Clutch / Orange Goblin / Lionize / Scorpion Child @ Sound Academy, Toronto ON, April 18, 2013

18 08 2013

 This review was originally written for Hellbound.ca and published as a headliner on the front page of the website. The article along with photos can be viewed here: http://tiny.cc/7b3z1w

Arriving to the Sound Academy before the doors opened at the early hour of 6:30pm, I was surprised to discover a lineup that was sparsely populated. It was one of the warmest days Southern Ontario had seen since spring had officially been declared sprung, so while most ticket holders were enjoying the last of the sunshine my accompanying party and I staked claim to a spot with a decent vantage point of the stage (practically a luxury in this venue). The nice weather had put everyone in a jovial mood, and with the promise of an interesting lineup before us the small crowd was poised for an evening of good old fashioned rock n’ roll.

One of the lesser known bands on the bill, Scorpion Child made it clear right away that they have their musical roots planted in the same 70s hard rock soil as that of Nuclear Blast labelmates Graveyard and Witchcraft. Not content to display their influences on one mere sleeve however, the Texas five-piece have chosen instead to construct an entire bell bottomed wardrobe. Vocalist Aryn Black in particular radiated with the aura of bands that came before, approaching the frontman role with obvious relish as he performed. From his leather vest to his soaring falsetto, he moved with a flamboyance that channeled a young Robert Plant with eerie similarity. While certainly entertaining, there came a point when the constant Led Zeppelin comparisons made it difficult to look at Scorpion Child as their own entity. They definitely have talent, but in the end I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d heard it all before.

As Lionize began their set they struck me as a band that might feel more at home in a dusty little jazz club. I can see them now; improvising jams while fedora clad gentleman down whisky and smoke cigarettes. They could be best described as an indie blues band with rock sensibilities, combining elements of jazz, reggae and stoner rock in a way that somehow still feels organic. There is an ease in the way they play off one another, a sense of comfort in their grooves. At one point they wandered into a jam only to be joined on stage by Clutch’s Tim Sult and Orange Goblin’s Joe Hoare on their guitars. The band comes across as one big, music loving family and the crowd clearly fed off the positive vibes. With all that was going on you might expect some level of pretense, but Lionize only beamed with natural humility and humble pride throughout.

Opening with their latest single “Red Tide Rising” from 2011’s A Eulogy For The Damned, Orange Goblin managed to arouse the first mosh pit of the night. Since this was their first time playing in Toronto since forming the band in 1995, it was evident that the crowd was ready to make up for lost time. While their particular brand of whisky soaked biker metal goes down smoother on record, it has much more impact live. It’s louder, grittier even, which makes the set that much heavier than the bands that came before. Vocalist Ben Ward has a massive physical presence and he uses it to energize the crowd with appropriate response. Fun, celebratory and just a little bit dangerous, Orange Goblin was a perfect precursor for what was to come.

I had heard many great things about Clutch’s live performances, but this would be my first time experiencing the Maryland legends for myself. With the venue packed to the rafters and beer flowing freely, the lights dimmed and the moment we had all been waiting for was upon us. Vocalist Neil Fallon walked out on stage and with a wave of the hand and just two little words he managed to incite an entire mob of onlookers: “Let’s party,” he said simply, and with that the positive chaos ensued. As the band tore into a blistering rendition of “Crucial Velocity” off of this year’s excellent album Earth Rocker, the crowd began its metamorphosis into one singular entity; a living, breathing cyclone of energy. For the next 90 minutes Neil commanded the stage like a preacher gone mad, pointing his fingers wildly in the air while delivering lines about who stole his rock and roll in a sermon-like fashion. The band churned out one rocking track after another, playing most of the new album as well as fan-favourites like “The Mob Goes Wild” and “Burning Beard”. Even drummer Jean-Paul Gaster was given a moment to shine, delivering a brilliantly organic drum solo with technical precision. Definitive pure rock fury.

