Album Review – Mutank / W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. EP (2017)

They have a lot of thrashing songs that have abbreviated titles, and they kick some serious ass with their old school music and hardcore attitude.

They have a lot of thrashing songs that have abbreviated titles on their menu, and all those songs will certainly put you to slam into the circle pit with their endless electricity and catchy melodies. I’m talking about Canadian Crossover/Trash Metal act Mutank, who have just released a new EP titled W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. (which according to the band means “We Have Alotta Thrash Songs That Have Abbreviated Titles”). Displaying a kick-ass old school cover art by Andrei Bouzikov (Holycide, Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch), W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. is not just a set of five amazing Crossover Thrash songs, but it’s also a follow-up to the band’s 2014 debut album M.E.C.H. METAL, which carved Mutank’s name in the Montreal Thrash scene and led them to play at Wacken Open Air that same year, as well as a taste of what’s to come as the band will have a full-length album to follow the EP later this year.

Inspired by Megadeth, Overkill, Iron Maiden, Municipal Waste, Mike Patton and the golden age of Thrash Metal, this Montreal-based quartet describes their sound as a “T-Rex skateboarding down a volcano”, which is exactly what you’ll find in W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. “Our upcoming EP W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. sort of started as a joke. I just thought it would be funny to force an acronym for ‘what’s that?’ and I came up with ‘We Have Alottta Thrash Songs That Have Abbreviate Titles’. From there we came up with the concept of an EP with a bunch of forced acronym titles. The EP itself was written somewhat conceptually with the individual songs being very short thrash songs that come together to make one longer progressive thrash track, which harkens back to the title since we don’t even know what it is! We have a ton of new material in the works as well, people can expect new stuff sooner rather than later!”

In the opening track, titled  L.I.F.E. (“Lament Infinity, Forlorn Eternity”), we’re treated to the sharp, thrilling guitar riffs and solos by Costa Skoulikas and Lee Whiskey in one minute of old school Thrash Metal, warming up the listener for I.D.I.O.T. (“I’ll Do It Over Tomorrow”), with its sick lyrics being nicely declaimed by lead singer and bassist Stephen Reynolds (“My brain’s a backed-up toilet / Can’t function cuz’ somebody soiled it / The posterior of prosperity / Thoughts too inbred to decongest / They’re unrelated so it can’t be incest / As I plunge into depravity”), whose rumbling bass also adds an extra kick to the song. Slam into the pit, have a beer with your buddies or simply bang your head nonstop to this uncompromised and electrified tune, before Mutank brings forth more shredding and thunderous bass lines for our avid ears in the faster and more hardcore mosh pit-generator P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S. (“Price Of Progress: Ugly Little Organisms Undermining Society”). This awesome composition sounds like the Thrash Metal played by Anthrax with Mutank’s own touch, turning it into the best track of the EP in my opinion.

F.O.G. (“Frailty Of Genius”) can be summarized as a minute and a half of pure madness led by the groovy beast by drummer Ahmed Daas and the inebriate vocals by Stephen, who once again sings the song’s old school demented lyrics with all his strength (“I walk around saying “It’s too late” / I know it ain’t / I guess that’s why I hold my breath under the water / ’til I come back up and drown in air”). And D.E.A.T.H. (“Divine Evaluation Awaits Thee Human”), the longest of all tracks, is also the one with the highest amount of complexity, showcasing thrashing guitars and a badass attitude, with Stephen and Ahmed sounding simply bestial with their bass and drums, respectively.

In ten minutes, Mutank slam more than several bands in their entire careers, and that says a lot about the overall quality of the music found in W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. You can get to know more about Mutank and their wicked acronyms and abbreviations at their Facebook page, listen to their high-voltage music on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and purchase W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. through their BandCamp page. I was trying to come up with a fun abbreviation to conclude this review, but you know what? Leave those to Mutank, as they definitely know how to condense words and, more important than that, amazing music into their short but extremely fun compositions.

