The Montreal power metal scene has a long, proud history, one that has been venerated by bands and fans around the world. The scene has taken a natural decline over the past five to ten years due to the rise of new genres vying for the attention of the community’s youth, and yet the genre and local support still stands strong. In the span of a week, the city is blessed by two tours (Delain/Hammerfall and Sabaton Leaves Eyes/Battle Beast), each juxtaposing the resilience of the old guard and the rise of the relatively new. I had the pleasure to witness the first wave as rising stars Delain, and 20-year vets Hammerfall packed a couple hundred people into Foufounes Electrique with the help of local up and comers Instanzia and Sanguine Glacialis.
Four-piece power metal locals, Instanzia broke the evening’s ice and crammed onto the tight Foufs stage to deliver a more than adequate opening bout of entertainment. I was quite happy to catch them as I had heard and seen the name thrown around locally and the prospect of new homegrown talent fills me with some hope. The band delivered a very straight forward classic power metal sound that brought to mind bands like Stratovarius and Nocturnal Rites. Overall, I found their melodies and songs quite good, however, I felt there were a few vocal parts that did not resonate as strongly, either due to range restriction or writing. I also found the inclusion of a keyboard solo in their backing tracks to not be of best taste but for all I know they used to have a keyboard player and simply didn’t have any other option (I had to do the same thing in those circumstances). I’m very curious how this band will progress in the next few years and hope for the best for them.
Sanguine Glacialis threw me a bit of a curve ball as I was expecting a similar showing stylistically, primarily because I could hear the singer warming up her falsetto backstage. To my delight, the group launched into a more groove filled progressive black metal vibe that was thoroughly entertaining. Singer Maude Théberge navigated her tiny frame through the cramped stage to play the role of both soprano and banshee while providing intermittent piano sections. The band’s performance, energy, and crowd interaction won the crowd and me over, and I’m excited to hear their new album in the fall.
If only the strong survive then Hammerfall’s steel is made of some strong stuff. Clearly a significant draw even after so many years, the band blessed their adoring crowd with a panoply of new and classic cuts. Opening with favourites “Riders of the Storm” and “Blood Bound,” the many faith fans in attendance sang in unison with each chorus. With a discography of ten albums, picking a setlist must be an arduous task, and yet they seemed to pick a selection spanning at least eight and even performing a medley of their seminal Glory To The Brave album. My only criticism would be their gear choice or lack there-of. I perfectly understand the preferred logistics of amp modelling/direct-in gear in favour of having bulky amps but there seemed something lacking from only hearing the guitar through the PA and not from the stage. That may have more to do with the size of the room but never the less the difference was palpable.
Delain have made drastic leaps in North American markets these last few years with significant support slots on major tours. Finally leading their own tour the band seemed very much at home taking top billing and had the crowd to justify the spot. I’ve seen them open for Nightwish and the 70 Thousand tons of Metal festival, and this show certainly impressed me the most. The cohesion of the live show and interaction with a crowd that’s there for them made for an obvious shift in how I perceived their live show. Foufs small stage fit them better than I thought as they seemed to fill the space and utilize it perfectly as opposed to a much larger space and having it feel empty. Most of their hour-plus long set was comprised mostly of tracks off their newest album Moonbathers but also touching on each one of their full lengths giving everyone a scope of their catalogue. Delain seem to be filling the void left by Within Temptation, creating powerful metallic rock that is resonating extremely well with North American audiences now. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see them headlining bigger venues much sooner than later.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Danielle Kenedy