Clutchhttps://soundcloud.com/mgm-distribution-1/clutch-earth-rocker

Orange Goblinhttp://candlelightrecordsusa.bandcamp.com/album/a-eulogy-for-the-damned

Lionizehttp://pentimentomusicco.bandcamp.com/album/superczar-and-the-vulture

Scorpion Childhttp://www.reverbnation.com/scorpionchild

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Graveyard / The Shrine @ The Shelter, Detroit, MI, February 4, 2013

18 08 2013

As you can probably tell by reading it, this review is one that is pretty near and dear to my heart. The trip I took to see Graveyard for the first time live was special for a number of reasons. Mostly, it was an amazing show but secondly it was a cure to all that seemed to be ailing me at the time. I wrote this review for Hellbound.ca and you can see the original review along with photos by yours truly by clicking the following link: http://tiny.cc/6n1z1w

Good things come to those who wait, or so the adage goes. It’s meant to extol the concept of patience as a virtue, but patience doesn’t come in infinite supply. Sometimes you’ve got to take action. For these situations I have another saying: good things await those who seek them. Graveyard taught me that.

I first heard about this tour back in July when, hot off the heels of tremendous crossover success and critical acclaim in the form of their sophomore album Hisingen Blues, Graveyard announced via their Facebook page that they were planning a “proper North American tour”. When the dates were finally revealed in November, the fact that a full tour had been reduced to U.S. only markets was a disappointing blow. Prior to this they had played shows in the U.S., but never in Canada and never any closer to home than New York City. I had been waiting for a Canadian date but my patience had worn as thin as gauze. If they wouldn’t come to me, I would have to go to them.

This is how I found myself in Detroit on a snowy Monday evening, enjoying the warmth and refuge of The Shelter, an aptly named venue if I’d ever heard one. Located in the basement of the larger St. Andrew’s Hall, the surroundings evoked a strange sense of familiarity despite having never been there before. The low ceilings, dim lighting and knee high stage were not unlike the small clubs I frequented for metal shows in Toronto or Hamilton, and the crowd wasn’t much different either. It was a nice contrast to the drab and sketchy city streets I had just escaped, and for the first time since arriving in Detroit I felt right at home.

With no local openers, California’s The Shrine was the first band on stage. Playing a fast and loose combination of stoner rock and skate-punk, they struck me as a laid-back, west coast version of Barn Burner. With music tailor made for long nights of drinking in biker bars and getting into fights, songs like the fun-loving “Zipper Tripper” and raucous “Deep River (Livin’ To Die)” had an air of reckless celebration. Guitarist/vocalist Josh Landau shredded his guitar in a manner that suggested it might catch on fire at any moment, while bassist Court Murphy and drummer Jeff Murray maintained energetic levels of low end fuzz and rhythmic debauchery. Graveyard might have been the major draw for the night but it’s fair to say that The Shrine left the swelling audience suitably impressed.

With a full capacity crowd finally in place, there was a discernible level of anticipation in the room. It seemed I wasn’t the only one with a hearty fondness for Graveyard. When the opening siren call of “An Industry of Murder” from 2012’s Lights Out sounded, the crowd erupted with joyous fanfare. In reciprocation, the Swedes stomped through a magical 60 minute set that ranged from 70’s influenced rock ‘n roll scorchers (“Seven Seven”, “Ain’t Fit To Live Here”) to swirling blues ballads (“Uncomfortably Numb”, “Hard Times Lovin’”) and everything in between (“As The Years Pass By, The Hours Bend”). Each song was encompassed by a layer of warmth and richness, the buttery tones proving a perfect complement to the plush velvet of Joakim Nilsson’s vocals. His voice was just as powerful as on record, something I expected, but live it dripped with a new level of emotional intensity that gave me chills. As a band, Graveyard plays with near telepathic ability, silently communicating through fleeting looks and nods. When they’d lock into a groove or wander into a jam they did so with an ease of comfort that was truly mesmerizing. It all culminated into an unforgettable, show stopping performance highlighted by an encore rendition of their bluesy masterpiece “The Siren”.

