Concert Review – Godsmack & Volbeat (Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON, 05/10/2019)

And the city of Ottawa was more than ready to rumble with two of the best bands of the modern Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll scene.

OPENING ACT: Stitched Up Heart

Although my drive from Toronto to Ottawa on Thursday was a complete shit due to the nasty rain and all the trucks spraying tons of water on my windshield, that didn’t turn my energy level down not even a bit for the concert that was about to happen on Friday. I was really pumped to see what’s probably the best modern Rock N’ Roll bands available out there, the almighty Volbeat and the incendiary Godsmack, kicking some serious ass on stage at Richcraft Live (I honestly have no idea what that name means) at the Canadian Tire Centre. It was my first time at that venue and I must say it’s indeed a great place to watch a concert or a sports event, but unfortunately getting there is not that easy unless you drive, take a taxi or Uber to the venue, which ends up inflating the parking costs considerably.

Anyway, fans were still arriving at the venue when Los Angeles-based Hard Rock act STITCHED UP HEART began their short but effective performance, spearheaded by the beautiful Mixi on vocals. If you have no idea about what type of music Stitched Up Heart play, let’s say it’s a fusion of the contemporary Hard Rock played by Godsmack with Evanescence and Marilyn Manson, and the final result is very entertaining. It was a beyond solid warm-up for the main attractions of the night, and a very good welcome card from the band to us fans of rock music here in Canada, as I don’t actually remember seeing them anywhere around here before this tour opening for Volbeat and Godsmack. In other words, go to their official website for more information about the band, where they’re playing, where to buy their music, and so on, as those guys (and girl, of course) are definitely worth a shot.

Setlist
This Skin
Warrior
Catch Me When I Fall
Darkness
Straightjacket
Finally Free
Lost (feat. Sully Erna)

Band members
Mixi – vocals
Merritt – guitar
Randy – bass
Decker – drums 

VOLBEAT

After a short break, and with the Canadian Tire Centre already occupied by thousands of fans from different parts of Canada and the United States, it was time for Danish rockers VOLBEAT to bring to Ottawa their undisputed Rock N’ Roll infused with Heavy Metal nuances, proving once again that Copenhagen-based quartet is not one of the biggest names in the current Rock N’ Roll scene in vain. Still promoting their 2016 album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, but just about to release a brand new album (for our total delight), the band comprised of Michael Poulsen on vocals and rhythm guitar, Rob Caggiano on lead guitar, Kaspar Boye Larsen on bass, and Jon Larsen on drums set the venue on fire with their fast and melodic riffs and beats, and of course, endless electricity (despite the fact that Mr. Poulsen was visibly fighting some sort of cold or flu).

From the first few notes from the excellent The Devil’s Bleeding Crown to the closing moments from the already classic Still Counting, Volbeat delivered what’s expected from them, inspiring all fans from the floor section to ignite some fun (and furious) circle pits, especially during their most metallic songs such as A Warrior’s Call, 16 Dollars, Doc Holliday and Seal the Deal. Also, I think I’ve already mentioned this before, but it’s always impressive to witness how powerful and precise Mr. Caggiano is on the guitar, elevating the band’s sonority to new heights since entering the band in 2013. In addition, one song that I was extremely happy they played was Hallelujah Goat, one of my favorite Volbeat songs of all time due to its energy and heaviness, potentialized by Rob’s amazing technique and feeling. And before I forget, the band also played a brand new song for the first time ever in Ottawa, the 40-second Punk Rock tune Parasite, which albeit being extremely short it was well received by all fans who were paying attention at the moment, because you know, 40 seconds are not enough not even for a quick bathroom break. In a nutshell, I know that I just saw Volbeat live and that I’ll see them again with Slipknot, Gojira and Behemoth soon here in Toronto, but they’re so good live I cannot wait, and besides, their concerts are never long enough for them to play all of their classics.

