Monday, April 30, 2012

End Of Existence CD Review!!

It's once again time for a CD review at the SMS, and for this 34th monthly look at a local metal/hard rock album, we're reviewing the self-titled debut album from Sault Michigan/Grand Rapids metal band End of Existence! I apologize for the delay, but exams and final tests took up a lot of my spare time this month. Just our 3rd American CD review in the past 14 months, End of Existence self-recorded and produced this album over the past couple of years, releasing it on February 29th. It's also expected to be their only album under this band name before a planned name change in the coming months. End of Existence are represented on this album by Bob "JagerBob" Helsten on vocals (who left the band just days before the album's release), Steve Giles on guitar & iPad effects, Bryan Kindel on bass, Steve's brother Greg on drums, and Craig Harrison on the keyboard. As well, RedStone Riot frontwoman Rachel Kiger (Bob's former Elipzis bandmate) provides guest vocals on one track. This album is available in mp3 format from Reverbnation, iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby for $9.99 (though Amazon's price is a dollar less), while individual tracks go for 99¢ each, so click each link to purchase End of Existence's debut album! (Updated on November 8th)

With 12 tracks and over 51 minutes of music, let's begin this review with the first track, "The Elements"! It kicks off with a solid keyboard intro and a heavy melodic sound and when Bob's aggressive growling kicks in, it adds to the vibe! His clean singing is as unique as ever, and his harsh vocals help with the epic and brutal feel of the track! The music is solid as well, but Craig's keyboard work is overpowering in the verses, and it should have been lowered a bit to better hear the rest of the band. Late in the song, there's a clearer section to hear their collective talents, and Bryan's bass work really stands out then! The ending also is fairly unexpected, though not abrupt, and it feels like they just ended the song there rather than build to a big climax. "The Elements" is a solid and heavy opener for sure, but the overpowering volume of Craig's keyboard work does detract from the music, and it could have been longer.

Second is the album's only track longer than 5 minutes, "Recurring Dreams", which leads with a nice melodic and almost folksy guitar melody before unleashing into a heavy galloping section that alternates with Steve's solo guitar a few times. Bob's singing here is more traditional with less growling, which does affect the verses negatively, as it sounds a bit more reserved than a song this heavy could use. Luckily, the keyboard isn't as overpowering on this track, but Craig contributes well! Steve really shines on guitar, especially on his proficient solos, and Greg's drumming is more varied and intense, which helps add to this very cool metal song! The choruses are my favourite part for the full band on here, and overall, it's a much heavier showcase for their collective talents than "The Elements" was, making this an early favourite on End of Existence's debut album for sure! "Inside You" follows it on the CD, and after a slow build of an opening, it unleashes into a fast and heavy attack with nice orchestral-ish keyboard work in the background! Bob's growling is more consistent in the verses, and there's a great sing along quality with the chorus! Greg's drumming is on fire here, and the bass and guitar work is almost relentlessly heavy, with a great guitar solo late, though the song ended too soon after it. Another top notch track on this album, the guys have their epic brutality down really well here, but again, I wish the track was a bit longer!

Fourth on "End of Existence" is "Crying Tomorrow", which opens very softly with some interesting effects and minimal drumming before slowly building in intensity. Bob's singing is the softest and cleanest we've heard yet, and he shows his range well in the verses, while guest singer Rachel Kiger adds some nice backing work. Steve's guitar work is solid as usual, but it almost seems out of place with the song's pacing. Craig's keyboard parts flow well though, and the last minute of the song definitely picks up with some solid growling, though the musical pacing never really builds to match it. I'd also like to have heard more of Rachel's vocals here, and I imagine that if she and Bob traded off on vocals, it'd be even more original and unique on the album. This is a good song for sure, but some individual performances are heavier than the song probably needs.

That's followed by "12.21.12", which relates to the Mayan apocalypse theories this December. A slower yet pretty heavy start for this song leads into some aggressive growling and nice guitar & keyboard melodies, though the vocal intensity doesn't really flow with the music as well as it could. Considering the lyrical content, this song needs a faster and heavier pace, and a lot less repetition in both the lyrics & melodies. For a 4:47 runtime, the lack of variance is all too noticeable, and even a short guitar solo would have helped. It's a good and intense song, but as it stands, it should have been cut in half to avoid redundancy. Note that Bob later did a solo cover of this song which you can stream at this location, but the backing music isn't as pronounced or heavy as on the original version. Sixth is "Taken", which answers my calls for a faster and heavier sound from the ger-go, and with some awesome guitar riffing to boot! Bob's singing is mostly fitting for the song's mood, and there's another nice sing-along chorus here, but the backing instrumentation does sound oddly upbeat at times, which contrasts with the heavy vocals. Plus, Steve's first guitar solo is too short and the second shouldn't be relegated to fading out at the very end, it was starting off well! Still, this is another high quality track on this album, and it answers some previous questions well with it's brutality!