When it was over I stood by the stage for several moments, unable to speak. It felt like every emotion had just been exercised; happiness, love, sadness, regret. I realized that it doesn’t matter whether you’re on stage or in the audience, when you strip everything back we all have the same beating heart, the same vulnerability. Graveyard had tapped into a human condition that made a roomful of strangers no longer seem strange. It’s not something you can experience every day, but it’s certainly something worth waiting for.

Graveyardhttps://soundcloud.com/nuclearblastrecords/graveyard-hisingen-blues

The Shrinehttp://theshrine.bandcamp.com/





Children of Bodom/ Eluveitie/ Revocation/ Threat Signal @ Sound Academy, Toronto ON, February 27, 2012

18 08 2013

Although I’ve been away for a bit, I haven’t stopped writing. I will be posting a few older reviews here for prosperity’s sake. As usual, this review was originally written for use and published by Hellbound.ca. You can check out the article along with photos of the gig by clicking the link: http://tiny.cc/pmzz1w

I will preface this review by saying one thing: my teenage self would have absolutely loved this show. That’s not to say my adult self didn’t enjoy it of course, but standing there inside the Sound Academy, feeling the crowd’s surging, voltaic energy around me, all I can remember thinking is how much more stoked on life I’d be if I was still seventeen.

It’s funny then that my first live encounter with openers Threat Signal came at a time when I was saying goodbye to those years, celebrating my 20th birthday at a small venue in Hamilton. Six years, three albums and a major label signing later and Threat Signal have come a long way from that dingy club basement in their hometown. On the Sound Academy’s big stage vocalist Jon Howard was just as energetic as I remember, easily commanding the eager crowd despite the early start time. Their latest, self-titled album as well as the sophomore release Vigilance made up most of the set, resulting in a solid performance that shone with polished aggression.

Once Revocation took the stage one thing became clear; they weren’t leaving without making new fans. Playing an impressive blend of technical death metal and thrash, the band seamlessly incorporates progressive passages and jazzy interludes to great effect in songs like “Conjuring the Cataclysm” and “Across the Forests and Fjords”. But it was front man David Davidson’s comedic banter rather than his virtuous guitar playing that really endeared him to the crowd, somehow making hilarious connections between his music, Skyrim and partying sex demons. For a band with such serious musical chops, it’s nice to see that Revocation hasn’t forgotten how to have a good time.

If you’re an eight-piece melodic death metal band who includes a hurdy gurdy, violin and flute in a list of oft used instruments, you’re probably going to stand out on a tour like this one. Despite playing the part of black sheep, Switzerland’s Eluveitie actually had a substantial draw and those fans generated a level of hype that was difficult to ignore as the band took to the stage. Jumping straight into the title track from 2010’s “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)”, the entire venue seemed awash in awe and curiosity. Actually, the whole performance felt like a bit of a spectacle with front man Chrigel Glanzmann alternating between harsh vocals and playing the flute, and hurdy gurdyist Anna Murphy lending her voice for a spectacular rendition of “A Rose for Epona”. Eluveitie’s brand of folk metal might have been a bit out of place on paper, but it proved to be a welcome and entertaining change of pace.

I’ve always credited Finland’s Children of Bodom with helping to further my interest and involvement in metal, and in all those years I’ve seen them live a countless number of times. Somehow though, this show felt different. It felt special. Whether it was the ravenous crowd, my nostalgic mood, or the fact that this was the band’s 15th anniversary tour, the moment I heard the opening riffs of “Sixpounder” I just couldn’t stop smiling. From here they blazed through a career spanning set list, placing a surprising emphasis on both older tracks and fan favourites throughout. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came when, after asking if we’d like to “hear some old shit”, Alexi Laiho and Co. mashed up “Deadnight Warrior”, the opening track from their debut album, with the recognizable keyboard intro of “Hate Me!”

