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

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Concert Review – Behemoth (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/26/2016)

The Satanist triumphed over Toronto, taking no prisoners in a memorable night of darkness and blasphemy.

OPENING ACT: Myrkur

Blasfemia Amerika Tour 2016Only a couple of weeks after watching Iron Maiden kicking fuckin’ ass in Montreal and Toronto, I knew my next concert had to be beyond amazing to keep the electricity flowing, otherwise I would start yawning during the show and not even a cold beer would wake me up. Fortunately, what I was able to witness yesterday at the Phoenix Concert Theatre here in Toronto together with thousands of other crazy metalheads was a fantastic night of obscure and blasphemous music, as part of the infamous Blasfemia Amerika Tour 2016. From start to finish, the night was absolutely flawless. And we were treated to the darkest and most amazing music we could possibly imagine as a warm-up for Behemoth, offered to us all by the gorgeous and charming Danish multi-instrumentalist and model Amalie Bruun, the mastermind behind the one-woman Black Metal project MYRKUR (or “darkness” in Icelandic).

IMG_1254For obvious reasons, our Valkyrie of Black Metal couldn’t deliver the whole concert by herself, having as a very solid support band guitarist Teloch (Mayhem), bassist Liam (Dillinger Escape Plan) and drummer Øyvind Myrvoll (Nidingr), helping her blast Myrkur’s entrancing music last night. She was responsible for both clean (almost operatic) and harsh vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar, dancing and more, though. Is there anything she cannot do? Anyway, with stunning compositions like Den Lille Piges Død (“the little girl’s death” in Danish), Mordet (“assassination”) and her flawless version for Bathory’s Song to Hall Up High, Amalie hypnotized the entire crowd, drawing sighs from every single person during the smoothest passages of her songs and inspiring some decent mosh pits during the heaviest moments. If anyone asked me to summarize Myrkur in only a couple of words, I would definitely select “beauty” and “beast”, and you’ll notice she does that personality split herself on purpose, having two microphones during her performance: her right one being used only for clean vocals, while the left one is used for her demonic screaming. Would this be her depiction of the angel on the right shoulder and the devil on the left? Also, almost at the same time she got flowers from a fan and thanked the audience for such an amazing reception, when a guy asked her to play some nonsense song, she replied with a gentle “suck my dick”. Do you want to know more about this angel of darkness? Go check her BandCamp page, where you can listen to everything she’s already released in her promising career.

Setlist
Den Lille Piges Død
Hævnen
Onde Børn (False Start)
Jeg Er Guden, I Er Tjenerne
Mordet
Dybt I Skoven
Skøgen Skulle Dø
Skaði
Song to Hall Up High (Bathory cover)
Norn (outro)

Band members
Myrkur – vocals, piano, guitar
Teloch – guitar
Liam – bass
Øyvind Myrvoll – drums

BEHEMOTH

IMG_1265Finally, one year after their last concert in Toronto, the best metal band in the history of Poland returned with their magnificent Blackened Death Metal to storm the city once again and leave us all completely disoriented when their black mass was over. If a regular BEHEMOTH gig is already outstanding, I have no words to describe what witnessing them playing The Satanist in its entirety followed by some of their biggest classics feels like. Not only each and every song from The Satanist was played to perfection, but the stage was also amazingly set and the theatrical performance by all band members was sensational. I hope no one from those stupid churches ever goes to a Behemoth concert in Toronto, otherwise they might be banished from Canada like it happened with the band in other places.

If Myrkur was the evil queen of the night, the one and only Adam “Nergal” Darski could be considered our hellish king (or should I say priest?), commanding his loyal bandmates and the entire crowd with his refined technique as a guitarist and his trademark growls. I was eager to see the classic Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel live for the first time, and after Nergal appeared holding two torches up high and the music started, I got even more than what I expected. In addition, after each song of The Satanist the band had something different to offer, either being a disturbing video on the background, some extra smoke, dark lighting, or a wicked narration connecting it to the following opus. I’m not even going to say how incredible my other two favorite chants of the album, Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer and the mesmerizing O Father O Satan O Sun!, sounded. You have to be there to feel their fury and darkness.

IMG_1284When The Satanist part of the gig was concluded, Nergal and his horde still had some classics to blast our ears and fuel the insane circle pits that were consuming the entire venue, starting with the bestial Pure Evil and Hate. If anyone lost their lives during the execution of this anthem, I wouldn’t be surprised. Moreover, both guitarist Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber and bassist Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski seemed to be having a great time during the encores, mainly due to the awesome reaction they got from the fans who couldn’t stop slamming into the pit, and especially during songs like Conquer All and the last one of their setlist, Chant for Eschaton 2000, two high-octane compositions that sound even more powerful live than their already demonic studio versions. Except for the considerable line at the end of the concert for the coat check, everything else was beyond perfect, lefting us all wondering when Behemoth will return to Toronto to take over our beloved city one more time.

