Concert Review – Wacken Metal Battle Canada Final (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016)

One Canadian Band to rule them all, One Canadian Band to find them. One Canadian Band to bring them all, and in Wacken Open Air bind them.

INTRODUCTION: ONE BAND TO RULE THEM ALL!

wacken metal battle_canada_final2016If you were at the charming The Opera House in Toronto this Saturday, June 11, you were able to witness the future of Canadian Metal in pursuit of a sacred placed among the Gods of Metal at the 2016 edition of Wacken Open Air, which will be held during the first week of August this year. Five amazing bands made in Canada showcased all their skills and passion for heavy music during the final and decisive round of the fourth annual edition of Wacken Metal Battle Canada, but only one of them secured a spot in the most important metal festival in the world. Do you want to know which band was crowned the kings of the night?

This year, guest judges Noel Peters (Inertia Entertainment), Sarah Lutz (Metal Blade Canada), Darryl Hurs (Indie Week), Chris Gonda (PureGrainAudio.com), Tim Henderson (Bravewords.com), Andrew Epstein (Zombitrol Productions) and Glenn Fricker (Spectre Media Group) had the difficult mission to decide who would play at Wacken Open Air this August, but before I get into more details, let me say it’s impressive how well organized Wacken Metal Battle is in Canada, it doesn’t matter the city or the qualifying round. With over 100 independent Canadian metal bands from the cities of Toronto, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, and after 27 qualifying rounds, 9 semi-finals and the national final this Saturday, all we can say in a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in this awesome project, with a special thanks to my friend Jon Asher (Asher Media Relations) for letting me be part of this. And now, let’s get ready to rumble!

DISTORTHEAD

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DistortHead @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

The first group to hit the stage, at around 8pm, was Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore band DistortHead, from Montreal, Quebec, who were obviously the Quebec Final winners this year. With all band members elegantly wearing lumberjack shirts, DistortHead fired a good mix of modern and groovy metal music the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder and Suicide Silence with the more ferocious sound of old school Death Metal, which translated into a solid and unstoppable performance by this talented quintet. Lead singer Phil Ranger led his troop during the entire setlist, demanding some furious circle pits from the fans at the venue and, as any proud Québécois, made good usage of “Bill 101” to teach the audience how to curse in French. If brutal Melodic Death Metal is your cup of tea, go check their BandCamp page, where you can enjoy their 2014 album Invasive Species in its entirety.

Band members
Phil Ranger – vocals
Vincent Rousseau – guitar
Alex Guindon – guitar
Felix Bourcier – bass, backing vocals
Max Arseneau – drums

PYRAMID THEOREM

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Pyramid Theorem @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

In my opinion, one of the best things in any Wacken Metal Battle round is the variety of sounds you can listen to within a short span of time, getting truly paradoxical at times, but as awesome as usual. That was confirmed when Progressive Hard Rock act Pyramid Theorem began their psychedelic and electrifying performance. Those Torontonians, who were the Ontario Final 2/2 winners, sounded so professional, polished and in sync it’s hard to believe they do not have an agreement with a record label yet. Take a listen at the excellent tunes Outlaw for Good and Drive and you’ll see what I’m talking about. The crowd was excited during the whole show, mainly due to the thrilling performance by the dynamic duo Christian Di Mambro (vocals and bass) Sam Ermellini (guitar and vocals), who didn’t stop interacting with the audience for a single second while at the same time displaying their refined techniques on stage. Some of the guitar solos by Sam were simply outstanding.

Band members
Christian Di Mambro – vocals, bass
Sam Ermellini – guitar, vocals
Stephan Di Mambro – synths, guitar, vocals
Vic Dee – drums, percussion

THE MOUNTAIN MAN

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The Mountain Man @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

Fans of the relentless music by icons such as Lamb of God, Whitechapel, Gojira and Pantera definitely had an awesome time during the performance by Vancouver-based five-piece act The Mountain Man, who blasted a nice fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Groove Metal, proving why the band was the B.C. Final winner. The whole festival seemed to be turning into “the night of the frontmen”, with lead singer Parker Lane keeping up with the vocalists from both previous bands with his unique screams and endless energy on stage. We have to give a round of applause to those guys, coming all the way from the other side of the country, paying all expenses from their own pockets, and still having enough strength to kill on stage. If you want to know more about their music, you can listen to their debut EP entitled Bloodlust at their BandCamp page, and if by any chance the band members themselves read this, please send us the EP for a detailed review.

