Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shit Liver CD Review!!

For our last post of the month, it's about time for our 58th monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, as we're looking at local/St. Catharine's death metal/crust punk trio Shit Liver's long awaited self-titled debut album! Recorded independently in Sault Ste. Marie in mid-late 2012 and later mixed by Destroilet's John Conway, this album finally saw it's digital release on April 20th through their Bandcamp page, albeit after the band's fall 2013 move to St. Catharine's. Featuring their current lineup (singer/guitarist Josh Penno, bassist/singer Mike Kyle, and drummer & backing vocalist Matt Baic), "Shit Liver" is available to purchase on BandCamp on a "name your price" model, so you can get it free if you choose, but please consider supporting Shit Liver's work! Physical copies are anticipated as well, and though release details are not out yet, CDs will come with a poster and song lyrics, and will likely be available on Sunday when they open for Fuck The Facts at The Oddfellows Hall. Streaming copies of each song can also be heard at their YouTube channel, and each song name below is linked to it's copy there.

Featuring 15 songs clocking in at around 31 minutes in length (though only 2 songs exceed 2:31), let's begin this review with a look at the first song, "You're Scared"!  Kicking off with the sound of an opening beer can, the song immediately gets to a fast start mixing melodic guitar work and pounding bass, with Josh's low growls and Mike's higher pitched screams alternating to good effect! Though somewhat hard to decipher given the vocal style, the song's seemingly a call-out of someone for being scared of everything despite not being able to admit it, and the guys get that message across in this 70 second blitz!

The band's own self-titled song "Shit Liver" is next, which is basically their mission statement about who they are, and it keeps up the same musical essence with trade-off vocals and chaotic instrumentation that melds death metal & punk. Fittingly, it's the first song on the album with extensive vocal contributions from all 3 members, with Matt's growling almost sounding like a blend of his bandmates' in tone! Effective and brutal, but aside from the added vocals, the song shares a lot of similarities with "You're Scared". Third is the 64 second "Sooer Livin'", a song whose minimal lyrics talk of apathetic feelings of living in this city, though if you're offended by the thought, it's hard to pick out the lyrics when listening. Matt's drumming is given a solid showcase here early, and the music keeps with the vibe of earlier tracks, but has more of a relentless nature that has some melodic flourishes late. Solid track, if short, but it shakes things up enough to help it stand out!

Fourth is "Hellen Kellers", which is actually a song attacking religious conformity and trying to suppress rational thinking, presumably using Helen Keller as a metaphor. Somewhat long for a Shit Liver original, it opens with a slower and darker intro with audio samples relating to the song's themes, before delving into Shit Liver's usual crust punk sounds for the last minute & a half. Mike provides primary vocals here, and gives a unique spin to the proceedings, while Josh's guitar solo late is a welcome addition, though why the fake song ending before it? For me, this is an early highlight, especially for the variance and added instrumental showcases from the guys! Next is "Shift Liver", which is about the apathy and hatred of going to work, and it lives up to it's preceding songs with it's moshable brutality, and though it has obvious similarities, Josh's guitar riffing is particularly tight, and his and Mike's trade-off vocals are particularly effective! Fans will definitely enjoy "Shift Liver", but it doesn't deviate too much from the norm.

Sixth is the intentionally misspelled "Pennotration" (with Josh Penno fittingly on lead vocals), with the song talking of the human desire and need to reproduce. I like the slower building intro here, and Josh's guitar work is really solid again, with him using much of it's later half for some solo melodic action! He puts this song over the top, making it one of the best sub-2 minute tracks on the album, while Mike & Matt put their 2 cents in as well, so it's worth checking out for sure! That's followed by "(Friendly Old) Uncle Joe", which has some of the darkest & most detailed lyrics yet on this album, concerning the title character committing sexual abuse, and then getting his comeuppance. More than any track yet, this song is really built around Josh's verses, and is definitely more to the point and deliberate than other songs, perhaps reflecting the lyrical content. It's still heavy and brutal, and while it's not overly close to the shorter tracks, it also lacks the freewheeling chaos on them. I wonder how it'd sound as a slowed down doom metal song?

Eighth on "Shit Liver" is the 79 second "Fabricated Nonsense", which is about the lies that are told presumably by a world leader to get richer at the expense of everyone else. After a friend of the band screams "All I know is it's good!", the song gets right to business with a brutal and relentless attack with awesome drumming and skilled bass, and the guys definitely are at their heavy best here! There's some solid guitar solo action in the second half as well, and they don't let up at all for the duration, so this is absolutely one of their best shorter tracks on this disc!

That's followed by "It's Not My Problem", which runs over 4 and a half minutes, so how does it fare? Lyrically, it's about not taking responsibility for what humans do for the environment, as regardless of what good work one person does, it won't matter. Starting with a bass heavy intro, the song soon delves into Shit Liver's usual wheelhouse, though like on "(Friendly Old) Uncle Joe", there's a deliberate pace on the verses, and an added clarity to Josh's vocals. Halfway through, the song moves from faster death metal to a doom or sludge metal style with minimal singing of the title, before picking up late with another solo. It's an effective song with lots of brutality, and I like the change in style, but fans of their reckless shorter material might not take to this one the same. "Survival of the Shittest" is next, a 91 second song about how natural selection has been negated by the weak growing smarter and industrializing so they can survive. Very vocal centric, the instrumental aspect suffers as a result of having to flow with the lyrics, so aside from the guitar solo, there isn't much of a fun spirit or heavy edge to it.

Song #11 is "Hateroleum", which is seemingly Shit Liver's response to haters of the band and how their hatred is a fuel that keeps them going. This 64 second song returns to their more familiar reckless insanity, with trade-off death vocals, relentless drumming, and a familiar punk edge, so while there's not much new to add, it does contain their classic brutal sound! If anything, the late guitar solo seemed to end before it really began, but "Hateroleum" will please ardent fans for sure! Twelfth is "Or What?", Shit Liver's indictment and call-out of emo, scene, and hardcore bands, which starts with a 25 second audio sample from the horror movie The Driller Killer. The music slowly enters driven by Mike's low bass work before getting to usual business with brutal growling and a solid chemistry, including a parody breakdown mid-way through to emphasize the lyrical point. Very strong song that gets it's message across, and Josh's vocals and guitar are on point, as are Matt's drumming, so if you aren't offended by the insults to hardcore bands, you should take to this song well!

Another anti-employment song named "Contribute or Perish" is next, which is written from the point of view of an evil boss ordering their employees to work or else, without any compassion or regard for their well being or opinion. Like some earlier songs with more serious lyrics, this song is more straight-forward and deliberately paced, though it has more of a fast intensity around the choruses, particularly thanks to Mike's backing vocals. It's very heavy and well composed, but again, it lacks the fun insanity of many of their shorter songs, like the next one "Drowning In Shit", which is an album low 60 seconds in length. Quite literally about the title, this is another entertainingly speedy original with solid guitar work, fast and rhythmic drumming, and the requisite intensity, but the vocals almost seemed to be packed in too much, and it did seem to end a little suddenly. Brutal work though, and they got their point across in minimal time!

The last song on this album is "Shit Will Prevail", which clocks in at a record length of 5:39! Referencing other originals in it's message of how the title "shit" will take over and consume everything, it's a fitting closer to the album even based on it's content, but how's the actual song? Unlike earlier Shit Liver tracks that were longer than normal, this one isn't as bogged down by a serious deliberate structure, benefiting from a looser feel, the freedom to be aggressive while showing their song-writing talent, with Matt & Mike getting nice solo sections to showcase their talents mid-way through, and Josh and Mike's vocals fit the material! My main complaint is this song isn't as melodic as it could be, and the guitar solo is a bit sloppy compared to earlier examples, but as a pure instrumental showcase, this works well, and it's a nice way to round out their debut!

