Another crowd packed the Rivoli on Friday April 4th for the final qualifying show of the Canada Wacken Metal Battle. First up were Toronto comedy metallers Dawn Vally. My impression was that they were a comedy metal band, due to their ridiculous song titles and lyrics. The band did have difficulties hyping up the crowd and vocalist Sycrote did have a hard time getting movement going in the crowd. He was also very talkative in between certain lyrics, always asking for movement. During their set, he kept stepping on to the very rickety tables next to the stage while singing, and I was afraid that he was going to take a tumble, but luckilly he didn't.
Wretchedpain was up next. Hailing from Niagara Falls, Wretchedpain are a potent mixture of death and thrash metal. The band had no trouble getting the crowd to move, and the guitar player even went into the pit and moshed while shredding the guitar. In most cases with death metal bands when playing live in a very intimate setting like the Rivoli or the Hard Luck Bar, the guitars a lot of times drown out the drums, but Wretchedpain put their amps to just the right volume so the drums can cut through perfectly, and that also explains the clarity of the guitars and bass. Very solid performance.
The Blackcloud Syndicate was up next, and they were the veteran band of the bill due to the fact that the band started in the 90s under the name Absolute Zero, then disbanded for a few years and reformed in 2006. For me, The Blackcloud Syndicate was a breath of fresh air due to the fact that almost every band in the entire contest all sound very similar to each other with blast beats, machine gun guitars, gutteral vocals and chugging breakdowns. What The Blackcloud Syndicate had to offer was more traditional and straightforward heavy metal with hints of thrash, and a well balanced mix of screaming and melodic vocals and a high class musicianship. I enjoy a band that has both screaming and melodic vocals, but it's more enjoyable when the screaming vocals are used wisely, and that's exactly what The Blackcloud Syndicate offers.
Shotgun Cure were up next. This was my second time seeing them, and in all honesty, they are my favourite local band. I first saw them when they opened for Onslaught in April 2012, and that was also the show where I first met Ingrid. Ever since that show, I have admired the band's high class musicianship and they have definitely impressed me once again. Harut Savchenko's vocals are very much in the vein of Dave Mustaine's old school snarling vocals, just not as angry, and slightly higher pitched. They're a pretty straightforward thrash band, but more technical. My only issue with Shotgun Cure's set this time around was that they were a tad too loud, and they played for only 20 minutes instead of 30. Either way Shotgun Cure delivered a fantastic performance.
Closing the night were guest headliners Final Trigger, featuring Wacken Metal Battle Canada founder J.J. Tartaglia on drums, but the band was not participating in the contest. Final Trigger is a rap metal band, due to the rapping vocal style, the gangster speech style, and the fact that they have a DJ. The band received mixed reactions from the crowd, but the portion of the crowd closer to the stage seemed to have enjoyed their set the most, proven by the fact that violent mosh pits erupted during every song. The band had a member known as a "hypeman", as he was constantly stage diving, throwing free CDs and posters into the crowd, all while wearing a mask and a prison uniform. He reminded me of Clown from Slipknot in a way, but what I didn't like seeing was him constantly stomping around people and pretending to kick them in the backs. It was clear that the people didn't like it either.
All in all, it was a great show to end the qualifying rounds, and now it's on to the semi-finals! Congratulations to all the winners advancing to the semi-finals and good luck!
FINAL TRIGGER (GUEST HEADLINER) (NOT QUALIFYING)
J-Roc - Lead vocals & guitar
Fazio - Bass guitars & vocals
Metal D - DJ & vocals
JJ Tartaglia - Drums
Label: Boonsdale Records
*WINNERS: Shotgun Cure and The Blackcloud Syndicate