel it left much to be desired. Much of the set was very similar sounding almost like they were playing the same song just with changed timing and breaks during their pieces. I found them also slow,personally I prefer faster songs especially at a show to get me warmed up for the main act. I think a lot of other show goers would agree,faster tempoed bands or songs get the crowd more excited and pumped up for the headliner. It may have been their songs style or such but definitely more volume on vocals,bass and drums may have been preferred as all of which did not seem very audible to me.

 

Next up Poland’s Hate assisted with their stage setup much like at the sepultura show. Once again neuraxis’s drum kit was used,I tried to do some research into this but was unable to find anything relevant,however I will continue to look into it to see what I find out. Just like at sepultura,Hate did not disappoint as they played a short yet brutally well done set that had the crowd moving and moshing,headbanging giving the horns etc. People like to compare them to behemoth,however,musically and lyrically they sound different despite both currently being Blackened Death Metal,the only really similarities being they both originate from Poland and wear corpse paint with similar costumes. I love this band and the energy they bring to the atmosphere and look forward to seeing them again hopefully in the near future.

 

Next another band I was looking forward to seeing again from the sepultura show : Norway’s Keep of Kalessin. My issue I had at the vogue theatre with their set was I was disappointed with the overall sound quality because I do like this band and sound means a lot at a show when your seeing your favourites. However when the band started and vocalist Torbjørn “Thebon” Schei was prepared to begin vocals no sound came out from his mic which was disappointing though it was certainly no fault of his,the sound in the mic also cut in and out so clearly the mic was faulty and he proceeded to replace it near the drum kit with a new mic and carried on with his vocals. I feel though that the band is to be commended for keeping professional during the technical difficulty and did not miss a beat almost as if there was no issue at all. With the faulty mic situation out of the way I was able to enjoy the fullness of KoK’s set. Soundwise it was a upgrade from The Vogues sound system I felt.

 

And then finally the moment we have all been waiting for, The legendary Black Metallers Mayhem graced the stage,but before I get into their performance I have to bring up a issue I have with some peoples behaviour at concerts,I had a place up at the front standing beside my girlfriend Kayla where we were watching the bands and we wanted to stand up there together and watch the show undisturbed,unfortunately some over-selfimportant guy and his gf bullied their way to the front and separated me and Kayla from eachother which was not cool at all considering me and Kayla were holding hands. So I basically got stuck behind this Jerk who stole my spot and wasn’t really able to reach Kayla and when me and her wanted to sit I had to bash my way through everyone just to get the seats because people wouldn’t move though I tried to ask politely for them to do so. Some guys that looked more like they belonged in the punk scene except probably with metal patches during hates set also tried hitting on Kayla and being asses til I got involved obviously and I told them to back off even pushing one away to make my point that I wasn’t having any of it. Anyway getting back to Mayhem’s set,it couldn’t have been better,mainly playing songs off their first 2 albums including deathcrush,freezing moon,funeral fog,ancient skin etc. Attila’s vocal work is amazing and doesn’t do him justice when not live seeing him perform his style. I appreciate the use of gutturals at points during songs when not using the typical black metal screeches. Necrobutchers basslines were easily audible and stage presence known,especially since he brought himself out a whole big bottle of some choice alcohol for his use on stage. Hellhammers pummeling beats were also noticeable and added much to the chaos. Guitar work of both Morpheus and Teloch was amazing to see and blended so well with the vocals,bass and drums. All in all to be honest it was a perfect set despite some unwanted behaviour by some in crowd. After the set,I had a feeling mayhem had a surprise in store for us despite hearing pop coming through the speakers me and Kayla waited and after a few minutes of talking with friends Necrobutcher came back out smoke in hand followed by the rest and they told us we were deserving of a encore which they hadn’t done in 5 five years! They played pagan fears before exiting the stage for good this time.

 

My question to you the reader is how do u feel about the crowds behaviour at shows,does it ruin the show for u? Does it make u enjoy the show less? Do the rowdy people at shows or in general give metal a bad name? Let us know your thoughts and don’t be shy to comment.

 

Obscura / Abysmal Dawn / Last Chance To Reason / Auroch @ The Rickshaw, November 16, 2011

This mid-week show ignited with our local Auroch. Their complementing dual guitars consisted of both guitarists taking on rhythm and lead roles at different times. I admired the smooth sweeping, but it was hard to hear some of the guitar solos. It was easy to hear the drums though. Seeing Auroch play with a bassist this time made for a fuller sound than the times I saw them without a bassist. Oddly enough, sometimes the guitar riffs got buried in the mix. Sebastian’s upper range guttural vocals sounded like they could have originated from a demonic bird. His low growls also conveyed energy.  There was noticeable feedback in Auroch’s second song. I also heard GSM interference from a cell phone. Should we turn our cell phones off at shows?

Last Chance to Reason was up next, and I somehow detected deathcore in their sound, probably due to their use of breakdowns. Bob’s clean vocals sounded as though they would be more suited to pop rock than to metal. Their lack of grit and their soft style caused them to feel out of place while the rest of the band was playing heavy riffs. There were some moments of guttural vocals though, and the guitars were quite audible for the most part. After a couple of songs in, one of the guitars suddenly had no audio. As the guitarist tried fixing his sound, the rest of the band went into some jam that lasted about 30 seconds or so. It sounded like they were playing some sort of funk rock. I think the drums sounded triggered. I could see a machine, but that may have been for the synthesizer. Overall, the electronic sound in the music was too much for my taste. I prefer a less computerized sound. And I have a feeling that the band may have been using samples and/or backing tracks because I could not see a keyboardist…then again, I may not have been tall enough to see one.!

The third band, Abysmal Dawn, consisted of death metal with deep guttural vocals and a drummer I found rhythmically interesting. The playing did not sound triggered to me. Their guitars played good rhythmic riffs, and the bass line’s notes were audible. The guitar solos had good variety as they did not always play super fast all the time. Sometimes they would hold out long notes with vibrato, and sometimes melodic lines were present in the lead guitar.

Finally, Obscura set the stage, and their songs displayed a both fast and slow tempos. Unfortunately, sometimes the vocals were hard to hear. And even though their music has a progressive and technical approach, Obscura’s melodic lead guitar as well as catchy riffs and motifs were still present. One notable song this evening was “Incarnated,” one of my favorites off their Cosmogenesis album. I could really hear the prog/death influence from Death in Obscura’s music. I recall hearing them make a joke about the new Morbid Angel album. Obscura’s drummer was good at incorporating complex rhythms, lending very well to the band’s progressive vibe.