Best moments of the album: I.D.I.O.T. and P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Boonsdale Records

Track listing
1. L.I.F.E. (Instrumental) 1:01
2. I.D.I.O.T. 2:06
3. P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S. 1:40
4. F.O.G. 1:33
5. D.E.A.T.H. 3:50

Band members
Stephen Reynolds – vocals, bass
Costa Skoulikas – guitar
Lee Whiskey – guitar
Ahmed Daas – drums

Concert Review –Testament (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/27/2017)

When you have two of the best and most iconic Thrash Metal bands of all time playing together in the city, you know exactly where you have to be.

OPENING ACTS: Prong and Sepultura

As much as I enjoy the Phoenix Concert Theatre and obviously the bands that were going to play last night, I truly and deeply hate the weekdays rush hour traffic to get from my town, the suburban Oakville, to Toronto whenever there’s a good metal concert I want to attend. At least the weather was fantastic (even with a short storm that happened at around 7pm), with the temperature being above 20 degrees, which means no one had to carry their burdensome jackets like what always happens when a concert is in the middle of the winter.

Anyway, due to traffic (and because I had to eat something before heading to the venue), I completely missed the performance by American Crossover Thrash power trio PRONG. I have absolutely no idea if it was a good concert or not. Well, probably yes as the group spearheaded by Tommy Victor has all it takes to deliver great music to the audience, but unfortunately I can’t say a word about what they did last night, not even write down their setlist.

Band members
Tommy Victor – lead vocals, guitar
Jason Christopher – bass guitar, backing vocals
Art Cruz – drums

Fortunately, I got to the Phoenix Concert Theatre just in time to see the always amazing show by Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal masters SEPULTURA, who are currently promoting their latest album, the very experimental and exciting Machine Messiah.  Derrick Green, Andreas Kisser, Paulo Jr. and Eloy Casagrande put on an electrified performance on stage from start to finish, blending several songs of their new album like the excellent Phantom Self and Sworn Oath with all-time classics such as Desperate Cry, Inner Self (my favorite of the night) and Refuse/Resist, and of course the song most fans at the venue wanted to hear, their ritualistic hymn Roots Bloody Roots. The sound was very clear, cohesive and powerful, just like what the band offers us in their studio albums, proving Sepultura are a band that always provides their fans the same high level of quality found in their studio versions when they transport those compositions to the stage. As usual, the highlights of their performance were the insane riffs, solos and other awesome tricks done by Andreas with his guitar. That guy is one of the most gifted guitarists in the history of heavy music, which means if you’ve never seen him playing live, don’t miss that chance the next time “Sepultura do Brasil” visit your city.

Setlist
I Am the Enemy
Phantom Self
Choke
Desperate Cry
Sworn Oath
Inner Self
Alethea
Resistant Parasites
Refuse/Resist
Ratamahatta
Roots Bloody Roots

Band members
Derrick Green – lead vocals
Andreas Kisser – guitars
Paulo Jr. – bass
Eloy Casagrande – drums, percussion

TESTAMENT

After a short bathroom and beer break, it was time for American Thrash Metal behemoths TESTAMENT to create a sonic Armageddon in Toronto with their unparalleled aggression and refined technique. I guess I always say the same thing about Testament, but all band members are extremely talented and way above average, in special the guitar virtuoso Alex Skolnick and the human earthquake Gene Hoglan. Those two are not simple musicians, they’re demonic beasts when armed with their instruments, delivering the best of the best when it comes to heavy music.

Blasting some of their newest creations from the best metal album of 2016, the superb Brotherhood Of The Snake, especially the kick-ass tunes Brotherhood of the Snake, The Pale King and Stronghold, with old school songs and newer classics, they delivered a flawless performance for the delight of all metalheads at the venue. A few songs from their setlist deserve some special attention, like the brutal and sensational Rise Up for its enhanced mighty power when played live, the high-octane Centuries of Suffering for the insanely intricate magic Gene does behind his drums, and Electric Crown for the amount of groove and feeling flowing from the band’s instruments.