Setlist
Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
Furor Divinus
Messe Noire
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Amen
The Satanist
Ben Sahar
In the Absence ov Light
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Encore:
Pure Evil and Hate
Antichristian Phenomenon
Conquer All

Encore 2:
At the Left Hand ov God
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 03/06/2016)

As Toronto turned 182 years old yesterday, nothing better than celebrating the anniversary of our beautiful city with a gargantuan amount of fuckin’ “filth”.

OPENING ACTS: Ne Obliviscaris and Butcher Babies

COF_Inquisitional Torture 2016What a lovely day in our stunning, charming and multi-cultural city of Toronto. It might not be Summer (and not even Spring) yet, but sunny Winter days with temperatures above the freezing mark like this Sunday are such a thing of beauty they make us completely forget how harsh Winter can be sometimes. Perhaps that was Mother Nature giving her “birthday gift” to all Torontonians who were celebrating the 182nd anniversary of their beloved city. And what could have been better than hosting one of the most influential Extreme Metal bands of all time at the Phoenix Concert Theatre to properly commemorate the date? Finally, after five long years, the iconic Cradle of Filth returned to the “Land of the Moose”, as Dani Filth himself stated during the show.

This metallic feast started at around 7pm, when Australian Extreme Progressive Metal band NE OBLIVISCARIS hit the stage with their fusion of Symphonic Metal, Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Folk Metal and several other subgenres of heavy music blended in their sound. It took a few minutes for those guys from Melbourne, Australia to actually warm up and start entertaining the crowd, but once their concert took off it was indeed a nice experience, especially due to the amazing performances by Tim Charles with his violin and left-handed guitarist Benjamin Baret with his wicked riffs and solos. I confess I didn’t know much about the band before this gig, which means I’ll obviously go after their music to truly understand what they’re all about. And, of course, it’s good to know there’s more high-quality metal music coming from Down Under.

Setlist
Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes
Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
Xenoflux
Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
Pyrrhic
And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope

Band members
Xen – harsh vocals
Tim Charles – clean vocals, violin
Benjamin Baret – lead guitar
Matt Klavins – guitar
Cygnus – bass
Dan Presland – drums

When their concert was over and we all had a few minutes to rest and have a beer before the next attraction, I have to say it’s always nice when people come to talk to you about anything without being too wasted or high. That happened to me when a guy from Oshawa wearing a Bad Religion T-shirt approached me to say he liked my Pantera T-shirt, and from then we started chatting about music in general, focusing on bands such as Anthrax, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Volbeat. So kids, next time you go to a concert try not to be so wasted, falling like a bag of potatoes on everyone around you, or too “Justin Bieber-ish” that no one else can touch you or talk to you. There’s always somewhere in between that works a lot better for everybody, got it?

IMG_1117Getting back to the concert, it was then time for the dynamic duo comprised of Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, known as the BUTCHER BABIES, to kick some serious ass on stage and make everyone in the audience go absolutely mental before the main attraction of the night. It was also my first time seeing them live, and I must say those girls know how to put up an entertaining show. Armed with their demonic voices and supported by very competent musicians, especially bassist Jason Klein, those two girls from Los Angeles, California (dressed like an evil version of Babymetal) didn’t stop banging their heads and screaming for a single second, showcasing their deep passion for heavy music while playing every song of their setlist, which was mostly based on their 2015 album Take It Like a Man. There were a few technical issues with their sound, but no one seemed to care about that. All people wanted were more “excuses” to slam into the pit and do some stage diving, and both Heidi and Carla knew exactly how to ignite that fire with their Alternative Metal, playing some high-octane songs such as National Bloody Anthem, The Butcher and, my favorite of the night, Monster’s Ball. Girls, Toronto loves you and we can’t wait to have you back in the city!

Setlist
National Bloody Anthem
Blonde Girls All Look the Same
The Butcher
Gravemaker
Igniter
Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine
Monster’s Ball
Magnolia Blvd.
The Deathsurround/Goliath/I Smell a Massacre
Axe Wound

Band members
Heidi Shepherd – vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Henry Flury – guitar
Jason Klein – bass
Chris Warner – drums

CRADLE OF FILTH

IMG_1144It was around 9pm when the diabolical intro Humana Inspired to Nightmare announced the gates of Hades were open wide, therefore releasing the devil’s favorite dark angels to spread hell on earth with their unparalleled Extreme Metal. Promoting their latest opus Hammer Of The Witches under their current tour entitled Inquisitional Torture 2016, British titans CRADLE OF FILTH began to mercilessly discharge a flawless mix of classics with brand new chants, driving all fans at the venue utterly crazy. When a concert starts with Heaven Torn Asunder and Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, you know it’s going to be a fuckin’ massacre.

