Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: A Look Back In The Year Of Local Metal

Well guys, 2010 is almost at it's end, so just like last year, I wanted to take a look back at the major events, concerts, bands, debuts, ends, comebacks, albums, and changes that took place over the past 12 months! By no means is this comprehensive or complete, but I wanted to go over some of the notable things that went on, and hopefully you guys enjoy this post, so let begin the SMS' look back at 2010!

Of course, the biggest concert of 2010 was, without any shadow of a doubt, Kiss' concert at The Essar Center on August 10th! After we won a Kiss show through their Eventful concert routing contest last year, we were promised a local concert from these hard rock legends last year. However, after the postponement of the original December date due to weather, the skeptics came out in full force to denounce the possibility of the show and tell us all the reasons why Kiss wouldn't honour their word and play here. Well, on August 10th, they did, and it was one hell of a concert! Joined by openers The Envy and Kiss Battle of the Bands winners Garden of Bedlam, Kiss rock n' rolled all night to around 5,000 local fans, impressing all with their amazing stage show and classic hits! I was there, and I can say it's the best stage show I've ever seen locally, and the Kiss show left a mark fans won't be soon to forget! This was the only major hard rock or metal concert at The Essar Center in 2010, but there was many major shows across the river over the past year!

Four major hard rock/metal concerts took place at Kewadin Casino in 2010, starting with Pop Evil on February 27th at The Dreammaker's Theater! Joined by Evans Blue, Graveyard Tan, and the Sault's own Nixxon Dixxon, all four bands rocked out to honour the memories of Kim Rogers and Kelsey Rafaelle, with the good will and charity extending all over the area to raise over $14,000 in their names! Then in June, classic hair metal returned to The Dreammaker's Theater, when Tesla rocked Sault Michigan once again! They impressed with their classic songs, and even brought Fifth Way (featuring Saultite Zak Stelmaszek) along for the ride! The next month, Kewadin Casino held one of their biggest shows ever, when they launched the Kewadin Casino 25th Anniversary Summer Festival! Featuring Bret Michaels and Vince Neil as the first night's headliners, local metal bands ranging from Clownsack and Elipzis to Nixxon Dixxon and Free Refill on the lineup over all three nights as well! A rousing success, it could be back next year! The last major metal concert of 2010 was on October 19th, when Sevendust, 10 Years, Since October, and Anew Revolution brought their new metal sounds to The Dreammaker's Theater for this exciting concert! And with Buckcherry and Cinderella already confirmed for 2011, there's lots more great metal and hard rock coming up over the next year!

Back in Sault Ontario, many major and noteworthy metal concerts took place in 2010, and here's a sample of some of the most notable! Notable out of town metal and hard rock bands like Beyond Within, Breaking The Fourth Wall, The Cancer Bats, Crued, Derelict, Endast, Grady, Gunz N' FN' Rosez, Hells Bells, The Isosceles Project, Papa Fogals Chair, Phatstick, Skull Fist, Ultraviolence, and Who Made Who came through Sault Ontario in the past year to rock out, among many others! Not counting the Kiss show, there were many notable concerts in 2010, including two battles of the bands! Bring The Fallen won Downtown Showdown in May, while Sykotyk Rampage placed third in February's Scotties Tournament of Hearts Battle as well! Garden of Bedlam and That's Chester headlined the respective stages at Rotaryfest this year, numerous local bands raised Haitian relief money at Algoma Hope4Haiti in February, Frightlight recorded a live album at their July concert, Lion Ride played to over 300 fans at The Canadian Nightcub a few days ago, and the Rich Moreland-promoted metal nights at The Roosevelt Hotel have proven to be a success, introducing many young local metal bands to the masses! With these, the frequent shows from Turner Up, That's Chester, and Tym Morrison's projects, and many more, there was tons of live concert goodness in 2010 in Sault Ontario!

2010 was a surprisingly quiet year for local metal and hard rock CD releases, but there was a few notable albums to come out in the past 12 months! Frightlight's debut live album "It's A...Live!" was released for purchase in October, attracting many fans to their horror punk/metal sound! Experimental grunge trio SBD released two versions of their debut album "Sonic Experiments" starting in May, introducing fans to the studio versions of their unique and entertaining brand of music! A couple local acts released online-only albums this year, including "blue Chinese metal crash punk" quartet Sykotyk Rampage, whose 23rd album "Bella Disgusta" came out on internet stores in August, intriguing any "crash music" lover in the area! As well, local solo artist Mike Haggith kept busy in 2010, releasing no less than SIX solo albums in 2010, most recently "Live At The Outback" earlier this month, adding to his extremely expansive back catalog! But where there was albums released, there were many more awaiting a release of any kind, with local bands like Bring The Fallen, Garden of Bedlam, Gates of Winter, Lion Ride, Riverin, Sense of Truth, Woods of Ypres, and many more announcing or starting albums that we'll be sure to watch out for in 2011!

Sault Michigan also saw a big year for local bands and concerts, aside from the obvious major concerts at Kewadin Casino! Monkey's Uncle continued their run with numerous area concerts over the past year, showcasing their hard rock sound to all of their fans! Among other local bands across the river, Clownsack returned with a vengeance this summer, Elipzis debuted to much fanfare this year, and Nixxon Dixxon ended their successful run with a number of high profile shows in 2010, with Splitshot picking up where they left off in November! Blind Baby and their successors River Witch became local fixtures this year, Riot! By Night played their last shows of hard rock covers this spring, and Free Refill returned after a long hiatus for a series of concerts this summer! Numerous out of town bands also found their way to Sault Michigan for concerts in the past year, some of which included Peril, Nudge, The Darwin Project, Orange October, Driven, and Kilacel, who all brought their own takes on metal and hard rock to Sault Michigan once again! And with other new items like Clownsack's E.P. recording, Half A Man's local launch, and the return of concerts to The Savoy, there was no shortage of entertaining hard rock and metal in Sault Michigan in 2010!