Setlist
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Lola Montez
Sad Man’s Tongue (with Ring of Fire intro)
A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
Let It Burn
Black Rose
Parasite
16 Dollars
Dead but Rising
Fallen
Hallelujah Goat
Marie Laveau
Doc Holliday
Seal the Deal
Still Counting

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar
Jon Larsen – drums

GODSMACK

It was close to 9:45pm when the lights went out, a fun mashup of classic rock songs started playing from the amps, and finally GODSMACK hit the stage with their unique mix of Alternative Rock and Heavy Metal. I confess I don’t think their 2018 album When Legends Rise is one of their best efforts to date; quite the contrary, it’s relatively weak compared for example to their previous album, the fantastic 1000hp, released in 2014, but Sully Erna and his henchmen are so amazing in what they do they managed to turn all of the songs they played from their new album, those being When Legends Rise, Say My Name, Unforgettable, Under Your Scars and Bulletproof, into truly amazing moments of their performance. By the way, as explained by Sully during the concert, inspired by their own song Under Your Scars, Godsmack have recently founded The Scars Foundation to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that so many are faced with today. Needless to say, donate and show your support to such important and noble cause.

Getting back to the concert, I have to say that even if they played bad music the whole thing would still have been at least great, as all the fire and other special effects on stage added a lot of energy to their performance. But, of course, Godsmack do not play bad music, and fantastic songs like 1000hp (my favorite of the night), Cryin’ Like a Bitch and Whatever put a huge smile on the faces of every single fan watching their concert. Furthermore, there were three very distinct moments that let’s say “surprised” most fans due to their uniqueness, those being their dark and enthralling performance of their all-time hit Voodoo, the interesting Batalla De Los Tambores (or “battle of the drums”, if you know nothing in Spanish) between Sully and the extremely talented drummer Shannon Larkin, and the Rock N’ Roll party established on stage when Rob Caggiano and the entire Stitched Up Heart joined them on stage for a cover version of AC/DC’s classic Highway to Hell.

In the end, after Godsmack played their heavier-than-hell hit I Stand Alone, all fans left the Canadian Tire Centre extremely satisfied, hoping the band doesn’t take another abysmal time to return to Canadian soil. On the other hand, if you live in Canada and missed Godsmack, I feel really sorry for your soul. A band like that is always busy, always touring the world, and they don’t have a lot of empty spot to fill out with Canadian dates. Well, don’t cry like a bitch if you missed it, simply stay tuned to their upcoming tours and do like the rockin’ citizens from Ottawa, whenever you hear the words “Volbeat” or “Godsmack”, put on your black shirt, you leather jacket and get ready to rumble like there’s no tomorrow with one of the best and most electrifying bands of the not-so-new generation of rock and metal music.

Setlist
When Legends Rise
1000hp
Say My Name
Keep Away (Moon Baby Outro)
Cryin’ Like a Bitch
Awake
Unforgettable
Something Different
Voodoo
Batalla De Los Tambores
Whatever

Encore:
Under Your Scars
Bulletproof
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover)
I Stand Alone

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

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Album Review – The Sun Through a Telescope / Black Hole Smile (2017)

Brave the psychedelic sludge waters of Doom and Drone Metal brought forth by this inventive one-man band from Canada, and have your musical boundaries pushed further in a unique way.

I love when a band challenges our senses and pushes our musical boundaries further and further, which is exactly what you’ll face in Black Hole Smile, the brand new album by Canadian Drone/Doom Metal one-man project The Sun Through a Telescope, led by Ottawa-based multi-instrumentalist Leigh Newton (also known as Lee Neutron). In nothing less than 17 (yes, seventeen!) distinct tracks, Lee offers the listener an unconventional fusion of several styles and genres that will blow your mind, or as he likes to say, his music is where “Blackened Doom meets Ambient Drone, soaked in psychedelic sludge water.”

Lee has been very active with his The Sun Through a Telescope since 2011, having released a few EP’s that year before his first full-length album, titled I Die Smiling, came to light in 2013. The following year saw the birth of a new EP named Unnatural Cruciform on a Moss Covered Rock, paving the path for Lee to go even further with his creativity and bring forth Black Hole Smile. Each song will sound different than the others, each one being a distinct experiment by Lee, creating a parallel universe of music that might not make a lot of sense at first, but that will certainly get you entranced from start to finish.