So what are my final thoughts on Shit Liver's first album? I'll say that it's an effective and brutal way to compile their original material, and their brutal crust & grind sounds have never sounded clearer thanks to the solid production and mixing! As has always been the case with Shit Liver, their sound and vocals can be polarizing, but here you get more of a taste of their individual talents and chemistry, with Josh Penno's vocals and guitar work driving them nicely throughout all 15 tracks, while Mike Kyle & Matt Baic contributed well on backing vocals, and both are more than up to par on bass and drums! I find that Shit Liver sound the best on shorter and more chaotic songs like "Fabricated Nonsense" & "Drowning In Shit", but at the same time, their sound on them often blurs together and the similarities become more obvious when you hear them in close proximity. When Shit Liver try longer songs, they often delve into a more serious and deliberate style without the same spirit, and I think they need to find a better balance for the longer songs, or go full doom metal with them.

I'd also have liked to have heard "Liverated", the ultra-short "Living In Shit", or some old OBCD songs on this album, but maybe we'll get them on their second. I will admit however that much like fellow local grind acts, their punk and death metal hybrid sound is not for everyone, and you have to be acclimated to this grimy style of death metal or crust punk to fully appreciate it. If you're not a fan before, you probably won't be now, but I do recommend checking out Shit Liver's album regardless, as it's the best and clearest they've ever sounded, and their crusty death metal sound comes through very well for the majority of this album, so pick it up at the above links! I hope you guys liked this month's CD review, and next month, I fully expect that we'll be looking at local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades' debut EP "The First", so look for that by the end of May, though hopefully earlier to tie in with their teased CD release show! Thanks everyone, and look out for weekend concert previews tomorrow!

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Alice Cooper), Early LemmaFest Info, And Much More!!

In our last news post of the month (with our Shit Liver album review coming tonight), we have a huge LOCAL CONCERT ALERT, first news on an upcoming annual concert festival, and lots of other notes, so check everything out below, especially if you're a Yooper!

Detroit shock rock legend Alice Cooper will make his long awaited return to our area on Friday, June 27th when he rocks The Dreammakers Theater at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino! No stranger to the Twin Saults, you may remember Alice and his solo band from two Kewadin dates in August 1998, followed by returns in October 2001 & August 2007 (plus his New Years Day show at the former Sault Memorial Gardens in 1990), and it will be awesome to have his wild stage show back for the first time in almost 7 years! This show is part of his 2014 Raise The Dead tour, and for reference sake, his band's lineup is almost entirely different from 2007 save for himself & bassist Chuck Garric. Get ready for Alice's hit songs like "Under My Wheels", "Poison", and likely cuts from his upcoming covers album on June 27th, with tickets going on sale THIS FRIDAY at 10:00 AM! They will cost $58.50 or $68.50, and you can buy them then at this link, at the in-person box office, or at 1-800-KEWADIN. For more details, visit the above and links and this press release via SooToday!

Alice Cooper's a legend and has entertained and shocked with his intense and highly theatrical live concerts for decades, and hopefully fans get more of the same in his return north in June, so stay tuned for updates as they roll in, and GET YOUR TICKETS A.S.A.P.!!

Next up, we have the first official details on this year's fourth annual LemmaFest, so what should you know? As revealed on it's Facebook event page, the Michael Lemma tribute concert event will return to it's home outside of the Dondee Lanes once again, and it will take place this year on Saturday, June 21st (which is close to past years on the calendar, but not on the fourth Saturday of the month for the first time.) Similarly to past years, there will be a pig roast (with "all the extras"), door prizes, drink specials, a 50/50 draw, and commemorative t-shirts and mugs, while all proceeds will be going to the family of "Hot Tub" Johnny Hackworth, though I'm yet unsure of the cause. The band lineup will be announced in the next few weeks, but according to an event page post, former Integrated System of Machines drummer Bart Rennels will be coming back home to play at 8:30 PM with a band he formed for this event named Nightmare Grin, though we await confirmation of their full lineup and sound.

As well, local alternative hard rockers Plastic are hoping to play this year pending the addition of a new drummer to replace the departed Paul Burns, so if you know anyone who'd like to try out, message the band at this link! Any other lineup notes are just speculative at this point, but for reference, the only bands to play each of the last 3 LemmaFests were Scofflaw and Dirtbag In A Dress (formerly Bucksaw.) Admission will be $10 this year, so stay tuned for updates on the bands and more, and hopefully this year's LemmaFest is the best yet!

Finally for this post, here's six assorted shorter news items from the last while (including some from Sault Ontario), and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by artist or event name:

  • A free & all ages live music showcase named The Coffee House Concert will take place at Superior Heights Collegiate & Vocational School's front foyer at 7:00 PM tomorrow, which will feature grade 11 & 12 students in their guitar class. Though not classified by genre, a few students with metal & hard rock ties will be among the performers, including Brutaly Fatal drummer Tyler St. Amour and Ashes To Dust alumni David Peredun & Kyle Breckenridge, so keep this event in mind!
  • Local concert promoter J.D. Pearce has indicated on his promotional Facebook group that he has upcoming local dates to be announced for both The Ripcordz and The Dayglo Abortions, who you may remember from major & well received local dates last year. Stay tuned for official announcements when they occur for both bands!
  • Speaking of his concerts, local thrashers Pillory were recently removed from the lineup of the Havok/Anciients show at The Canadian on June 24th. A reason hasn't been announced, though Pillory have dropped out of a number of recent and upcoming shows following recent inactivity and their bassist departure, so this may be related. Hopefully things are alright in their camp, but if you're interested in replacing them at the Havok show, message J.D. at this link!
  • After a quiet start to the year, local hard rock cover trio Power Slug will return to the stage for the first time in 5 months when they rock The Team Spirits Bar at the Manistique Kewadin Casino this Saturday! Nice to see the guys back at it, so if you're up for the drive west, go chug your mug with them this weekend! (For reference, they have scattered dates there after this, but none yet at the regional Kewadin branches.)
  • I've added Brimley, Michigan recording studio Scholomance Studio to our Other Sault Michigan Metal Links! Owned by local metal musician and Werehold Records founder Jason Mills, this is (I think) a newer studio that is being used by Werehold artists. I'll assume we'll hear work from there on June 13th for Werehold's next Friday the 13th event, so keep an eye out for that!
  • The long teased Earache Records reissue of Woods of Ypres' second album "Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth" is now available to pre-order! Copies will soon be available on CD and on limited edition coloured vinyl records (along with bundle deals involving shirts), with the official re-release coming on June 23rd. Awesome news, so click here for complete pre-order package details!

That's all for now, but stay tuned tonight for our review of Shit Liver's debut album! Thanks everyone!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sewer Swampstravaganza IV Updates, Plus New YouTube Audio Postings!!

As April 2014 slowly comes to a close, we have some long overdue updates to another all ages Oddfellows Hall concert marathon to address today, plus new YouTube uploads from a few of the performers at this event, so here's what you need to know!

We'll start today with the final lineup and band order for the fourth annual Sewer Swampstravaganza on Saturday, May 10th at The Oddfellows Hall, including one final addition to the lineup, as local grunge/alternative quartet Haggith will apparently be reuniting to play this event! No word as of yet on whether this is a one-off gig or the start of a full return, but their set will mark the 2 year anniversary of their 2012 formation. I'll note that Haggith has also teased a reunion gig at a non-all ages venue, so this might not be the only coming event regardless of of they're back full time or not. This will be Haggith's first show since their farewell gig in December, and their second straight Swampstravaganza set, and hopefully fans are given lots to hail about on the 10th! Note that their confirmation came after the final poster was unveiled, hence why they're not on it. If everything holds together, this will be the biggest Swampstravaganza ever for the amount of performers (12 bands + 4 open mic performers), so when will everyone be playing?

