I need to start embracing the Canadian in me a little more. Let me elaborate. You see, I’m unfortunately the type of person that lets the weather mess up my mood. Last Saturday, it was cold, and a little rainy. I had zero energy, but slugged my way over to Turbo Haus to check out a few bands I honestly knew nothing about. Well, by the end of the night, I was reminded of what it means to be Canadian – great tunes, great times, and lots of beers, regardless of the weather. And as a bonus, I walked away discovering four incredible Canadian metal bands.
The evening began with Pale Mare, a three-piece stoner-sludge band hailing from Toronto. I’ll just assume these dudes worship Matt Pike because I got some heavy High on Fire vibes from them. My earplugs (yes, I wear earplugs, I’m old) did little to protect me from the onslaught of loud riffs and pummeling drums catapulting from the stage. At times it was groovy, then thrashy, then groovy all over again. Their sound was incredibly dense and raw and precisely what I expected from listening to their self-titled EP the evening before. Unfortunately, the vocals got a little lost in the mix at times, but they still sounded great overall and set the tone for what would end up being an incredible evening. I was actually hoping for a bit of a longer set from them, so I’m hoping they make their way back to Montreal again soon. In the meantime, their self-titled EP is on Bandcamp. Buy and stream that shit now!
Up next was yet another three-piece band: Cellos, from Windsor, Ontario. Self-described as a noise-rock band, I think their sound is far more diverse than that label lets on. Their lead singer, Kyle, is a phenomenal vocalist, at times conjuring up the stylings of Ozzy mixed with a little Grohl and Puciato. Together, the band crushed a 25-minute set of tracks from their discography, including songs from their latest offering, The Great Leap Backward. These guys knew how to carry a groove and a melody and had everyone in the room headbanging, especially during their last song of the evening, “White Lines,” which reminded us all that we were at a heavy-as-fuck doom metal show tonight.
Before Shallow North Dakota got on stage, I ended up chatting with a guy who had come down from Boston exclusively for this show and solely to see Shallow. I was somewhat stunned because I knew little about this band, and yet here was this guy that drove hours (in shitty weather, no less) to see them. They’re a sludge-hardcore band from Hamilton, Ontario and they mean a lot to the underground metal community. Having been around since the early 90s, they’re more than likely a significant influence on all the bands that played the show. I’m ashamed to admit I barely knew a thing about them. That all changed the second they hit the stage. These three guys bring the sludge… hard! They’re loud, aggressive, and play their unique blend of doom punk as loud as humanly possible. Also, as far as “underground” goes, these guys are about as underground as it gets. The only social media page I was able to find for them was an outdated MySpace, and out of their three records, the only one I saw on any streaming services was This Apparatus Must Be Earthed, which is their second LP, released in 1997. They’re old-school, and I like that. If you want their music, go to a show, buy their records, and let them pummel you in the face with their live show while you’re at it. You won’t regret it.
Finally, it was time to get some metal representation from Montreal in the form of The Great Sabatini. The city might be known for its thriving thrash and tech-death scenes, but thankfully, there are some incredible doom and stoner-rock bands to be found too, and The Great Sabatini is one of them. I mean, goddamn, this band is dripping in sludgy riffs that just kick ass. How the fuck have I gone this long not knowing about them? If it wasn’t a loud riff that was kicking your ass, it was the hammer-like crush of the drum and bass combo that would surely do it. Their latest record is Goodbye Audio, and as they played their way through various tracks from the album, everyone in the room was entranced in a weed-like haze, including all the bands that played previously as they watched and admired their sludge-metal brethren command the stage with a shit ton of energy and enthusiasm. When their set was over, I promised myself that when I headed home, I would dig into their discography and learn more about them, that way I could check out their next show as a fan, rather than a newcomer.
As I typed this out listening to one of their older records, Dog Years, it makes me happy to know that this city has some incredible talent in it. The Great Sabatini deserves a much better review than I’m able to give them. I couldn’t identify all of the songs they played because I’m only just discovering them. But that’s kind of the beauty of going to a show where you know little of the bands playing. You surprise yourself and, as someone who loves discovering new music, I hit the jackpot last night with all four bands. If any of these dudes are hitting your town, go see them and support some awesome local music.
Written by Dominic Abate
Photography by Amanda Hiscock
*edited by Kate Erickson