Our roving Canadian reporter hits up one of The Great White North’s biggest metal festivals – part two!
Our roving reporter spent the weekend at Heavy MTL festival in Montreal a few weeks ago. Here’s the second half of his feedback; catch the first here!
Part The Second: Sunday
This was definitely the better of the two days, with highlights being Finntroll, Amon Amarth, and Unexpect. I was especially looking forward to Unexpect, since I really had no idea what they would be like live. And of course, the folk and Viking bands were worth seeing. Onward into endless battle!
I arrived at about 2:15pm, about 15 minutes before Finntroll were set to play, and The Acacia Strain were sucking up a storm on the other main stage. Their fans looked they were having a good time though, so good on them, I guess. On to Finntroll; I went in not being a huge fan of the band, but I was interested enough to want to see them – and oh boy did my opinion on them get altered quickly. I can’t say I was familiar with most of their material, though I recognized a couple tunes, but it was so much fun, that didn’t even matter. The day was at its hottest, so the fire hoses were turned on the crowd, which kept us cool and got us all the more fired up. Finntroll was a fantastic start to the day. Let me tell you, bouncing around in a circle pit with a dozen other hairy metalheads and a few metal girls all shouting “TROLLHAMMAREN” is absolutely awesome.
Holy shit, the crowd during Amon Amarth was absolutely insane. I mean, there were mosh pits all over the place, more than half a dozen crowd surfers at any given time (with the number climbing even higher during “Death In Fire”, “Runes Cast in My Memory” and “Twilight of the Thunder God”) and wall of death after wall of death after wall of Viking death. I myself accidentally introduced my foot to a security guard’s face after one of my surfing expeditions. Even outside the pits, it took all of my strength to avoid being destroyed. The band were in fantastic form, ripping through their best cuts as well as some from the new album Deceiver of the Gods. It was a glorious set, one that surely pleased the gods themselves.
This was one of the bands I was most anticipating seeing, and even I wasn’t prepared for the incredible display the band put on. All members were incredibly talented on their own, and they each played off each other perfectly. Their presence was fantastic, each one really seeming to connect with the smallish crowd that had gathered over at the third stage. It probably helped that they are basically a local band. Their bassist had 9 strings, and they had a violinist. And their singer Roxanne Hegyesi, good lord, is she awesome. She sounded amazing, looked fantastic, and had this way of moving that was somehow hypnotic. Unexpect were absolutely one of the highlight of the weekend for such a display of progressive avant-garde metal. Such mind-fuckingly twisted tunes as “Quantum Symphony” and “Unsolved Ideas of a Distorted Guest” provided a perfect soundtrack for the sunny mid-afternoon. Their performance could only be considered a high art performance, it was that good. They really stood out in my mind this weekend.
Pallbearer were maybe a bit the odd one out at the festival. Their brand of thick, smoky, melancholic doom metal is a contrast to the other, high energy, up-tempo bands that graced the bill, and it really reflected, with the audience they drew being sadly thin, which lead to the band themselves being a bit weaker than usual. They are an awesome band live normally, I saw them in February opening for Enslaved, and they absolutely ruled, but today was not so good for them. Their music was still Earth-shaking and heavy, but you could tell they didn’t have as much energy. I hope I’ll get another chance to see them, as they really are an amazing band, especially for one so young.
This was my third time seeing Mastodon, and each time has been a better experience. The first time, I didn’t know them that well, the second was in assigned seating. This time, it was full on festival party mode. The band were at the top of the game, Brann Dailor justifying his place in my “Best Drummers in Metal” list, and their sound was really good. I thought it unfortunate that they did not play “Curl of the Burl” but when they played “Blood and Thunder” all was forgiven. The band’s fans may not be the greatest, but there was enough good people in the crowd to make that a moot point. One girl standing in the pit was holding a banner declaring “Mastodon for President”. I have no idea how four people could be President at once, but I’m all for that. They’d probably put the USA back on the fast track to being interesting in a good way again. After Mastodon, there were still more bands to go, but I wasn’t interested in any of them, so I left.
Heavy MTL afterparty at Katacombes
Mexican sludgy hardcore band Xibalba graced the afterparty at Montreal’s best metal bar. This was a great way to end the weekend, especially as it began at about 1 in the morning at an absolutely amazing venue, while I had a pitcher of beer on the table in front of me. Xibalba tore the place apart with their acid spitting sludgecore. These guys are on Southern Lord Records for a reason, and I understood that reason at that moment. I had never heard them before, so it was a real treat. They didn’t play for long, which is a shame, but maybe understandable given the time they started. Afterwards, my brother, my buddy Alex, and his friend Devin, and I hung out and drank more beer until 3am. It was a glorious end to a glorious weekend.
Odds and Ends
Other bands that I sort of saw, by being in the same area when they were playing, but didn’t really experience fully:
Sick of It All
Hardcore band Sick of It All were in between GWAR and Steel Panther on the main stage. I don’t really have too much to say about them, other than that they looked a little too old to be doing the “I hate the world” thing. That whole philosophy just seems so completely trite to me. I guess some people have reasons, but it still strikes me as wilfully ignorant.
Musically, the band was competent. Again, I don’t have too much to say on them. If they’re your thing, good for you I guess?
A friend of mine at the festival described Danzig as “Elvis Presley if he were goth” which is about as accurate as one can get. I’ve never been into them, but since they were playing as I was waiting for Megadeth, I got to experience them anyways. It was cool enough, but nothing special. Glenn Danzig is old and tired, and even the cameo from Dave Mustaine failed to really liven the show up beyond just being a band playing legacy music. Bring on the next one.
Children of Bodom
They were playing on the other main stage as I was waiting for Mastodon to come on. It might have been just me, but they looked tired, as if they didn’t really want to be doing this anymore. It certainly has shown up in their music on their last two albums. They’re getting older as well, something I never really thought about until then, but they have been around for a while. Maybe time to pack it in, guys? Also, Alexi Laiho was wearing a dumb looking hat.
All in all, Heavy MTL was a great weekend, one I will certainly look to experience again next year. I liked this year better than last year, and one can only hope next year will be even better. I answered a survey saying I’d like to see more power metal, so hopefully next year Blind Guardian will make an appearance. One can dream.