As revealed by Sykotyk Rampage guitarist and event contributor Dirk Becker on the Facebook event page last week, this year's Swampstravaganza will be headlined at 12:00 AM by the only band to play this event all 4 years, local death metal quartet The Bear Hunters, while the aforementioned Sykotyk Rampage will bring their crash sound at 11:00 PM in their first live concert of the new year. The Haggith reunion set will be at 10:00 PM, while returning hard rock quartet Ashes To Dust are slated for 9:00 PM, and local goregrind duo Rotopsy will get a chance to play a full set at 8:00 PM after their rushed Dank Fest appearance. Sudbury unplugged hard rock trio Aggressive Acoustic (featuring ex-Sykotyk Rampage bassist Brian Cattapan) will take the stage at 7:00 PM, while the reunion of local/Grand Rapids folk trio Ye Olde Mold Pickers will take place at 6:00 PM, the new Brutaly Fatal lineup will debut (along with their new doom metal sound) at 5:00 PM, and local funk/metal band The Strange Coyotes will presumably play their first show with their current lineup at 4:00 PM.

The sets by Case's Music girls vocal groups Neon Stars & Runaway Voices are grouped together at 3:00 PM (so they'll each play a half hour or less), while Haggith drummer Mike Haggith's solo set will be at 2:20 PM, and Northwest guitarist Greg Callaghan's hosted open mic block will be at 1:00 PM to open the day (though the performers haven't been announced yet.) All of this will cost just $5 in just under two weeks, and it should be awesome, so check the above links for more details, and stay tuned for updates!

We'll close tonight with new YouTube uploads, including a new song from the aforementioned Mike Haggith, who posted another studio track from his upcoming studio album "A Place Of Our Own" onto his YouTube channel last week! Entitled "Cowardly Hearts Beneath the Stars", we'll again hold full thoughts on it in advance of a formal review on the site, but it continues with the orchestral rock sound present on Mike's previous preview track "Let Me In". Give his new song a listen below, and we'll let you know when more updates on this album come out!

Finally, a pair of demo EP releases from independent goregrind label Blood Shed Productions are now up on their YouTube channel in full streaming copies! As uploaded in the last few days, these feature each song in their own dedicated video file, one of which being Rotopsy's new self-titled demo, but due to the potentially offensive cover art, we won't embed it here. However, last year's "Brutally Crucified" split demo by both Crucify The Whore and the original Brutaly Fatal (now Re-Born) is embedded below, and if you want some hardcore grind action, give both albums a listen above and below! Just be wary of the imagery and song titles due to their content, and remember that each band featured 2 members or less on the given tracks.

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news soon, plus our review of Shit Liver's debut album! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Tym Morrison), Blood Shed Productions Updates, And More!!

We're back to news on this Sunday morning, so what's on tap? Assorted recent updates for a prolific local concert promoter's upcoming shows, another local promoter's addition to a local band (and related updates), new videos, and first, LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for next month, so here's what you need to know!

Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison will extend his weekly concert arrangement at The Harp Bar & Grill into next month, so we'll add his next 5 weekends in May 2014 to our listings, but with one exception. It turns out that he did not play at The Harp last night due to their showing of UFC 172 (a fact he corrected online yesterday, our apologies for the late word on here), so with the assumption that The Harp shows each UFC pay per view, I wouldn't bet on Tym playing there on Saturday, May 24th due to UFC 173 that night. However, look for Tym's unplugged acoustic sets this coming Friday & Saturday (Facebook event page here), as well as on May 9th & 10th, May 16th & 17th, Friday, May 23rd, and on May 30th & 31st! Remember, due to the immense length of his apparent bookings on his website, we're only taking these a month at a time, so we'll approach June when it comes. Admission should be free for these 19+ events, and each show should start at 10:00 PM. Check the above links for more details!

Tym's current regular run at the former Madison's Pub will enter it's 26th week if he lasts through next month without interruption, and his talents are hard to ignore, so look for his acoustic hard rock covers both nights (with the regular jam/open mic night angle on the Fridays), and stay tuned for updates on his solo engagements!

Next up, here's the latest from the current version of local metal band Brutaly Fatal, including a lineup change, as they've enlisted local concert promoter Tyler St. Amour as their new drummer, replacing Tyler's former Pillory bandmate Bret Shuttleworth. A reason for Bret's departure wasn't announced, but hopefully things are amicable, and look out for Pillory updates! I'm not familiar with Tyler as a drummer (he's better known from his bass work with the likes of Bring The Misery), but we'll have to see how he fits in going forward! It looks like the talks of a quartet lineup have either fell through or were premature, as their Facebook page now promotes them as a "doom/stoner metal 3 piece band", which also confirms recent teases of their current sound, joining AlgomA and Giwakwa in the local camp of these metal subgenres. Also to note: frontman Austin McCrae is now advertised as their guitarist, with Rainey Vincent moving to bass, and lyrics for a planned song named "We Are Gladiators" are now up on Facebook, but how does the new lineup sound?

We have a preview via this new Facebook video posting yesterday, and it's of Austin playing the riff to an untitled song that he and Rainey co-wrote. It has a catchy element, but it's unrefined yet, and empty without additional instruments. Still, there's a sample if you haven't been at one of Brutaly Fatal's recent house party gigs, so check it out below, and stay tuned for the new lineup's debut at the fourth Sewer Swampstravaganza on May 10th, which we have a lot of updates to elaborate on this week!

Also from the world of Blood Shed Productions is this new video of flagship band Crucify The Whore playing their song "Seshing In June Bugs" at a house party event on March 28th! Uploaded to the Blood Shed YouTube channel on Wednesday, the video was well filmed to capture Ringsnaps' metal action and the moshing of fans, though the lighting looks a little off at times, and the video could have been uploaded in widescreen to avoid the letterboxing. Fans of the grind will be right at home though, so give the new C.T.W. clip a look!

Finally for today, here's three assorted shorter news items from the last while, all of which concern local promoter J.D. Pearce's upcoming metal/punk concert slate! As usual, these are in alphabetical order by band name:

  • There were briefly plans last week for the July 24th Cross Dog show (the last uncancelled Heavy Thursday at the former Roosevelt Hotel) to be moved to The Rockstar Bar with Jack Spades & Destroilet opening, but frontwoman Tracy Ashenden revealed on the Facebook event page on Thursday that their summer tour has been re-routed, so they can't come on that day. Disappointing, but the event page isn't down, so look for a rescheduling soon!
  • Tickets for three of J.D.'s upcoming metal & punk shows are now on sale at The Rad Zone, those being the Die Mannequin show at The Rockstar Bar on June 14th, the all ages Havok/Anciients show at The Canadian on June 24th, and the Random Killing show at The Rockstar Bar on September 13th, so get them there A.S.A.P. if you don't want to buy online! Respectively, the tickets cost $10, $20, and $15, and no word as of yet on advance availability at either venue.
  • Speaking of the Havok/Anciients show, a local opening band was quietly confirmed last month, as local thrashers Pillory are the listed openers on the Facebook event page! If this holds up, this will be Pillory's first public date since January, but it does follow bassist Tyler St. Amour's departure and their exit from shows he promoted, so who knows how they'll look on June 24th if they play. Stay tuned for updates, and don't miss this stacked metal show!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for our Shit Liver album review and more news (including on the upcoming Swampstravaganza) in the next few days! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile: The Merves

As the 26th of the month is today, we have this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile now up! As always, this monthly feature series looks at a hard rock or metal band that's not based locally, but has featured a Sault Ste. Marie resident (past or present) in their official lineup at any given point, so readers can know more about them and their sound! This month's band was selected in part because they just played at The Rockstar Bar a few weeks ago, and they have a familiar name up front, so here's what you should know! (Updated on November 27th)
The Merves (Toronto, Ontario)

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

"Amy Merve" Amy Zuchetto (vocals)
"Mikey Merve" Mikey Hawdon (vocals/guitar)
"Philly Merve" Phil Page (bass/vocals)
"Andy Merve" Andrew McMullen (drums)
Keith Carman (guitar)
Mark Rand (drums)

Official Facebook page:
Official MySpace page:

Local Info: Local music fans will surely recognize Merves singer/guitarist Mikey Hawdon (a.k.a. Mikey Merve) and ex-drummer Mark Rand for their contributions to the local music scene in the past decade and beyond, perhaps most notably Mikey's drum work with The Inner City Surfers and his & Mark's roles in the defunct local metal quintet Lion Ride, both of which became very popular and successful sights in the area, releasing well recieved CDs with both in the process! You also might recognize both from Bin Hawdon &nd the Taliband and Detroit, among numerous other projects both locally and in Southern Ontario. Today, you can catch Mark on bass in the Peterborough hardcore punk band Cross Dog, while Mikey juggles The Merves, original Toronto punk band The Fairmounts, and locals Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide among his active bands, so follow their current work above!

