First up was Mississauga based Plethora who launched into their first song with vocalist Gary Walsh pulling himself on top of the amps, and barrier lining the front stage to scream a long drawn out gutteral cry in the crowd’s face so forcefully a couple of us had to take a step back. Good start. Walsyh got into the tracks easily but would lose character once the music stopped. As for the rest of the band, aside from an impressive drum solo shining the spot light on drummer Stevenson and a few moments when guitarist Mike Nasso would take the front stage and do an off-beat lip singing to his own solos, the band didn’t seem to bring their A game when it came to stage presence. The tunes themselves were heavy and a bit melodic with the drums taking over the essence of the beats that the bass lacked, paired with forceful screams and gutturals
Next up were Hallows Die, who took it upon themselves to take tonight’s round to the next level. Starting off with some good humour as vocalist Ryan Bovaird informed us that they were going to “sodomize your ears for the next 20 minutes,” Hallows Die ripped into their first track with a contagious good humour and excellent stage presence. We got a little bit of everything from fast paced riffs and heavy gutturals to some clean vocals and melodic tunes. Bovaird’s raggedy Anne hair flew along side Gabe Bateman as we were shown some mad bass tapping skills and guitarist Pat Rogers wasn’t left out as he and Rogers finished off their set with some riffing behind his back. Though I wish I could have heard Bateman’s backup vocals that weren’t turned up enough until near the end of their set.
The final act of the night was Tsargrad with their leather/fur costumes and war paint. Though they do come strikingly close to Manowar’s sound, particularly Connor Fillipuzzi who has the same type of vocals as Manowar vocalist Eric Adams, Tsargrad is a crowd pleaser with their galloping beats and old school riffs. Songs about fighting battles were the theme of their set, and we even got a magic trick as Fillipuzzi created a spark of flame mid air as he sang the lyrics “magicians have their spell, we have our swords,” which caused much ooh-ing and aaw-ing. Aside from some encouraging “hey, hey’s” chants from bassist Zak Field and guitarist Glenn Marchildon, there wasn’t much going on stage as far as presence goes. But Tsargrad tried to make up for it with their energetic sound and lyrics.
Congratulations to the winners, Hallows Die and Vesperia, who will move on to the next round to battle it on for a spot at Wacken Open Air!
Journalist: Kirsti Heitz
Photographer: Navneet Johal
Date of show: March 6, 2015
And so it begins, round 1 of the Toronto edition of Battle for Wacken opened up the competition at the Bovine Sex club in the heart of Toronto. With five back-to-back bands and a crowd amped up to hear some metal and support their favourite band, we’re glad the night went off without a hitch.
Second up we had Answer With Metal, a band whose sound you could guess off the bat by their t-shirts (Iron Maiden, Cauldron, Motorhead). Opening up with some fast beats and a heavy metal cry that was almost pitch perfect, I could see my guess was right. Answer With Metal’s supporters came out and we finally saw some movement in the crowd. I particularly enjoyed legging wearing five-string bassist Jon Stallan as he got into the songs lip singing and rocking out, creating some stage presence. Vocalist Dan Nielsen’s vocals improved as the set progressed and he got into some nifty high notes that were very Bruce Dickinson-esque. However aside from his good vocals, Nielson didn’t really “bring it” with his stale stage presence as he either stood around awkwardly or moved off to the side when not singing, creating no crowd interactio
Vesperia stepped up to the plate with their professional set up (you gotta love the mood lights) and “we’re ready for this” attitudes. A dramatic pre-recorded intro started off their set and allowed the band to so an even more dramatic turn-around, crying out to the crowd and demanding a response from their supporters. Morgan Rider performs for a stage ten times bigger than the Bovine as he lifts both his hands off his bass to scream a guttural shriek to the sky that is so wide you can see his molars. Guitarists Casey Elliott and Frankie Caracci do their part gearing up the energy with their headbanging as new drummer Dylan Gowan sets the beat. Vesperia unites to deliver powerful clean chanting choruses and melodies, then changing efficiently into heavier galloping beats and growls with both guitarists adding their own flavour. Vesperia even got a small pit going on which, given the tight layout of the Bovine, you can imagine how happy it made everyone. But it was smiles all around as Vesperia performed, taking the energy up and calming it right down.
Wacken Metal Battle Canada 2015 national updates here.