In the very atmospheric, psychedelic and experimental Never Pray, Lee’s clean vocals sound as if he was in a different dimension, with the song’s background being only a distant, smooth noise, becoming an interesting warm-up for Living Every Single Hell, where alternative and distorted guitars are complemented by slow, sharp beats before an explosion of rage and anger with elements of Black and Death Metal invades our ears. Furthermore, Lee goes from maniac growls to desolated clean vocals and back to his demented mode à la Mike Patton, guiding us in a 10-minute voyage through the world of The Sun Through a Telescope. With such an impactful name, I couldn’t expect anything less visceral and experimental than Worm(hole)s, where Lee offers more of his hypnotic guitars and doomed beats, as well as his sick gnarls blending Drone and Doom Metal in a very gripping manner; followed by The Inverted Cross Of A Sunday Funday, a fun and solid instrumental piece by this one-man army displaying less than two minutes of demonic sounds inspired by the meanest forms of Industrial and Drone Metal.

“More Light” continues with Lee’s movie score-inspired extravaganza, being somehow epic and building an instant connection to Every Single Living Hell (note the word play with the second track of the album), with the crow in the background giving it a funereal vibe before becoming a hellish hybrid of Blackened Doom and Drone Metal, also presenting wicked sounds usually found in Alternative and Groove Metal. Focusing on its choir-like vocals and gentle guitar lines, the purely atmospheric composition Dead Dies, New Born gets to a more Alternative Rock and Metal sonority halfway through it, giving even a sense of hope to the whole song, whereas Something Witchy offers 40 seconds of a demented devastation full of distortions and wicked growls before peace returns in No Way Home. However, that peaceful ambience lasts only until half of the song, when Lee beings firing his blast beats and atmospheric vocals again.

Black Hole Bile and “Oh No, This Is Mine” are two similar but somehow unique one-minute deranged instrumental tunes, while A Prolonged Vegetative State presents a more violent side of The Sun Through a Telescope, showcasing deeper guttural and heavier sounds as if Faith No More was “poisoned” with the darkness of Drone and Doom Metal. And never tired of experimenting with different sounds, Lee delivers the Ambient Black Metal tunes Burn Everything and No More Light, with things only getting weirder and more experimental as the album progresses, so alternative it’s impossible to label what’s happening. If I try to explain the music in Caught, Drugged, Trial, Exile, one more atmospheric creation spawned by Lee, I would say there’s an inner fury in this song that never fully comes out, increasing its anxiousness and despair, while the melancholy and the sounds of birds in the background in Dead Tomorrow flow into the pleasant sonority with smooth vocals and the delicate instrumental from Whitehole / Brighthell, with moments of anger meticulously inserted at specific parts of the song, building a suffocating and climatic conclusion to this extravagant album.

If you want to know more about Lee and his The Sun Through a Telescope, simply visit his Facebook page for the most up-to-date news, with Black Hole Smile (which can be streamed in its entirety HERE) being available for purchase on BandCamp, CD Baby, iTunes and on Amazon. After swimming in the psychedelic sludge waters of Doom and Drone Metal proposed by The Sun Through a Telescope, I’m sure your view of the current state of heavy music will change considerably, proving how important independent artists like Lee are for music and arts in general.

Best moments of the album: Living Every Single Hell, Every Single Living Hell, A Prolonged Vegetative State and Whitehole / Brighthell.

Worst moments of the album: “Oh No, This Is Mine” and No More Light.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Never Pray 2:55
2. Living Every Single Hell 9:57
3. Worm(hole)s 6:20
4. The Inverted Cross Of A Sunday Funday 1:39
5. “More Light” 1:35
6. Every Single Living Hell 7:50
7. Dead Dies, New Born 4:06
8. Something Witchy 0:38
9. No Way Home 3:14
10. Black Hole Bile 1:06
11. “Oh No, This Is Mine” 1:17
12. A Prolonged Vegetative State 2:59
13. Burn Everything 1:04
14. No More Light 2:05
15. Caught, Drugged, Trial, Exile 5:38
16. Dead Tomorrow 0:51
17. Whitehole / Brighthell 7:08

Band members
Lee Neutron – vocals, guitars, bass, drums, programming, samples

Guest musician
Ava – additional vocals

Album Review – Antlion / The Prescient (2015)

A progressive, technical and “psychedethic” album by a Canadian band that has all it takes to dominate the world of Death Metal.