Band Bio: Launched circa early 2010, The Merves were one of two punk tribute bands fronted by Mikey Hawdon in the early 2010s (joining the inactive Green Day tribute The Dookies.) Initially featuring Mikey and Fairmounts bandmate Phil Page alongside Mark Rand and Maximum RNR's Keith Carman, The Merves have became a steady sight at Southern Ontario concert venues since, largely at solo headlining dates. After Andrew McMullen (also of The Fairmounts) replaced Mark in 2011, and the departure of Keith that year, The Merves made their local debut at The Canadian Nightclub in January 2012, and they've followed that with annual January dates in Sault Ontario, plus a return weekend earlier this month. In an added twist for hard rock fans, The Merves enlisted Amy Zuchetto in late 2013 as a singer for Joan Jett & Runaways songs, making The Merves a dual cover band for future gigs, which have been well recieved, so keep an eye out for their next shows!

Whether you're a fan of The Ramones or Joan Jett, The Merves should entertain with their proficient tribute to both acts! Admittedly, Mikey is not a close vocal match to Joey Ramone, but he has a lot of spirit and knowledge of that half of their set, and fans of Mikey's other fronted bands shouldn't have much to worry about! It helps when he has so much chemistry with Andrew and Phil from their other bands, they're solid in their roles too! In terms of their original lineup, I think they sounded a bit more cluttered with two guitarists, especially when The Ramones didn't have two at once, but Keith and Mark fit in talent-wise. Amy's vocals bear more of a similarity to Joan Jett, and she adds an extra element to their live set that shakes things up well, though in videos that I've seen, she could be more animated on stage. The Merves are definitely on the rise, and well worth checking out, so stay tuned for word on their next Sault Ste. Marie dates!

The Merves don't have recorded material beyond live concert audio & video, but Mikey, Andrew, and Phil have recorded and released original material with The Fairmounts, so follow that band to hear what they write together! The Merves have assorted concert audio on their MySpace page linked above and through numerous YouTube uploads, but the best sources from both their pre-Joan Jett and current eras are Mikey and Andrew's individual YouTube channels, so check out both for much of their live show videos, and here's their cover of Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself For Loving You" in Sudbury!

I hope you guys liked this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile! Next month in this series, we'll be taking a long overdue look at Alpha Trion, the current Vancouver metal project from Sault Ontario native Jon Morrison, who some may remember from a brief stint as a session drummer with Gates of Winter! Watch out for that on or around May 26th, and stay tuned for a new news post tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Friday, April 25, 2014

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (The Suicide Kings), Glitch Concert Preview, And More!!

For today's post, we're concluding this weekend's known heavier concert previews, elaborating on some recent local metal album updates, and sharing a new video previewing some new material, but first, here's some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for next month!

Rockstar Bar Battle winners The Suicide Kings will return to the site of their live concert debut on Friday, May 16th and Saturday, May 17th for solo headlining dates at The Rednecks Saloon! Fresh off of their second place finish at the Rock N' Roar Battle of the Bands in Spanish, these will mark this talented hard rock quartet's first shows at the former Nicolet Tavern since March of last year, and despite the name change and transition to a country theme last fall, I don't expect Mike, Steven, Mitch, and Ben to alter their established sound and setlist for these concerts, as the Rednecks Saloon still welcomes rock bands (like Griphook this weekend.) The Suicide Kings last played a double weekend set at the former Roosevelt Hotel in January, so the convenience of two nights will be a plus for fans of their modern rock originals and covers, so be at this popular Albert Street West venue next month! Admission is likely free both nights, you must be 19 to attend, and there are 10:00 PM start times in effect. Visit the official Facebook event page for more info, and stay tuned for updates!

Next up, here's the last of our known heavier concert previews for this weekend, as newer Sault Ontario party/hard rock cover quartet Glitch will make their first ever appearance at an unfamiliar venue TOMORROW NIGHT, as they'll be rocking The OLG Casino at 30 Bay Street West! We've never covered the Sault Ontario casino on here for a concert, so I'm unfamiliar with it's setup, but I do know that they have both the Northern Gateway Restaurant and Bivouac Bar on site that could serve as logical host areas for a live band, so keep both in mind if you attend tomorrow. I'm unsure whether this is an early venture into more frequent band bookings, or a one-off agreement, but with a talented lineup featuring Sneaky Pete, Tripod the Dog, and Downfall alumni, the good tunes will be a constant, especially as they continue diversifying their live venue range! No idea on a potential cover charge, but you must be 19 to attend, and everything starts at 10:00 PM. Check the Facebook event page for more details, and here they are at The Rockstar Bar last year!

Moving to some well anticipated album news, local doom/sludge metal trio AlgomA have unveiled some new items relating to their forthcoming debut album "Reclaimed By The Forest", including the complete finished artwork by Adam Geyer! It had previously been leaked online, but it wasn't band-acknowledged, and that copy didn't feature the band's name & album title, so I waited until now. Very detailed in it's imagery, it calls to mind a more graphic interpretation of a song like Woods of Ypres' "Keeper of the Ledger" (look up the lyrics to see what I mean.) While a release date and formats for this album aren't out yet, AlgomA's brand new Bandcamp page features a download copy of their song "Fell Down The Well" from it, and you can buy it before the release for just $1! They even thought to include lyrics, but as is usual protocol for us, we'll hold full thoughts until the full album review. I'll confirm that the production is great though, so stream "Fell Down A Well" above, and stay tuned for news on the CD release!

Finally for today, Theatre of Night keyboardist Craig Harrison posted another preview video onto his YouTube channel on Wednesday to document new music for his Sault Michigan classical metal band! This time, it's of a studio piano piece (presumably for an original song to be completed), as included with assorted GoPro clips of him and bandmates Steve & Greg Giles playing in their jam room, though all fade in and out and use different camera angles, lighting, and post filters. The end of the video promises that new music is coming soon, and while this isn't a finished look, Craig's playing is as solid as ever, so check it out below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile on The Merves TOMORROW! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Lucky 13 & Griphook) And Most Of The Weekend's Concert Previews!!

For our second post of the day, we're covering most of the weekend's metal & hard rock concert previews, though due to the amount, we'll cover Glitch's first ever stop at the OLG Casino in Sault Ontario on Saturday night in tomorrow's post, so look out for it then! Today, we'll look at shows taking place either on Friday or over two nights, including a pair of SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, so check everything out below, and also give our profile of last year's Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands a look in the post below this one!

Local alternative/hard rock cover quartet Lucky 13 will return to The Rockstar Bar for another concert TOMORROW NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, this event was announced on Monday, so we held it until our concert previews to avoid a redundant re-post. Last seen there (or anywhere) just under a month ago, it should be nice to see this skilled veteran quartet's diverse and often heavy cover selection back at The Algonquin once again tomorrow, especially if you like the members' work in older bands like Aftersight, Wishbone, Turner Up, and The Gully Yodellers! Keep in mind, Lucky 13 are not playing a show on Saturday night due to the previously booked Cherry Crush show that day. Admission should be $5 for this 19+ show, and a 10:30 PM start time is advertised. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, and for a preview of Lucky 13's show TOMORROW, here they are at The Canadian!

Next up, local hard rock cover quartet Griphook will return to a familiar (yet different) location for two shows TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT, as they will be playing the next two nights at The Rednecks Saloon! Apologies for the short notice, Griphook just announced these dates on Tuesday via their Facebook event page. As you may remember, this Albert Street West venue was previously known as The Nicolet Tavern, but they underwent a name and country theme change last fall, and only began re-introducing live bands in January. Unlike the rumoured changes at the former Roosevelt Hotel however, The Rednecks Saloon haven't shut out rock bands, welcoming the likes of Havadder and Obsession already in 2014, along with another hard rock return for next month that we await confirmation of. Griphook were actually the last local band of any genre to play at The Nicolet over the October 25th weekend, so it'll be nice to see them back at this location 6 months later for another entertaining weekend! No word on if they have to include country in their sets to fit the new theme though.