Next is "In The Distance", which starts in an epic ballad-like fashion with proficiently played music and a quieter tone, which Bob matches well in the vocal department, and I like the string instrument-esque backing music in the verses! The second verse picks up a bit in aggression without losing it's softer vibe, though the lack of chorus vocals is odd, and doesn't help the song's flow. The music is good, especially for Greg Giles' drumming, and the softer quieter ending helps the song ease out without losing the original vibe! That said, it's a solid softer track that death growling haters can appreciate more, but the lack of chorus vocals is still really strange. The softer vibe continues into track #8, "Deathbed", which is also the album's shortest song. Primarily based around Bob and Steve musically, the song has really nice guitar work, but the vocals almost sound over the top at points, and the song probably could be better served with a more reserved vocal style. There isn't a whole lot to say about "Deathbed", as it mostly keeps the same tone and melody throughout, which is nice and intricate at points, and for what it is, it works really well, I just think Bob should have toned things down a bit vocally.

The heaviness returns on the next song "Arise", which has a catchy guitar intro and some intense work from the entire band, including very solid drumming and excellently fitting vocals in the verses! The chorus singing is too reserved and monotone than the song really deserves though. Musically, End of Existence are on fire, and Steve Giles gets a longer guitar solo, which I welcome readily! It's nice to get another heavier track, but the ending is a bit abrupt. Still, this is a nice and very heavy original, with talent shown all around, but the underwhelming chorus singing doesn't help it out much. Tenth is "Blood On My Hands", which formerly carried anti-Osama Bin Laden subtitles, which is a giveaway to the song's lyrical message. It's an intense and pretty brutal song with fitting vocals around every turn, catchy choruses, and heavy guitar work and drumming! That said, it can be slightly repetitive as it goes along, and there is no guitar solo, but generally, this is a quality addition to the "End of Existence" album, and you can feel a lot of welcome aggression and emotion in this track, which definitely isn't out of place!

Second-last on the album is "Sun Is Gone", which kicks off right away with softer clean singing and a ballad-ish opening, but Bob kicks some growling in quickly as well, building into a brutal chorus with a slow heavy pace! The verses are a complete contrast from the choruses, but they at least flow well, and it's never terribly repetitive. The spoken word section late is a bit over the top, and a guitar solo would have really helped this track in terms of variance, but the contrasting softness and heavy choruses work well and compliment each other better than on some earlier songs, and it's another entertaining track on this CD! The album closes with "Where I'll Stay" (formerly subtitled "...On A Mountain"), which opens with a nice softer beat and solid clean vocals, and the backing effects create a different mood that works for the material! The song is too energetic to be a ballad, but not very heavy either, but it has a unique feel that works and fits the lyrics nicely! It's not my ideal pick to close the album though, as I'd have rather have ended it with a heavier original or their instrumental named "Ending" that didn't make the cut for this CD. Still, "Where I'll Stay" is a unique addition to "End of Existence" that shows their diversity as a band well!

So, what's my final assessment on End of Existence's debut CD? Well, it's definitely an entertaining and heavy mix of original songs that suit their talents well! One might be tempted to compare this to Integrated System of Machines' only album "Apocalyptic Vision", which Bob Helsten & Craig Harrison performed on, but End of Existence has arguably expanded on that greatly since in musical and production quality! Bob's vocals will definitely be missed in E.O.E., as he maneuvered well between brutal death growling and uniqely diverse clean vocals, so he definitely has big shoes to fill! Steve Giles' guitar work was generally excellent, as was his iPad use (possibly a first for an album we've reviewed), and Greg Giles' drumming was fast, varied, and set the tone well from start to finish! Definitely made up for his scattered appearances on Theatre of Night's album. Bryan's bass work was solid and proficient, and Craig's keyboard use tended to add a lot of atmosphere and ambiance to their material! Once a new singer is secured, the band should be completely ready for live shows, if their performance in studio is any indication, as they do sound like a band with great chemistry and talent, especially on songs like "Recurring Dreams", "Inside You", and "Blood On My Hands"!

