Prolonged membership to any particular genre of music fandom has a tendency to turn even the most enthusiastic devotee into joyless, jaded misanthropes. Think Comic Book Guy rocking a band t-shirt. It is a hellish existence; every new band they check out sounds like derivative garbage, to the point where they stop listening to new music on principle. Attending concerts becomes intolerable, as the crowd is comprised almost exclusively of hapless neophytes mindlessly enjoying themselves. “If only these rubes were to possess even a fraction of my encyclopedic musical knowledge,” the scene vet laments, “they’d realize that they shouldn’t be having any fun!”
I lead off with this character description in order to celebrate a fellow who embodies its polar opposite. David Métras, organizer of Montreal’s two-day grindcore and death metal smorgasbord known as Earslaughter, is eternally stoked. Despite the innumerable hours he and his team put into planning and execution, Dave’s gleaming enthusiasm is unshakable. Every time I’d bump into him in between sets, Dave’s string of queries remained the same: “Jesse, what did you think of that band? Weren’t they fucking great?! How stoked are you for the next band?”
So in honor of Dave’s mirthful devotion to all things grindcore, this review of day one of Earslaughter Vol. 3 is going full-on blast beat. Ten bands, ten mini reviews, maximum four sentences per band. LET’S DO THIS!
Track 1: Exotoxic
Exotoxic are grind-infused, old school death metal from Grand-Mére, Quebec who originally formed in 1989. Singer and guitarist Dominic Naud was firing on all cylinders, gregariously expressing his appreciation for the early crowd while the band crushed through “Decadence Decade” and “My Life as A Body Bag.”
Track 2: ULTRARAT
ULTRARAT from Montreal provided the evening’s only respite from blast beats, serving up a gloriously filthy helping of raw, noisy D-beat. Beyond super fun tunes, what made ULTRARAT’s take on the sub-genre stand out was drummer Perry’s precision, speed, and extreme use of syncopation (even by normal d-beat standards). It felt as if a train packed full of explosives could careen off the tracks at any moment.
Track 3: Flash Out
I think most poignant endorsement I can give for Winnipeg grind, crust, death-metal outfit Flash Out is that I immediately went to their merch table and bought stuff after witnessing their performance. While these dudes can certainly blast at breakneck speeds, the songs have loads of rhythmic variety and lock into some great grooves in the slower, DM-inspired parts. In closing, the Flash Out ball cap I bought is sick.
Track 4: Existench
Playing as a three-piece due to their bass player being unable to make the trip to Montreal, Halifax crust veterans Existench soldiered on despite a mid-set amp failure that cut deeply into their time. Even without the bass, songs like “Con-formed” and “Homeless” still felt appropriately ferocious.
Track 5: Sulfuric Cautery
I have to admit to only catching a snippet of the Sulfuric Cautery set, as I needed food and a break from the oppressive heat inside Katacombes. The part I did catch was interesting; weird, feedback-drenched death grind featuring two lead singers trading guttural growls while the guitar player used his piercing shriek as counter point. I’d provide a link so you could judge for yourself, but according to the internet, these guys don’t actually exist.
Track 6: Six Brew Bantha
Six Brew Bantha was, hand’s down, my favourite set of the night: furious, frenetic grindcore that made it difficult to decide whether I should crack another beer and bang my head or burn all institutions of the state to the ground. Six Brew Bantha excel at cramming tons of riffs into each song and execute stop-on-a-dime shifts perfectly, especially on tracking like “Blight” and “World Genocide.”
Track 7: Chthe’ilist
Is it just me, or does Quebec seem to produce technical death metal bands at the same level of quality as our goaltenders? Longueuil, QC’s Chthe’ilist balanced brutality with musical dexterity, melting faces and expending consciousnesses in equal measure. The set also features loads of quality George Fisher-esque hair swinging, which is always a good thing. I have no idea how to pronounce their name.
Track 8: Funebrarum
The devastating nature New Jersey lifers Funebrarum‘s crushing death metal was a perfect sonic accompaniment to the venue’s internal temperature (Read: WHY GOD?! WHY?!). On top of oppressive heaviness, the band frequently employs intricate chord progressions that imbue the songs with majestic stateliness, reminiscent of fellow old school DM’ers Nile.
Track 9: Nunslaughter
Nunslaughter was total Satanic chaos. I know I’ve already called out some exceptional percussion performances, but Nunslaughter drummer Wrath seemed determined to open a portal directly to hell by achieving ludicrous speed. The band floored the at-capacity crowd with selections spanning their lengthy discography, including “Emperor in Hell” and “The Fucking Witch.” I now understand what Joel Grind wants to be when he grows up.
Track 10: Terrorizer LA
While this version of the legendary US grindcore act Terrorizer is technically a tribute to the late, great original guitarist Jesse Pintado, Oscar Garcia and company more than honored Pintado’s legacy, blasting through classic tunes while the grind faithful lost their collective shit. While there had been a fair bit of crowd movement during previous sets, it was a tsunami of stage dives while the band ripped through “After World Obliteration,” “Human Prey,” and “Injustice.”
Bonus Track #1: Griller Killer BBQ!
The pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and potato chips was superb. Also, offering grilled corn on the cob and calling it “Grind Corn” makes the dad joke part of my brain happy.
Bonus Track #2: The Fucking Heat!
We suffer, but why?
Truly great festivals are never the work of a single individual, and Earslaughter is no exception. Without the tireless efforts of people like Michael Lacroix, Michelle Ayoub and the rest of the Earslaughter crew, this fest simply wouldn’t happen. However, I like to think that a part of what makes Earslaughter such a success (this year’s edition was completely sold out) is Dave’s unabashed love and devotion to the music. In effect, he just wants to make sure everyone’s as stoked as he is.
Written by Jesse Gainer
*edited by Kate Erickson