Band members
Parker Lane – vocals
Tyson Tambellini – guitar
Jordan Orr – guitar
Tevyn Pacey – bass
Ryan McCreedy – drums

PROFANER

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Profaner @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

After a quick break and another cold beer, it was time for Melodic Death/Thrash Metal band Profaner to distill their acid metal music upon the audience. Hailing from the city of Hamilton, around 70km southwest of Toronto, the Ontario 1/2 Final winners didn’t waste time and started kicking ass on stage from the very first notes of the opening song of their setlist. If you visit their BandCamp page, you’ll be able to listen to a few songs they played this Saturday, such as the awesome Marked For Death, and see how good and violent those guys are. Guided by the uncontrollable frontman Anthony “Tooty” Tuttolomondo, Profaner showed everyone at the venue how old school brutal music is done, with the blazing riffs by guitarists Jason Crook and Pat Rogers, together with the boisterous drumming by Craig Piggot, being the recipe for success in heavy music. I loved their music and charisma, and so did the vast majority of the fans at The Opera House. A good sign of the band’s future, don’t you agree?

Band members
Anthony “Tooty” Tuttolomondo – vocals
Jason Crook – guitar, backing vocals
Pat Rogers – guitar
Rusty – bass
Craig Piggot – drums

TALES OF THE TOMB

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Tales Of The Tomb @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

There was still a lot more to come Saturday night, even with the clock getting closer to (or past) midnight, with the unique Psychological Horror/Death/Murder Metal brutally fired by Edmontonian metallers Tales Of The Tomb, who stood tall as the Prairie Final winner band. With lead singer Connor Adams, guitarist Corey Skerlak and bassist Bryn Herbert growling like possessed beats, Tales of The Tomb crushed the audience with their music inspired by icons such as Dying Fetus and Bloodbath, and the dark and gory vibe of classic slasher films. Those guys unleashed hell upon The Opera House, playing songs from their debut EP named Volume One: Morpras, as you can listen to at their BandCamp page. Nonstop violence is always fun in extreme music, and in the case of Tales Of The Tomb that enjoyment is multiplied by a thousand due to their demonic screeches and bestial riffs. In other words, a highly recommended band for fans of vicious Extreme Metal.

Band members
Connor Adams – vocals
Tres Thomas – guitar
Corey Skerlak – guitar, vocals
Bryn Herbert – bass, vocals
John Thomson – drums 

SPECIAL GUEST HEADLINERS: CRIMSON SHADOWS

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Crimson Shadows @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

And before that incredible night of Canadian Metal was over, we were treated to the Epic Death/Power Metal by special guest headliners Crimson Shadows, winners of the first edition of Wacken Metal Battle Canada in 2013, and also crowned the Metal Battle international winners at Wacken Open Air that same year. Well, the epic devastation crafted by these talented Torontonians, mixing the speed and intricacy of Dragonforce and Rhapsody with the vileness and heaviness of Children of Bodom, sounded even more potent on stage, with highlights to the excellent performance of newcomer Paul “Ablaze” Zinay with his harsh screams, and especially Mr. Greg Rounding with his fantastic riffs, solos and clean vocals. If you know nothing about Crimson Shadows, I suggest you take a listen at the high-end battle hymns Rise to Power and Braving the Storm, which were played to perfection during their electrifying concert. I believe that whenever Rise to Power is played, if you do not start singing it together with Crimson Shadows, raising your fists in the air, drinking a pint of beer and getting ready to die in the battlefield, you’re not a honorable warrior.

