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!?

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Album Review – Phantom / …Of Gods and Men (2014)

With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.

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Of Gods And Men v2.9Do you really love Heavy Metal? Do you not only listen to it, but feel it and live it every single day of your life? If your answer is “YES!”, screaming with your horns in the air, you MUST listen to …Of Gods and Men, the brand new album by Canadian Heavy Metal band Phantom, by far one of the best new metal bands I can think of. D.D. Murley, Necro Hippie and J.J. Blade (who unfortunately has left the band to pursue other career goals) are true Heavy Metal warriors, and they more than deliver it in this indie masterpiece.

Formed in January of 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, this Heavy Metal/Power Metal trio simply masters the art of crafting catchy, dynamic and nostalgic music, inspired by the musicality of the 80’s with huge doses of energy and passion for Heavy Metal. After releasing their 2013 EP The Powers That Be, and after playing the Newblood Stage at the famous Bloodstock Festival in the UK in 2014, this promising and electrifying band sounds even more mature and more than ready to conquer the world with their first full-length album. …Of Gods and Men is a Heavy Metal extravaganza, with each and every song definitely worth our time, money, screams and horns.

A megalith is not only a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones, like Stonehenge in the UK or the Easter Island’s Moai, but also the album art in …Of Gods and Men and the album’s imposing intro, Megalith, setting the tone for the superb Children of the Stars to kick some serious ass: the name is 80’s metal, the music is 80’s metal, and it’s totally awesome from start to finish.  Vocalist/guitarist D.D. Murley has an amazing voice, he is a great riffmaker, and he will surely get you pumped to scream with him the simple but excellent chorus “Pray for us / Children of the stars”. In other words, he knows how to deliver Heavy Metal to us all.

Too Young to Die, with its awesome bass lines and drums, introduces to us the refined skills of the other band members, bassist Necro Hippie and drummer J.J. Blade. Besides, its great energy and the message in the lyrics are a delight to fans of old school metal music, making it almost impossible not to start banging our heads nonstop. However, it’s the next song that can be considered the icing on the cake in …Of Gods and Men: Blood & Iron, a song heavily inspired by behemoths like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon, is the epitome of Heavy Metal, and there isn’t a single detail here that’s not 100% pure fuckin’ metal. I saw Phantom playing it live once opening for Blaze Bayley here in Toronto, and it got stuck inside my mind instantly. With its perfect galloping rhythm, Manowar-ish lyrics and also the “Oh-oh-oh-oh!” halfway through it, this is already a classic no matter if it’s a brand new song by an indie band. Why these guys are not signed yet to a strong record label is a question beyond my comprehension.

phantom-promoAnyway, the longest song of the album, The Kings Road, is more melodic than its predecessors, reminding me of old school Iron Maiden from Piece Of Mind and Powerslave with elements from 70’s Psychedelic Rock. It’s indeed a bold 8-minute instrumental track where all band members showcase their outstanding techniques as musicians. Right after that metal feast we have another intro, this time called Trinity, which invites us to enjoy the title-track, Of Gods and Men, with its beginning being a good indicator that pure metal is about to come. It’s another lesson in heavy music, with highlights to its great chorus and to the incredible synergy among all band members.

How not to headbang like a motherfuckin’ bastard to something that sounds even like old school Anthrax due to its heavier approach? Well, that’s the case in The Devil In Me, with its ressonating bass lines guiding the music while J.J. Blade pounds his drum kit. And lastly, the band offers us Beyond the Sun, a song that will leave us eager for more of Phantom’s heavy music without a shadow of a doubt. This is like Iron Maiden with Paul Di’Anno on vocals, with all its shredding, solos and insane speed making it truly outstanding.

The band will release …Of Gods and Men on December 6 at Toronto’s own legendary rock bar, the Bovine Sex Club, and if you live in Toronto or will be around the city on that day or weekend, do not miss the chance to witness one of the most powerful and exciting indie bands in Canada. There will be plenty of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire for all fans that attend their concert, and even more to tame the entire world with the release of such an epic album. This is Heavy Metal, period.

Best moments of the album: Children of the Stars, Blood & Iron and Beyond the Sun.

Worst moments of the album: Nothing in …Of Gods and Men is bad or boring at all.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Megalith 2:24
2. Children of the Stars 4:18
3. Too Young to Die 3:57
4. Blood & Iron 4:04
5. The Kings Road 8:20
6. Trinity 1:11
7. Of Gods and Men 5:28
8. The Devil In Me 5:08
9. Beyond the Sun 5:38

Band members
D.D. Murley – lead vocals and guitar
Necro Hippie – bass guitar
J.J. Blade – drums*

* Currently J.J. Blade has left the band to pursue other career goals.

