The rain had made the ground damp and the cold had crept back into Montreal on Saturday, April 20th. Walking down the streets, hands deep into my pockets, I wondered about the show. My thoughts dwelled on each band performing, all of them being heavy yet unique with their individual style. As I neared the mighty Turbo Haüs, the sound of music and laughter overwhelmed me. I was all too happy to walk in, only to be greeted by friends and some electric vibes.
The night was young and the crowd lacking, yet Mooch set up like professionals and started with the energy usually reserved for much larger crowds; it obviously wasn’t an excuse for them. Lead singer and guitarist Ben Cornel lead us through his coordinated mayhem, riding through Mooch’s heavy blues music with the help of his trusty rhythm/backing vocals section consisting of Alex Segreti on drums and Julian Iacovantuöno on bass. Formally a two-piece, the addition (or “re-addition”) of Julian on bass adds more diversity to the sound. They have a very obvious desert rock sound to them, borrowing a lot from the Southern California scene from the early 90s, but Mooch tricks you into believing their music is simple stoner rock until they shoot you in the face with some soulful blues. “Fee-fi-fo-fum” and new song “Wallow,” to name two, stand out with the help of some harmonies and skillfully crafted melodies. At the end of their set, the crowd had filled out, fueling the boys for their final songs. They ended with a bang, setting the standard very high for the two following acts.
Up next, Venomenon set their amps to eleven and got ready to blow up some heads. Jordan Barillaro on guitar and vocals took no prisoners, fluidly switchingfrom some fast-past rhythm playing to thrash worthy solos. Taking cues from thrash legends such as Slayer and early Metallica, Venomenon plays heavy and never lets up. Petey Giampa hits on his drums like if he hated them, all with a smile, making it very enjoyable to watch. In front of him, bassist and singer Nick Boucher slams in some grooves and always made sure the crowd was with them, roaring at his audience with might. All three members of Venomenon seem to be doing their own thing on stage, but those of us who know this sort of music know the skill it takes to play so fast and keep time. “Bottom of the Label” almost made it seem like every time there was a break in the song, they would play faster. And although they stick to the thrash formula, Venomenon changes up their structures and riffs enough to make each song have something different, like “Crystal Spectre” with its memorable riff and powerful drumming from Petey. The room was on fire when Venomenon finished. Although the crowd had stayed relatively calm during their set, the Thrashers we’re pleased.
With Mooch playing their heavy blues and Venomenon tearing through the crowd with their thrash, it was time for a mix of both with the already legendary Katö. Singing in French with the help of Quebec slang, their performance had a lot of “T*barnaks” and other religious words. When guitarist Bull Royce walked on stage with his “F*ck Off” t-shirt, I could already tell he meant business. The sleazy Nick “Gringö” Spellbound played a distorted bass, which acted as a cushion for the heaviness, but also as a lead instrument, often times playing alongside the guitar. They opened their show with “14g de Marde,” a soul-crushing sludge track that immediately started the mayhem. Between Nick and Bull Royce screaming into the microphone and Yanick Bucci relentlessly pounding those drums, the French vocals of Katö were a thing of its own. Although not meant as comedic material, hearing words and phrases I would otherwise only hear from my drunk uncle on St Jean-Baptiste Day at 3 AM made me smile. Katö traded in some sludge with some thrash for “l’Herbologue,” a song very fitting for 4/20 (blaze it).
The boys from Katö played like rock stars, raising their instruments during solos and letting themselves bath in the heavy goodness. By “Forgé Dans Marde,” my favourite song by them, I was about getting ready to break something. They play with such aggressiveness that it’s hard to keep calm and still during their set. When they turned off their amps at the end of their set, I could hardly hear myself talk and it took a while to readjust myself to a normal volume.
All three bands were veterans of the scene and played like such. They knew the stage and knew the crowd. Every musician felt at home, surrounded by friends and fans. It was a memorable show and great album release for Katö’s M39, so make sure you support the scene by getting some of that heavy music!
Written by Johnathan Robinson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Mike Milito