Band members
Paul “Ablaze” Zinay – vocals
Ryan Hofing – guitar
Greg Rounding – guitar, vocals
Alex Snape – bass
Cory Hofing – drums

AND THE WINNER IS…

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Profaner – 2016 Wacken Metal Battle Canada Winner

…everyone that attended the event this Saturday, especially the bands and the amazing crew that helped that metal celebration become true! Unfortunately, only one band could win the tournament and head to Wacken Open Air in August, but all five bands were simply amazing and deserve our humble recognition for keeping the fire of Canadian Metal alive. Congratulations to runner-ups DistortHead, who won a bunch of cool stuff from PureGrainAudio.com and Los Cabos Drumsticks that will be very beneficial to their career, and in special to the 2016 Wacken Metal Battle Canada winners PROFANER! YOU GUYS KICK ASS!

As previously mentioned, Crimson Shadows went to Wacken Open Air and won the international battle in 2013, and in 2015 Vesperia (who were there on Saturday to pass the crown to Profaner) re-lived that success by once again bringing the first place from Germany to Canada. Now it’s time for Profaner to show to the craziest metal fans in the entire world who will attend the festival in August how awesome Canadian Metal is. If you want to have a good overview of what happens to all independent bands while at Wacken Open Air, I recommend you watch the movie Wacken 3D – Louder Than Hell, from 2014. But that’s just in case you’re not going to join Profaner in their thrilling quest in Teutonic lands, of course.

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Concert Review – Wacken Metal Battle Toronto Round #4 (Bovine Sex Club, Toronto, ON, 03/27/2015)

The battle for a place among the Gods of Heavy Metal rages on in Toronto.

INTRODUCTION: Wacken Metal Battle Canada

wacken metal battle_toronto_round4This Friday, March 27 lots of metalheads showed up at the iconic Bovine Sex Club (probably the worst nightmare for a claustrophobic fan of heavy music) in Toronto, Ontario, to show their support for five promising Canadian metal bands during Wacken Metal Battle Toronto Round #4. I guess I don’t need to explain in details what a Wacken Metal Battle is, but in case you really don’t know anything about it simply go to their official website to check the RULES of this competition and the DATES AND LOCATIONS of all qualifying rounds, provincial semi-finals and finals, and the great Canadian final, as well as their official Facebook page for more details and updates on all the battles raging on across Canada. If you’re craving for fresh and electrifying heavy music, a Wacken Metal Battle is what you need.

Guest judges for this round were Jon Asher (Asher Media Relations), Oscar Rangel (Annihilator), Dan Hand (Underground Operations) and Andrew Epstein (FlinkTO), who had the privilege of watching five kick-ass bands ranging from blasting Death Metal to the most inspiring form of Power Metal: Rivers Run Red, Black Eve, Apokalyptik Warrior, Call Of The Wild and Olde. I honestly cannot say which one was my favorite, as they all delivered top-notch Heavy Metal much better than what several renowned bands haven’t been able to do in a long time. And the winner is… Well, let’s save it for the end of this review. First, enjoy a quick but candid review of each of the metal “infantries” fighting for a place among the Gods of Heavy Metal at the 2015 edition of the one and only Wacken Open Air in Germany. And sorry for the horrible photos, I had some issues with my camera.

RIVERS RUN RED

This straightforward band from Woodbridge, Ontario, was responsible for opening the night with those traditional Death Metal eviscerating vocals and demonic riffs perfect for mosh pits and brutal headbanging while enjoying a cold beer. If you want to listen to what Rivers Run Red are capable of when armed with their instruments, visit their SoundCloud page for a taste of their music. And of course, we can rest assured old school Death Metal will keep haunting Canada while talented bands like Rivers Run Red are out there.

Band members
Silvestro Lo Presti – vocals
Massimo Taglieri – lead guitar
Andrew La Porta – rhythm guitar
Matthew Trojan – bass
Anthony Ricci – drums

BLACK EVE

Led by frontman John “Deadman” Davis and delivering high amounts of energy, violence and obscurity through their music, Melodic Death Metal band Black Eve had a very professional and fun show that entertained everyone at the venue. Obviously, their evil gear and corpse paint are important elements of the band’s live performance, but it’s the music itself that stands out, with highlights to the excellent guitar duo composed by Mario Syposz and Reuben Pereira. You can take a listen at Black Eve’s demonic music at the band’s ReverbNation page, paying attention to their interesting lyrics inspired by classic horror movies and slasher flicks.