Album Review – Laugh At The Fakes / Dethrone The Crown (2014)

This promising Canadian band is here to provide us all some good old Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal, crafted in the Great White North.

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Album Cover - Laught At The Fakes - Dethrone The Crown - 2014“O Canada! Our home and native land!”

And also a land with so many awesome indie metal bands I could spend hours and hours talking about each one of them. However, if there’s one new Canadian group that truly deserves a lot of our attention, it’s Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band Laugh At The Fakes. Formed in 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, and after releasing their debut six-song EP One Night Only in 2011, this quartet is about to release their first full-length album, entitled Dethrone The Crown, a very honest and exciting celebration of the only music we love, our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Do not expect to listen to modern North American metal, electronic sound effects, infinite doses of virtuosity or anything like that in any of the songs from Dethrone The Crown. Laugh At The Fakes focus heavily on raw traditional rock music, influenced by the musicality of bands such as Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Alice In Chains, among many other classics, and dealing with contemporary topics like murder, corruption and war.

From the very first riff of the opening track, Not Like Me, you can enjoy their traditional Hard Rock with a huge Heavy Metal influence, something like a mix of Led Zeppelin and Alice In Chains, which is reinforced by the 70’s/80’s Rock N’ Roll vocals by singer/guitarist Everett Mason. It’s a nice song for headbanging, with the final part of it being totally awesome, especially the guitar solo and the accelerated drums. The second track, Death Awaits, is a more metallic tune (probably inspired by the NWOBHM) that gets a lot heavier and progressive halfway through the song, with highlights to its lyrics that couldn’t be more real than that (“The uniform buys you time, a luxury you’d never give / Pulling the trigger, it makes you feel bigger, for taking a life away, from our own”), followed by the superb Cut To The Chase, a soulful Hard Rock tune perfect for hitting the road, with its excellent guitar solo making it even more enjoyable.

Killing Time, the first single of the album (a perfect choice, by the way), is a very professional and pleasant music journey guided by its amazing riffs, with lots of elements from the beginnings of Heavy Metal and 70’s Rock N’ Roll, while Fighting Dirty focuses on more traditional Heavy Metal the likes of old school Deep Purple, with highlights to its nice chorus and all the progressive parts that flow until the end of it. Then we have Got No Regrets, which sounds like the stuff Maiden recorded in Piece Of Mind, especially its rhythmic drums, vocals and lyrics (“I don’t belong here, I got no reason left to stay / I’m getting lost dear, my mind is far far away”), and Harmonica Playing Man, a song that flirts with Pop Rock and maybe due to that it’s a little below the rest of the album in terms of quality.

Laugh At The Fakes - Photo Credit - Naryan Wong 3Finally, closing the album on a high note we have And I, another good Hard Rock song with a huge influence from Rock N’ Roll from the 70’s, with its smooth vocals blended really well with the melodic bass lines, and the title-track, Dethrone The Crown, a more ferocious song with hints of Thrash/Death Metal, which despite being very technical, it doesn’t sound cheesy at all.

If you hadn’t had a chance to see those guys playing live, like I did when they opened for Blaze Bayley at the Metal Showcase on October 17 during Indie Week Canada, you can check their music at their official website or at their Facebook page, and stay tuned for the release of Dethrone The Crown pretty soon on their iTunes profile page, as well as in other online and physical stores. And do not miss their CD release party this November 14 (Friday) at Bovine Sex Club, in Toronto. Just like the Centennial Flame in Ottawa will never die, Laugh At The Fakes are making sure Canadian Rock N’ Roll won’t die either with their honest music crafted in the Great White North.

Best moments of the album: Cut To The Chase, Killing Time and Fighting Dirty.

Worst moments of the album: Harmonica Playing Man.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Not Like Me 6:28
2. Death Awaits 4:52
3. Cut To The Chase 3:37
4. Killing Time 6:14
5. Fighting Dirty 5:38
6. Got No Regrets 4:03
7. Harmonica Playing Man 6:15
8. And I 6:56
9. Dethrone The Crown 5:14

Band members
Everett Mason – guitar, vocals
Kevin Daliri – guitar
Galen Weir – bass
Chris Avalos – drums