This isn't a perfect album though, but no album is. Some of Bob's clean singing could be over the top, and his vocal intensity sometimes was a mismatch with the music. Steve needed more and longer guitar solo time, the production sometimes overrode Bryan's bass playing, and though this wasn't a recurring problem, the keyboard was completely too loud on "The Elements". A few tracks also had weird endings or vocal absences (like "In The Distance"), and on songs like "12.21.12", there was too much repetition than was needed. However, the sum is greater than the parts, and if this will indeed be the only album under the End of Existence name, it's definitely a high quality release that suits their talents! A diverse mix of death & epic metal awaits any listener or fan of this talented quintet, and if you're a fan of the members' other bands and the genres they play, you'll definitely enjoy "End of Existence", so pick it up A.S.A.P.!

I hope you guys liked this month's CD review! So, what's getting reviewed for May 2012? I'm not entirely sure. It was nice having the last two months planned out due to new releases, but none have a firm expected release yet for next month, if any. I will confirm that our next review will not be Foothill Road's live CD or of anything by Sykotyk Rampage or Woods of Ypres, as it's too soon from our last reviews of theirs. The former two are summer possibilities though, and I hope to review "Woods III" in the fall if there's a clear month. Anything else either has no firm release date or has a release in limbo at best, and if an archive review is next, it could be anything from Aftersight or Candle Hour to Detroit or The Harsh Heads, or something completely different (just going by heavier unreviewed albums I have access to at the moment.) Time will tell though, so stay tuned for updates on our potential next album review as the month rolls along, and stay tuned for a new news post tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (As It Stands), Hoist The Sails Updates, And New Videos

In what may be the last news post of the month (I stress "may"), we've got some notable news and notes to share with you guys today! We have new videos from a pair of local hard rock artists, the latest news from a rising Sault Michigan metal band, and a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for later this week, so here's what you need to know!

How'd you guys like an outdoor metal show in Sault Ontario for a change? Bear Hunters/Borderline Divine guitarist Mitch Sirie is promoting a metal show at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion THIS FRIDAY in cooperation with The Arts Council of Sault Ste. Marie and National Youth Arts Week, and though complete details aren't announced yet, the band lineup is now public! This show is slated to be headlined by local hardcore quintet As It Stands, with a local death metal three-for-all opening the festivities, including the aforementioned Bear Hunters, crust/grime standouts Shit Liver, and deathcore quartet The Valentine's Day Massacre, which adds to a solid lineup of local metal talent! This will mark most of the bands' first local concert sets since the Humane Society Battle of the Bands last weekend, but it will be Shit Liver's first show since the Ypres Metal Fest on April 7th. Plus, this is most bands' Roberta Bondar Pavilion debut (As It Stands aside), and it'll definitely be interesting to see metal rock the tent downtown for a change! Full details will be announced tomorrow when everything is finalized, but a 4:00 PM start time is tentatively being aimed for, and I can't see this not being all ages. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page!

Mitch has been outdoing himself in recent days trying to bring local metal bands to more public and open areas (including his Rotaryfest campaign), and with hopes to make this just the first of many outdoor metal shows in the area, fingers crossed that this Friday concert event is a huge hit! Stay tuned for more official updates as they roll in, and also click here for more news and events for National Youth Arts Week this week!

Next up, here's the newest updates from newer Sault Michigan metal band Hoist The Sails, and first, it appears they have quietly parted ways with bassist Joe Niemi. A reason for his departure has not been announced, but he was removed from their lineup on their Facebook page at some point within the last two months. Disappointing, but Joe has talent, and hopefully he joins a new band soon! From what I can tell, he has yet to be replaced, but I'll let you guys know if anything is announced on that front. Aside from that, recent news has been sparse, but a new video has been uploaded onto Facebook indicating that they're still alive. Uploaded by singer Lucas Falkowski, it features guitarist Mitch Goetz showing us the band's recording area, where the other band members were at the time of filming, and a 22 second sample of a new original song is also previewed near the end of the 83 second long video. Click here to check it out! Hoist The Sails still sound like a very talented and promising new band, but hopefully updates pick up more than they have been in recent months, cause they definitely are off to a solid start! Check the above links for more, and stay tuned for more updates on Hoist the Sails' new material and bassist situation!