2010 proved to be a big year for new local metal bands on the scene, who hope to leave a huge impression in 2011 and beyond! One of the biggest was WinkStinger, who've made a huge mark in the last quarter of 2010 with their extreme metal attack! They're one of the most prominent bands in a new wave of young local metal bands that have invaded the scene this past year, including The Bear Hunters, State of Misery, Shit Liver, Changing Waves, Sativa Rose, and Late & Loud! Many of these bands have been frequent sights at local concerts this past month, and they stand out immediately with their high talent levels and energetic sounds that are sure to keep the scene going well into 2011! Among other new local metal bands this year: SBD's experimental unique sound made it's mark this year thanks to some notable shows and their debut album, The Mark Rand Band launched a few days ago with a blast of old school hardcore for a new audience, Riverin's industrial hard rock style made it's anticipated debut a few months ago, and Mike Haggith relocated to Sault Ste. Marie from Windsor to spread his prolific solo work to us local fans! In Sault Michigan, Elipzis burst onto the local scene with their entertaining brand of female-fronted hard rock & numerous Michigan tour dates, Nixxon Dixxon alumni joined together in the new local band Splitshot, Half A Man emerged from Brimley to rock the area, and other bands like Hammerspace, River Witch, and Nathan Switzer's solo project made their local debuts as well!

A number of local metal and hard rock bands saw different looks in 2010 through lineup changes, with none undergoing more than Turner Up. The then new metal cover quintet has seen a near complete overhaul this year to become a classic hard rock band, with only guitarist Robert Brown surviving through each lineup change. The most prominent moves came to the singer position, transitioning from Todd Killam to Brent Royer to Krista Marshall in just six months. Among other bands with major membership overhauls: Stillbroke underwent numerous lineup switches this year, including Sam DeDominicis' move to drums and the additions of Chris Villeneuve and Mitch Sirie. Browbeat frontman Dutch Vanderploeg replaced their classic lineup with various new members, eventually settling on James White and Jonathan Belanger to fill out the band, while Dutch and Jonathan also found themselves in the most recent Caveman Morrison lineup, replacing Rick White and Jeff Richards. Jeff also left Frightlight earlier this year, with a new Jeff (De Rose) taking his position behind Frightlight's drumkit. Among other notable membership changes: Joel Violette replaced Bryan Belleau in Woods of Ypres, Carmine Romano became the temporary replacement for Brenton Ellis in Lion Ride, Jon Morrison filled the vacant drum position in Gates of Winter, and Justin Pregent replaced Matt Maccarone upon Out Of The Mouth Of Babes' reversion to the As It Stands name, among other notable lineup changes in 2010!

Where things begin or change, others are bound to end, and a number of prominent local bands ended their runs this year. Two very prominent Sault Michigan hard rock bands played their last shows in 2010, those being Bad Side and Nixxon Dixxon, following the relocations of some members. These capped off successful local runs and numerous high profile concerts in both of the twin Saults. Other Sault Michigan bands to end in 2010 included Half Stupid, Blind Baby, and Riot! By Night, following each of their own local successes. As well, classic rock fans were saddened at the closure of 97.9 Classic Rock: The Bear following the local radio changeover earlier this year, although it would return on a further signal. In Sault Ontario, there wasn't as many notable band demises, although a number of local bands went inactive with no signs of life, including Dirty Virgin, Inside Spiral, No Arrow, Detroit, Out Of The Mouth Of Babes, Quite Frankly, and Silver Dream. The biggest ends on this side came to non-bands, including the demolition of The Eastgate Hotel and the closures of CD Plus, GLOW Nightclub, and the closure of Stereo Soul Studios following Miguel Gauthier's move to California. Though I'm sure many of us are disappointed at the above ends and hiatuses, I'm sure the memories will live on!

But despite these ends, many things and bands came back in 2010, notably Gates of Winter's return from a year's hiatus to record a new album! With their heaviest material yet and new drummer Jon Morrison in tow, look for big things from Gates of Winter in 2011! As well, Fitswitch returned from their breakup for two more one-off reunion gigs with their classic lineup! Bad Side returned from their hiatus for their final shows in the Milwaukee area, and Clownsack also returned from a lengthy break with a new guitarist and material to show for it! As It Stands returned after a year long breakup with new material and many new concerts, local thrash band Faithless Sin returned to the scene after a long absence, and bands like Stillbroke and Free Refill resumed activity after months of inactivity as well! The comebacks also came courtesy of venues, where The Oddfellows Hall, The Grand Theater, and The Roosevelt Hotel launched back into regular concert booking in the latter half of 2010! And with the announcement of Hempfest's local return in time for next August, there was no shortage of things returning in the local metal scene in 2010! And, don't forget about Woods of Ypres' return following their signing to Earache Records after their "breakup" either!

2010 was a huge year for the local metal scene, and hopefully you guys were a big part of it! 2011 is promising to be even better, and fingers crossed that we're all along for the ride! Hopefully you guys enjoyed this look back at 2010, and I hope you guys have a Happy New Year! I'll have new posts next year, including a preview of what to look out for in 2011 tomorrow, so keep an eye out! Thanks everyone!

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