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antlion artHave you ever heard of the expression “psychedethic” in your life? That’s how Canadian Progressive/Technical Death Metal band Antlion refers to their music, a powerful combination of the wrath found in Death Metal with an unbounded burst of groove and progressiveness. Based on what their debut full-length album The Prescient has to offer, I must agree this new term created by the band should be added to the dictionary, and as soon as you hit play you’ll have the perfect explanation to that in the form of high-quality Canadian metal.

Although the band was formed in 2012 in the city of Ottawa, Canada, it’s just now in 2015 that they’re releasing their first material, which for me at least indicates they might be extremely rigorous with the quality of their compositions, right? Anyway, featuring a more-than-psychedelic album art by Chris Volion (The Gilley van Weirden Workshop), The Prescient has all it takes to get deep into your mind and make you feel completely dazed, so exquisite the album is. And especially if you’re a musician, pay good attention to the details those guys offer within each and every song, and you might have encountered a new favorite band for your collection.

What seems like it’s going to be just relaxing progressive music in the opening track, Incubation, suddenly turns into a wild feast of Progressive Death Metal for fans of Tool and Mastodon, with guitarists Shane Williams and Joe Kruger giving a lesson in creativity with their strings. In the amazing Hubris, imagination and complexity keep walking hand in hand, with drummer Arend Nijhuis stealing the spotlight with his breaks and double bass, sounding as if Dream Theater and Cannibal Corpse merged into one band. And Cycle of Failure presents Jazz elements in a crazy journey guided by Shane and Joe, as if there were three or four songs in one due to its progressiveness.

The next tune, named Hive, flirts with Melodic Deah Metal by providing the listener awesome guttural vocals and flowing electricity. It’s definitely one of the best tracks of the album due to its excellent riffs and rhythm, not to mention its violent ending, before A Seer’s Elegy showcases another display of heaviness and creativity by the band, with Adam kicking ass on both vocals and bass. I would say this song has all the “attributes” of a serial killer, being violent but extremely methodical and/or surgical at the same time.

Spire offers an awesome blend of Groove and Progressive Metal (it can’t get any crazier than this!), with its background effects enhancing the song’s oddity and, once again, Arend providing the listener incredible beats and breaks. And as a final treat for us metalheads, Antlion bring forth an insane two-piece title-track, with the first part, The Prescient (Part I), delivering madness, beautiful riffs and lots of variations, being heavier than most tracks of the album mainly due to its resonant bass lines; and the second part,The Prescient (Part II), concluding the album in a solid and progressive way, again including hints of Jazz to provide extra layers of intricacy to it.

All this metallic lunacy can be found at their official Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can find The Prescient for sale at the band’s BandCamp page. If you’re not only a connoisseur of Death Metal, but also a fan of visionary metal bands, I must say The Prescient might have a significant impact on your headbanging life, as it’s indeed an important breakthrough in this “psychedethic” band’s path to conquer the world of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Hubris and Hive.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Incubation 4:46
2. Hubris 5:55
3. Cycle of Failure 6:02
4. Hive 4:34
5. A Seer’s Elegy 4:10
6. Spire 6:18
7. The Prescient (Part I) 3:53
8. The Prescient (Part II) 4:37

Band members
Adam Pell – vocals, bass
Shane Williams – guitar
Joe Kruger – guitar
Arend Nijhuis – drums

Movie Review – Wacken 3D – Louder Than Hell (2014)

Experience the biggest metal festival in the world, in 3D, and louder than hell.

Rating4

Wacken 3DIt’s undeniable that Wacken Open Air is the biggest, most exciting and most badass Heavy Metal festival in the entire world. For instance, it only takes couple of days after the festival is over for the next year’s edition to be sold out. If you’ve already had the indescribable pleasure of attending this 4-day monstrous gathering in your life (and I’m pretty sure that if the answer is “yes” you’ve already repeated that metallic ritual many times through the years) you have the chance to go back in time and feel that energy again by watching the awesome documentary entitled WACKEN 3D – LOUDER THAN HELL. And if you’ve never been to Wacken, this is your chance to take a special journey to the heart of the festival, with the 3D screening making you feel like you’re right there with over 75,000 metalheads from all over the world celebrating life and heavy music.