Like before, there's a 10:30 PM start time in effect, you must be 19 to attend, and there's no announced cover charge. Check the above links for more details, don't miss Griphook's return to/debut at The Rednecks Saloon for some solid varying hard rock covers this weekend, and for a preview, here's their original lineup covering Incubus at the pre-renovations Nicolet!

Moving to previously announced shows, Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison's weekly concert arrangement at The Harp Bar & Grill on Pine Street enters it's 21st straight week with solo shows TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! After a one week return to his original Friday-only schedule due to Jay Case's show last Saturday, Tym will kick off his third weekend of double bookings at the former Madison's Pub this weekend, which will see him play at and host an open mic night tomorrow, followed by a normal solo acoustic gig on Saturday, so pick a day for your favoured type of concert this weekend! Keep in mind relating to Tym's concert scheduling, we're taking them one month at a time due to the length of the bookings on his website's concert calendar, so I expect more to be confirmed outside of there. This weekend's shows take place at 10:00 PM each night, you must be 19 to attend, and there's no announced cover charge. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, don't miss Tym's talented unplugged shows this weekend, and for a preview, here he is covering Eric Clapton in 2010!

Finally for today's previews, we head over to the Sault Michigan area for the only heavier shows that we've heard about this weekend, as Traverse City groove metal trio Scarkazm will head back to The Northern Pines Lounge at the St. Ignace Kewadin Casino TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! Previously making their Upper Peninsula debut in January, this will be the second regional concert weekend from the metal band featuring Peril/Audio Circus frontman Jeff Hudson on drums, and this weekend's shows have to be a sign of success for Scarkazm's January shows if they're coming back already! Look for a high impact weekend of metal covers and originals in St. Ignace this weekend, as Scarkazm have the reputation and talent to back it up! Be at the St. Ignace Kewadin tomorrow or Saturday at around 9:00 PM, you must be 21 to attend, and there's no announced cover. Check the above links for more details, and for a preview, here's the aggressive MMA-set video for their song "Sicker Than You!"

That's all for today, but stay tuned for a new news post tomorrow, including our preview of Glitch's OLG Casino gig on Saturday! Thanks everyone!

Battle Of The Bands Rewind Mini-Series: The Rockstar Bar Battle Of The Bands

One year ago today was the final round of the biggest Sault Ontario battle of the bands since 2009, so as promised, we have the newest installment of our Battle of the Bands Rewind series today! As in past profiles, we're taking a look at the background, events, results, and aftermath of this battle of the bands, as a way to look back on it and the competitors a year after the fact! Like in our other battle profiles, personal opinions are kept to a minimum (especially given our involvement in promotion and judging of it), so this profile will take on an informational & trivia focus. Without any further adieu, read on below for our newest Battle of the Bands profile at the SMS! (Updated on February 13th, 2016)
The Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands (April 3rd-24th, 2013)

Background: For every Wednesday in the month of April 2013, The Rockstar Bar (in association with Case's Music, The Rad Zone, local concert promoter J.D. Pearce, and The Sault Metal Scene) hosted a well advertised battle of the bands, where nine bands competed for big prizes in a staggered weekly battle format not seen in Sault Ontario in many years. On the first three nights of the battle (April 3rd, 10th, and 17th), three bands played on each night, where judges chose one winner to move on to the finals on April 24th, while the second place band with the most points on the judges' scorecards would also join them as a wild card band. Judges scored the bands on aspects of their musical ability, chemistry, stage presence, and crowd engagement (among other factors) for a total score out of 300 each night, or 100 points a judge.

Prizes: The first place band would win $1,000, 5 hours of recording time at Case's Music, and first place trophies, while the second place band got $200 and a $50 Rad Zone gift card, and the third place band won $100. Each finalist band also received framed certificates for their participation in the battle (that doubled as 20%-off coupons at Case's Music), and the second and third place bands both won individual medals for their placements. As well, the top 3 bands were guaranteed opening slots at one of J.D. Pearce's upcoming concerts, though they were decided on after the battle and were not tied to a specific event.

Competitors: The bands competing on April 3rd were local grunge/alternative quartet Haggith, classic metal notables (and defending Humane Society Battle winners) Late & Loud, and local ska-punk quartet Sarah's Valley, who were essentially a reunited Free Beer under a new name. The April 10th competitors were local punk trio The Northern Tragedy, indie/jazz quartet The Pesto Shirts, and hard rock favourites The Suicide Kings, while the heaviest lineup of the semifinal rounds took place on April 17th, which included local death metal quintet The Bear Hunters, newer doom/death quartet Giwakwa, and alternative hard/blues rock veterans Sykotyk Rampage.

Results: Each semifinal round was won respectively by Late & Loud, The Suicide Kings, and The Bear Hunters, while the planned wild card slot went to both Haggith & The Pesto Shirts due to their runner-up scores being tied, resulting in an expanded five band final round on April 24th. Giwakwa were the second place band on April 17st, and Sarah's Valley, The Northern Tragedy, and Sykotyk Rampage all finished third for their semifinal appearances, though individual scores and placement were not elaborated on further publically. In the finals, The Suicide Kings claimed first place honours, while Haggith & The Pesto Shirts rose above their wild card status to claim second and third place respectively, and Late & Loud and The Bear Hunters fell short of the podium.

Aftermath: The Suicide Kings (later known as Beaumont Avenue) continued to rock local concert venues until their sudden demise in July 2015, but made many high profile appearances during their last years together! Aside from an early 2014 hiatus, Haggith remained active in varying incarnations with numerous local shows and multiple CD releases before they too broke up in mid-2015. The Pesto Shirts (now known as The Wild Iris) and The Bear Hunters have continued with more notable Sault-area shows and original releases since the battle, while Late & Loud broke up after the battle due to frontman Jon Tiberi moving out of town, though they would play two 2014 reunion gigs. Sykotyk Rampage have stayed active with numerous shows and original material releases since, while The Northern Tragedy released a couple of EPs and played live more before going inactive in 2015, Giwakwa went dormant after singer Josh Stephney moved out of town later that year, and Sarah's Valley quietly disbanded that same summer after only a handful of non-battle gigs.

Some Notable Performers' Newer Bands (Metal/hard rock in italics, ex-members noted with an *):
The Din (Mike Haggith & Curtis McKenzie* from Haggith)
Eclipse (Curtis McKenzie & Daniel Horton from Haggith, and Chris Thompson from Giwakwa)
Heavy Head (Mike Gaetano from The Suicide Kings, Daniel Horton from Haggith, and Johnny Belanger from The Bear Hunters)
Infinity Grinder (Terrence Gomes from The Northern Tragedy) 
Jack Spades (Justin Lam & Johnny Belanger from The Bear Hunters)
Jon & His Friends (Jonathan Tiberi from Late & Loud; Based out of Hamilton) 
Machines Dream (Jake Rendell from The Pesto Shirts)
Mourning Wood (Steven Flint from The Suicide Kings)
The Pixo Control (Dustin Goodall from Sarah's Valley)
Project 421 (Curtis McKenzie & Daniel Horton from Haggith, and Chris Thomspon from Giwakwa)