Everything they played they played with gusto, and you could truly sense the brotherhood and camaraderie up on stage. When it came time to end the night with the obligatory track “Downfall”, Children of Bodom had shown that, even after fifteen years, it’s sometimes nice to go back and revisit your past.

Children of Bodomhttps://myspace.com/childrenofbodom/music/songs

Eluveitiehttps://myspace.com/eluveitie/music/songs

Revocationhttp://revocation.bandcamp.com/

Threat Signalhttps://myspace.com/threatsignal/music/songs





Cancer Bats/ 3 Inches of Blood/ Barn Burner@ The Mod Club, Toronto, ON, May 19, 2011

27 05 2011

When the “Warriors of the Great White North” tour rolled through Toronto last Thursday night, rearing its ugly red and white head, it brought with it a crowd as diverse as the nation it represented. From metal heads dressed all in black to hardcore kids in flannel, it seemed you could distinguish who was a fan of each band by what kind of shirt they were wearing. The roster of bands was small but distinct, each providing their own take on what it means to be heavy.

An earlier than normal set time meant that Montreal’s Barn Burner were put in the unfortunate position of opening to a sparsely populated (albeit fairly receptive) crowd. The band made quick work of proving themselves however, showcasing their own potent blend of stoner-meets-classic rock riffing with infectious energy and obvious skill.  While up-tempo tracks “Runnin Reds” and “Holy Smokes” got onlookers banging their heads, it was the slow and doomy haze of “Wizard Island” that was most impressive live. They even debuted a few new songs from their forthcoming album, and with clever titles such as “Dark Side of The Barn” and “Keg Stand and Deliver” it’s no secret that they have a blast doing what they do, especially when what they do is kick ass.

They might look like a motley bunch of misfit thrashers, but 3 Inches of Blood have been working tirelessly over the years to cement themselves as champions of the road. And why not?  Consistently hocking their traditional metal wares across remote parts of the country has not only garnered them a rabid following and honed their performance abilities, but it has seemingly taught them how to deliver on the demanding expectations of their audience. Straight out of the gate it becomes apparent that tonight’s show will be no exception. Opening with long time fan favourites “The Goatrider’s Horde” and “Destroy the Orks” prove to be good choices, helping to whip the crowd into a chaotic frenzy while making one thing crystal clear; they aren’t about to waste anyone’s time with filler. In fact, the 45 minute set was dominated by rare cuts and classic tracks, stopping only to improvise a few Rush riffs here and promote a couple tunes from the new 7” EP “Anthems for the Victorious” there. Although these were songs you had heard a hundred times before, they felt different somehow. Tonight they had an air of mutual respect and adoration. Simply put, this could very well be 3 Inches of Blood’s tightest, most energetic performance in Toronto to date.

It was a type of homecoming for the Cancer Bats who spent much of their early days honing their live chops in venues throughout the city. Playing more hardcore punk than metal, there was clear division between fans of this band and fans of the previous two. While those more metal strayed to the back of the venue, all the rest got right up front, lost in a sea of arms and bodies. Vocalist Liam Cormier bounded from one end of the stage to the other, enticing the crowd to sing along. For the Cancer Bats and their fans, this set was a reason to celebrate. For the rest it seemed, a reason to leave early.

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Want to know more about these bands? Check out the links below!

Barn Burner – http://www.myspace.com/theinfamousbarnburner

3 Inches of Blood – http://www.myspace.com/3iob

Cancer Bats – http://www.myspace.com/cancerbats

 





Eluveitie/ Death Angel/ 3 Inches of Blood/ Holy Grail/ Lazarus A.D./ System Divide @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, February 6, 2011

24 03 2011

Originally written as a joint review for Hellbound.ca, the following is one half of a collaboration between myself and the always amazing Natalie Zed. The full article complete with Ms. Zed’s portion of the review and photos by Adam Wills  can be found here: http://met.al/oea. Enjoy!