Band members
John “Deadman” Davis – vocals
Mario Syposz – lead guitar
Reuben Pereira – rhythm guitar
Cody Stanley – bass guitars
Trysten “Tragedy” Mclellan – drums

APOKALYPTIK WARRIOR

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Apokalyptik Warrior @ Bovine Sex Club, Toronto, ON, 03/27/2015

If you have no idea of what Street Metal means, the crazy bastards from Apokalyptik Warrior will teach you a lesson in that form of Heavy Metal. They do not aim at reinventing metal nor at being thoughtful or philosophical. All they wanted to do this Friday was driving the fans wild with their assault of metal riffs and harsh screams. Listen to this song by this nice Street Metal band and you’ll understand what I’m saying. In addition, it was really cool to see the guys from Black Eve slammin’ into the circle pits during Apokalyptik Warrior’s performance, showing us all that it was not actually a battle of bands happening at the Bovine Sex Club, but it was simply a gathering of friends and fans of heavy music.

Band members
General SS Ramsay – vocals, guitar
Baroness Denise Samuelson – bass
Battery Sergeant Adam ‘Mortal’ McLaughlin – drums

CALL OF THE WILD

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Call Of The Wild @ Bovine Sex Club, Toronto, ON, 03/27/2015

The third band of the night was a sign that the Heavy Metal gods are more powerful than ever, delivering their message through the music by awesome bands like Call Of The Wild. What an amazing and cohesive five-piece Torontonian Power Metal band, with songs such as Voyager being a beautiful tribute to everything we learned to love in the music by Iron Maiden, Helloween, Iced Earth and so on. And do I need to say anything about the stunning guitarist Cyndi Zhang? Her guitar lines are outstanding, not to mention that her true Asian beauty adds an extra touch of awesomeness to the band’s live performance. She deserves to be a “Metal Chick of the Month” here at The Headbanging Moose one day for sure. Anyway, what are you waiting for to heed the call of the wild?

Band members
Power Serg – vocals
Cyndi Zhang – guitar
Tom Stanley – guitar
Mark Nicholson – bass
Chris Maniac – drums

OLDE

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Olde @ Bovine Sex Club, Toronto, ON, 03/27/2015

Closing this amazing night of heavy music, it was time for some low-tuned riffs and deep growls with Doom/Sludge Metal band Olde, directly from Malton, Ontario. Olde are indeed another exceptional band with such a professional and heavy sounding it’s hard not to bang your head to their doomed music. Frontman Doug McLarty has a strong voice that helps the band deliver all the despair they want with their music, but it’s the work done by guitarist Greg Dawson and  drummer Ryan Aubin that truly maintains Olde’s music quality so high. Go to their SoundCloud page and also to their BandCamp page to listen to their debut full-length album, entitled I, and you’ll see why they were one of the chosen bands for this round of Wacken Metal Battle in Toronto.

Band members
Doug McLarty – vocals
Greg Dawson – guitar
Chris Hughes – guitar
Cory McCallum – bass
Ryan Aubin – drums

AND THE WINNER IS…

As a matter of fact, there were two winners that made it to the next round of Wacken Metal Battle in Toronto: APOKALYPTIK WARRIOR with their sick Streel Metal, and the power metallers from CALL OF THE WILD. Congratulations! It was indeed a well-deserved win for both bands, and I cannot wait to see how far those two excellent groups can go in the competition. Who knows, maybe Wacken Open Air this summer? There are still other battles to go in Toronto and everywhere else in Canada, so they better get ready for a lot more of this healthy and fun metal war if they want to gain their place among the Gods of Heavy Metal in German territory this year.

And just as a final note, if any of the bands above (or any other indie band all over the world) read this review and are about to release new material, you can always get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page and have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose, as well as have your music sent to The Metal Moose Radio. How about that, eh!?