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

18 08 2013

 This review was originally written for and published as a headliner on the front page of the website. The article along with photos can be viewed here:

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.


Orange Goblin


Scorpion Child


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 You can check out the article along with photos of the gig by clicking the link:

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 Bodom



Threat Signal

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 –

3 Inches of Blood –

Cancer Bats –


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 The original article with accompanying photos can be viewed here:  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.

Shadows Fall w/ Bison b.c., Baptized In Blood, Nothing Left For Tomorrow @ The Opera House – Mar. 4, 2010

9 03 2010

Before I get into the meat and potatos of this review I offer you all a full disclosure; I am not what you might call a Shadows Fall “fan”. It’s not that I dislike them. In fact “Light  That Blinds” is one of my favourite Guitar Hero 2 tracks. I’ve even been known to keep a dusty copy of The War Within stored somewhere between the “R” and “T” sections of my music catalog. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what they do as musicians, it’s that I just don’t really care. One can only listen to something so many times without “getting it” before interest starts to wane, you know?  So when my boyfriend revealed to me that the ‘Shads would make their first headlining trek through Canada with Bison b.c. and Baptized in Blood my inital reaction was less “OMG SHADOWS FALL” and more “HOLY SHIT BISON B.C.!!!” There was no way I was missing the opportunity to see them live for the first time and Shadows Fall were just going to have to take a back seat.  Knowing that I would still have to take a journalistic approach to this review however, I made a vow then and there to evaluate each band with the same level of unbiased enthusiasm. When the evening in question finally arrived, I’m proud to say I (mostly) kept that promise.

Ontario’s Nothing Left For Tomorrow kicked off the evening with a loud growl from a darkened stage. Murmurs of “Wow, that’s a chick?” circulated as the light revealed frontwoman Yasmina and the band behind her. I had heard the band’s demo material on MySpace previously and was delighted to see that their performances were much improved in a  live setting. They played their brand of melodic death metal with a fury that seemed to impress the handful of people who bothered to show up early. Alternating between singing and growling, Yasmina belted out her indecipherable lyrics with confidence and aggression. Although tight and competent throughout, the shining moments were the brief ones where they slowed down and allowed themselves a chance to groove. With a few more years to hone their stage presence and find their own voice, this local band could move on to do great things.

Maybe it was the suspicious number of bros in flat billed hats lining the stage which made we wary of what Baptized In Blood were about to deliver, or maybe it was their decision to sign with Roadrunner Records. Whatever the reason, my worst fears were realized the moment I heard the first breakdown somewhere near the middle of the opening song. While breakdowns aren’t really my “thing”, the rest of the crowd didn’t seem to mind one bit.   Exchanging  simple head banging for full-out body thrashing and fist pumping, the floor was transformed into a pit of dude worship. While the whole band seemed to channel this energy, bounding about the stage , it was vocalist Johl Fendley who impressed me the most. Making his home at the edge of the stage helped him connect with fans, reaching out and singing with them at various points in the set.  In the end it was their Canadian boy charm which won me over much more than their music, but if you were already a fan there is no way you left disappointed.

Being somewhat of a dark horse on the roster, I wasn’t sure how this audience would take to Vancouver’s Bison b.c.. A jam band at heart, their style of sludge n’roll was quite a contrast from the hardcore thrash of Baptized In Blood. Regardless, I knew that the songs would translate well in a live setting and I was interested in seeing what they could do with a road worn 3 stringed bass and drum kit with only one tom. I didn’t have to wait long before the four piece made their entrance and settled into the opening groove of “Slow Hand of Death”. Thick layers of smoke erupted from the stage, leaving the audience with only scattered glimpses of beard and guitar. It could have been the small number of people in attendance, but it suddenly felt as if the Opera House had shrunk to half the size. The riffs were fuzzed out, monumental. The addition of three new tracks provided a feeling of exclusivity, like being invited to sit in on an impromptu jam session. Simultaneously dangerous and infectious, each track built upon the other and I couldn’t help but feeling like I was in Bison’s personal practice space, walls closing in and the ceiling slowly decaying above. It’s at this point, choking on riffs and smoke, that you want to run but don’t dare turn away. Instead you stomp and head bang and accept the inevitable Armageddon you’ve found yourself in the middle of. The band swaggers and pounds, falling over themselves, drunk on the crackling energy that is everywhere. Momentum builds to an explosive finale in the sing-along chorus of “These Are My Dress Clothes”, sweeping up members of the audience along the way. When it’s all said and done the band can’t walk across the stage without applause, sign of a crowd that’s grateful yet astonished by what the hell just happened.

So how do you follow a set like that? If you’re Shadows Fall frontman Brian Fair, you do it with a lot of beer. “Tonight is not just a show, it’s a PARTY!” he exclaims, making use of the small crowd and inviting everyone to the front to get down. Playing a set list consisting of mostly new songs, the band seems right at home on stage which is either a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view. While they do manage to deliver an ultra tight performance complete with signature solos, they also tend to look slightly bored while doing it. With the exception of  the ever charismatic frontman it’s almost as if they are just going through the motions, finishing a mundane job rather than living out their dreams on stage. Either way the fans seem satisfied and they show it by crowd surfing, mosh pitting and screaming along.

As for me, old habits die hard and my tendency to lose interest begins to surface by the third song. I have come to expect this from my relationship with Shadows Fall, each of us asking the other one to change. After tonight I can accept it for what it is; a casual flirtation with someone who is just not my type. Besides, I’ve already got a boyfriend and he’s at the bar sharing a drink and some laughs with the boys in Bison b.c.