The most interesting fact for me about their setlist was that it was divided in two “acts”, like a theatre play. There was an intro for each act, followed by a sequence of blasting classics (covering almost all of their albums) that put a huge smile on the face of this guy here, a longtime fan of Dani and his crew. I simply love songs like Lord Abortion, Honey and Sulphur, Her Ghost in the Fog and my top Cradle of Filth song of all time, the insane From the Cradle to Enslave, but their newer stuff such as Right Wing of the Garden Triptych and Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess work so well when played live I’m sure they’ll become a constant part of their future tours. In addition, Dani (who was the demon himself last night), as a treat to all fans for waiting patiently for the band’s return to Toronto, dedicated to all of us For Your Vulgar Delectation, from their previous album (which unfortunately could not have a Canadian tour due to visa issues).

dani_toronto2016_02The whole band was on fire and Dani’s performance was epic, screaming like a rabid demon and wearing his Stygian attire and corpsepaint the way we all love, but I have to say last night belonged to the adorable keyboardist and singer Lindsay Schoolcraft. Although she’s not exactly from Toronto (technically, she’s from Oshawa), she was so excited and pleased to play together with Dani and his crew in her hometown she couldn’t stop smiling, waving to the fans and headbanging like a maniac during the entire concert. I guess I don’t need to say how memorable the night was for our talented Canadian girl, right? The only band member I couldn’t really watch well was drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka, who was “hiding” not only behind his drums, but also behind some kind of aquarium/glass cell to the left of the stage. That was a weird stage setup, by the way, as if they were keeping Marthus caged before he could escape and kill someone, but nothing that would make the whole concert less memorable.

dani_toronto2016And can you guess why Dani, Lindsay, Marthus and the other band members played so well and were so electrified last night? That’s exactly it, because of us, loyal and demented Cradle of Filth fans. I don’t remember seeing a crowd so insane and in sync with the band like that. What the fans did during Gilded Cunt, growling the lyrics together with Dani, and the furious mosh pits during Nymphetamine (Fix), which is in fact a heavy ballad and not a sick blasting tune, was truly outstanding. Even Gimli, the brave dwarf from Lord of the Rings, was among us weating a Testament T-shirt! If you were there, you know who I’m talking about. Anyway, Cradle of Filth provided us fans another memorable metal night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, and I’m pretty sure we also made the night memorable to the band as well, especially to Lindsay. I just hope Mr. Dani Filth and his horde of darkness do not take another five years to return to the Land of the (Headbanging) Moose. Actually, how about celebrating each and every anniversary of this distinct city together with the band? That’s the type of “filth” I’m sure no one would complain to have around all the time.

Setlist
ACT I
Humana Inspired to Nightmare (Intro)
Heaven Torn Asunder
Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
Blackest Magick in Practice
Lord Abortion
Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
Malice Through the Looking Glass
Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
Gilded Cunt

ACT II
Walpurgis Eve (Intro)
Yours Immortally…
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Honey and Sulphur
For Your Vulgar Delectation
Her Ghost in the Fog
From the Cradle to Enslave
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Born in a Burial Gown
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Concert Review – Trivium & Tremonti (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 09/22/2015)

There might be silence in the snow during this coming winter, but there was surely a lot of good noise and blazing hearts on the last night of the summer in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Wilson

harddriveradiotourupdated2015Unfortunately, due to traffic and working issues, I cannot say anything about the performance by American Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll band WILSON, who were in charge of warming up the crowd for the main attractions of the night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre as part of the 2015 HardDrive Live Tour. All I can say is that if you’re curious to know how their music sounds, two very good songs are Give ‘Em Hell and College Gangbang, both part of their setlist. And, in addition, in case your first or last name is “Wilson” I suggest you go after their merchandise right away. Who wouldn’t love to have your own name on a cool T-shirt like this one? Maybe next time they’re around I’ll go check their live performances, but this time the Gardiner didn’t allow me to do so.

Setlist
Before I Burn
Give ‘Em Hell
College Gangbang
Waiting on the World to Cave In
Windows Down
All My Friends
Right to Rise
Susan Jane

Band members
Chad Nicefield – vocals
Jason Spencer – guitar
Kyle Landry – guitar
James Lascu – bass
Puhy – drums

TREMONTI

IMG_0675For those of you who don’t know this excellent guitarist, award-winning American musician MARK TREMONTI is the lead guitarist and founding member of the famous rock groups Creed and Alter Bridge, and since 2012 he’s been on the road with his solo project that takes his last name, being also responsible for the band’s lead vocals. And that’s probably the main reason why there were so many people eager to see Tremonti, I would say almost the same amount that were at the venue to see Trivium, because not only his music is clean and cohesive, but also fun.

Playing a mix of Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll, Speed Metal and Alternative Metal, this Detroit-based band did a pretty good job during their relatively lengthy setlist, which ended up extending their concert to past 10pm and therefore “forcing” some people to go home before Trivium started due to different reasons, such as work or classes the next morning. I’ll be 100% honest and say that their music is not really my cup of tea, but I enjoyed their performance as much as I could while having a cold Rolling Rock. Perhaps the biggest issue with the concert was the huge amount of ballads, because when they played heavier stuff you could feel a much stronger reaction from everyone at the venue.

I’m not familiar with the names of the songs either, but if there were two that caught my attention were curiously the very first, Cauterize, and the very last, Decay, due to their strength and speed. In other words, if you’re more into old school metal music (including really heavy stuff like Death and Black Metal) like I am you might consider Tremonti a bit too light for your taste, but as a straightforward rock band they more than deliver it on stage.

Setlist
Cauterize
You Waste Your Time
All I Was
So You’re Afraid
Another Heart
Flying Monkeys
The Things I’ve Seen
Radical Change
Tie the Noose
Dark Trip
Arm Yourself
Brains
Wish You Well
Decay

Band members
Mark Tremonti – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
Eric Friedman – lead and rhythm, backing vocals
Tanner Keegan – bass guitar, backing vocals
Garrett Whitlock – drums

TRIVIUM

IMG_0683After a short pause to the sound of the entire Ace Of Spades album, by Motörhead, lights went down and like many bands do, the speakers played a classic song TRIVIUM truly love to ignite the hearts of the fans waiting for their performance. Well, they chose the all-time battle hymn “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden for that. Do I need to say more? After that brilliant demonstration of passion for metal music and after their own intro Snøfall, our already iconic and influential Orlando-based metallers hit the stage between two giant skulls from their new album with one of their brand new songs, the good Silence in the Snow. Matt was electrified as usual, wearing a Dio T-shirt and an Emperor vest, again showing his respect and admiration for his idols in music and his loyalty to his roots, while Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Mat Madiro interacted with the fans as much as possible during and between songs to make things even better.

I know some people are complaining Matt doesn’t want to scream anymore, but all three new songs (Silence in the Snow, Until the World Goes Cold and especially Blind Leading the Blind, which Matt dedicated to the unparalleled Ronnie James Dio while telling a story about food and friendship when they opened for Heaven & Hell in Japan in 2007) sounded truly powerful live, proving the harsh screams are not really necessary for them to work. However, as an old school metalhead I have to say it was when they played their classic assaults Throes of Perdition, Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr and A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation that things got really serious inside the mosh pits. Moreover, although Corey was incredible with his guitar, I think he seemed a little “lost” during the songs without the harsh screams. Let the guy scream, please!

IMG_0695And I was impressed (actually, the whole band was too) with the insane reaction of the crowd for each and every song of their setlist, in special their “newer” classics Strife (including a loud and awesome “Oh-oh-oh… Oooooh!” to its Iron Maiden-ish riffs, as demanded by Matt), Built to Fall (what a “built-to-fall” image seeing everybody singing the whole song at full force with Trivium!) and Black, showcasing how thrilling In Waves and Vengeance Falls are despite some diehard fans not digging those albums. Not to mention the amazing turmoil caused by the fans during the superb duo Capsizing the Sea/In Waves, which started with a decent wall of death just for you to have an idea of how crazy fans were. The band noticed that, enjoyed that and acknowledged that on their social media, saying Toronto was the best crowd of the entire tour. I have to agree with them, it was indeed a fantastic night, much better than their last concert back in 2013 at the same venue.

IMG_0687And in order to keep us all craving for more Trivium and more metallic tunes, the sound system played the masterpiece “Heaven & Hell” by Black Sabbath, which was sung by most fans so excited everybody got after Trivium finished their flawless performance. Now let’s wait and see how their entire new album sounds like, if there won’t be any screams at all or if they’ll still offer us some harsher moments like the ones we learned to love from their music. It might have been the last night of summer in Toronto, but it was more than enough to keep our hearts on fire through the fall and the winter, even if there’s total silence in the snow that’s about to come soon.

Setlist
Snøfall
Silence in the Snow
Down from the Sky
Becoming the Dragon
Strife
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Built to Fall
Until the World Goes Cold
Throes of Perdition
Anthem (We Are the Fire)
Black
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Blind Leading the Blind
Dying in Your Arms

Encore:
Capsizing The Sea
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass, vocals
Mat Madiro – drums

Concert Review – Exodus & Testament (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/15/2015)

A magnificent lesson in Thrash Metal, directly from the dark roots of Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Shattered Sun

Testament-Exodus-2015It’s somehow ridiculous that there was ONLY ONE CONCERT scheduled from the Dark Roots of Thrash II Tour in Canada. Fortunately for me, but not as much for most of our headbanging brothers in B.C., Alberta and other distant locations, the city chosen was Toronto, Ontario, more specifically the Phoenix Concert Theatre. Well, at least for the first time in months we didn’t have any snow, rain, bitterly cold temperatures or any other of the wonders of the winter on a concert night in the city. Quite the contrary, the weather was beyond perfect for a lesson in Thrash Metal.

