Music is known to transcend time; something you find to be good now, you will find to be good forever (sometimes). What doesn’t necessarily transcend time is a band’s fanbase. If you were a knockout with the teen scene back in the early 2000s, you can’t always expect that to be the case nearly 15-20 years later (fuck my ass, I’m getting old). This all brings me to the Defy Tour feturing Of Mice and Men that passed through Montreal this past Valentine’s day at the Corona Theatre (which I’m sure my significant other will eventually forgive me for attending.)
Opening the night was Cane Hill, a four-piece metalcore act hailing from New Orleans, LA. These cats dance on the line of what was once nu metal while trying to take a very common 2010-era creepy vibe along for the ride. Picture Emmure if the music was written by Rob Zombie. The set itself was mildly forgettable, but there’s no disputing that the band has a market that they appeal to in a very recent demographic of the hardcore and metal scene. That said, that demographic of fans is most definitely going to fail the test of time in my opinion. The rhythm section was very basic but powerful, the guitars stuck to the horror vibes, and the vocals, although unique, were mildly monotonous. Not my act of the night, but worth a listen nonetheless.
Following up was an act I’ll likely be stroking my shit to for some time to come. Austin, TX has spat out another absolute banger in metalcore five-piece, Fire From the Gods. The act spins a strikingly similar tune to that of fellow Austin powerhouses Fit for a King, but with a massive difference in vocal styling from front man AJ Channer. He mixes incredibly grooving compositions with an impressive vocal range (both clean and otherwise) full of vocal stylings like notes of reggae and hip hop, while not overdoing it to the point of douche-dom. This act absolutely stole the show for me in every possible fashion. From the eclectic collection of styles found in “Excuse Me,” to the masterclass of projection in “End Transmission,” there wasn’t a tune in this set that didn’t have me fully enthralled. Yes, I’m a bitch boy metalcore fan, and if you stand tall with that description too, then you absolutely cannot sleep on Fire From the Gods.
Next up to bat, and practically walking out of the DeLorean on stage (if you don’t get that reference, you’re far too young to be reading my writing), was Scottsdale, AZ natives Blessthefall. Apparently it’s still 2004 according to this staple act in the metalcore-screamo scene, as it seems this act hasn’t aged a day. I’m talking same sound, same moves, same hair, same clothes, and the same gaggle of drooling girls (who aren’t really girls anymore) trailing along for the party. Performance-wise, they’re still every bit as appealing as they’ve ever been, a true testament to the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” My issue with an act like this is the attempt to appeal to the same demographic continuously. What was angsty to us back in the early 2000s isn’t necessarily angsty enough for kids of today, but who am I to assume? I simply think that if a band’s fanbase will stay loyal to them over the years, they are going to need to grow with you, so maybe you should grow with them? Or not, what the fuck do I know. All that grumpery aside, Blessthefall played a tight performance with clear sound, and ‘’Hollow Bodies’’ is still a banger.
Last and far from least was the return of Orange County, CA’s Of Mice and Men. Line-up changes have been the name of the game for this act, and this performance marks their first return to the Great White North since the departure of founding member Austin Carlile, as well as the release of the most recent record, Defy. Sounds like a complicated life to live, what with the burden of a key loss in their line-up and all, but the beautiful part about this band is the incredibly simplicity in their execution.
The band slings a typically traditional form of metalcore as it’s known today, with groovy tunes and gushy choruses in abundance. Having all those vocal stylings mixed into one while also contributing as the bass section is a rare find, and even more so to see this pulled off live in flawless form. In this case, frontman and bassist Aaron Pauley has gone the route of profound performance over visual satisfaction. Although a frontman always runs the risk of not being ‘’entertaining enough,’’ I personally always have great appreciation for a dude who stands and delivers exactly what their predecessors laid down on a record in perfect recount, thus leaving the theatrics up to their bandmates. The sound couldn’t have been clearer, the setlist was prime, minus MAYBE their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money,” and most of all, a point was made to display their growth, most notably in their compilation of “YDG,” “Still YDG’n,” and lastly “Forever YDG’n.” Of Mice and Men have always been a dirty pleasure of mine and an entertaining act. If you haven’t stooped to my level, then I implore you to dabble in the “wimpy” side of the force before knocking it.
Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Marie-Emmanuelle Laurin
*edited by Kate Erickson