  • Judges for the duration of The Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands were Case's Music owner and prolific local musician Jay Case, then-Rad Zone mainstay & local rock guitarist Len Ward, and Sault Metal Scene owner Rob Figures, all of which had judged recent prior battles (Jay at the late 2000s' Case's Music battles, Len at 2010's Downtown Showdown, and Rob at the Humane Society battle in 2012.) Jay also was the MC for the battle and announced each night's bands, rules, and winners.
  • To coincide with the battle finals on April 24th, Late & Loud released an expanded re-issue of their EP "Heavy Rockin' Hard Metal" that night. Subtitled "Still Hard", the nine song disc featured two re-recorded songs and two brand new original tracks. Despite not making the podium, a copy of this EP (plus Benn Garside's smashed bass from the finals) are now on display at The Rockstar Bar.
  • The Pesto Shirts' semifinal appearance on April 10th was notable as their first live concert set with new drummer Jake Rendell, after playing all of their past gigs as a trio in largely acoustic settings. 
  • Haggith's sets at this battle were their last public dates with frontman Curtis McKenzie playing rhythm guitar on most songs. After the battle, he began phasing out his guitar work and soon served as just their singer.
  • Among the different visual trappings from performers at the battle: Late & Loud debuted a new stage banner for their finals set inspired by Japan's Rising Sun flag, The Bear Hunters increased their hunting themes by dressing in camouflage and using a similar motif on their speakers, and fans of The Suicide Kings brought signs in support of them for the finals.
  • Unlike the battle's other competitors, Sarah's Valley's involvement was done with a level of secrecy, with no public postings being made to elaborate on their lineup or sound until they took the stage on April 7th, when it was revealed that they were a reunited and renamed Free Beer. Similar secrecy occurred with Keep It Lit at Viva La Battle that fall, but they dropped out of that event before showtime.
  • Two performers at this battle played in two separate competing bands, those being Giwakwa frontman Josh Stephney and Suicide Kings bassist Mitch Sirie, who both played guitar with The Bear Hunters. Adding to the double bookings, Josh's bands both played at the April 17th semifinal, both of Mitch's bands played in the final round, and Mitch performed on all nights of the battle but April 3rd.
  • In an ironic coincidence, finalists (and semifinal #2 competitors) The Suicide Kings & The Pesto Shirts both changed their names the following summer. The Suicide Kings became Beaumont Avenue after negative personal events necessitated the change, though they only remained active for a year under that name, and were largely on hiatus while drummer Ben Boudreau attended school out of town. As for The Pesto Shirts, they became The Wild Iris after finding that their original name (which was initially decided on as a joke) didn't match their sound anymore, and they still play live under the new name.
  • The Bear Hunters finally won their first battle of the bands that November when they won Viva La Battle, a fan-voted event at The Canadian Nightclub that was also promoted by J.D. Pearce. Though they won that battle sans guitarist Josh Stephney (who moved out of town in the summer), he came back to play with them at the Bam Margera/Fuckface Unstoppable concert in December, which was this battle's first place prize. As well, Punch (the then-new supergroup featuring two members each of The Suicide Kings & Haggith) finished in third place at this battle.
  • Though not a local battle, The Suicide Kings experienced similar success in April 2014 when they finished second out of 15 Northern Ontario bands at the Rock N' Roar Battle of the Bands in Spanish, Ontario, earning the right to open for Randy Bachman at the annual Rock N' Roar festival that August, then under their Beaumont Avenue name. Bear Hunters drummer Johnny Belanger also took the trip for the next year's battle as a guest drummer with The Elements, but they didn't place last year.
  • Almost two years following the Rockstar Bar Battle, J.D. Pearce and many of the same sponsors hosted The VM Radio Battle of the Bands at The Canadian Nightclub on Wednesdays in March 2015, which saw a similar round structure and judging criteria, expanded 11-band lineup, similar prizes, one returning judge (Rob Figures), and greatly expanded media coverage through Village Media's local news websites. This spiritual successor event was a success, and will be followed by a second VM Radio Battle in March 2016.
  • The Bear Hunters improved on their Rockstar Bar Battle performance at the aforementioned VM Radio Battle (albeit sans Josh again) by finishing in second place, losing to winners Gnaeus by just two points, while Haggith (then with Jordan Leach on bass in place of Caleb Cachagee) finished in second place in their close semifinal, and did not advance to the final round. As well, Haggith alums participated in the third semifinal in then-side project bands (Mike Haggith & Curtis McKenzie in Mike Haggith & The Din, and Daniel Horton with Project 421), but those bands didn't advance to the finals either.
  • A second battle of the bands, hosted at The Speak Easy at Algoma University, was held just a day after the first semifinal round of March 2015's VM Radio Battle, and was also won by Gnaeus. In that fan voted event, The Bear Hunters (minus Josh) took $100 for finishing in third place, while the aforementioned Mike Haggith & The Din and Project 421 did not place in the top 3 (neither did Infinity Grinder, the new hard rock duo featuring Northern Tragedy singer/drummer Terrence Gomes.)

The Northern Tragedy playing "3 2 4" at the semifinals on April 10th
Giwakwa's first two songs on April 17th
Sault Metal Scene videos of the heavier competing bands from each night
Pesto Shirts & Northern Tragedy videos from all of their nights

Sources/More Info:
Official Facebook event page
SooToday's coverage of the April 7th semifinal
I hope you guys liked our newest Battle of the Bands Rewind profile! Barring a mass information dump for an older battle that we didn't feature in this series, we'll next take a look at last fall's Viva La Battle, with that scheduled to make the site in November, so look out for it then, and for most of the weekend's concert previews later today! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jack Spades' EP Release, New Dank Fest Videos, And Much More!!

Before we double up with weekend concert previews and our newest Battle of the Bands profile on the site tomorrow, we have recent band clarifications, new videos from a recent all ages show, and first, big news concerning another new album release, so here;s what you need to know!

Be prepared to jack the planet, as local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades' debut EP saw it's digital release on Sunday! Entitled "The First", the EP is now on sale at the band's Bandcamp page for just $4, so if you want to buy it right now, feel free! In order, the EP's songs are "They Live", "Rise", "Breakneck Speed", their cover of The Ripcordz' "X", and "To The Left", so click each link to sample the songs as well. A physical release is not coming until mid-May, but early indications suggest that physical copies will be out on Friday, May 16th at the long-teased release party, which is tentatively scheduled for The Rockstar Bar pending venue confirmation. Early word suggests that it will feature sets from Jack Spades, the returning Destroilet, and Oshawa punk band the Black Cat Attack, but nothing is 100% official as of yet, so keep an eye out for updates! While this appears to be the album cover on your left, Jack Spades have indicated that local graphic designers will provide some elaborate artwork in the CD inserts.

As well, a Facebook contest is on where if you change your Facebook profile picture to the above image and tag frontman J.D. Pearce (a.k.a. Johnny Pints) in it, you'll be entered to win a free copy of "The First" and release party tickets, so keep it in mind if you want to win both! The songs sound great so far in terms of production, but when can you see our review of it? In order to time it with the physical CD release party, we'll give it a formal review next month, so look out for it then! As for April 2014, I'll confirm that we're reviewing Shit Liver's debut album (which also came out on Sunday) within the next week, so stay tuned for that as well! Pick up Jack Spades' album at this link, and Shit Liver's here!

Next up, we have some new public videos to share from Saturday night's 11 band Oddfellows Hall marathon known as Dank Fest 2014, starting with a new clip from local classic metal quintet Project 421's set! Similarly to some of their Medi-Fest footage, this was uploaded to attendee Joey Phuckel's personal Facebook page but publically shared by the band last night, and it's of their cover of Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?", so how does it turn out? Pretty well, Joey had a nice close angle to the band, though the house lighting is inconsistent in the video, and Curtis McKenzie's vocals aren't as loud as they could be. Solid metal action though, so give Project 421's newest live video a look below!

Also from Dank Fest are two new videos of local goregrind solo project Crucify The Whore's set, as per their label Blood Shed Productions' YouTube channel on Monday! One of the videos has a song title we won't repeat here to avoid possibly offending some readers, but the other is embedded below, and it features fans moshing to one of C.T.W.'s (presumably untitled?) songs. The filmer captured the chaos well, but with the vertical cell phone camera angle, jittery camera motions, and dark lighting, the visuals on each aren't optimal. Fans of their grind attack should enjoy there songs, so give them a look above and below!