The attraction responsible for warming up all thrash metallers at the venue was American Metalcore band SHATTERED SUN, who by the way are managed by Chuck Billy’s own company Breaking Bands LLC. Although Metalcore is not among the most reasonable options for pumping up a crowd avid for brutal old school Bay Area Thrash Metal, they had a good performance and didn’t disappoint the crowd with their mix of heavy and melodic music, with the addition of keyboards being a fresh element to the night. I can’t tell much about their setlist, only that they’re promoting their soon-to-be-released new album entitled Hope Within Hatred, which should be available within a few days. If you’re a fan of the genre, here’s a good choice for your collection.

Band members
Marcos Leal – vocals
Daniel Trejo – guitar
Jessie Santos – guitar
Joseph Guajardo – bass
Henry Garza – keyboards, samples
Robert Garza – drums

EXODUS

IMG_0229

Exodus @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/15/2015

Holy. Fuckin’. Shit. EXODUS do not only kick fuckin’ ass when they’re on stage, they ALWAYS teach us motherfuckers a lesson in fuckin’ violence. It’s incredible how such an old band (in a good way, of course) still sounds so fresh and captivating until today, and that’s in my opinion mainly due to the fact they keep releasing awesome albums like their latest installment, the absurdly excellent Blood In, Blood Out. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the madness started, with two of the best songs from the new album: the insane Black 13 and the mosh pit-anthem title-track Blood In, Blood Out, which worked so well live to the point if they had left the stage after only two songs it would have been awesome anyway.

Right after that frantic start, Exodus offered us a sequence of Thrash Metal classics to drive all fans crazy into the circle pits (adding some bruises to our personal collections), with highlights to masterpieces such as A Lesson in Violence, The Last Act of Defiance and my favorite Exodus songs of all time, the impeccable Blacklist (“You’d better start runnin’ / Cause you know that I’m comin’ / Cocked and loaded and I never miss / I’m onto your game / And I’m layin’ the blame / And I’m addin’ your name to my blacklist”), The Toxic Waltz and Strike of the Beast, the latter including a smaller version of the infamous wall of death for our total delight. However, I was truly happy to see they didn’t “forget” about the Rob Dukes-era and added two of the most exciting songs of that period, Iconoclasm and Children of a Worthless God. Maybe next time they can play even other songs from that era, such as “Hammer and Life” and “Deathamphetamine”?

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Kill the Kardashians, Gary!

In regards to the band members, there were tons of highs, but one significant low. Actually, the low was not the band’s fault, as bassist Jack Gibson wasn’t allowed to enter Canada due to issues with the law. We accept Justin Bieber living here doing all the shit he does, and I don’t care he’s Canadian, but we cannot let good old Jack into the country? That’s ridiculous. Anyway, the dude that replaced him (sorry, I forgot his name, but he also helps Exodus when Gary Holt is with that “other Thrash Metal band”, and Gary even played an excerpt of “Raining Blood” just to remind the crowd about that) did a pretty good job supporting Gary Holt, Steve “Zetro” Souza & Co. during the entire concert. Talking about Zetro and Gary, I guess they can be considered the “new” dynamic duo of old school Thrash Metal so in sync they’ve been since Zetro’s return last year. While Zetro leads the fans into the mosh pits with his raspy voice (is it true it was his first time in Toronto in 10 years?), Gary simply delivers the most motherfuckin’ extraordinary riffs and solos in the world of heavy music. I’m not going to extend my speech about how great Gary is, as I believe I’ve already said enough in previous album and concert reviews, but there’s one thing that must be mentioned that enhanced his performance even more last night: who didn’t love his KILL THE KARDASHIANS T-shirt?

As Zetro said immediately after Exodus played the classic Bonded by Blood, we are all bonded not only by blood, but by our passion for Heavy Metal, and he’s 100% right. We love metal music, we love Exodus, and we cannot wait for them to get back to Toronto to teach us another lesson in Thrash Metal. Remember we are all part of Exodus’ “blacklist”, which means it shouldn’t take long for that to happen, I hope.

Setlist
1. Black 13
2. Blood In, Blood Out
3. Iconoclasm
4. Children of a Worthless God
5. A Lesson in Violence
6. Salt the Wound
7. The Last Act of Defiance
8. Blacklist
9. Bonded by Blood
10. War Is My Shepherd
11. The Toxic Waltz
12. Strike of the Beast

Band members
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – lead and rhythm guitars
Lee Altus – lead and rhythm guitars
Jack Gibson – bass*
Tom Hunting – drums, percussion

*Missed the concert for not being allowed to enter Canada due to issues with the law.