We'll close this post with new videos, starting with the latest song and music video from local electronic hard rock project Candle Hour! Well, this is more specifically credited to "Hugh Stephens, otherwise known as Candle Hour", but it's for sale and posted on Candle Hour's online pages, so I'll still count it as a band track. Continuing with the more downbeat tone from Hugh's last song "Azetta", this new recording (entitled "Missing Moment") is inspired by the idea that we've all lost moments in our lives that we wish we could relive. The song itself is an ambient orchestral instrumental with some piano accompaniment, and while it's not as heavy as some of Candle Hour's other songs, it is well performed! You can officially buy it at this location, but Hugh also uploaded it with a video of slowed down fireworks in reverse onto the band's YouTube channel on Friday, and the visuals add to the mood! Also note that before he posted this video, he deleted his most popular video from his channel, which was for Candle Hour's original song "March to the End". I don't know why he deleted it, but it's disappointing, especially as it was my favourite of his YouTube uploads for music quality! You can still see the video on other websites, but for now, check out "Missing Moment" below!

And finally, here's the latest solo video from ApocalyptiCDistroyeR frontman Jesse Middaugh! It's a "rough thought" towards a new original song that he's planning to use in his "new project". Details on that weren't elaborated on, but judging by the repeated use of the ApocalyptiCDistroyeR name in the video tags, it might just be a new version of that band. Uploaded to the band's YouTube channel on Thursday, it's reportedly planned to be a soft & catchy original, and he's going to make the final version less repetitive than in the video. It sounds alright, but you can tell it needs more variance and leads. Check Jesse's new video out below, and maybe he'll post some new heavier material sooner or later too!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for our review of End of Existence's debut album by TOMORROW! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A New Local Band, The Quest For Metal At Rotaryfest, And More!!

Our busiest month since August continues today with this latest post at The Sault Metal Scene, and for this latest batch of news, we have a brand new local band, news on a recent campaign towards a local festival that's gaining a lot of steam, and some more assorted stories, so here's what you need to know!

We've got a new local hard rock band to talk about today at the SMS, and their name is Acention! Their online pages were only started this month, but they're already showing some promise thanks to their lineup and sound descriptions. Acention's current lineup includes singer Danielle Wierzbicki, guitarists Dalton Boissineau (formerly of These Sins of Time) and Josh Willet, former Suffacation bassist Konar Zayet, and Cherry Crush drummer Johnny Amendola, who you may remember from a campaign earlier this year to see him join a local metal band. Notably, Acention's Facebook page still lists an earlier lineup for the band, which featured Dalton & Josh alongside Caleb, Mikey, and Cayne Cachagee (I think they're brothers), and though I know Mikey was once on bass in 20 Pack of Marshmallows, full older lineup positions weren't listed. Acention has been together since October 2011, and their Facebook group says that their current lineup does covers from bands like Papa Roach, Evanescence, and Three Days Grace, with plans to write originals and start gigging this summer. Become a fan or group member at the above links for current updates!

I don't know a whole lot on Acention, but there's promise there! Johnny's a very talented young drummer, I know Danielle from high school and she has a good singing voice, and I haven't heard anything negative about the members of this new band! It'll also be nice to see another heavier local band with a female singer, which is scarce on the Sault Ontario side of things right now (aside from Turner Up & the increasingly inactive Sativa Rose.) Stay tuned for more from Acention as it rolls in, and they're now in our band listings on your left!

Next up, this is related to a campaign that has been all over many local metalheads' Facebook news feeds in the last while. On Thursday, Bear Hunters/Borderline Divine guitarist Mitch Sirie launched a Facebook group named "Bring Metal to the Rotary Fest Main Stage 2012!", which is about what the title implies. Mitch was hoping to instigate an effort to add metal bands to our local summer festival's main concert stage at Clergue Park over the July 19th weekend, which generally features mostly local cover bands, typically ones who frequent local bars on weekends. While bands like Turner Up & That's Chester have been seen in recent years, the aim was to get even heavier bands with original material to be featured equally with those of other genres, especially with the progression of the local metal scene in recent years. Mitch has since heard back from Rotaryfest higher-ups that the main stage is for cover bands only, but his influence and efforts may help lead to a metal element on the Tenaris Second Stage outside of The Grand Theater on Queen Street East. Though that stage has generally been focused around local & out of town indie rock bands, they're more open to original material and metal genres, and despite no heavier acts last year, bands like Garden of Bedlam, Gates of Winter, and Stillbroke have rocked the Second Stage in the past, so it's certainly not taboo there.