Nothing Left For Tomorrow

Baptized In Blood

Bison b.c.

Shadows Fall  –

Arch Enemy w/Exodus, Arsis, Mutiny Within – Jan. 27 @ The Phoenix

29 01 2010

When I arrived at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on Wednesday night, it was clear that it would take more than a massive drop in temperature to keep fans from  witnessing the generation spanning line-up that was the Tyrants of Evil Tour. With rowdy fans lined up down the street well after doors had opened, the excitement in the air was palpable. Unfortunately it was this same line which caused me and my accompanying party to miss openers Mutiny Within.

 Newcomers on Roadrunner Records, I didn’t need to see their set to know that they had done their job. If the immediate pit that opened up as Arsis hit the stage was any indication, this crowd was sufficiently warmed up. Although mostly unfamiliar with the band’s music, I had heard a lot about them while attending other shows throughout the years. All the cancelled Toronto dates on previous tours had caused quite a stir,  and I can imagine more than a few in attendance were half expecting Arsis not to show up. But show up they did, furiously pummeling and screeching their way though a 7 song set whilst barely stopping to address the crowd. Their thrashy brand of death metal was especially fitting for this package thanks in part to the blistering solos and high guitar melodies peppered throughout most of their songs. Closing song “In the Face of my Innocence” was especially neck wrecking and a definite high note on which to end.  

Next on the bill were the legendary Bay Area thrashers Exodus. We might be in the midst of a thrash revival, but these boys have taught Municipal Waste and Warbringer everything they know. It’s been 30 years since Exodus was formed but somehow their music still sounds relevant in today’s metal climate. Opening with the title track from their debut album “Bonded By Blood”, it is immediately apparent that they came here to tear shit up. Vocalist Rob Dukes, dressed in a New York Rangers jersey with Sean Avery’s name appropriately adorning the back, endlessly taunted the audience for bigger circle pits and more involvement. The fact that the majority of the audience wasn’t even born when Bonded By Blood came out didn’t seem to stop them from following Rob’s every direction, even when it meant splitting the room in half for a wall of death. Stand out tracks “Children of a Worthless God” and “Deathamphetamine” showcased the excellent riffing and frenzied solos of guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus while showing us just how much fun they still have getting up on stage night after night.

Metal might very well be a boys’ club, but Arch Enemy are proving otherwise. I’ve witnessed them live 5 times now, but tonight vocalist Angela Gossow spits and growls like I’ve never seen. She delivers songs such as “Ravenous”, “Dead Eyes See No Future” and “Dead Bury Their Dead” like a demon possessed. Never ones to disappoint, Mike and Chris Amott still have the tone of God (Satan) in their fingers. Where else but at an Arch Enemy show can you actually hear a room full of people singing along to a guitar solo? Experiencing the wonderfully haunting opening notes of “Snowbound” in a live setting were worth the price of admission alone. And while there weren’t many surprises in the set list, they did manage to span their entire career and throw in a Daniel Erlandsson drum solo for good measure. A personal gripe would be the omittance of Burning Angel, and perhaps I am Legend/Out for Blood.  The obvious talent on display combined with tonight’s ultra tight performance more than made up for it however, helping to cement Arch Enemy as a “can’t miss” live band.  As a guy I met at a gas station after the show said, “I can see why you keep coming back!”

Did you check out the show? If so, post your thoughts, opinions, etc in the comments below!

Mutiny Within –

Arsis –

Exodus –

Arch Enemy  –

Hello Toronto, and perhaps the world.

26 01 2010

Greetings dear reader, and welcome to my blog! Up to this moment, we are more than likely strangers so let me take it upon myself to introduce you to my world. 

My name is Renée, and I am a self-professed “metal junkie”. I spend most of my free time with music, be it listening to new bands, keeping up to date on metal news, or attending shows. Hell, I even spend my breaks at work reading Terrorizer. Everyone knows me as the one who reads the “scary” magazine. My love of metal didn’t develop overnight, but is something that has grown and flourished. Like breathing, it has become a constant force in my life.

If you’ve stumbled upon this blog then chances are you can relate (unless you thought “Throwing the Horns” was a strange reference to cattle, in which case you are probably a little deranged and maybe a bit disappointed). As Rob Zombie once pointed out, metal is not casual music. It is made up of a community of hardcore fans with a lifelong passion for all things heavy.

So why  blog?

In a way I have started this blog as a means of committing personal memories to (virtual) paper. I will use this site as a place to record details and opinions of the many metal shows I attend. I have opened this blog  to the world in hopes that it will be a one stop shop for other concert goers to read about, and perhaps relive, the shows they have attended. I suppose for me it will be a journal and for the unknown number of you who may find this blog  interesting enough to read, a “review”.  You will come to find that I have a particular penchant for melodic death and folk metal, with a bit of sludge thrown in for good measure. If you find you don’t like the bands I discuss then I suggest you either don’t read this blog, or make your thoughts and opinions respectfully known in the comments section. Seeing as I live in the Greater Toronto Area, most of my reviews will be on shows I have attended in or around Toronto.

In a larger way, I hope this blog encourages fans who don’t attend many shows to come out and show their support. Without it, metal could never survive. If this blog can help me contribute to the community from which I come, then I have more than done the job I have set out to do. 

As I venture into the world of blogging, I will leave you with a quote from pirate thrashers Swashbuckle.  

“Cross your hooks,tighten your peg legs, for where we venture there will be no return.”

See you out there!

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