Filmed with 18 stereoscopic 3D cameras during the 2013 edition of the festival, this excellent documentary by award-winning director Norbert Heitker will show you exactly what happens once a year to a calm farming village in the middle of a Northern German countryside, when it becomes the centre of the universe for all things metal. You’ll be able to see in details what it is to camp at Wacken, the daily routine of fans and bands, what musicians think of the festival, and even go crowd-surfing and mud-diving with the more lunatic fans. Not only that, you’ll also have a good time watching some electrifying performances by metal giants such as Deep Purple, Anthrax, Motörhead, Rammstein, Alice Cooper, Lamb Of God, and many more.

12_WackenIn my opinion, as a huge supporter of the underground of heavy music, the best part of the entire documentary is when they focus on some of the national winners of the already famous Wacken Metal Battle, showing what it is to be an up-and-coming band playing at the most important metal festival on earth. There are awesome bands from Uruguay, Romania, Canada and so on showcasing their music to thousands of fans, but my favorite one in terms of creativity and feeling were the Chinese Metal Battle winners Nine Treasures. All members of the band are from Inner Mongolia, with all lyrics being sung in Mongolian, which is beyond incredible. You have to watch it to understand what I’m talking about, and if one day those guys read this review, I would like to ask them to kindly send us their material for review. It would be a huge pleasure for us at The Headbanging Moose to do that.

06_WackenIn case you live in Canada and do not have any plans for tonight (well, even if you do have plans you should definitely cancel them), there will be a special WACKEN 3D – LOUDER THAN HELL “One Night Only Across Canada” event today, October 29 at 7:30pm at several Cineplex theaters. You can check more details at the official Facebook event, see where the movie will be playing by clicking HERE, and also grab your tickets at the official Cineplex website. In addition, following the Cineplex Yonge-Dundas screening in Toronto, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner of Anvil will be in attendance for a Q&A, and if you cannot make it today but you live near Ottawa the movie will also be playing soon at the Mayfair Theatre, located at 1074 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

Best moments of the movie: The unique moments of glory provided by the Wacken Metal Battle bands from different countries, the iconic Rammstein playing Du Hast with thousands of fans screaming the lyrics together with the band and, of course, all the classy mud scenes.

Worst moments of the movie: The fact that there were no subtitles when a fan or a band spoke in a language different than English, especially when it was in German. At least the version I saw had no subtitles. Oh, and unfortunately there were no interviews with Lemmy.

Released in 2014 Jumpseat 3Dplus/Wüste Film

Bands and artists featured in the documentary
Rammstein
Alice Cooper
Deep Purple
Motörhead
Henry Rollins
Trivium
Ragnarok
Lamb Of God
Annihilator
Anthrax
…and many more!

Metal Chick of the Month – Lisa Thompson & Jessica Marsden

lisa_jess

Lisa and Jess, the “sweet poison” of Sovereign Council.

Although the music by Canadian Symphonic Metal band Sovereign Council is already professional and pleasant enough to draw the attention of any metalhead that loves listening to some good symphonic heavy music, two of their band members can be considered a huge plus to their live performances, especially to the eyes and hearts of all regular guys (and even some girls) attending the show. Given the fact that this session of the Headbanging Moose is called “Metal Chick of the Month”, I bet you have an idea of what I’m talking about. Thus, for the first time in this website we have not only one, but two metal chicks at the same time to our total delight: the beautiful singer Lisa Thompson, and the stunning keyboardist Jessica “Jess” Marsden.

I had the pleasure to see this Kingston-based band opening for German Power Metal icons Primal Fear in Toronto, in May this year, and I can say those girls are more than just pretty faces on the stage. They are truly talented musicians, which by the way is what really matters in the end, enhancing the overall performance of the band with their voices, instruments and moves. You can take a listen at their contribution to the musicality of Sovereign Council in their official ReverbNation and YouTube channels, but not before checking out the biographies below to know more interesting details about those two beauties.