TESTAMENT

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Testament @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/15/2015

There was an essential short break between concerts for recovering our energies and enjoying a cold beer, and I’m being serious when I say “essential” because what TESTAMENT did during their flawless concert was inhuman. Playing only songs from their first three albums, The Legacy (1987), The New Order (1988) and Practice What You Preach (1989), Chuck Billy and his crew showed no mercy on our bodies and souls with an avalanche of old school Thrash Metal classics. How not to go wild with songs like Over the Wall, Do or Die or The New Order? Although their latest albums (The Formation of Damnation and Dark Roots of Earth) are Heavy Metal masterpieces, being able to witness a tour only composed by old classics is always interesting.

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Testament @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/15/2015

From all songs in their setlist, I would say my favorites were Eerie Inhabitants, C.O.T.L.O.D., Practice What You Preach, and especially the devastating tunes Disciples of the Watch and Into the Pit. The song already has “pit” in its name, but it was when Chuck demanded we all slammed into the fuckin’ pit that things got pretty serious. In summary, it was an amazing setlist, which ignited some nonstop headbanging and lots of smiles among the fans who answered Chuck’s call and were having a great time into the circle pit.

Moreover, there’s one thing that amazes me in Testament, and that’s the musicians involved. All five are superb with their instruments, delivering top-notch Heavy Metal, which always makes me wonder why there are metalheads in the world that still don’t know who Testament are. Chuck’s voice is unique (as thunderous as it can be), Gene Hoglan redefines the meaning of the word “stone crusher”, and I have no words to describe Alex Skolnick. Honestly, I didn’t know if I slammed into the pit or if I stayed there just watching him play his guitar so jaw-dropping his technique is (not even when he suffered from technical difficulties he looked less incredible). Watching Gary Holt AND Alex Skolnick delivering the most awesome Thrash Metal riffs and solos you can imagine on the same night was a true blessing. Those guys definitely practice what they preach.

Setlist
1. Over the Wall
2. The Haunting
3. Burnt Offerings
4. Raging Waters
5. The Preacher
6. Do or Die
7. First Strike Is Deadly
8. A Day of Reckoning
9. Apocalyptic City
10. Eerie Inhabitants
11. The New Order
12. Trial by Fire
13. Into the Pit
14. Alone in the Dark
15. C.O.T.L.O.D.

Encore:
16. Practice What You Preach
17. Disciples of the Watch

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

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Concert Review – Cannibal Corpse & Behemoth (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015)

If you want to live in the bitter cold of Toronto, you have to kill or become.

OPENING ACTS: Tribulation and Aeon

cannibal corpse_behemoth_winter tour 2015If you live in Toronto or anywhere nearby you know how bitterly cold the past couple of months have been. For instance, I personally don’t remember when we had temperatures above the freezing mark (or even above -5°C) for the last time, and it looks like February 2015 is about to become the coldest month in the history of Toronto. Well, nothing better than a hotter-than-hell extreme music night to warm up the hearts of lots of headbangers in the city, right? The venue chosen for this awesome gathering was the always welcoming Phoenix Concert Theatre, where friends wearing the T-shirts of their favorite extreme bands and even a group of girls with their well-crafted corpsepaint were able to enjoy some beers together, headbang like motherfuckers and especially slam into the circle pits.

The bands chosen to liven this mini-festival up were the excellent Swedish Death Metal bands TRIBULATION and AEON, both raising the flag of Scandinavian metal really high with their ferocious performances. If you truly love extreme music but have never heard of either Tribulation or Aeon, I kindly ask you to please go check these two bands: you’ll be surprised with how good they are. The first band was Tribulation, playing a very technical and progressive Death Metal permeated with elements from Black and Doom Metal and singing about darkness, horror, vampires, death and all other of those “beautiful” themes. In case you want to know more about this great Swedish band, my suggestions are the songs Beyond the Horror, Rånda and When the Sky Is Black With Devils, masterfully executed by this four-piece act in front of an avid Torontonian crowd.

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Aeon @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

After a short break it was time for Aeon to deliver their infernal music, blasting everyone’s ears and necks with each and every song played. Lead singer Tommy Dahlström is a beast on vocals (and you can easily notice he’s a huge fan of Cannibal Corpse by his stage performance), perfectly vociferating the violent lyrics of all songs of their brutal setlist, with highlights to the opening song Satanic Victory and also to the amazing Kill Them All and Blessed by the Priest. In addition, how can I describe the performance of drummer Emil Wiksten? That guy is like an unbelievable human stone crusher behind his drums so fast and precise he is, which added a lot of power and fury to the band’s performance. As I said, go after the music by Tribulation and Aeon as quick as the blast beats by Emil!

BEHEMOTH

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Behemoth @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

It was around 8:45pm when the iconic Nergal and his horde of darkness hit the stage with an incredible concert, both in terms of their ominous music and their unique theatrical performance, and it’s amazing how they were capable of delivering so much content in such a limited space. Still promoting their most recent album, the impeccable The Satanist, which even after one year of its release it continues to astonish me, Polish Black/Death Metal masters BEHEMOTH proved why they’re one of the most influential and portentous groups in the world of extreme music.

