Aspirations continued to run deep on March the 27th at Montreal’s Katacombes as we continued to seek Montreal’s Metal Superbeast to champion our fair city in the Wacken Metal Battle Canada. Four bands; four judges (Lex Ivian of Ondes Choc, Andrew Wieler of CJLO, Mike Marino of Ibanez Guitars, and last but not least, JEFF FUCKING WATERS of Annhilator); a lot more than four drinks than I should have had while on the job; and a lot of hurt feelings. As my usual disclaimer, I’d like it to be known that I will be using the judge’s feedback during this review as minimally as possible. If it’s the judges’ comments you want, then y’all should keep an eye out for the finale.
Opening the night up like a fresh pair of legs and an infinite punch to the twat is Fayne. They are no strangers to the Bucketlist treatment as you have probably already found out thousands of times, so I’ll keep this brief. These dudes ripped more ass than an episode of OZ. As a serious repeat offender of Fayne performances, I can wholeheartedly say that they played with an impressive fire under their asses tonight. Everything was to a tee, even with some hilarious technical difficulties (i.e. guitarist Nick Fazioli’s guitar string and strap snapping in succession). The only thing that truly irked me wasn’t even by the band, but by one particular judge whose comment indicated that singer Joseph Espinosa did not spend enough time on the actual stage. To this comment, I would like to laugh at the concept that crowd interaction is one of the scores required. Other than that, Fayne’s use of a guest vocalist during “Believers” could always use a little work (wink wink, nudge nudge, chuckle chuckle, yeah it was me).
Up next, all the way from the self-proclaimed “dirty south” of Quebec (Chateauguay…lol), was the groovy Metalcore love of Distorthead. Very much similar to their predecessor, Distorthead took to the stage armed to the teeth with various groovetastic riffs, supposed breakdowns (which I personally viewed a little more as old school groove riffage, but what do I know), and aggression out the ass. A very in your face act with only a few points that needed fine tuning. Point one: clean vocal inclusion could either be eliminated entirely, or utilized in different placement as to provide a sense of singularity, as the current placement blends too smoothly with the rest of the tune, thus making it seemingly unnoticeable (not to mention a little off key). Next is crowd interaction: keeping it simple is oftentimes the best way to go, as cleverness tends to happen on its own on stage. However, never be scared to say something unique to you, as opposed to something every band you’ve ever seen live says. A particular complaint was made with regards to the length of their set, which I personally found no issue with, but would very much like to give a huge hats off to brand new guitarist Vincent Rousseau, whom came in on two weeks notice.
The Punches kept rolling as the mighty melodic death swing of Decadawn took to the stage. Before getting into the actual performance, I’d like to point out that I’ve been a great melodic deathmetal fan for years. With that said, I’ll be the first to say that it takes a very, very special talent to be unique in this style, as its very refined. Now with THAT said, this was my primary qualm with Decadawn. Each musician is incredibly skilled in their own right, however there was nothing protrudingly original about what was played to me. The common consensus was that these cats sounded similar to that of Iron Maiden (which really doesn’t disprove my point) but I would strongly have to disagree. If every metal band that slings a well-practiced harmonic solo together is going to be considered kin to Maiden, then we don’t have any subgenres. Getting back on point, these dudes were incredibly tight, absolutely pin drop worthy, from the drums to the oddly FX-riddled vocals to the sea of arpeggios. I personally found that although they came with their crew of friends and fans, there was a heavy lack of truly impressive stage presence as we had otherwise seen all evening. It was very standard stand-and-bang style, with very little spotlight sharing, and the slew of songs that truly just sounded exactly like In Flames and Dark Tranquility just didn’t do it for me.
Rounding out the night was the Progressive(-ish) Death of Evertrapped. All in all these cats were rather odd. Loud as all balls and definitely seasoned to the nines, but in no way shape or form listener friendly. This being rather late in the night, some of the crowd still seemingly ate that shit up, but sound-wise, nothing quite tickled me, as it all seemed to just be brute force trauma to the head. Original, yes, but coherent? Not really. Very akin to Cephalic Carnage, so if you’re a fan of that style, definitely give them a listen. My biggest concern with this act was more gear-related. This has been a common occurrence before (although I personally have never seen it), but the drums were actually too large to have on the rather awkward Katacombs stage, and needed to be placed up on the balcony overhead the stage itself, thus separating the drummer from the rest of his band, meaning HE COULDN’T ACTUALLY FUCKING HEAR THEM. Although the drums were rather impressive, it definitely stilltook away from the performance. Therefore my suggestion to you, metalheads of the world, is never be afraid to take a slight downgrade in order to actually pull off a tight performance.
The dust settles once again, and the last band standing is Decadawn. After reading this, from my words you might think that they were undeserving. However I’d like to make it very clear that their performance was most definitely on the button and although I personally believe that their writing could use a little sprucing, my views aren’t what are going to get anybody anywhere. So that being said, hats off to the boys of Decadawn, and for all those whom rocked on that night. We here at Bucketlist salute you. Stayed tuned for the finale, or actually go to the damn thing.
Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Eric Brisson Eric Brisson Photography