Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile: Jar. & Thrawsunblat

It's that time once again, where we take our monthly look at two metal/hard rock bands that, though never based locally, have featured at least one Saultite in their lineup in the past or present! Both bands are still active in varying states, are from opposite ends of the country, and feature some music that's definitely worth checking out, so let's begin this month's out of town profiles! And, as is usual, if there's something incorrect, missing, or lacking info/details, please tell me! (UPDATED: November 26th, 2014)
Jar. (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Lineup: (Saultites in RED; ex-members in italics)

Garth Allen (vocals)
Chris "Weasel" Gorst (guitar)
Russ Bergquist (bass)
Rob Wade (drums)

Bryan Fratesi (guitar)
Chris Smith (bass)
Tom MacDonald (bass)
Tðrry Coµrte (bass)
Chris Hubert (???)

Official website:
Official Facebook page:
Official MySpace page:
Official Reverbnation page:
Official Angelfire page:
Official SoundCloud page:

Local Info: The only Saultite in any incarnation of Jar. (to my knowledge) was original bassist Chris Smith, and if you've been in and around the local scene in the past few years, Chris should be quite familiar! He's best known recently as the former bassist for local rock band Wishbone, who he played on two albums with during his runs with them! On the heavier side of things locally, Chris was also the drummer for local hard rock trio Browbeat in the mid-late 2000s, playing with them numerous times at many different concerts before leaving in early 2010. But before all that, Chris lived out west, making his mark in the Vancouver scene as Jar.'s first bassist until leaving the band at some point between 1997 and 1998.

Band Bio: Jar. were formed in the summer of 1995 by singer Garth Allen & drummer Rob Wade, who are the only original Jar. members left in the band. The band (then including Chris Smith) recorded their debut EP "Harsh & Discord" in 1997, and after he left the band, he was replaced by (believe it or not) Hedley bassist Tom MacDonald! Amidst frequent touring, the band recorded one LP under the Jar. name, 1998's "Knott Skull", before signing with Columbia Records in 1999, and changing their name to Flybanger (after a song on "Harsh & Discord") in 2000. As Flybanger, they released an EP in 2000 and a full length album, "Headtrip To Nowhere", in 2001, along with getting a song on the official soundtrack for the movie Dracula 2000, and opening for bands like Judas Priest, Tool, and Clutch. After leaving Columbia Records, Flybanger released a self-titled EP in 2003 under the name Jarr, and briefly went under the name Settlement before breaking up in 2004.

Garth and Rob kept busy in Vancouver bands Kill Rhythm & The Thick Of It, before reuniting Jar. in May 2010 with some of their current bandmates. Jar. returned to the stage for the first time since the reunion in September 2011, and have since kept busy with various recent concerts and a self-titled CD release in April 2013, so watch out for Jar. in the coming months!

Jar./Flybanger really caught me off guard with how cool they sounded! They have a punk energy but keep things heavy too! They're actually sort of hard to describe, they're definitely metal, but they don't really fit into a subgenre. Radio-accessible, but still heavy & containing a clear melody! Garth Allen provides tough yet melodic singing, along with nice creative riffing from Bryan Fratesi & consistently good drumming from Rob Wade! Chris Smith shown the same great bass skills we've came to hear from Wishbone on the "Harsh & Discord" material, and Tom McDonald surprises me on bass on the later CDs both on talent & because I can't believe that he's in Hedley! What happened? However, Jar. didn't take many risks into different sounds that much. Solos aren't a frequent sight, and they used similar styles in many songs. Plus, much of their Flybanger discography is recycled from older Jar. albums. Their first two CDs, especially "Harsh & Discord", have more experimentation & bite than the newer Flybanger songs, which sound too polished. But overall, I really like Jar., no matter what name they used, and they're one catchy hard rock band that you should check out

Jar.'s new album (featuring some old material re-recordings) can be bought online at this location, so give it a spin! None of Jar./Flybanger's albums are readily available nowadays to my knowledge, so your best bet to buying them is to check around online. Wikipedia has their full discography for reference, and you can find a few of their CDs on some sites. "Headtrip To Nowhere" is available VERY cheap on Amazon, and iTunes has their Flybanger-era material as well! However, if you know where to look, the vast majority of their back catalog is freely available online, including YouTube. Just search for the album names and Flybanger, most of their stuff is there to check out (plus live and music videos), notably at the "Jarbanger" YouTube channel! I'm going to show you guys Jar.'s music video for the song they eventually changed their name to, "Flybanger", and yes, Chris is on bass in the video! See what you think!

