It was a Saturday night in Montreal, and if you’re a metalhead, there’s a good chance you’re going to a show. There was a lot to choose from on September 21st, 2019, but in my opinion, the one to truly be at was the record release show for The Agonist’s latest album, Orphans, over at Théâtre Fairmount. It was a celebration of Montreal metal, as all the bands playing were from here and each one brought a different flavour of metal to the table, but all equally in heavy doses that only kick-ass Montreal metal bands could produce.
Kicking off the evening was The History of Flying Objects. I have to extend a bit of an apology to these guys, as I missed the majority of their set due to Montreal traffic and an issue at the door that prevented me from getting in on time. Sadly, I only caught their last two songs. But that was enough to tell me that I had missed something pretty awesome. There’s a definite metalcore influence to their sound with a dynamic between the heavy and clean moments, but peppered with influences that range from black metal to thrash and everything in-between. Either way, I immediately listened to their EP, Prologue after the show, which made me even more upset that I missed most of their set. It’s a fucking solid piece of metal, and you should check them out.
Up next was Fall of Stasis, who were bringing their blend of folk/black/symphonic metal to the table. It was another example of the awesome metal diversity this city produces. Influenced by the likes of bands like Dimmu Borgir and Alestorm, Fall of Stasis made me want to dance as much as they made me want to headbang. When they played “Drunken Howl,” I was glad I had a rum and coke in my hand. Just felt appropriate, you know? With Jessica Dupré at the helm, she commanded the stage with a voice that was as ferocious as her stance, while the band behind her played as a super tight, cohesive unit. As of right now, they’ve only got a Demo EP, but you should definitely check it out if you like your metal with a dose of blackened folk.
Up next was Confined to Oblivion. There was no mistaking the death/melodic metal influence these guys were bringing, mixing in influences from bands like Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying and maybe even a little bit of Slipknot. They’ve been around for a few years, but admittedly, I was hearing about them for the first time that night. If I’m being completely honestly, their style of metal is probably the one I least listen to, but these dudes fucking crushed it. They ripped through a half-hour set that included their latest, heavy-as-fuck single “Lights Out,” a track full of heavy breakdowns and grooves that make headbanging an impossible thing to NOT do.
There was a lot of anticipation in the air for the next band, Karkaos. Earlier last month, lead singer Viky Boyer left the band to pursue a new avenue of music with a goth/folk project called Ariel that any fan of Emma Ruth Rundle or Chelsea Wolfe will love. I actually love the project, but was sad to see her leave Karkaos. They had some pretty big shoes to fill, and stepping up to the plate as her replacement was Morgan Lander from Kittie. The second they launched into their first track, you knew Morgan was right at home. Somehow, the symphonic death metal styling of Karkaos sound more homed in than ever with Morgan leading the vocal charge. Ripping through tracks like “Let the Curtain Fall” and “Kolossos” from Children of the Void and two brand new tracks from their forthcoming new album, there wasn’t a soul in the room that wasn’t headbanging and throwing their devil horns in the air. The band themselves are insanely solid too. When you’ve got a total of six members on stage, there’s always a risk of something falling out of place, but Karkaos are easily one of the tightest live bands you’ll ever see. Go.fucking.see.them.NOW!
Finally, The Agonist, comprised of Danny, Paco, Simon, Chris and Vicky walked onto the stage as the crowd cheered and they launched into the opening track from Orphans, “In Vertigo.” The band would play a near career-spanning setlist of 12 songs, including several new ones like the title track of the album and “Burn It All Down,” but also older fan favourites like “Gates of Horn and Ivory,” “Ideomotor” and “Thank You, Pain.” These dudes are some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever seen, and Vicky commands the stage like a warrior and she obliterates us with her screams, only to wrap us back up in the warmth of her haunting clean vocals. And while everyone was enjoying the show with some headbanging it was mid-set when a mosh pit finally opened up. The crowd was no doubt eating up and loving every second of it. As The Agonist played their last song, cheers for an encore were met by Vicky shouting “Do you want us to play one more!?” And one more they did. What I thought was pretty cool was how their encore song wasn’t an old track pulled from the vaults (as most bands would usually do), but instead, another new track called “As One We Survive,” easily one of the heaviest songs on the new record.
I could probably list a dozen or so things that sometimes annoy me about this city, but the heavy metal scene is not one of them. It’s no wonder we were dubbed an official heavy metal city. You can go to any metal show in Montreal and you’ll be guaranteed a few things. You’ll get to hear some incredible music, see some familiar faces and even some new ones. The record release show for The Agonist’s newest album, Orphans, was an absolute success and all five bands that played brought something different to the table. Chances are, everyone walked out of that show in a fantastic mood. I know I did.
Written by Dominic Abate
Photography by Nicolas Racine
*edited by Mike Milito