Although they didn’t play the best song of The Satanist in my opinion, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, the songs selected from the album were just as superb live, with highlights to Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer and Ben Sahar. Older classics also helped keep the audience mesmerized by their obscurity, such as Chant for Eschaton 2000 and Slaves Shall Serve. However, I believe almost everybody will agree with me when I say they simply kicked all possible asses with the already classic O Father O Satan O Sun!, a song that live sounds even more grandiose than its studio version, augmented by the band’s special satanic attire worn during its execution. This might sound stupid for a lot of people, but Behemoth performing this song at the Oscars would have been beyond spectacular. Unfortunately, the world and all mere mortals that live in it don’t seem ready for Behemoth yet.

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Behemoth @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

Also, it’s undeniable that Nergal is a true Extreme Metal leader and he’s passionate about what he does, and consequently he had almost all eyes staring at him during the whole concert, but the other band members are also wonderful and skillful musicians who help Nergal achieve the level of excellence he has in his mind for the band. Who didn’t enjoy the performance by bassist Orion, who looked like an even more devilish version of Gene Simmons’ stage persona The Demon? And what about the dark riffs by Seth or the rhythmic drumming by Inferno? What an awesome band, and if you missed them this time, may Lucifer have mercy on your soul. Or not.

Setlist
1. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
2. Conquer All
3. Ben Sahar
4. Decade of Therion
5. Messe Noire
6. Ov Fire and the Void
7. At the Left Hand ov God
8. Slaves Shall Serve
9. Chant for Eschaton 2000
10. O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

CANNIBAL CORPSE

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Cannibal Corpse @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

In order to properly close the night and pulverize anyone or anything that was still alive after Behemoth, Death Metal titans CANNIBAL CORPSE arose from the crypts of hell to transform the entire venue into their own “skeletal domain”, obviously promoting their most recent album, the visceral A Skeletal Domain. If there’s one thing that I love about Cannibal Corpse is the fact that they’re a band that always moves forward, despite having a solid past which they could live on forever like many classic bands do. All their latest albums are brutally superb, and technically speaking they’re getting better and better year after year.

Their setlist was an awesome mix of old classics and newer songs, including almost one track from each one of their albums, from Eaten Back to Life (1990) to last year’s A Skeletal Domain. Mosh pits and pure headbanging erupted with classics such as A Skull Full of Maggots, Demented Aggression, Make Them Suffer and The Wretched Spawn, while the selected songs from their new album for this tour, in special the great Sadistic Embodiment and the steamroller Kill or Become, intensified even more the hurricane that was happening on the “dance” floor.

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Cannibal Corpse @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

Moreover, anything I say about the band members will just be pure repetition of common sense: they are all really talented musicians that love Death Metal above all things (well, Corpsegrinder said he loves pussy above all things), and that translates into pure electricity when they’re performing on the stage. You can barely see Alex Webster’s face, but he’s there delivering the most intricate bass lines you can find in extreme music, while Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett keep firing their evil riffs and Paul Mazurkiewicz his nonstop beats. And as I always say, Mr. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher is the face of Cannibal Corpse and the one to give life (or death) to the band’s gory lyrics while headbanging like a fuckin’ chopper in a way only he is capable of. Besides, seeing him scratching himself with one of Paul’s drumsticks due to an incontrollable itch in the middle of his back, and you know he’s not a small guy, was priceless.

When Cannibal Corpse played their last two songs, the unparalleled classics Hammer Smashed Face and Devoured by Vermin (my top Cannibal Corpse song of all time), they turned the whole venue into a fuckin’ monstrous mosh pit with absolutely no place to hide, showcasing how awesome those songs are. But do you think anyone in the audience complained about it? There were so many smiles and so much sweat everywhere when the show was over I’m pretty sure the fans of the Corpse cannot wait for them to storm Toronto once again and heat up our chilly winter with their perfect Death Metal. Fire up the chainsaw!

Setlist
1. Scourge of Iron
2. Demented Aggression
3. Evisceration Plague
4. Stripped, Raped and Strangled
5. Kill or Become
6. Sadistic Embodiment
7. Icepick Lobotomy
8. The Wretched Spawn
9. Pounded into Dust
10. I Cum Blood
11. Make Them Suffer
12. A Skull Full of Maggots
13. Hammer Smashed Face
14. Devoured by Vermin

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Pat O’Brien – guitar
Rob Barrett – guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

Concert Review – Trivium & DevilDriver (Phoenix Concert Theatre,Toronto, ON, 09/24/2013)

A celebration of music with two of the best contemporary Heavy Metal bands from the USA on a pleasant Tuesday night in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Sylosis and After The Burial

As I don’t live exactly in Toronto, it takes a while for me to get to the city whenever there’s a concert I’m attending, especially if it’s on a Tuesday after a full day of work. Seriously, only Mondays are worse than Tuesdays for Metal concerts, like the Rock Allegiance Tour with Volbeat & HIM that screwed up my whole week! The organizers should think about that when scheduling Metal concerts to the middle of the week: we don’t have seats and we don’t just watch the concert, we participate a lot! Heavy Metal demands a lot of energy from the crowd, so please, if you’re an organizer, try to book the shows from Thursday to Saturday! Going back to the opening acts, I completely missed Sylosis (which unfortunately suffered a car accident that same night going to their next concert) and half of ATB. From what I could see, ATB was pretty heavy and the fans had a great time there, so next time they open for a band I like I’ll do my best to be there and analyze their music properly.

