Hey guys, it's finally time for our review of Monday night's Shit Liver split release tour finale at The New American Pub, so what should you know about this one? Surprisingly, this was my first ever concert at The New A, so I should start with some thoughts on the venue as a whole. Overall, it's cozy (especially before organizers moved tables out of the way), and the bar's placement in the middle of the building took some adjustments, but it looks like it's fairly inviting and would be of good use for downtown patrons, complete with a few modern flourishes! Also, how many other bars have a popcorn machine? In terms of the "Trading Faces" cassette tapes, I got mine upon entry to the Bay Street venue, and this is a high-res recreation of the album cover in it's physical layout (I haven't found one via official sources.) Aside from dedications in the liner notes, there's no missing information that isn't already given on Bandcamp, but there is something satisfying about holding a newly released cassette tape in 2017! I just wish that the tape itself wasn't green, and perhaps had a track listing on each side.
Before getting to the bands, I did listen to the tape on a Sharp surround sound system from the 1990s, which seemed appropriate given the retro format, and it sounded great, though AlgomA's half seemed a little quieter than Shit Liver's. As the synthesized woman's voice said at the end of side A, "All I know is that it's good!"
The concert started with a set by local death metal favourites The Bear Hunters, who were up to their usual tricks with a brutal set of old and recent originals alike! Playing originals like "The Omen", "I Fear No God", and "The Dying Den" (though curiously not ending 'er with "Render This Void"), everyone sounded great, even frontman Nik Deubel, who noted being under the weather and having a rough voice to the crowd. Luckily, it didn't show, and he delivered another ferocious performance, with Mitch Sirie's solid lead guitar and Justin Lam's skilled bass work complimenting everything to a T! The only real surprise of the set was their Amon Amarth cover, trading "Guardians of Asgaard" for "Free Will Sacrifice", as a teaser for their upcoming tribute band turn at The Halloween Party under the name Mount Doom on Friday the 27th. Nik told us that they'll be playing the Amon Amarth album "Twilight of the Thunder God" front to back during their Halloween tribute set.
The other new public announcement is that The Bear Hunters have enlisted Jack Spades & Eclipse guitarist Daniel Horton to play rhythm guitar in "Mount Doom", marking a very rare instance where they've enlisted a guest guitarist rather than play as a quartet with Josh out of town. This will all be very interesting to witness in a few weeks, but as Amon Amarth have two guitarists, this makes their set more true to the original band. Watch for Mount Doom on October 27th at The Algonquin Pub, and Monday night's tune up show was a good one for The Bear Hunters!
Winkstinger, in the first time I've seen them since their latest reunion this summer, so what's different? Well, they've had more change than just the vocalist position, as it looks like former bassist Ryan Sherman is back in their lineup, replacing Andrew MacDonald. A reason for Andrew's apparent departure hasn't been publically announced, but keep in mind that the band's Facebook page is barely updated. Hopefully nothing bad happened, but it's great seeing Ryan back in the fold, assuming I have him identified correctly! This was also the first time that I've seen Winkstinger with Twistory's Josh Amendola on lead vocals, giving the band their most death metal-influenced vocals yet. Josh's vocal style suits the material, but it could be a little more distinct. That said, his stage presence was enjoyably chaotic & hard to photograph, and Josh was more at ease on stage than Keith was last spring, so he's off to a good start!
Of course, band mainstays Jesse Cook and Jonas Gasperas were on form, and while Jesse laid down some great solos as usual, he seemed a little restrained compared to some recent sets of his. One visible difference from Winkstinger's run of spring 2016 shows is that they seemed to play more originals than they did last year, with covers put on the back burner, so fans of Alan-era Winkstinger will appreciate the setlist. There's more polish to put on the wheels, but it's great to see Winkstinger back (again), and hopefully we hear more new stuff from them soon!
In a mild surprise, local/St. Catharine's grindcore trio Shit Liver hit the stage next rather than the headlining slot for their first local show in a year & a half, and they delivered a brutal assault of originals and covers that got the most packed crowd and mosh pit of the night! Alongside originals like "Sir-Osis", "It's Not My Problem", and "Matt Got Beat Up By Cops" (complete with sampled intro tracks for over half the set), they also played a handful of selections from their side of "Trading Faces" like "Blame It On God", though I was surprised that they didn't play more of it. No one seemed to mind too much, with a punishing onslaught capped off by Josh Penno, Mike Kyle, and Matt Baic' three-pronged vocals, while their punk-tinged death metal originals were as fast paced as ever, often flowing into each other nicely. It's not for everyone, but if you love brutal grindcore, Shit Liver gave you exactly what you wanted on Monday night, and hopefully we see them again soon!
AlgomA in their sole appearance of the "Trading Faces" tour due to doctor's recommendations following guitarist Boyd Rendell's recent health concerns. As a result, I wasn't sure if he'd appear to be 100%, but he was none the worse for wear during their set, playing his suitably heavy and down-trodden riffs with intensity, and even singing (well, screaming) to his usual standard on a couple of songs! Alongside older originals like "Fell Down A Well" and selections from older splits, AlgomA played their entire side of "Trading Faces" to end their set, which was a nice way to wrap the tour. Kevin Campbell was just fine with his pounding bass and gritty vocals for most songs, and Jamie Vincent's drumming kept the rhythm going at a slow pace, until their faster covers came in, and he transitioned just fine! It was great to see AlgomA back in full force, and who knows what their next album will be! Perhaps another split on a retro format? Maybe get your 8 track players ready?!
Overall, this concert was a crushing good time for fans of death metal, and as a relocated homage to old Rosie metal nights, you have to appreciate this lineup, as you don't see even three of these bands on stage together very much anymore! You can check out our photos from Sunday night at this link or via our Facebook page, and as for our videos, here's The Bear Hunters (or Mount Doom) covering Amon Amarth's "Free Will Sacrifice", Winkstinger playing their original song "From Bullshit To Buzz (Lies = Weed)", Shit Liver covering Dystopia's "Socialized Death Sentence" & Macabre's "Hitch-Hiker", and Algoma covering Kittens' "Great Dane"!
That's all for today, but stay tuned for this weekend's concert previews next! Thanks everyone!