Due to the slippery conditions typical of a Montreal winter, I was late to Aranarth’s opening set for Tech Death Overload event at Exit Bar. As I climbed the stairs, though, I could already tell that this young black metal band’s tightness had not quite caught up with their vision. Their riffs were interesting enough and vocalist Vincent Forlini possesses an impressive set of cookie monster pipes for his stature, but drummer Jean Francois-Vezina couldn’t quite keep up with the speed at which his bandmates were playing and the result stunted the impact of their songs’ vast and complex structures.
Cambridge Ontario’s Æpoch were missing their bassist and frontman Brett MacIntosh for reasons I didn’t quite catch, but they were awesome anyway. With MacIntosh’ Mikael Akerfeldt styled growl missing from overtop the music, the dual guitar attack of Bobby Chounramany and Christ Roche was allowed to steal the show. Watching these two rip through impossible riffs and solos, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the chemistry between Trivium guitarists Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu. Æpoch’s flowed extremely nicely and no wasted time between songs. They have an EP out now on Bandcamp called Æpochalypse (clever stuff) available for only five dollars and I highly recommend you give it a listen. It is some tasty death metal.
The narrow bar had been packed pretty much from the beginning of the evening, a fact which did not fly past AbouT:BlanK’s main ‘growlsman,’ Yan Chatel, as he thanked the promoter for not being a poser. Every member of this band looked like they wouldn’t be out of place in a Korn tribute band, but their music could not have been more different than their nu-metal lookalikes. Their set was the absolute techiest of death metal. The onslaught had many shining moments often lost in the sheer density of the songs that surrounded them. Drummer Vincent Joly, in particular, may be too talented for his own good; though the speed with which he executed many of his parts was nothing short of mesmerizing, the amount of snare and double bass fitted into each bar often didn’t allow many of the music’s punches to, well, punch. Still, they’re giving their latest release away for one dollar right now on their Bandcamp which is pretty cool, and it is pretty good.
When watching Montreal’s own Bookakee with their ridiculous name and presentation which includes different coloured glowing rings on guitarist Mat Pare’s fingers and vocalist Phil Langelier’s removable “face,” it’s hard not to overlook the fact that their music is actually incredibly tasteful. Chalked full of pulsing grooves, mind-melting solo sections, subtle clean breaks, and monumental melodies, the entertainment value in their stage show is truly complete. The string players headbang in tandem while Phil cuts himself with a huge knife is hard to look away from and should never fail to delight any death metal fans looking for a little extra when paying to see their favourite bands do their thing live. The boys even managed to sneak a piece of Haddaway’s infamous pop classic “What is Love” which got the whole crowd dancing for a brief moment.
Oh, and guys, if you’re reading this, our photographer, Isa, would like you to know that you should have let that song play for longer.
Bookakee are a hard act to follow and probably should have gone last, but Teramobil performed a solid set anyway. They were definitely the most eclectic band on the bill and served as the evening’s wild card. It was late but there was still a solid number of people left to keep a pit going, and Teramobil’s prog instrumental metal is crushing enough to fuel that fire. It was nice to see and hear Dominic Lapointe make full melodic use of his six-string bass because at that point of the night I was starting to toy with the idea that all extreme metal bands should just forego bass from now on as it often seems totally neglected in many modern renditions of the umbrella genre.
All in all, it was a solid night of metal and a very pleasant atmosphere, and as this was only Part One of what will hopefully be a healthy series of shows, I patiently look forward to the next instalment.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Isa Hoyos Ishca Photography
*edited by Danielle Kenedy