If the large crowd at The Opera House on Sunday night was any indication then it would be fair to assume that metal heads aren’t really into football. It’s either that or the allure of two very different tours meeting up for one show right here in T.O. was too intriguing to pass up, or at least more intriguing than commercials and chilli. Death Angel vs. Eluveitie? Now there’s a match up to sink your teeth into! If you couldn’t make it, never fear because Hellbound’s own metal insiders were on hand to bring you the play by play.

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one. There’s this melodic death metal band that sounds kind of like Soilwork only with two singers. Let’s call them System Divide. It’s sort of a beast meets harlot scenario where the guy sings all these low, guttural verses and the girl sings all the choruses in this clean, operatic voice. They’ve got atmospheric keyboard intros without really having a keyboardist and…Oh wait, you have heard this before? Let’s just move on then, shall we?

Lazarus A.D. might be just another thrash band but theirs is a redundancy that is more tongue-in-cheek fun than it is boring facsimile. They play just what you’d expect from a thrash band and somehow that’s okay. With material chalk full of guitar solos and double kick, they put on an entertaining performance save for some initial moments of lackluster stiffness I’ll attribute to nerves. By the time they closed the set with their new single “Ultimate Sacrifice” they were thrashing with a passion. Besides, any band that has a drummer who can windmill headbang whilst playing has got my seal of approval!

I had no previous encounters with Holy Grail but I suppose in the back of my head I was expecting something along the lines of traditional metal coupled with nerdy themes involving battles and swordplay. I’m glad I was right because what they delivered was all that and then some, performing with a level of energy and fervour I wasn’t prepared for. There was wailing falsetto, fist pumping and sing-along’s with a crowd that was more than willing to participate. When all was said and done I was left with a positive impression, their debut album and $13 fewer dollars in my pocket.

As the crowd grew in size, so did the party atmosphere. Liquor was flowing, people were socializing and somewhere in the distance Vancouver’s 3 Inches of Blood were storming the stage to the theme from Star Trek. Clearly this is a band that is serious about having a good time. Gleaning from a set list that read more like a greatest hits package, they reached deep into their back catalogue to pull out one favourite after another. Songs like “Goatrider’s Horde”, “Destroy the Orcs”, “Night Marauders” and “Fear on the Bridge” were upstaged only by a fantastic cover of Rush’s “Anthem”. Throw in a new unreleased track (“Lord of Change”), denim vests and a couple of gnarly mosh pits and you’ve got yourself a party!

The biggest surprise of the night for me came courtesy of Death Angel. I had never seen them live before and although I was anticipating a fine tuned dose of thrash metal from a band that had been doing this for ages, I was unexpectedly blown away by their performance. Frontman Mark Osegueda is charismatic in the most genuine of ways, repeatedly thanking fans both new and old and injecting a bit of good natured humour into his between song banter. Not only that, but their bay area brand of thrash sounds just as heavy and relevant as anything that’s been released in the past five years. Although they no doubt played numerous hits I was unfamiliar with, even the hardcore fans were surprised when Toronto’s own Danko Jones joined them on stage, helping out during the circle-pit-friendly anthem “Thrashers”. What did it for me however was when they broke into an impeccable rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” in the middle of the song “Bored”. It was a spot on, grin inducing tribute to Dio that has since provoked me to dig the entire album out of my collection and put it into obsessive rotation. Talk about impressive!

Elueveitie are undoubtedly a sight to behold. With eight members on one stage and more instruments than people to play them, this is something that should go without saying. I took them in a bit like I would a glass of wine, sipping and savouring each element in turn. From hurdy gurdy to violin, there was always something new to take in. Bringing out bagpipes for the track “Inis Mona” is a perfect demonstration to this point, and was an obvious crowd pleaser. Both fun and fierce, Eluveitie’s blend of melodic death metal and folk brought the perfect balance to an eclectic night of metal.

