And so began another crazy edition of Canada’s biggest metal festival, Heavy Montreal. It was hot. It was dirty. There were boobs. Still every long-haired metalhead (including myself) toughed it out and kept their hair down. With headliners like Slayer and Ghost we were definitely in for a crazy weekend ahead.
My first day consisted of water. Lots and lots of water. Bucketlist photographer Michael Kovacs and I headed straight for the media tent for our pile of interviews starting with the lovely Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats. It was our fifth time interviewing him but it was his first time explaining what his role would be in a Cancer Bats human centipede. (If you would like to know more, stay tuned for the release of this interview on Youtube.)
We then ran to catch Harms Way and FEVER 333; the two most energetic (and perfect) bands to start off this heatwave of a festival. The new layout (or shall I say the traditional layout) was pretty confusing at first and with my sense of direction, it didn’t help. I had a hard time getting around with mushy heatwave brain and it was the majestic voice of Devin Townsend that led me to his acoustic set. So much was happening at once because right after Townsend’s set (which felt like it only lasted minutes), I caught myself burning up and melting to Nekrogoblikon. These guys seemed to have a slightly different lineup which felt odd to me (I’ve been following these dudes for over eight years) but regardless, they played to a large, very-excited crowd and clearly are growing well into their careers.
It was time for a small break during which I bumped into some friendly faces including Jesse Leach from Killswitch Engage and some members of the Heavy Mania crew. It was good to get a breather, but then low and behold, Rivers of Nihil, who happen to be one off my favourite bands (and highlights of the festival) were up. They keep getting better and better every time I see them perform! Fantastic performance.
Desperately trying to find some shade, we grabbed some grub and caught the ever so mighty Cancer Bats who had Wade from Alexisonfire join them on stage. It was great. Killswitch Engage were up next and why they weren’t a co-headliner and Evanescence was is still beyond me. Sure, Evanescence is a huge nostalgic love for many and I appreciate the talents that go with the band, but I did catch myself almost falling asleep during their set. Maybe it was the heat? Jesse Leach looked and sounded the healthiest I’ve ever seen / heard. I follow him on instagram and he’s very open with his fans. He discusses mental illness, spirituality, and more. To think his deep calming voice can explode to what we hear live is incredible. He’s a smart guy and takes really good care of that voice and it shows. I was disappointed in Adam D’s lack of perverted commentary, however, but he made up for it as always with his sick riffs and dance moves. Overall my other highlight of the festival.
When Steel Panther hit the stage I was actually surprised not to see many boobs on the big screens but the band absolutely insisted on it of course, and there we were watching boobs. At one point the band pointed out to a child with a green T-shirt and insisted he gets a little early sex education. Ghost ended the night with a killer set playing a ton off one of my top 10 albums of 2018, Prequelle. I was never a huge fan of this band until that album came out. Everything in between was a little lacklustre and not very interesting. I expected more.
When I arrived at the park on day two (Slayer day!), I noticed a lot fewer people on the grounds and the weather felt slightly more tolerable. My band choices were very different from one another. I ran to catch the blues dudes of Mountain Dust first thing and it was surreal watching them on a big stage rock out to a huge amount of people. It made me really proud to be a Montrealer. This band consists of incredibly talented experienced musicians who know the struggle. They work hard and I think finally they are going to get their spotlight and be huge, if not already. During this time, I ran to catch Montreal hardcore band Junkowl. I had the pleasure of being a judge at En Route Vers Heavy and these guys were my number one choice. I am so happy they won and got to follow their dream. They fucking destroyed.
One thing I was super excited and proud to catch was the induction to the Hall of Heavy Metal for Anthrax. There was a ceremony deep Sunday afternoon and we watched the band accept this award and give some adorable speeches. “I’m surprised we got this before Iron Maiden…” muttered Scott Ian. Well, take it and enjoy it! It was an honour to be able to watch something go down in history.
The day was passing by fairly fast. I caught Corrosion of Conformity who played most of Deliverance which was pretty awesome. Rock n Roll icons Clutch were my next band of choice and I managed to watch the whole set. My ears were glued on this band. They sounded tight and the sound at Heavy overall was fantastic.
I decided to switch it up before getting ready for Slayer’s final performance and caught the ever so heavy hardcore band Stick to your Guns. It was probably my fourth or fifth time catching them and they never disappoint. The running around continued and caught Slayer for the fourteenth time. This is a band I’ve probably seen the most and when Tom Araya came back on stage after their final song (like he normally does with a big goofy grin), he calmly said: “I’m gonna miss you. Thank you. Goodbye.” I am pretty sure many metalheads shed a tear during this moment (myself included).
It was an absolutely hectic, hot and fun weekend overall. Evenko did a solid job on the organization and so did all the media involved. Until next year! Who do you want to see headline?
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy