Getting down to the night's festivities, Kitchener titans Northshroud, and winners of the Hamilton round, were lucky number one of the performers. Nothing was held back, as they started off the night with some melodic death metal. At least that's what I got out of it, because of the gutteral vocals, mixed with the heavy and melodic music. Em Gariepy had the crowd in the palm of her hand and was an absolute beast on stage. Vocally, she seemed like the perfect middle ground between Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz. She dominated the stage with amazing presence and beastly gutterals. It was during the second last song, that things changed up a little bit, and she put the melodic voice to use. Of course, we need to acknowledge the other members of the band. James Morrison and Chris Wickens awed the crowd with some chunky and fast-picked riffs, as well as some blistering solos and potent harmonies. Bassist Brian Beaupre and drummer John Roberts also brought a lot of thunder. A great start to the night!
Continuing the night were party thrashers Chainfall. I had the opportunity to see them at Coalition a few weeks back as part of the second round of the competition. It might be just me, but their performance at the Rivoli seemed to surpass their previous performance at Coalition. I'm not saying they didn't sound great at Coalition because they certainly were very tight and well rehearsed the first time around, but they sounded a lot more rehearsed and a lot tighter this time than the previous. Drummer Liam Williams was an absolute animal behind the kit, to the point where he ended up breaking his snare drum. Frontman Mike Cowan knows how to entertain a crowd, as he pulled a few dance moves to some of the riffs, and he even joked with the fans moshing at the front, saying that it was getting too dangerous due to the intense levels of mosh activity going on.
Up next were Toronto progressive metal titans The Slyde. I remember watching them during round 1 of the competition at the Bovine, and being completely awestruck by their performance, and that didn't change this time around. Frontman Nathan Da Silva and bassist Alberto Campuzano wowed with their amazing vocal harmonies. I see Alberto as an equivalent to Michael Anthony, because they're both bassists, and they both provide amazing backing vocals in their respective bands. Even though there's only one guitar in the band, the harmonies were played between the guitar and the keyboard. The interplay between the two was astounding because some of the harmonies were fast and complex. Seeing Nathan and Sarah Westbrook executing high speed harmonies with such ease sent jaws dropping to the floor. Like I said at the top, all three competing bands delivered the goods, but when it comes to great musicianship, great stage presence, and everything in between, The Slyde was above the other bands by a notch. What a band! They make me want to go home and practice! Check them out if you haven't yet.
Closing out the night were guest headliners and hometown favourites Operus. Since the last time I saw them, which was about three or four years ago, they had a lineup change with a new face in the vocal department. Replacing Will Patterson is David Michael Moote. While guitarist Rob Holden is still in the band, he's currently recovering from a shoulder injury. In his place was Dean Arnold of Vital Remains. They were the only band that brought a slight theatrical element, as David wore a mask during the first song, but that didn't last long, as he took it off after the song was finished. I just have to say that as a drummer myself, seeing JJ Tartaglia's cymbals set up so high always messes with my mind a little bit, but hey, every drummer has a different comfort level. At the end of their set, they performed the Wacken Open Air anthem, and they invited the song's composer Shawn Davidson up to the stage to sing the song with them, thus bringing the performances to a close.
It was now time to announce the winner of the night. The band that was chosen to advance to the Eastern Canada finals was The Slyde. It was a really really tight competition, but in my mind, I knew they were going to win. Congratulations to them, and we look forward to seeing them again, as well as the other bands that advance. March 23rd at the Hard Luck! Be there!
James Morrison - Guitars
Chris Wickens - Guitars
John Roberts - Drums
Brian Beaupre - Bass
Em Gariepy - Vocals
OPERUS (GUEST HEADLINER)
David Michael Moote - Lead vocals
Robin Howe - Cello & backing vocals
Dean Arnold - Guitars (filling in for Rob Holden)
Oscar Rangel - Guitars & backing vocals
Wojtek Sokolowski - Bass & backing vocals
JJ Tartaglia - Drums
Label: Darkstar Records