My only complaint about the concert was the excessive amount of solos, one for each band member. As much as I love each guy from the band, I personally prefer regular songs than solos. If they replaced those solos with newer songs like “The Number Game” or “Native Blood”, or with classic like “D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)” or “Burnt Offerings”, it would have been just perfect, but that’s just my opinion. The whole concert was fuckin’ awesome anyway; not even all those solos were able to cool down the audience, mainly because whenever there was a solo there was also a demolishing classic right after it, like when they played the circle pit-generator First Strike Is Deadly after Gene’s drum solo.

Before playing the encore, the iconic Chuck Billy, who by the way is singing better and better as time goes by, therefore being able to perfectly replicate his sensational deep growls live without making any extra effort, told the fans a story about when they were in Texas hanging out with the guys from one of the most respected, energized and violent bands of all time, the one and only Pantera, drinking Jack Daniel’s (and probably taking other stuff as well) with them. Can you imagine that? Testament and Pantera together? The 90’s were definitely the best period for Thrash Metal, no doubt about that. Chuck said that after a lot of drinking, something hit his head (maybe a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, or maybe it was the alcohol itself) and he told the other guys he had the name for their new album. It was going to be called Practice What you Preach, one of their biggest hits, and one of the best of the night as well.

There was still time for one last sick mosh pit with Over the Wall, and after all was said and done you could see how happy all fans of Testament were with their amazing performance. As Chuck said, I hope all promoters in Canada turn their eyes to Testament more often aiming at having more concerts all over the country, not only two or three cities. Let’s hope that those promoters listen to the deep voice by Chuck and we have more of the brotherhood of Thrash Metal in our currently not-so-cold country, because after such brilliant performance last night I’m sure all Torontonian fans of Testament are eager for more of their music.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
The Pale King
Centuries of Suffering
Alex Skolnick’s Guitar Solo
Electric Crown
Into the Pit
Low
Throne of Thorns
Stronghold
Eric Peterson’s Guitar Solo
Eyes of Wrath
Gene Hoglan’s Drum Solo
First Strike Is Deadly
Steve DiGiorgio’s Bass Solo
Urotsukidôji
Souls of Black
Seven Seals
The New Order

Encore:
Practice What You Preach
Over the Wall

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Gene Hoglan – drums

Concert Review – Heavy Montréal 2014 Day 2 (Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC, 08/10/2014)

A scorching hot Sunday of impeccable heavy music in Montreal.

DEATH ANGEL

IMG_2880After a good night of rest I was ready for more Heavy Montréal at Parc Jean Drapeau on Sunday. However, not only I was able to arrive really early that day (missing only a couple of minor bands), but also the sun was a lot hotter and the lineup  a billion times heavier, turning that day into some kind of heavy music survival camp, which was totally awesome.

The first attraction I was able to check on Sunday was American Thrash Metal band Death Angel, who at 1:30pm delivered a very consistent concert at the Heavy Stage, mixing some old songs with new ones from their most recent album from 2013 in their SETLIST, with highlights to the title-track The Dream Calls For Blood, one of the songs with the highest response from thousands of thrash metallers already present at the festival. And, of course, the energy lead singer Mark Osegueda emanates throughout the entire show was more than admirable.

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – lead guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitars
Damien Sisson – bass guitar
Will Carroll – drums

EXODUS

IMG_2883When American Thrash Metal beasts Exodus started their sonic Armageddon at 2:15pm at the Molson Canadian Stage, especially with the return of Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals, the smile on the faces of all fans perfectly represented what Exodus are: a nonstop Thrash Metal machine ready to rumble until there’s no one standing anymore. I’ve always considered them the “extra” element that would transform the Big Four into a Big Five, and everytime I see them live I believe in that even more.

Despite not playing any new stuff from their upcoming album Blood In, Blood Out (which I really cannot wait to take a listen to), their short but superb SETLIST was a perfect lesson in Thrash Metal: Bonded By Blood, Blacklist, Toxic Waltz, Piranha, Strike of the Beast, among other masterful songs, were the soundtrack for intense circle pits, furious headbanging and constant beer drinking.