Finally, here's three assorted shorter news stories from the last little while (ironically all concerning unanswered questions about local bands from our recent concert coverage, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by band name:

  • Remember how we didn't know anything concerning Habitat Shuffle, who are debuting at June's Great Sabatini concert at The Moose Lodge? Apparently, they're a ska-punk/alternative band featuring ex-Free Beer guitarist Dustin Goodall & Dirty Few drummer Blair St. John, though we await official word and online information on them and their lineup. Thanks to promoter Jamie Vincent for the information!
  • Local hard rock/punk duo Re-Born (a.k.a. the original Brutaly Fatal) are indeed still alive, but have reportedly switched focus to playing mostly unadvertised surprise gigs at events, so keep that in mind if you're at any Blood Shed Productions-affiliated house party events or Oddfellows shows. Thanks to drummer Tyler "Ringsnaps" Gibson for the clarification!
  • To answer another lingering question from our coverage of last month's Commencing Human Desperation show at The Oddfellows Hall, the new local band known as Them that were once on the lineup are apparently a ska-punk duo featuring Pixo Control drummer Keeghan Rosso, though like Re-Born, they also mainly stick to quiet unannounced shows. Thanks again to Ringsnaps for the info!

That's all for today, but stay tuned tomorrow for both the first of the weekend's metal & hard rock concert previews, and our newest Battle of the Bands Rewind profile on last year's Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

YouTube Channel Profile Series: SBD TV

It's now time for this month's YouTube Channel Profile, as we continue our monthly feature series on the YouTube channels most likely to pique the interest of local metal & hard rock fans! As usual, this series focuses on 1-3 randomly selected YouTube channels, in order to profile and promote their content and videos and encourage you to check them out and subscribe to them! This month's featured channel is our first of just one from Sault Ontario in 5 months, but grunge fans from the early 2010s will want to pay attention, so here's our newest profile!

Owner: Former SBD & No Arrow frontman Dann Pichette

Channel Timeline: Launched on March 9th, 2010; Videos posted from that day through August 3rd of that year

Channel Summary: The official YouTube channel for defunct local experimental hard rock/grunge trio SBD, the No Arrow successors only actively updated it during their peak activity in mid-2010, posting no less than 57 videos there in just under 5 months (though it should be noted that 34 of them are under a minute in length.) The channel's first 25 videos are from jam sessions in the spring of 2010 (including their heavily fragmented 16 part "Rock Paper Scissors" series), and they were followed by 30 videos from their May 7th show at Foggy Notions (now Coch's Corner), featuring a mixture of full songs, trippy post-effects, and brief clips. The band's last two uploads that August were studio covers of Syd Barrett material.

Why Should You Watch: Fans should check out SBD's channel for the best surviving source of their live material, even if the high amount of short clips is a bit much to manage for the casual fan. SBD had a nice blend of alternative hard rock and 1960s psychedelia that might have been a couple years early for the maximum local impact, so don't sleep on the video postings here! Note however that original studio tracks from their album "Sonic Experiments" are not featured on this channel, but assorted studio recordings from it and other projects can be streamed at their Soundclick page. Also as a subscriber warning, note that this channel has not been actively used since SBD fell inactive in 2011.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out:

SBD - Lemme Get A Full Beer Over Here: One of the few substantial original clips from SBD's spring 2010 jam session uploads, this video from May 4th features frontman Dann Pichette, bassist Brad Griffith (Sounds From The Green Room), and drummer Shane Triplett (The Chintzy Slicks) playing their lengthy original song "Lemme Get A Full Beer Over Here", which solidly captures their marriage of grunge and experimental rock! The guys have a fun instrumental jam here, with effective tight camera angles and a nice free-flowing essence, though the pace and energy does largely slow down in the latter half. Keep an eye out for Dann playing the guitar with a drumstick as well early in the video!

SBD - POW! Right In The Kisser (live): Some of the most unique recent local hard rock concert videos came from the Foggy's show that May that SBD filmed, which they largely filtered in post-production with mirroring and kaleidoscope effects (such as on their song "Fractal Liquid/Into The Unknown"), along with various short clips of random goings on at the event, including intermission footage, and even a busking acoustic performer outside of the venue! Though well known for lengthy instrumentals, vocals were also featured on covers of the likes of Pink Floyd and Link Wray, and on a few originals like their mosh pit kickstarter "It Just Won't Work" and the featured "POW! Right In The Kisser", which (despite low vocal audibility) has SBD's trademark classic sound with an alternative bent!

SBD - Jugband Blues (Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett Cover):  As Dann Pichette is a long time fan and admirer of early Pink Floyd and founding member Syd Barrett, SBD frequently covered Pink Floyd songs like "Scream Thy Last Scream" & "Matilda Mother" in live concerts. The last uploads on SBD's channel that August were studio covers of Syd Barrett compositions, including of his solo song "Terrapin" and the channel's most popular posting, Pink Floyd's "Jugband Blues". An effective cover featuring a photo of Syd overlaid with film grain and changing colours, the song makes nice use of echoing vocal effects and a clear respect for the original material, though Dann did admit that the vocals were loud in the mix. Fans of 1960s-era Pink Floyd should be interested to check out SBD's take on their material though!

I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profile! Next month in this series, and through completely random selection, we'll look at a single Sault Michigan channel for a second time in three months, as next month's profile will be on 415E/ex-Nixxon Dixxon guitarist Chris Hubbard's YouTube channel, which has a nice sampling of his Van Halen covers and gear, so look out for that on or around May 22nd, and for a new news post on the site shortly! Thanks everyone!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dank Fest 2014 Concert Review!!

Finally, it's now time for our review of Saturday night's Dank Fest 2014, and I apologize again for the delay, but the slow video uploads and such pushed it back. Before we get to the bands, just some info on the event itself, including a notable band drop out, as advertised headliners TheKillingField dropped out of the event on short notice due to scheduling conflicts, though members didn't elaborate on that front. Very disappointing, especially as two shots at a local show fell through in a four month span, but they've always been great to the Soo, so hopefully the bad luck ends and they do play here at some point soon again! They were not replaced, so Dank Fest fell to 11 bands from the 14 it was originally intended to have. I had a sinking feeling that the original planned lineup wouldn't hold together, but we still got a huge bang for our buck! The weather mostly co-operated, but the talk of sausages being barbequed behind The Oddfellows Hall didn't come to fruition. The attendance varied as the day went on, but it peaked in the early evening for The Pixo Control and Like Animals' sets, and while I do get the timing of the event for 4:20, competing with the Easter weekend and Record Store Day may have affected the turnout. The fan activity was lively though, and there were some solid pits!

After a 45 minute delay (possibly due to TheKillingField's dropout?), Dank Fest kicked off with the former Like Father Like Son, local/Ottawa indie rock band The North Shore (replacing Viva Emptiness), though returning drummer Felipe Basoalto couldn't make the event, so frontman Jeremy Hannah and new guitarist Chase Wigmore played as a duo. Though clear outliers compared to the death metal and hard rock to come, Jeremy's a former local hardcore singer and promoter, and Chase brought a bit of the aggression for their set, which really struck me as a clash of two styles. While Jeremy was playing to his recent strengths in unplugged indie material, Chase's guitar work seemed like it belonged with a different heavier band, and it was an interesting contrast. Once you got past that though, The North Shore provided a nice softer beginning for this show, and they definitely seemed happy to be there, so hopefully we see more of them in the future, especially given how sporadic Jeremy's local gigs have been lately!

Second on Saturday were local all-female hard rockers The Danger Cats, and though the rumours of them dropping out were false, they also played short-handed due to guitarist Paula Panther being away on vacation. With her absence, their set seemed a bit more deliberate and not as lively, though I'm sure part of that was due to playing in the late afternoon. A mix of originals like "Call Me" and covers of bands like The Misfits, The Offspring, and L7 populated their 8 song set, and while the energy of their full quartet sets wasn't fully there, the talent was, with Kate Kougar's singing effective when audible (she was often low in the mix though), and Jamie Jaguar's bass flowed well also! That said, they're most effective with two guitarists, so be sure to catch the Die Mannequin show they're opening in June for the full Danger Cats experience!