If all goes according to current plan, Mitch is hoping to get some booking control over a proposed third day of the Tenaris Second Stage at Rotaryfest this year, which would see bands who apply for consideration this year (applications should start on Monday) be considered on a more metal-friendly basis. If this doesn't fly, Mitch and related contributors would be looking into hosting some type of outdoor metal event concurrently with Rotaryfest, but nothing is final at present. Check the above links for the recent discussions! I'm all for increased metal integration this year, as compared to other local music festivals, metal and hard rock is definitely a lesser focus at Rotaryfest. If I booked the main stage, I'd integrate all genres and try and focus on original material, but I understand why they have the bands they do each year. The bands they get are unoffensive, family friendly, and play familiar music that a diverse local audience can enjoy. Plus, Rotaryfest is a family festival in many respects, and some people won't want to hear death growling or expose their young children to it. I'd still prefer a wider range of bands for genres, ages, and levels of original material, but what Rotaryfest is doing at Clergue Park works for what they do, and I'm sure they feel that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Maybe we'll at least get Caveman Morrison this year though?

The Second Stage is definitely an easier nut to crack, as they generally have supported original & heavier material more, but the dependence on indie rock & numerous out of town bands has turned off some metalheads that I know. I find that the organizers of the Second Stage do a great job for talent that they book (local or otherwise), but even if a full day can't be secured for metal/punk, just seeing more than just one heavier band on a day's lineup would be welcome. I'm certainly not the type to try and force metal on the unwilling, but if we could get a cross section of the best of every genre, everyone would be happy, and hopefully some steps can be taken down that road! Stay tuned on Monday (if all goes according to plan) for applications to play at this year's Rotaryfest, as the odds may be better than ever that your band gets on the bill!

And finally, here's three assorted shorter stories from the last little while, and as always, these are in alphabetical order by event or artist name:
  • A review of April 5th's David Gold memorial concert/"Woods V" CD release party in Toronto has been posted online by Jonathan Millard-Smith of, so click here to check it out! Though I don't agree with his questioning of Kittie justifying why they were there (it may be how they grieved and got through it all), it's a nice and concise review of the night's proceedings, with solid photos by Adam Wills, so give it a read!
  • I've moved Skull After Betrayal frontman Mike Vincent's solo project to our inactive band links due to a year's inactivity. Mike last updated his solo Reverbnation page last April with some original song postings, but I think he's mostly been focusing on band work since. Hopefully he revisits his solo work down the road, but stay tuned for updates from Mike's band projects!
  • The Posted Around concert poster exhibition at the Circle of Creative Arts building near The Grand Theater has been extended until May 7th (one week from Monday) due to public interest, which is awesome to hear! Go check it out A.S.A.P. to see some awesome local concert posters and buy prints of them for as low as $5!
That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news and videos soon, plus our review of End of Existence's debut album! Thanks everyone!

Friday, April 27, 2012

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Tribune), The Return Of State Of Misery, And New Videos!!

The news keeps coming in, so today's news post is packed with stories, including a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for next month, a confirmed band reunion, new songs from Half A Man, and this week's classic video, so read on below for what you need to know, and check out this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile on Winter of Silence in the post below this one!

A big metal concert has been announced for May 13th, in what is Dismembertainment's first concert since the Ypres Metal Fest and second of 2012! This show will feature two notable band returns after long live hiatuses, but this Sunday nighter at The Canadian Nightclub will be headlined by Vancouver death/thrash quintet Tribune! You may remember them as the headliners of the 31st Rosie metal night in September, and their local return 8 months later should bring some brutal face melting metal to The Canadian and local metalheads! Very aggressive mix of genres, you won't wanna miss them next month! There will be two local opening bands, including the long awaited return of the local hard rock band Borderline Divine, who'll be playing their first show since last year's name change from Stillbroke on May 13th! Also debuting their current lineup and originals for this show, it'll be good to see these guys for the first time in over 2 years next month, especially following the cancellation of the Music Mayhem show they were gonna be in a few weeks back! The other local opening band is the reunited State of Misery, but we'll get to them in a second, as there's more new stuff to say on their front.

Doors open at 9:00 PM for this show, there'll be a $7 cover charge (no word on advance tickets yet), and like the Ypres Metal Fest, it will be an ALL AGES concert! For more details, visit the official Facebook event page! This sounds like a great concert with lots of talent and some big returns, so definitely check out all the bands and circle this show on your calendars! I definitely don't wanna miss it!