LISA THOMPSON

lisa01Born and raised in Ottawa, the official capital of Canada, Lisa Thompson grew up surrounded by rock music, with her father being a musician playing lead electric guitar and organ in local rock bands.  Lisa always sang as a child and, at the age of 10, her parents decided to start her up in singing and piano lessons.  She trained for nine years vocally, two years piano and then became a vocal coach in 2003. Today she continues to coach full time from her studio in Ottawa and specializes in coaching recording artists, performing musicians and bands.

At the age of 16, Lisa was a hired as a vocalist for a local recording studio in Ottawa and had the opportunity to write a few songs of her own, which fueled her passion for song writing and studio work.  Lisa started performing in rock cover bands in 2003, and over the years she has performed solo, in cover bands, tribute bands, original bands, and has had three albums produced between two different original bands.

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Our gorgeous singer joined Sovereign Council in 2012 as the band’s female vocalist.  She wasn’t looking to join a metal band at the time, but after one listen through the material of New Reign she was hooked to their music, and it was a welcomed challenge for Lisa contributing and writing vocal harmonies for the band. Moreover, performing along with lead singer Alex MacWilliam has been a true partnership feeding off of each other’s performance and vocals, giving their audience a performance of emotions and theatrics.

In regards to her musical interests and influences while growing up, they consist of a wide variety of artists, including names such as Evanescence, Disturbed, Silverchair, Led Zepplin, Eva Cassidy and Holly McNarland, just to name a few. You can see by this list that our charming female singer’s taste for music goes beyond metal, appreciating any artist that brings forth some high-quality material, especially in terms of singing and lyrics.

“There’s no better feeling than performing! Hearing your audience cheer you on and singing along with you. It’s surreal.” – Lisa Thompson

JESSICA MARSDEN

jess01Born on January 15, 1991 in Burnley, a market town in Lancashire, England, located around 34km north of Manchester, keyboardist Jessica Marsden (or simply Jess) also has a longstanding relationship with music. Her parents encouraged her to follow that path from a very young age: Jess was given her first miniature keyboard when she was only three years old and her father, who had taken a few organ and cornet lessons when he was a child and was more musically inclined than the average person, would play quick little tunes on the little keyboard for her. She then listened to what her father was playing and started figuring out how to play the same thing immediately after. Needless to say, music lessons started up not too long after.

At the age of five, Jess began taking piano lessons. She was able to grasp the basic theory behind it all, but by no means did she enjoy it: all she wanted to do was play the songs that she had heard on the radio or on a CD that her parents listened to. That was “unacceptable”, and therefore she was pushed to read music she was given, but the problema is that she simply hated it. Jess spent a few more years with a different teacher, who trained her ear further and provided guitar and vocal lessons.

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When our gorgeous keyboardist hit her senior years in high school, she stopped taking lessons altogether and began to pursue her own musical endeavours. This was around the time when her music taste started to broaden significantly, when she was listening to everything, from Rachmaninoff to Killswitch Engage and, of course, she loved it all. After finishing high school and being involved in several musicals, concerts and competitions, Jess went off to the University of Ottawa, taking classes ranging from Music Studies to Behavioural Psychology. She finished two years of the program and ran out of money, and not too long after returning to Kingston to live with her family and work for a while, a coworker informed her of a local metal band that was looking for a keyboardist. That was when Alex MacWilliam introduced her to Sovereign Council, and she has been there ever since.

According to Jess herself, working with such hard-working and creative individuals like the other members of sovereign Council has really pushed her to play further and further outside of her old comfort zone. She was used to playing softer and more melancholy pieces, although she had always secretly wanted to express her inner beast through heavier music. With that said, can we call Jess the “Beauty and the Beast” of the band?

“With every show, I am able to completely let loose, let my inner passions (love, sorrow and rage) build up, and let it out, turning it into something beautiful and expressive. Hopefully, this is something that many people can relate to and appreciate through our music.” – Jessica Marsden

Sovereign Council’s Official Facebook page
Sovereign Council’s Official Twitter