Worried that my Katacombes weather trend would continue, light flurries began early in the night but finished by the time I arrived at around 8:15 at locked doors. Yay. As the place opened up, it was probably the emptiest I’ve seen the venue compared to the last En Route I attended. Knowing Venomenon was up first, I was hoping they would get more of a crowd.
Nick Guerin, co-organizer of Dungeon Works Productions, began the night explaining to the audience how everything would work, and how prizes would be won throughout the contest. The five winners from each event (including one in Ottawa), would win a spot to play the Heavy Montreal festival happening this August. The five judges of the evening were Eddie Shahini of Dead Brain Cells & Kill of Rights, Kevin Jardine of Uplift Studios, Jason Rockman of CHOM 97.7 and Slaves on Dope, Heidy Hadden, and Peter Deshais of Evenko. An interesting set of judges. I was a little nervous for the bands!
Venomenon was first to get up there, and while I have seen these guys play killer sets every time, this was not their best set. Had this been my first time seeing them, I would still think they rock— I just know they could do better. Scott Stephens’ bass riffs were really tight, and I will always compare Petey Giampa’s drumming style/performance to Keith Moon. Jordan Barillaro was his usual crazy, energetic self, swaying all over the stage playing sick solos, especially during “Saints and Profits,” and it looked like he was having a lot of fun. At one point, his guitar strap fell off and with the help of some people in the crowd, they got it back on. He was a good sport and kept going. My main concern with this performance was when Jordan would sing outside the mic at times, and it was hard to hear him. Rockman mentioned during the judges’ final say that as soon as his guitar strap fell off it “saved the performance” because instead of bouncing around so much, he ended up concentrated more and sang in the mic fully; harsh words but overall, the judges mentioned how Scott is a fantastic bassist, and Petey killed it on drums, and that the band as a whole has a Motorhead vs. Kyuss sound.
After a heartfelt speech by Michelle Ayoub (co-host of the night/Dungeon Works Productions) about Dave Brockie’s passing, and how much the Montreal scene honoured him and his support to the scene, the next band Kolony was up. Melodic heavy riffs were brought to the stage along with matching outfits to present themselves to look like dirty mechanics; white, ripped-up shirts with labels sewn on them, along with some make up to dirty themselves up. The set started with a far too long pre-recorded intro which included some electronic samples that brought us into their first track. During the first few tracks the band played, I was finding my attention span drifting, but when they played Slayer’s “Raining Blood,” it completely woke me up. Judge Peter jumped up and cheered Kolony on. As the set progressed, it seemed to have sounded better, more thrashy and heavy. Antony was praised from the judges for his drumming. Kolony describes themselves to be “melodic rock,” but I heard many genres in this set. Stoner rock/metal and thrash, but the vocals definitely fit in that “melodic” style.
Next band up was Warsenal. A large group of people gathered to the front of the stage wearing Warsenol t-shirts, ready to thrash along to this highly energetic band. The placed filled right up during this band’s set. “This song is about the best way to dieeeee…..” growled Mathieu Rondeau as they entered in with “Dying on Stage.” This speed /thrash metal track got the pit going wild, and Mathieu and bassist Francis Labine’s hair flew all over the place from the head-banging. The judges compared this band to Megadeth and said, “Megadeth would be proud,” and Rockman mentioned how they were “the best band of the evening,” and that he got off his ass to be able to hear them better downstairs. This three-piece is a combination of passionate guitar riffs, sick bass lines, and speedy tight drums. It definitely brought me back to my old metal-head days of teased hair, leather, and jean vests.
The last band of the night, Point Blank Rage, was up. They had an original stage set up: the drummer was set upstairs, while they had sirens and what looked like army soldiers placed behind them. The band went to some high levels to have an entertaining stage presence, I must give them that. Point Blank Rage has been around for about a year, and are a death metal band. What made them stand out tonight was definitely the stage set up. I was intrigued. Eric Marsan’s vocals were raspy and deep, which follows the typical death metal vocal-y sound. Their sound did not stand out to me, but they clearly have talent. I ended up watching drummer Julien Mercier mostly, and found it interesting that he was placed upstairs while the rest of the band was downstairs. Not sure how that works as far as hearing each other properly goes, but it somehow worked for them, because this band was the winner of this evenings En Route Vers Heavy #3. Yes folks, this band is moving on to the next round.
I was shocked with the result as I thought Warsenol should have taken this one based on the crowd and judges’ reaction, plus they were my personal favourite of the night. But alas, we move on to the next round. Who will be next? Rusted? What Comes To Life? Mad Parish? Eagle Tears?