DEVILDRIVER

devildriver-2This was the second time I had the pleasure to see DD live (the first was back in 2011, opening for Arch Enemy), and they were even better this time. From the very first song Ruthless to the violent ending with Meet the Wretched, the leader of the band, Dez Fafara, didn’t let any single person from the crowd remain quiet. I believe he mentioned the word fuck and its variations (fuckin’, motherfucker, motherfuckin’ etc.) at least a hundred times, plus other “nice” words such as pussy and shit, demanding that everybody banged their heads all the time and almost killed themselves in the mosh pits, showing why he’s a true frontman and not just a singer. He was pretty decent in the beginning of his career with Coal Chamber, but now he’s getting better and more violent on stage, which is awesome.

I enjoy concerts at the Phoenix Concert Theatre due to the proximity with the band and the quality of the sound (and of course, it’s easy to get a beer there without the hassle of huge and slow lines), and this time it wasn’t different. All songs were really well executed by the band, which was sometimes headbanging even more than the crowd, and there was a lot of interaction between band and fans. They played a lot of songs from their new album Winter Kills (which I really want to listen to now), including a very good cover for the song Sail, from the band Awolnation, mixed with some classics such as Clouds Over California, which was my favorite from this concert. I hope I can see DD live again soon!

Setlist
Ruthless
I Could Care Less
Not All Who Wander Are Lost
Before the Hangman’s Noose
Cry for Me Sky (Eulogy of the Scorned)
Oath of the Abyss
The Appetite
Hold Back the Day
Curses and Epitaphs
Sail (AWOLNATION cover)
Head on to Heartache (Let Them Rot)
Dead to Rights
Clouds Over California
End of the Line
Meet the Wretched

Band members
Dez Fafara – lead vocals
Jeff Kendrick – guitar
John Boecklin – drums
Mike Spreitzer – guitar
Chris Towning – bass

TRIVIUM

trivium-1They are heavy, they have the speed, the technique, great albums and are awesome on stage. Together with Volbeat, I consider Trivium the future of Heavy Metal. I had the chance to see them live at Heavy TO 2012, but as that was a festival and they were playing in the middle of the afternoon, they couldn’t show their full power. However, this time in Toronto they were able to provide their fans a fantastic concert! After the intro Divinity I, the band entered the stage and played three of the most complex and heavy songs of their entire career: Throes of Perdition, Down from the Sky and Becoming the Dragon, showing all of us that was going to be a special night.

Although I missed some classics such as Ember to Inferno and The Deceived in the setlist, there was a pretty good mix of songs from all of their albums, including two new ones (Brave This Storm and Strife) from their upcoming album Vengeance Falls, which sounded like old classics by the way the audience responded to them. And no matter which song they were playing, the riffs and solos were perfectly executed (I would say even better than the studio versions in most of the cases). I still believe the feeling is more important than the technique in Heavy Metal, but what the guys from Trivium do with their guitars is simply amazing.

The best songs of the night were for sure A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation (isn’t it one of the coolest song names ever?), with the crowd jumping all the time together with the band, and Shogun, a 12-minute masterpiece that sounds like if Dream Theater decided to become Megadeth or vice-versa. It can be really tricky for any band to play songs so long as that because the crowd can die at any minute, but fortunately for Trivium that wasn’t an issue at all as the fans at the Phoenix loved the fact they played Shogun.

The only (small) issues I see with Trivium now are first the drummer: I don’t know why but he sometimes seems to be out of sync with the rest of the band; and second the fact that Corey is doing 95% of the guttural vocals. Although I enjoy Corey screaming, it sounds a lot better when Matt does that. But as I said, nothing that will stop Trivium from becoming a Heavy Metal giant in the coming years, mainly due to the constant and brilliant evolution in all of their albums and to their exceptional performance on stage.

Setlist
Divinity I (tape/intro)
Throes of Perdition
Down from the Sky
Becoming the Dragon
Brave This Storm
Watch the World Burn
Strife
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Kirisute Gomen
Shogun 

Encore:
Capsizing the Sea (tape/intro)
In Waves
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
One Winged Angel (tape/outro)

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, vocals
Nick Augusto – drums, percussion