“Why is it every time I go to Katacombes, it is either snowing or raining? Why can’t it be a beautiful evening? I was about to see some kick ass metalcore bands…why, oh why, must our weather suck balls?” I bitched to Eric when I met up with him. Having had very little sleep the night before, my energy wasn’t all there for the night, and I was in a poopy mood. We arrived to a jam packed venue. I was happy with the judges of the evening: Jason Rockman of CHOM/Slaves on Dope, J-F Michaud of Evenko, Dave Boucher of Extensive Enterprise, Jon Asher of Asher Media Relations, and Elliot Desgagnes from Beneath The Massacre. Good group of guys. I knew some great criticism/judgment would come out of this.
First band up: Red Skies. Holy shit. The energy that came out of these guys was astounding. Frontman Cody’s vocals were raw, the bass lines were sick, and the highlight of the band for me was Max Wilk on drums. The band carried amazing stage presence and interacted well with the crowd. Cody gave an inspiring speech about his past with drugs and how he overcame it, which prompted his mother tograb my arm and scream, “That’s my son! I’m so proud!” I thought that was adorable. I have to say these guys definitely stood out from the rest, and they have their own sound and a very strong positive energy about them. A very tight technical band indeed. As I watched the judges’ reactions, they seemed completely impressed – and I was right. Asher mentioned how Red Skies reminded him of Of Temples, which is the band that won the contest last year. Rockman also mentioned how he loved their interaction with the audience and overall stage presence. It almost seemed like the judges had made up their minds already.
The next band up was Endvade. I had a hard time understanding what the band name was. At this point, the crowd and judges were so pumped up by Red Skies, Endvade needed to kill it. Sadly, it wasn’t the best performance. I felt vocalist Alexandre Saint-Pierre was not in sync with the band at times; random screaming sometimes doesn’t always work. The crowd drifted a little more at this point and the judges looked bored. The major highlight for me was the clean backup vocals of guitarist/viking, François Bertrand. He bobbed his head back and forth, made faces, danced around like a goof, and interacted well with the crowd. His voice and his guitar solos were awesome. I was pleased to hear Asher make the same comments once judgment calls were ready. He gave some advice to try and work both vocal styles in more because we needed to hear more of those clean vocals. I think the band has tons of potential, I just don’t think it was a good night for them. I am a huge prog-metal fan, so I expected more. I did like some of the slow start offs with some tracks and there were moments I got into it their set.
Post-Hardcore band, This Town Going Under came on next. Seeing this handsome bearded man with a nice plaid shirt on stage let out his rage out in the mic sort of shocked me. I loved Benoit Bédard’s voice. The set started with what seemed to be some reggae influenced samples and kicked in with “Liars,” a fast-paced hardcore track with raspy killer vocals and great guitar solos. These guys had fun on stage, and rocked out. They played very tightly, and again, I drooled over Charles Savard’s awesome drumming. What is it with me and drummers? I especially loved when Benoit went in the crowd and walked through it while screaming his heart out. The mix up of clean vocals provided by Maxime Leblanc, who also played some crisp solos on his guitar, really blew me away. The band formed in 2009, releasing two EPs, and finally releasing a full-length album in 2013 “Speaking The Unknown”. Heavy MTL would do great for them.
The last band, No Direction Home, who I have heard quite a bit about from our Jason Greenberg, hit the stage. Since the band came on much later than expected, we caught half of the set, and it was as great as I had been told it would be. The sound was really good, their stage presence was perfect, and they continued with killer melodic breakdowns. The crowd kept disappearing throughout the night, which made me wonder if it was the weather or Red Skies’s fans that were mainly there. That being said, those who remained continued tomosh, and really dug the set these guys played. The judges looked exhausted, which surprised me, as No Direction Home was pretty high strung and loud. I wish I could have heard some of the feedback.
Overall, the night was fucking insane with great talent. What was the verdict? Who will move on to the next round? We all guessed right— Red Skies. The judges seemed to have made up their minds from the get-go. This band killed it so hard, and I am stoked to see what lies next for En Route 3 and 4.