All band members were on fire, especially the returning Zetro (and his HUGE belly) and the riff master Gary Holt, a man that deserves a lot more recognition in the world of heavy music than he actually has. Maybe the only issues with their concert were sound of the guitars, which were too low compared to the drums, and the fact they had only 45 minutes to play. Anyway, the “Exodus Atack” might have been short, but it was indeed extremely effective.

Band members
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – guitar
Lee Altus – guitar
Jack Gibson – bass
Tom Hunting – drums

EPICA

IMG_2886After the BEASTS from Exodus, it was time for everyone to relax (and bang their heads, of course) with the BEAUTY Simone Simons and her bandmates from Dutch Symphonic Metal band Epica at 3:00pm, at the Heavy Stage. Their SETLIST was also pretty short, but instead of playing their classics they decided to offer their fans a concert full of new songs from their brand new album, the excellent The Quantum Enigma, which worked really well for them: everybody watching their performance truly enjoyed songs like The Second Stone, The Essence of Silence and Unchain Utopia.

Obviously, everyone had their eyes fixed on the stunning Simone, who is not only extremely gorgeous, but an awesome singer and a very sympathetic and charismatic frontwoman. Her headbanging was also amazing, especially due to the effect her beautiful long red hair had on that. Lastly, Simone mentioned they’re getting back to Canada in October with Machine Head and Children of Bodom, this time for a full 2-hour concert. Are you going to miss that unique opportunity?

Band members
Simone Simons – lead vocals
Mark Jansen – rhythm guitar, grunts, screams
Isaac Delahaye – lead guitar, backing vocals
Rob van der Loo – bass
Coen Janssen – synthesizer, piano
Ariën van Weesenbeek – drums, grunts, spoken words

BODY COUNT

IMG_2898I skipped Symphony X not only because they’re quite boring, but also to breathe some fresh air, watch good-quality wrestling matches at the Heavy Mania Stage, drink a couple of beers, and get ready for American Crossover Thrash band Body Count. At 4:30pm there they were at the Heavy Stage, or I should say that Body Count was literally “in the house”: that was a very entertaining concert, full of classics such as Body Count’s In the House, Disorder (my favorite of their SETLIST), Cop Killer and Talk Shit, Get Shot.

I must say that Ice-T, the mastermind behind Body Count, is a motherfuckin’ great frontman. Even after all those years, the man still got it and perfectly interacted with each and every person from the crowd. The funniest part was when he pointed to a girl and asked her age. She said she was only 16, for his surprise, as he replied back saying he would expect to see her at a Justin Bieber concert, not at Body Count, but he was 100% happy with her being there. He then pronounced some “beautiful” words for her, saying it was a pleasure to have her there and that the whole band truly respected that “bitch”. Well, the “bitch” seemed to be honored with his words. A day to remember, “bitch”!

Band members
Ice-T – vocals
Ernie C – lead guitar
Juan of the Dead – rhythm guitar
Sean E Sean – sampler, backing vocals
Vincent Price – bass
Ill Will – drums

BAD RELIGION

IMG_2902After skipping another concert, Hatebreed, and watching only 5 minutes of Alestorm’s performance at the Apocalypse Stage, I ran back to the Heavy Stage at 6:00pm for a memorable performance by American Punk Rock icons Bad Religion. The band was back in town just one year after their last performance there, or as frontman Greg Graffin said during the show, Bad Religion were back to Montreal “1 year later, 10 years older, and all fans looking better than ever”.

And what can be said about a nonstop SETLIST with 22 songs, including masterpieces such as Recipe for Hate, Struck a Nerve, 21st Century (Digital Boy), Infected, Punk Rock Song and American Jesus? It was pure madness, with kudos to drummer Brooks Wackerman for pounding his drums so intensely that each and every song became even better than the studio versions. Bad Religion might look 10 years older, but they sound like if they were all in their mid-20’s.