 

Death Angel http://www.myspace.com/deathangel

Eluveitiehttp://www.myspace.com/eluveitie

3 Inches of Bloodhttp://www.myspace.com/3iob

Holy Grailhttp://www.myspace.com/holygrail

Lazarus ADhttp://www.myspace.com/lazarus1

System Dividehttp://www.myspace.com/systemdivide

 





Skeletonwitch/ Withered/ Landmine Marathon @ Club Absinthe, Hamilton, ON, November 25, 2010

30 12 2010

Originally published on Hellbound.ca (and available here:http://met.al/dsn) I figured it was time I got around to posting my review of “The Skullsplitter” tour. If you didn’t get to check it out for yourself, you missed out on a fantastic show with the rare occurrence of an all around great line up.  Thankfully, you have me to dutifully recap my experiences for you. You’re welcome!

I am of the firm belief that there is both good and evil inherent in all of us. I also believe that humanity has, for the most part, paved the road with good intentions. But as sweet and as pleasant and as ethical as we were all raised to be, sometimes there is no denying that throbbing blackness residing deep within us. This is one of the reasons I love metal so much, and probably also the reason I will jump at any opportunity to catch Skeletonwitch live. Finally slotted as a headlining band and growing in popularity, I knew that Thursday night’s performance in a venue as small as Club Absinthe was bound to illicit some rowdiness. I was looking forward to the chaos, an escape from everyday “acceptable” behaviour. I arrived that night with the intention of losing my mind.

As it turns out, Landmine Marathon seem to know a thing or two about temporary insanity. Targeting the cerebral cortex rather than the jugular vein, they play the type of death metal that doesn’t just sound heavy but actually feels it. My eye was continually drawn to vocalist Grace Perry throughout their set, her stage antics rather than her growled vocals and lack of Y chromosome drawing my interest. She is the type of front woman who drips with passion and I found myself positively enchanted by the insanity she expelled. She went into an immediate trancelike state, clawing at her face and neck, pulling her hair and at one point strangling herself with the microphone cord. It was a lesson in letting go, and a great way to start the evening.

Atlanta’s Withered were next on the bill, their city of origin offering no clues as to the type of sonic punishment they would unleash. Instead of sludgy and progressive rock ala Mastodon and Baroness, they played a ferocious style of blackened death metal punctuated by dual vocals and insanely fast blast beats. They aren’t a one-note band however, and what Withered giveth they can also taketh away. There were moments of atmospheric melody in which they slowed the pace without any warning, too unexpected to be anything by entertaining. Still, they delivered most their material at a pace which was breakneck, almost dangerous. Sonically, it was the equivalent of a steam roller. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I noticed the strangest thing; no one in the crowd was moving. Not one person. In fact, no one would come within 3 feet of the stage. It was as if everyone was in glued in place by a mixture of respect and fear, an act of caution rather than boredom. It was a strangely refreshing experience, and a fantastic contrast to the set that was to follow.

Skeletonwitch is the type of band that any self respecting metal head should be a fan of. They play thrashy death metal, sing about murder and sport the most bad ass arm gauntlets and beards. I’m serious when I say that there is absolutely NOTHING not to love. Having seen them play a multitude of opening spots in the past, I looked forward to receiving the full Skeletonwitch treatment this time around. I got my wish and just before midnight the band took the stage and proceeded to decimate everything around them. “Submit To The Suffering” gave way to “Blinding Black Rage” which rolled into “Upon Wings of Black”. They played no less than 17 songs, one furious blast after another. Vocalist Chance Garnett is a natural born frontman and knows how to entice a crowd. He paces back and forth, holding invisible oranges to the sky while guitarists Scott Hedrick and N8 Feet Under take turns demonstrating their fret board mastery.

The whole thing felt like it was over before it had begun but I took it all in with insatiable hunger, expelling every frustration and negative emotion I never knew I had. I celebrated the dark nature of humanity and by the end I felt lighter, happier. It was the best therapy that fifteen bucks could buy.





Bison B.C. w/ Sin Dealer, Teethmarks, Madman @ Sneaky Dee’s, Toronto ON, Oct. 22, 2010

28 10 2010

This review was written exclusively for the folks over at Hellbound.ca. The original article with accompanying photos can be viewed here: http://met.al/ci5  Happy reading!