Third was supposed to be the return of local funk/metal trio The Strange Coyotes, but bassist James Watterworth couldn't make the event (if they have a new drummer yet, he didn't play either), so frontman Chase Wigmore played a solo set in their place. That said, he didn't stick to just his solo material though, performing a lot of harsh metal songs that probably would have been indicative of The Strange Coyotes's set had they played this show! Included within were some surprising acoustic covers of Megadeth songs (and even Del Shannon's "Runaway") along with some band and solo originals, and Chase definitely held our attention with his high energy and creativity, even almost looking possessed at points during his set! It was nice to see Chase back on stage, even if the rest of the band was absent, but his entertaining solo work got a lot of people going, even inciting the day's first mosh pit, which is impressive for acoustic material!

Due to having to get back on the road early, Orillia metal trio Like Animals swapped spots with The Pixo Control to play the earlier fourth slot at Dank Fest, and 3 years after dropping out of a show at The Rosie, they definitely made up for lost time with an impressive progressive metal set! Is it surprising that they were the first band on Saturday with no absent members? Playing to some of the day's best crowd numbers, Like Animals tore through a technical and aggressive blend of progressive and hardcore metal, and fans definitely seemed to enjoy everything! Playing a number of impressive songs (including songs from their new EP "The Wild"), I enjoyed Jamie Haffenden's guitar ability and singing range, and Myke Caouette's bass work and enthusiasm was a constant, but Jamie could show some more liveliness to match their songs. Impressive first stop in the Soo though, hopefully they come back down the road!

Following them was the Oddfellows Hall debut of local alternative/hard rock trio The Pixo Control (our newest addition to our band links on the site), and after a successful Record Store Day set outside of The Rad Zone, the guys amped up the heaviness and left a solid impression on attendees! I was familiar with some of their YouTube postings and frontman Michael Mikus' past work with The Fever Tops, but The Pixo Control definitely benefit from a live setting for their grungy alt-rock sound, which had a solid passion, and they can be very heavy on the right song, including tracks like "Land of the Moles" and "Tall Ships". Michael seemed to channel Kurt Cobain at parts in their set, while Steve Edwards showed some solid bass skill, and Keeghan Rosso's drumming fit right in as well, and though they did have some rough moments, they're young and will definitely shore up those areas. I'm curious to see where The Pixo Control go from here, but if you love bands like Haggith and No Arrow, don't sleep on these guys!

Local hardcore/grunge duo Bad Back returned to The Oddfellows Hall as the night's middle band, and they were back to their usual tricks with an intense and well received set of original material, complete with a very surprising closing cover of Weezer's "Buddy Holly"! Originals like "Lung Bucket", "Breeding Weak", and "No. 1 Single" also made the rounds, and like at earlier gigs of theirs, the two-man assault got a very enthusiastic reception! They still don't really sound like a duo, their sound works that well, and Jamie Vincent (a.k.a. AlgomA drummer Geezer D'Artagnan) continues to develop a very solid presence as a hardcore singer and frontman! Nathan Sauve's drumming and backup vocals also fit as well as ever on this very heavy hybrid material! If anything, I'd like to see Jamie loosen up a bit on stage, but Bad Back powered through another brutal set, and hopefully we see them on stage again soon!

Local goregrind solo project Crucify The Whore (replacing Brutaly Fatal & Re-Born) took the stage next, and while still polarizing for fans not accustomed to this style or the lyrical content, Tyler "Ringsnaps" Gibson handled things well for an unapologetic and very heavy set of original material! Like before, his set saw him on pig squeal vocals & lead guitar with a drum machine to handle backing rhythm, and despite the minimalistic nature, he has a solid command of the audience, and loyal fans of Blood Shed Productions were out in full force to mosh and headbang along to originals like "Orthostatic Hypertension", "People These Days", and the ultra-brief "Batch Cones". Tyler's music definitely fits live better than it ever has in studio, and while I do think he'd rise faster locally if he had a full band to support this material, he's doing what he wants for fans who love it no matter what, and it'll be interesting to hear what comes next, including the forthcoming C.T.W. album "Welcome To Earth"!

Local sludge/doom metal trio AlgomA made their Oddfellows Hall debut next, and their slow and crushing original sound definitely got a great reaction from fans who stayed into the night! Lengthy and uncompromising songs like "Extinct Volcanoes" and "Bedsores" impressed on musical and heavy levels, and I like the added interaction with the audience and less aloof feel than they had at early gigs, though I'll admit that 180 Projects is probably the optimal place to see them, thanks to the video projector (they even used 3D glasses for it at the Skynet show!) Darby Wigwaus & Marty Chase's trade-off vocals and proficiently deliberate instrumentation kept things to a doomy premium, and their set definitely went by quicker than it was (the long songs help with that.) No word was announced at Dank Fest relating to their upcoming debut album, but their set should put in motion a lot of optimism for it's release!

Third last at Dank Fest were the de facto headliners following TheKillingField's exit, as North Bay death metal trio Buried Out Back made their second local appearance on Saturday night, after previously rocking The Canadian in mid-2012! Once again featuring a number of songs based around murderers (as to be seen on their upcoming album) like "The Prostitute" and "The Recluse", Buried Out Back brutalized attendees with a straight forward and gritty (yet melodic) death metal assault that was at least equal to their last trip here! Frontman Dave Strba (of Empyrean Plague fame) retains a brutal yet clear growl, and Kevin Lachance's drum work was excellent throughout their set, though I think they were hoping for more of a crowd reaction and reception throughout. Awesome set though, and fingers crossed we get more North Bay metal action around here soon!

The home stretch of this marathon show kicked off with local classic metal quintet Project 421, who were surprisingly the only band out of 11 at Dank Fest with more than 3 members! Coincidentally, the biggest band also seemingly got the biggest set, as they rocked out 13 songs, including their original "No One Rides For Free", covers of everyone from Black Sabbath to Dokken, and even some surprise Ronnie James Dio tracks that really showed off Curtis McKenzie's vocal range, which was particularly impressive early on (perhaps the best he's sounded live yet), but while "The Mob Rules" was great, his voice tired considerably by the time they tackled "Rainbow In The Dark". Aside from a hang-up where guitarist Blair Burch had to fix a guitar string (they added a surprise cover of "Smokin' In The Boys Room" in the interim), the guys made full use of their time and the space, with Daniel Horton really adding to his height with some mid-song climbs up the stage equipment! Everyone was on fire, and they delivered a solid late punch to the show!

Unfortunately, the length of Project 421's set may have impaired the closing set for local goregrind duo Rotopsy, who initially announced that they couldn't play, despite being the effective release show for their demo. I heard that both time constraints and a mosh pit injury of some type may have been the reason, but things worked out, as Rotopsy were apparently able to play 2 of their 5 planned songs to cap off the night! That said, I had no idea that they would manage to play anyway, so I'd actually left before that announcement, but at least we got to see singer Dylan Taylor provide guest vocals on one of Crucify The Whore's songs! We'll of course share any media from their brief set if and when it makes it online. Overall, despite the length and my own sore feet by the last few bands, this was a fun concert, and a nice primer for the Swampstravaganza next month (another marathon concert at The Oddfellows Hall that Rotopsy are playing), and despite the band dropouts, I think promoters and fans had a good time!

I got 10 photos of each band (minus Rotopsy, I'll make it up to you guys next month!), so check them out at this link or at our Facebook page! As for videos, they're embedded below (albeit smaller to avoid making this post far too long), but click here to see them in normal resolution. In order, here's The North Shore playing their song "Evening Strolls", The Danger Cats covering The Misfits' "Fiend Club", Chase Wigmore covering Megadeth's "Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!", Like Animals playing their song "No Avail", The Pixo Control playing their song "The Great Salute to Radio Edits", Bad Back playing "Drum My Way Home", Crucify The Whore playing their short song "Seshing In June Bugs" followed by a new untitled track, AlgomA playing "The Electric Fence", Buried Out Back playing "The Intruder", and Project 421 covering Judas Priest's "Living After Midnight", so check them out above & below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profiles tomorrow, plus more news soon, including all the info on Jack Spades' newly released EP! Thanks everyone!