Show review author: Alex Stojanovic
Photographer: Navneet Johal
Published: June 12, 2014
Wacken Metal Battle Canada 2014
The Opera House
June 8, 2014
Robb Reiner (Anvil)
Noel Peters (Inertia Entertainment)
Tim Henderson (Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles)
Lindsay Schoolcraft (Cradle Of Filth)
Jon Asher (Asher Media Relations)
Adam Sewell (Riot Rock Management / Stereo Dynamite)
Darrell Shelley (Scene Magazine)
Drew Copeland (Villainizer)
The Governor (Andrew Epstein) from "The Governor’s Ball"
The night was young as a huge group of devoted Toronto metalheads packed the Opera House on a warm Saturday evening for the Wacken Metal Battle Canada finals to see who will be representing Canada at Wacken Open Air in Germany in early August.
Toronto favourites My Hollow had the difficult task of kicking off the night's festivities, but it definitely didn't look difficult for them, as a group of their devoted fans rallied at the front of the stage to mosh and headbang along to the band's energetic tunes. They were stomping all across the stage with giant steps and syncronized movements like the slow bang. After their set, guitarist Greg Gallagher was in the crowd moshing with the fans for all the bands that followed.
Second band was Neck Of The Woods from the other side of the country in Vancouver. The band put on a solid performance, but the only issue about their set was that their lead guitarist was turned up a little too loud, so the vocals and the other instruments were drowned out, and created just a wall of sound. The band did have a bit of a hard time getting the crowd to move, but they managed to get the crowd interested in their set. The melodic passages in the songs were ear-perking, but if the lead guitarist turned down his guitar just a tad, so everything could be distinguishable, their set would have been perfect.
Band #3 was Toronto's Burning The Day. After seeing them 4 times, I don't know what else to say about them that I haven't said already because they haven't really changed anything about their show, except that they're an incredibly tight band and they've always impressed me with their energy and precision in their chaotic and melodic tunes. I would say the only slight difference this time around was the crowd participation because every time I've seen the band during this competition, they've always had energetic crowd participation, but this time, the crowd participation was up a few notches as their devoted fans moshed during every song from start to finish. I mean there were pits for literally every song and they did not stop until the song was over, and they definitely had one of the loudest receptions of the night. Plus the Opera House stage was a little bigger than the stage at the Rivoli, so they had more room to move around.
Fourth band were Calgary death metallers Exit Strategy. To me, they sounded pretty similar to Neck Of The Woods, just a little heavier. Even though much of their set was also a wall of sound, the songs still had moments where you could bang your head like a maniac. I like how frontman We DeLeeuw encouraged the crowd to move by offering the crowd free t shirts. Even though the pits weren't huge with only 4 or so people participating, he still gave the participating moshers the shirts.
Fifth band were Montreal thrashers Mutank. This band definitely surprised me (in a good way) because as they walked out on stage and I saw the body shape of the frontman's B.C Rich bass, I was expecting some more death metal because the body shape of his bass is common in death metal, but I was proven wrong as they were a more straightforward thrash band, and they were instantly one of my favourite bands of the night. Their style is a potent mixture of Suicidal Tendencies with standard thrash vocals, with a hint of Mike Muir style vocals. One thing that really caught my eye was that they were drinking their beverages out of gas tanks. Never seen that before. After their performance, they have garnered themselves a whole bunch of new fans, myself included.
Closing the night were guest headliners: Toronto's own Skull Fist, with Wacken Metal Battle Canada founder J.J Tartaglia filling in on drums. This was my very first time seeing Skull Fist and I can honestly say that after seeing them, they have earned themselves a new fan with me. I've always heard about Skull Fist, but I never got around to checking out their material. What really grabbed me about them was their diversity of influences of 80s hard rock and metal with songs in the styles of glam, thrash, party rock n' roll, and traditional heavy metal. You can hear hints of bands like Motley Crue, Metallica, Megadeth, Van Halen, Saxon, Scorpions, and Poison. The skilled interplay between guitarist Jonny Nesta and frontman Jackie Slaughter was great to witness with the dueling solos, harmonies and the hooky and aggressive riffs. At one point, Jackie picked up Jonny on his shoulders for a solo duel, which was met with loud roars from the crowd. Jackie Slaughter's vocals were in the vein of several different singers like Vince Neil, Jeff Keith from Tesla, a bit of Eric Adams of Manowar and Don Dokken, and incorporates his own style as well.
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The Governor announces the winner for Wacken Metal Battle Canada 2014: MUTANK*! Members of Crimson Shadows hand over the official Wacken/Canadian flag (their torch of honour).
Congrats to Mutank for winning this year's competition. We wish them the best of luck as they compete against bands from around the globe at Wacken Open Air in Germany.