The Wacken Metal Battle Canada contest seems to be stronger this year than the previous year due to the numbers in attendance at the shows and the contest taking place nationwide besides just Toronto and Montreal. Round 3 took place at the Rivoli, which many felt was a much better choice of a venue than the Hard Luck Bar. It was also a slightly awkward venue due to the show taking place in the back room of a restaurant and bar. Even the intermission music was awkward because it was dance club music, and there were some people at the show that dressed up like they were going to a dance club.
First up were local Toronto death metal titans Sludgehammer. Vocalist Chris Szarota is pretty much the Brian Fair (Shadows Fall) of death metal due to his long dreadlocks, but with death metal vocals, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one who thought that. One thing that I find sort of unnecessary with some death metal bands and even some black metal bands is when addressing the crowd, the singer is talking to the crowd in a raspy growling voice on purpose. It's fine to talk like that when introducing the next song, but it's unnecessary to do that for the entire duration of your speech. Sludgehammer put on a solid performance and managed to get the crowd interested in their set! The backing gang vocals from bassist Dan Ayers gave the songs the extra punch over the punishing riffs and rampaging drums.
My Hollow was up next, and they were definitely a favourite amongst the crowd. The band didn't even have to ask for pits as pits formed every minute, but each pit lasted no longer than 30 seconds. The band were definitely the most active on stage, as they were careening around the small stage, I almost thought they were going to knock each other down, but luckilly they didn't, otherwise we would have seen a pretty good Spinal Tap moment! They were the most energetic band of the night.
Empyrean Plague took the stage next. The band hails from North Bay, Ontario, which is a very unexpected place to find metal bands. The band managed to get the crowd somewhat interested in their set, but there was very little activity in the crowd. Their music was pretty cookie cutter music as far as black metal goes. As I've said numerous times, I enjoy black metal, but I feel that it's been played out, and black metal really has nothing new to offer, so they did struggle to hold my interest.
Burning The Day was up next. This is my second time seeing them. My first time seeing them back in December, they didn't really grab my interest. I really don't know why. This time however, they managed to really grab my interest and I was pretty impressed with them. The band is like a hardcore band with a sense of melody in their music. Their energy level was on the same level as My Hollow, but down a few notches.
Last but not least was Toronto metalcore/thrash titans The Curse Within. Frontman Eric Favot faced a few malfunctions with his guitar towards the middle of their set, but the band delivered a solid and fun-filled performance. The entire crowd however seemed to be more on the inactive side when the band hit the stage, but the band handled it well by not complaining about the inactivity. However they did manage to get one small pit going for a short time. What I really enjoyed about the band is how Favot and drummer Jonathan Mele were trading off on vocals in certain songs.
was a great show, and congrats to the winners!
*WINNERS: My Hollow and Burning The Day