Wednesday, April 17th was a night of many firsts: my first time on a writing assignment for Bucketlist, my first time at L’Astral, and my first time seeing Cryptopsy—that last one is the most shocking because I’ve been listening to them for years. It was a night of horror movie nostalgia, shared bassists, windmills, and walls of death.
The evening began with locals Vengeful. I had seen them perform before years ago as part of the extreme metal conference Grimposium. Their music is more cerebral than your average tough n’ dumb death metal band. The poster advertised “blast-beat party,” but Vengeful hooked me in with slow-burning riffs, and deep prolonged gutturals provided by Etienne Bayar. They acted as a suitable appetizer for what was to come.
As the next act set up, I noticed the number of cymbals on the drums had increased. The drone of a synth went on, and voice of a woman spoke ominously over it, a sample from the Cronenberg classic Videodrome. As soon as the voice uttered “the beginning of the new flesh,” the lights went up and Italian death-metallers Hideous Divinity blasted onto the scene with their song “Ages Die,” the opening track to their album Adveniens. Vocalist Enrico Di Lorenzo captured audience members’ attention with his lively performance, waving his arms around in a dramatic fashion, a smile spread across his face. His energy was so infectious that by the second song “When Flesh Unfolds,” the whole room was moving along, throwing themselves into the moshpit and banging their heads. Between songs, Di Lorenzo spoke in accented English, throwing in the occasional “Grazie,” to which the crowd responded with the little Italian that they knew: “mama mia!” and “pasta rigatoni!”
Everyone was visibly excited to see Cryptopsy arrive on stage. The grind pioneers have been mentioned in the news recently because Montreal was just declared a “city of excellence in heavy metal” and Cryptopsy is world-renowned for influencing the development of tech-death. They opened with “Detritus (The One They Kept),” a newer song that didn’t quite inspire much of a response from the crowd. But that easily changed with a throwback to the 90s; the room erupted in cheers as they played the opening guitar line of “Slit Your Guts” from their album None So Vile. I normally focus on whatever the frontman is doing, but Matt McGachy remained stagnant, one foot permanently planted on the monitor as he growled. I was more fascinated with the instrumentation, specifically the drumming of Flo Mounier, whose setup had more cymbals than I’ve seen in my lifetime. When playing with Vengeful before, Olivier Pinard’s bass was overpowered by the dual guitars, but with Cryptopsy, Pinard could show off his bass-slapping skills during the brief musical breaks. Before their last song, McGachy told fans in Franglais that he is very proud to be from Montreal.
Death metal and horror movies go hand-in-hand, and Aborted are huge horror nerds. For example, the mascot for Hell Over North America is Pinhead of Hellraiser dressed as Uncle Sam. But that obsession hit its peak when I saw the decor onstage. Other bands had put up banners of their logo and album art, but Aborted went an extra step. On either side of the drums were two glass cases containing a twisted mess of gore, spinal cords and eyeballs, that would light up in sync with the overhead lights. The aesthetic fit well with the monstrous sound of Aborted, as they opened “Terrorvision,” off their album of the same name they released last year. Frontman Sven de Caluwe wore his sense of humour on his shirt that read “Yes, I am Joe Rogan. Bang your head.” Being from Belgium, Svencho addressed the crowd in French but would transition to English to introduce the next song, pulling old school bangers from Goremageddon and Engineering the Dead. Bassist Stefano Franceschini made his second appearance of the night, effortlessly playing through the many technical hurdles of Aborted’s song structures. McGachy was also invited back onstage to help with the vocals on “A Whore D’Oeuvre Macabre.” As dark and violent as the music can be, the vibe was fun and playful.
Overall, for a Wednesday night, I was very impressed by the number of metalheads who made the effort to show up and maintain their energy and enthusiasm to the bitter end. I believe we made a lasting impression to our guests and we definitely proved our place in the international death metal scene.
Written by Chris Aitkens
Photography by Jean David Lafontant
*edited by Danielle Kenedy