After attending two days of Earslaughter, Vol.1 among thrashing folks and fast-paced genres like grindcore and death metal (to name a few), I welcomed “Stoner Sunday” with open, tired ears. It was a good tired, so I appreciated the choice of closing this fest with some chill metal. As a big fan of the stoner, doom, and sludge genres, I was stoked to scope out more new music – and I wasn’t disappointed.
I woke to a lovely rainy Sunday, groggy from a musically wild Saturday night and enjoyed getting photos edited to the drops of rain and cool breeze coming in through my place. I couldn’t think of more fitting weather for a night of music from the aforementioned genres.
Getting to Katacombes, I arrived to Norilsk already into their set, and a very small crowd of folks scattered about. The vibe was very relaxed, but I spotted a few familiar faces from the weekend, so I guess we were in the same “tired but wanting more metal” boat. These cats from Hull, Québec were a great opening act in my books. Their tunes were a good mix of doom with some death and sludge, and they just came off as swell guys, giving cheers to the crowd at one point, which I thought was classy. The vocalist Nicolas Miquelon had a small battle with his hair getting caught in the mic at one point, and laughed it off with jokes while fighting to get his hair back from the hungry mic. He had great clean vocals, I really enjoyed his voice. I loved watching the drummer, who managed to bust horizontal windmills while bashing his skins; props for that!
Next up was Ottawa’s Monobrow, a three-piece instrumental doom-stoner band. With no intro, they just got into playing and gave off a 70s feel at times. I dug how guitarist Paul Slater threw in mini solo-type squealing licks between the heavy riffage. They had a very relaxed presence onstage, matching the crowd, and didn’t really talk much, if at all, between tracks. I love instrumental, and these guys were good, but I felt like something was missing, as at some points it got a little repetitive. I’d reckon this is an act I’d appreciate more listening to at home vs seeing live, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. Taking a look at their merch, they had some really nice album cover art. If I ever catch ‘em again, I’m adding one to my collection.
Greeted by a feedback-filled hello, and hailing from Chicago, Disrotted got right into their doom-sludge set. I could have done without so much feedback; I get it’s part of their music, but despite wearing earplugs my ears were hurting, man. Perhaps it was a question of adjusting the sound a bit, but my stupid sensitive ears couldn’t take it. Regardless, I enjoyed seeing them a lot more this night than on Friday –it was just out of place after a night of fast-paced music, and I was able to appreciate them much more. If you’re a fan of SUNN O))) you’ll dig these guys. Frontman Adam Jennings was intense, with amazing growls punctuating the mostly instrumental songs, and looking like he was losing his mind while he was slowly absorbed in the music. Add in drummer John Finaldi’s slow-motion hits, and these guys were something unique to watch. The crowd froze in time as a result, and they finished their set saying a simple, “Thanks”.
Waiting between sets, I went to the bar to get a beer and noticed that even the staff seemed pooped, and that the floor had finally filled a bit more. Even the lighting was subdued onstage, with simple red and blue lights throughout the night. That actually added a cool effect, with the red dotting the drummers. From my balcony view I could see stick trails as drummers would pound down, making me wonder if my drink was spiked with LSD.
Montréal locals Tunguska Mammoth were up next, and their stoner-sludge stylings got some people headbanging. During the first songs I found it hard to hear vocalist Maxime Bellrose clearly, but that got better as the set went on…more of a technical thing, I gathered. These cats are catchy, and you can tell they had a blast playing up there; joking with the audience between songs added to their feel-good vibe. Drummer Pierre-Hugues Rondeau fucking gave ‘er, and I really dug his energy. Playing some new tracks including “We Are the Night,” they got me revved up. I’d say if you enjoy acts like Iron Giant and Biblical, you’ll want to check these guys out.
Finally around the 10:30 mark la pièce de résistance: Sweden’s Monolord graced the stage. Actually, they pulverized it, I should say! For a doom-sludge act, they packed in so much energy. Holy shit. Bassist Mika Häkki was insanely fun to watch as he alternated between punching the shit out of his bass and wielding it like a sword (I was worried he’d hit someone in his frenzy haha). He even managed to break his strap, and played a song half-strapped without missing a lick before it could be repaired. Drummer Esben Willems was phenomenal – with heavy, hard-hitting thumps punctuating in time with clank sounds that I particularly dug, it was a great touch. I was charmed by vocalist and guitarist Thomas Jäger’s Swedish accent coming through a bit with his clean vocals, and loved how during their last track he went down into the crowd, treating them to a close-up of his musicianship. A great way to cap a set in my books!
This whole weekend was stellar, I simply don’t have enough words. Thank you Earslaughter Productions for putting on this most “brutalful” event! And pssst…a lil’ bird told me it looks like there will be a Volume 2 next year, so give their Facebook page a like to show ‘em some support and to keep up with info on events – you’ll be glad you did.
Written by Angie Radczenko
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Kate Erickson