While standing amidst the crowd at MTelus for a highly anticipated show, I realized a few things. Firstly, Montrealers are darn right crazy during Saint-Jean-Baptiste day, and rightly so. Secondly, it gets hotter than hell when a huge crowd of drunk metalheads spends over four hours moshing. And finally, August Burns Red has a huge loving crowd in this city; to the point I got emotional at times, this coming from a guy who’s not in tune with his emotions. June 23rd was a perfect day for this show; it was nice outside and the streets were filled with people looking for a party. What better place to party than a heavy metal show?
The spot of the first band belonged to Silent Planet, a metalcore band from L.A, California. They played a short set, yet left their mark. From the first song, there was a pit and the crowd was on fire. That being said, I had a few problems. As it is with this genre of music, the riffs were boring and repetitive. Although their songs had a lot of punch to them, in particular, “Native Blood,” which I very much appreciated as a homage to the Native community, there was no soul to the playing. This problem stems from the tropes of the genre, which is strangely what people enjoy about it. Also, I found it strange how Garrett Russell on lead vocals would talk during songs. It drew me out of the moment and going back in when he resumed singing felt strange. I will say, when Silent Planet played on a more thrash metal rhythm/tempo, it sounded amazing.
Next on the bill was Silverstein, a Canadian band from Ontario of the same genre. I was startled by how loud they started and whatever I was focused on was easily replaced by the loud music on stage. My problems with this band are similar to the one before; repetition and lack of an exciting or original sound. The vocals would get aggravating (though I’m guessing that’s the point) and they would at times sound whiny. On that note, Silverstein had a punk rock aspect to them, which changed their sound just a little. Songs like “Midwestern State of Emergency” and “Smashed to Pieces” resonated extremely well with the crowd, who just ate this stuff like if they had never heard anything like it before. It was difficult to tell that both Paul Marc Rousseau and Josh Bradford were playing the guitar when there is so much going on. At times I felt like they could have pulled off the same with only one guitarist, as the intricate and technical playing of the other was lost under Paul Koehler powerful drumming. On a positive note, Silverstein had some masterful transitions, switching to more melodic moments in between the metal parts. They were done extremely well and the flow of their music was on point.
And finally, the act that everyone was waiting for, August Burns Red. On tour and on a mission to play Constellations – their third album – in its entirety, these are guys who know their audience. Jacob Luhrs, the lead singer, has so much power, that all he needs to do is first bump the sky and the crowd goes wild. He took this to his advantage, making sure there was movement from start to finish, which there was. A highlight of the show was the moment he picked out someone to hold the Quebec flag high and charged said person to lead a circle pit, which was all caught on camera. It was a beautiful moment for those who find pride in their nationality; from a high vantage point, it looked like an army charging towards their goal, lead by the flag of their nation. I swear, I almost cried. Some of the album’s singles, like “Thirty and Seven” and “Existence” brought the biggest reactions from the crowd. People sure love August Burns Red, as it was shown by their constant chanting of “ABR! ABR!” any moment the band wasn’t playing.
As is usual with MTelus, the team behind the light show did an amazing job and really amplified the performance. While I’m at it, I would also like to salute the brave staff who travelled within the crowd to sell beer. I see you, I appreciate you and I love you, whoever you are. August Burns Red had a lot of blasts beats, and although I’m not a fan of them, at the moment, it made sense. Their music is so intense and so in your face, that only blast beats can take it to the next level. I also appreciated the playing done by both guitarists, who played together and complement each other technical solos.
If it were not for my earplugs, I would probably be deaf. The tour continues for these guys as they continue on the road all the way into December. If you’re a fan of metalcore and loud music which makes you want to punch things, I highly recommend catching one of their shows.
Written by Johnathan Robinson
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy