Oh, the beautiful open road; the life blood of all things music. Remember boys and girls, the key to getting your music out there is getting yourself out there. The key to a deteriorated liver is also drinking in different area codes. This last weekend, August 15th, 2015, I had the pleasure of getting to do just that with my home boys, In The Name of Havoc, for a sweaty bitch gig in the too fucking big TDOT at the Smiling Buddha.
For those of you who have seen the Smiling Buddha (quite the cosy little spot) you might know that it’s actually a two-part venue. A rather inviting and well arranged full venue upstairs, and a room the size of a bedroom in the basement. The boys and I were fortunate enough to be in the basement, because of course, I skipped my cardio this week and needed to be in a fucking sauna. Breaking the night open, as wide as my pores, were Denver, Colorado’s Swells. Very interesting. Very loud. VERY ANGSTY. Swinging around that post-hardcore akin to Converge with a little happy cord twist a la Deafheaven! Interesting vocal range in the sense that all three members partake in very similar angstastic styles. The general band sound was together, but my only dispute would be with a slight lack in tightness drum wise. That being said, it is nothing a little practice can’t fix. If this angst cloud comes rolling through your town, give it a listen.
Rolling along, Hamilton, Ontario’s, Men to Wolves took the stage. Before I go any deeper, this is not a bestiality-based Boyz II Men cover band. If I’m the only person who thought of that reference, then apparently I need therapy. Moving along, these cats came out swinging that early day Metal-core style akin to that of Atreyu and earlier Avenged Sevenfold. Said comparisons might get me some hate out of Hamilton, or some props, I have no idea, nor any remaining fucks as I sweat them all out that night. Real tight, real heavy, but some real tweeks in terms of musical maturity are needed. All of these dudes are top notch, and a little bit of time and weathering will definitely show some future promise.
Following up from the womb of Pickering, Ontario was Ascending Consciousness. I say from the womb as most of these dudes looked pretty fresh out of it, that being said, there were some high points. What sucks about my job however, is telling the truth, and truth is there’s aloooooot of work needed for this act to start seeing any limelight. The composition screamed primordial Metal-core, the execution needed a fair amount of practice and maybe a few lessons on all fronts but one. That fucking bass was gnarly. Very, very Gnarly. If you catch these young bloods, watch that bass. It is in fact, all about that fucking bass.
We of the Bucketlist universe are so bloody far from being unfamiliar with the southern fuckery that is our own Montreal, Quebec homegrown In The Name of Havoc that it would be a waste of my linguistic talents to even try to tell you of their craft. So, instead I will say this, that roadie they seem to be dragging around really needed to stop pretending he’s Cody Dodds. It’s getting kind of weird. What was his name again? Rusty, Krusty, I don’t know he was fat and sweaty. Otherwise, these dudes killed it as usual and they surprisingly don’t smell that terrible after a long sweaty night of kicking ass and drinking Kokanee. By the way, the dudes at the Smiling Buddha whom ended up accommodating our homeless asses were really cool. Really fucking high, and really fucking cool.
Toronto, Ontario’s baby boys in Dawn Vally came out swinging for the fucking fences. Slugging around that ear drum shattering Death Metal, these dudes definitely came to impress all fifteen people that managed to tough out the heat. Tight, fast, brutal as fuck, and even weirder to top it. The only two touch points I can make are what the fuck is up with the one guitarist rocking a mask the entire time, and why the fuck do we need to know exactly what every song has been written about. If that is your thing and you wanna stick to it, power to ya homies, just keep slugging.
Last and possibly most frightening of the evening were Sludgehammer. The sinister Death Metal trend didn’t seem to wanna take a rest with our last act. Toronto should be proud, and smaller, but mostly proud. Incredibly interesting choice in song structuring and vocals very akin to that off Vallenfyre with a little Pantera groove twist. Big and fucking Ballsy, even if it was only for about five people by the time the gig had come to it’s closing, which yet again, hats off to those five dudes who toughed it out. My only concern with these cats are the amount of covers played. Covers are fun and seriously get whatever crowd you have pumped as fuck, but you never wanna break the one cover per set rule. Kinda makes it look like you don’t have any original material, which Slugdehammer very obviously does. Check that shit, extensively.
That all being said, I fucking hate Toronto, Balls out bitches!
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Danielle Kenedy