Thrawsunblat (Fredericton, New Brunswick)

Lineup: (Saultites in RED; ex-members in italics)

Joel Violette (vocals, guitar, and bass)
Brendan Hayter (bass)
Rae Amitay (drums)
Jeff Mott (fiddle)
David Gold (drums)

Official MySpace page:
Official CBC Radio 3 page:
Official Facebook page:
Official Last.FM page:
Official Bandcamp page:
Official Twitter page:

Local Info: Ever the prolific musician, Thrawsunblat was one of the numerous projects to feature the drumming talents of Sault Ste. Marie native and Woods of Ypres frontman David Gold, joining his past work in Gates of Winter, Necramyth, Will of the Ancients, The Northern Ontario Black Metal Preservation Society, Proposition 86, Mister Bones, and L'Anguisette. Of course, you'll know that David's played here with Woods of Ypres numerous times, included the entire Gates of Winter lineup in the band for a brief period, and immortalized (for better or worse) the Soo in the "Woods III" song "Your Ontario Town Is A Burial Ground"! Sadly, David passed away in December 2011, but his talents are still clear as day, and hopefully he continues to leave an impact!

Band Bio: Launched in early 2009, Thrawsunblat is the black metal project masterminded by Fredericton musician Joel Violette, who enlisted David Gold to supply drumming for the band. You'll also recognize Joel as Woods of Ypres' last lead guitarist, joining Woods in early 2010. Describing their sound as "raw folk & melodic black metal", Thrawsunblat recorded their first eight song demo in the spring and summer of 2009, entitled "Canada 2010", but further activity was minimal until after David's death, with Joel enlisting Woods of Ypres bandmates Brendan Hayter & Rae Amitay to round out their new lineup in early 2012. Though still a studio-only project, the guys released their second album  "Thrawsunblat II: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings" in March 2013 partially thanks to a successful recent fundraising effort, following it with some EPs adapting older songs in new genres, and sessions for their third CD in 2014. Buy their albums at this link!

When I first listened to Thrawsunblat, they reminded me a bit of Woods of Ypres' first album in all but clean vocals, and they still give me that vibe, if they employed a folk metal edge, and I don't mind it at all! Joel Violette has considerably talent to play most of the instruments in this project, employing harsh black metal singing, and noticeably good guitar and bass playing, though oddly, I think Joel mixed them too low. His singing and David's drumming came through too high in the original recordings. The guitar work is heavy, but has good folksy melodic patches and solos, and the bass is solid, but again, both sound lower than they should. Joel's clean singing is alright, it gets the job done, especially on the lower register. David's drumming was also very solid and underrated, but their current lineup gives vibes of what could have been for Woods of Ypres in 2012, with their own edge and flavour. If you love folk metal, and black metal, you'll no doubt like Thrawsunblat, so check them out!

You can buy all of Thrawsunblat's albums at their Bandcamp page (plus their main two on iTunes), with streaming copies of most tracks available at the above links, so give everything a listen and pick some up! Click the above links to check out Thrawsunblat, and in case you're interested, the lyrics for each song are on their MySpace page. As this is a studio-only project, there's no live videos to share, but YouTube user Lordstormcrow did upload the opening song from their first demo, "Black Sky" onto YouTube, so check it out below, and if you like what you hear, download the whole demo above!

Hope you enjoyed this month's profiles! Next month, we've got a couple more notable out of town bands featuring Saultites, so here's who we're profiling in August: Hellhitch, the Toronto metal band fronted by Saultite Mike Lawrence, and Muskegon hard rock band Kilacel, featuring Saultites (and current local band members) Chris Webster and Chris Leask! Look out for that at some point in August, I won't name a date yet cause I wanna work out a more spaced out schedule for special feature posts so they aren't all clumped together at the end of a given month.

That's all for now, stay tuned later TONIGHT for a new news post with some more exciting local metal news, including some new shows! Stay tuned!

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