Band members
Greg Graffin – lead vocals
Brian Baker – lead guitar, backing vocals
Mike Dimkich – guitar, backing vocals
Brett Gurewitz – guitar, backing vocals
Jay Bentley – bass, backing vocals
Brooks Wackerman – drums, percussion

LAMB OF GOD

IMG_2907The sun was still scorching hot at 7:00pm when Twisted Sister hit the stage, so I decided to rest for a while at the Wi-Fi zone before heading back to the Heavy Stage, where at 8:00pm American Groove Metal band Lamb of God began their sonic massacre to the total delight of their diehard fans. They played a pretty decent SETLIST, with powerful songs like Walk with Me in Hell, Laid To Rest and Redneck, all accompanied by their respective awesome disturbing videos depending of course on the lyric theme, showing random images of junkies, religious fanatics such as Jim Jones and his followers, among others. That was an amazing addition to the show, holding the attention of even who was not a fan of their music.

However, it was lead singer Randy Blythe who stole the show with his close interaction with the audience, especially his funny jokes and messages, like when he said Dee Snider is one of his biggest idols (as they both have their issues with the law), his admiration for the badass names “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan”, and mainly when he asked everyone to give him a huge fuckin’ “WOOOOOO!” in honor of the Nature Boy, the one and only wrestling legend Ric Flair. And I guess I don’t need to mention anything about the insane mosh pits, right?

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Mark Morton – guitar
Willie Adler – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums

SLAYER

IMG_2909You don’t need to ask anyone what you should or should not play when you’re FUCKIN’ SLAYER! At 9:15pm, American Thrash Metal behemoths tamed the Molson Canadian Stage for a brutal performance that almost devastated the whole island, bringing even the “plague” (or tons of mosquitoes) to Heavy Montréal (according to Tom Araya himself) and closing the festival on a perfect note. The most evil band in the world didn’t play any new songs, not even the recently released Implode, and of course there were no fuckin’ “requests” in their SETLIST. They simply chose to stick to their basics instead, bombarding each fan attending the concert with undisputed Thrash Metal classics such as War Ensemble, At Dawn They Sleep, Spirit in Black, Disciple, Raining Blood, Die By the Sword and Angel of Death.

It was another flawless performance by Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, and one thing must be said about Gary and Paul: they had some absurdly humongous shoes to fill when they replaced the gods Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo, but their synergy with the other guys and their passion for heavy music make it look like they’ve always been with the band. Gary Holt is a guitar beast, as I’ve said a billion times already, and Paul Bostaph is so awesome he makes playing drums look like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

In between the songs and all the sick circle pits happening all over the festival, Tom Araya thanked the fans a thousand times for being there, saying they were the reason for that kind of festival to exist. He seemed really happy and honored by how loud everyone was screaming their names and singing their songs during the entire concert. In addition, he also tried to send some meaningful messages to the crowd while introducing some songs, like when he mentioned the horrible conflict that’s happening now between Israel and Palestine, before playing the masterpiece Die By the Sword. Do I need to say a “Slayer by Request” is totally unnecessary, especially when a band is so impressive as they are, no matter what they choose to play? I believe all the “SLAYER! SLAYER! SLAYER!” screams that echoed really loudly at the venue when the concert was over, at all subway stations and even at a McDonald’s where I had a pit stop to get some food can answer that.

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was probably the best edition in the history of Heavy Montréal, because not only the main-eventers were brilliant, but mainly because the way everything was set up made the whole experience really pleasant for any type of person attending the festival. For instance, the extra stage this year allowed even more independent and/or newer bands to get known by the audience, the continuation of the Heavy Mania Stage was a great success, and the Heavy Montréal 2014 App was more than helpful for everybody.

Moreover, I don’t remember seeing any incidents during both days at Parc Jean-Drapeau. I cannot believe it’s 2014 and some idiots keep insisting on saying headbangers are violent people, when in fact we’re the most easy-going people in the whole fuckin’ world. Anyway, it’s time to recover from those two intense days, work, study, listen to metal and enjoy the local concerts wherever you are, until a new edition of Heavy Montréal is forged in the fires of heavy music next year for our pure delectation. What are your thoughts about Heavy Montréal 2014? Which attractions did or did not meet your expectations? And who do you want to see at Heavy Montréal 2015? Leave your comments below (if you have any) and, of course, keep listening to heavy music.