I arrived at the infamous Sneaky Dee’s on Friday night with a ball of restless anticipation churning in the pit of my stomach. I had been waiting for the chance to catch Bison B.C. since March, when I had first witnessed them fill an opening slot for Shadows Fall. It was a short set but it was one which had absolutely blown my mind and left me breathless. Lucky for me the boys in Bison (the band insists that the B.C. is silent) are road hardened workaholics, and the seven months between shows only felt like an eternity. This time around they would be headlining, and since it was also a Friday night I did my best to check my high expectations at the door and prepared to enjoy the night I had been waiting months for.

With most of Toronto’s metal heads over at The Opera House catching the Nevermore gig, Oshawa’s Madman opened to a sparsely populated room. It’s a real shame too because this barely legal three-piece proved quite the spectacle. Complete with bullet belts and leather jackets, these boys play a brand of early 80’s thrash and traditional style doom that is surprisingly authentic, especially when you consider the fact that they grew up in the era of St. Anger rather than Kill ‘Em All. Impressing the small crowd with anthem style songs like “Toxic Metal” and the Black Sabbath inspired “Born a Witch”, Madman’s set provided the perfect atmosphere in which to get acquainted with the bar.

Teethmarks are a hard band to pin down, both in the musical and the physical sense. Playing a scuzzy blend of metal, punk and party rock that reminded me a bit of Norway’s Kvelertak, they are the type of live band that can energize a crowd through visual antics alone. Though entertaining as a group, it was their bald headed frontman who was the most engaging. He bounded around the stage as if privy to his own private well of adrenaline, jumping up and down and fist fighting the sky. I looked up from headbanging at one point only to catch him hanging from the ceiling (literally). While the music would have held up on its own, it was the performance which had me convinced. Teethmarks were fun, filthy and an overall welcome addition to the night’s roster of bands.

The crowd had swelled tenfold by the time Sin Dealer appeared on stage illuminated by an eerie red glow. The lighting transformed Sneaky Dee’s by giving the venue a warm, hellish feel that matched the band’s southern fried riffs and down tuned rock ‘n roll. The songs had a certain swagger, but what Sin Dealer amassed in groove they seemed to lack in personality and presence. Frontman Eric Kuthe and the band around him gave off a Daddy-O cool vibe that was almost too laid back, especially when compared to the energetic performance that preceded them. Their stripped down, back-to-basics rock did little to capture my attention, even when closing with a cover of AC/DC’s “Walk All Over You”. If the loud applause following their set was any indication however, it would appear that my opinion was an isolated one.

As everyone else made their way to the bar between sets, I staked out a spot at the front of the stage. I wanted to be as close to the headliners as possible, a decision which I did not regret when the mighty Bison B.C. jumped head first into the thunderous opening notes of “Slow Hand of Death”. I was immediately struck by the rawness of their sound, distorted and fuzzy and positively enormous in scale. The chemistry between all four members is undeniable when experienced live, and the crackling energy that passes between them combines to create a deadly force field you can actually feel hanging in the air. It is exactly this type of kinetic fuel that seemed to feed the audience, drinking greedily while the band stomped and swayed, pounding out riff after riff and solo after solo. It is the kind performance that is steeped in genuine emotion, giving you the sense that the band really feels the purpose and consequence behind every note played. Refusing a typical encore, Bison B.C. finished the show by instead thanking the fans, reaching far into their back catalogue to pull out the rare track “From Dark Skies” off their debut album Earthbound. As they exited stage left James gently placed his guitar against a stack of amps, the ravished audience left with only an empty stage and one thick final note vibrating in the PA.  

When I finally regained by bearings, I exited the venue feeling cheerfully disoriented. My neck ached and my head pounded, but inside I was filled with the type of astonished relief that tends only to couple experiences that exceed your wildest expectations. In times of drought I had suffered, but in the name of Bison I was born anew.








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