If you are a serious Canadian underground metal band who’s got their act together, then at some point applying to compete at the Wacken Battle Canada competition is a must. This is ‘The biggest metal contest on the planet’, the winner receives a slot at the 2018 Wacken Open Air Festival, with the backline provided, and return flights to Germany including VIP camping at the festival. Also, opportunities and bragging rights.
The Southern Ontario finals are on March 24th, the wait will be well worth it, however, to curb the withdrawal, the wise organizers have bestowed upon us volume 5 of the FREE DIGITAL SAMPLER of all the 2018 competing bands. ‘Get Ready to headbang for hours!!!’.
This evening is the final round of Toronto’s preliminary stage, and the battle is taking place at The Rivoli on Toronto’s historic Queen St.
The Blackcloud Syndicate:
The leader of this band is a talented singer and an excellent front-man, so it makes sense that he also fronts another Wacken Battle participant, Burdizzo. Structured songs, the talent is there. Both the guitarists manned their stations well, playing good melodies, ripping solos, and thrashing riffs, although they wore caps and mostly just stood there. The bass player had a good sound and handled his instrument well, though in my opinion should have taken off his glasses, as his visage is impressive, though it’s cumbered by a nerdy style. Maybe that’s just the ‘dad metal’ look, because these guys sure rocked hard. The drummer wasn’t keeping the best time, and I think the songs are new to him. Although he was smashing the crap out of the drums, all heart, and they energetically got through their set. I’ve seen these guys before, always worth it. I believe this was their first show with a near new line up though. No pressure.
Back to the audience in a crucifixion pose, the band planned their start, as the moody intro music worked well with the back lit silhouettes. Black cloth donned the mic stand, and considering the band’s aesthetic, My Frost seems like a fitting moniker. The well costumed singer in black, has a Rammstein style of voice (though in my opinion with a more interesting range), and handled the rhythm guitar well, as his sometimes open strumming style led the music well. The bass player sported a 12 string, and I’m pretty sure he got to use every single one! The drummer’s style is not busy, though he kept time so well, I assumed he was Swiss made! The open chord strumming black metal style hits on a visceral level, especially when it’s done in such a non conventional way, as these guys aren’t exactly black metal or doom metal, though sport plenty of these genres’ elements. Good sound, the songwriting is original, the musicianship superb, and the band has a stage show. Contenders.
If My Frost were ice, then Astaroth Incarnate are fire! Extreme metal, every band member is energetic and on top of his instrument, and the addition of thought out theatrics translates into an entertaining show. Head to toe in red and black leather, the possessed vocalist dons Darth Maul style face paint, as this colour theme is consistent with the rest of his props; even his mic cable was red. The bass player’s fingers were dancing up and down the fret board, as much as the man himself was running around the stage. Big hair and wearing a gauntlet with big spikes, his energy helped feed the crowd. Pretty sure he was possessed too. The drummer had no expression as his busy roll filled style was executed impeccably. If you follow the Toronto underground metal scene, then you’d know that these guys are as hot as smoldering iron right now. Having finally seen them, I can understand why.
Ambient intro music set the tone, as the armor donning band stood in formation awaiting battle; suddenly, the band leader burst unto the stage, brandishing a round viking shield; their whole look is uniform. The low growling front-man had great energy, as he personally started one of the mosh pits, getting right in there and delivering the first push. They’re all competent to great musicians, and their Amon Amarth style of metal hits hard. They need, however, to better figure out their stage sound. The lead guitarist was extremely loud, and the bass sounded like it had the gain turned all the way up. Those two instruments had their frequencies clash, creating a white noise that muddied the over all sound. It’s quite unfortunate, because the 2nd guitarist was doing some interesting harmonies and chords, however, along with the drums, were drowned out by the hiss created by the voluminous lead guitar and the accompanying clashing frequencies of the bass. I have to see these guys live again, for maybe their sound tonight was bad luck or an anomaly.
I find it strange when metal musicians casually perform with their glasses on, so it was cool to see the singer transform, as he took off his glasses and turned into a spazzing rocket, belting out at the audience. The drummer, however, decided to keep his on, and it gave them a ‘novice’ vibe, as the sweaty drummer’s glasses kept sliding off the ridge of his nose, forcing him to push them back up several times a song. Not that big of a deal if it didn’t affect the music, though it did, as it made him sloppy playing catch up, and continuously dropping his sticks. It even annoyed one of the guitarists, as he threw one of the wooden projectiles back at the perspiring drummer; though there’s love there, as the passion is evident with this band, for there was clear chemistry, despite the folly. For the last two songs, the drummer took off his glasses, he was on, and they had a great finish.
And just like that, it was over. The Rivoli is a cool venue, you have to walk through a classy section, before you’re led to the segregated dirty and mean back. It’s so posh on the outside, that even the bums seem polite.
As per usual, Mr. JJ Tartaglia (Skull Fist, Wacken Battle Canada) gets on stage and thanks the sponsors.
He is then joined by judges Wojtek and Ryan. Before announcing the winner, Mr. Sokolowski thanked all of the bands, and pointed out that every band competing in Wacken should be proud, as they were all individually vetted and carefully chosen. That was classy, and based on the quality of bands, it makes sense. In any case, the winner is announced: Astaroth Incarnate.
All of the bands were worthy of a show, and though My Frost were my favourite from the night, Astaroth Incarnate were hard to pass up.
On a side note, I find it great that there’s an international presence amongst the officiates. From India to Israel, it’s further proof that the Wacken battles exemplify the true spirit of our beloved genre, as we are all one metal culture, one nation.
Let the battles continue.
Black Cloud Syndicate: Sophokles Theodoru
My Frost: Mel Gorog
Astaroth Incarnate and Black Eve: Dylan Weller
Maitreya: Lindsay McNeil.
Used with permission.
TORONTO SHOWS 2018
Fri, February 9, 2018 – Bovine, Toronto – winner Centuries of Decay.
Fri, February 16, 2018 – Coalition, Toronto – winner Wind Cries Mary
Fri, February 23, 2018 – Rivoli, Toronto – winner Astaroth Incarnate
SOUTHERN ONTARIO FINAL
Sat, March 24, 2018 – Hard Luck, Toronto
EASTERN CANADA FINAL
Sat, May 12, 2018 – Piranha Bar, Montreal
Sat, June 9, 2018 – OPERA HOUSE, TORONTO