As for State of Misery, the hints on their Facebook group are true, as the local death metal band have officially reunited for a second time! You'll no doubt remember them fondly from their initial 7 month run from November 2010 to May 2011, but their opening slot at the May 13th Tribune concert will mark both their Canadian Nightclub debut and their first live concert in over one year! According to the band's brand new Facebook page (their old one was deleted late last year during their second breakup), the original State of Misery lineup has reunited for their current incarnation, including The Valentine's Day Massacre's Steve Rhodes on vocals, Social Suicide's Ray Cowan on guitar, Kevin D'Orazio back on the bass, and Nick Kainula on drums. Ex-bassist Devon Overman (who played with the band last spring and during their brief late-2011 reunion) does not appear to be back in the fold, though I'm not sure why he's not back. It's about time that State of Misery reunited (again), as they were one of the fastest rising local metal bands in early 2011, and their breakups were disappointing for sure! Time will tell how far State of Misery go in this third incarnation, but hopefully they pick up where they left off last May, so go see them next month at The Canadian!

Also in the news, Brimley metal quartet Half A Man have kept busy with two new original song uploads onto their YouTube channel! One is a full version of their new original song "What If", though it's not from the studio copy that the chorus sample came from on Sunday, instead being a live version that they recently recorded and uploaded yesterday. It's very promising and has a Black Label Society vibe, though Erik Rintamaki's vocals are extremely quiet in the mix, so turn it up to get the full onslaught. In case this is going on their debut EP, I'll hold full opinions on it for now, but click here to check it out! Embedded below though is the newest of yesterday's uploads, that being another new original named "Reborn"! Like "What If", it features Erik on vocals, and it appears to be a live recording with the same or similar equipment, but it has a bit of a faster pace with some good aggression! Again, I'll hold opinions until it gets a proper release, but Half A Man's promise continues, so check out the newest songs (and more) at the above links, with "Reborn" below!

And finally, here's THIS week's classic video! We made up last week's lost ground, but what video are we posting to represent this week? Given the extremely light concert weekend for metal shows, I'm dipping into the archives again, and given their mathematical tie at the Humane Society battle, it made sense to focus on As It Stands this week out of fairness to the results! This comes from the prominent local hardcore quintet's headlining show at The Coach & Horses in Windsor on March 26th, 2011, from which we've already featured a video of them playing "Conception" in this series last month. This time however, it's of As It Stands playing their original song "One Less Than Wayne Gretzky", and like the "Conception" video, it was filmed by attendee Jo-Ann Chayka and posted to Facebook afterwards. The same video quality issues prevail here, as it sounds pretty good, but the interior lighting makes the entire video look extremely red and dark, which is hard to correct using YouTube's video edit tools. It's a solid video though of an entertaining original you don't hear as much in As It Stands' recent setlists, so it's definitely worth checking out! The original video can be seen at

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED!! All credit for this video goes to As It Stands and Jo-Ann, I'm just trying to share it with a wider audience like it deserves! This is another good performance from one of the area's best metal bands (video quality notwithstanding), so check out this video of As It Stands in Windsor last year below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes shortly, along with our review of End of Existence's debut album by the end of the month! Thanks everyone!

Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile: Winter Of Silence

It's time to profile our 35th band in our Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile Series! For the first time in 10 months (and apologies for the day's delay), we're looking at a solo project featuring a past or present Sault Ste. Marie resident, and like in previous months, we'll look at this band's local ties, material, bio, and information so you guys can get caught up on this latest profiled band! So, what should you know? Read on below, and e-mail me if there's anything incorrect or missing! (Updated on November 26th, 2014)
Winter of Silence (Ontario)

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

Ryan DeWinter (all instruments)
"Kold" (instruments)

Official website:
Official MySpace page:
Official BandCamp page:

Local Info: The leader of Winter Silence is musician Ryan DeWinter, who was a recent student at Sault College! I don't know Ryan personally, so I don't know a whole lot about his local ties, but he still actively works in musical projects, including a newer Nordic black metal project named Brynhildr. As well, I've found old Southern Ontario metal bands like Cimmarian and Coprophilism that Ryan was a part of in the past, but those aren't otherwise linked to his current material. Huge thanks to Mike Boychuk for letting me know about Ryan's local connections and music!

Band Bio: Active from at least February 2010-May 2012, Winter of Silence was a down tempo black metal band led by Ryan DeWinter. Though visibly only an in-studio project, they have released one EP in 2010 named "The Stars of Existence Have Faded" on various formats through Self Mutilation Services. They briefly enlisted San Diego musician Kold (who worked with Ryan on the project Lost Inside) as a second band member last year as well, though that was short lived. Following a brief breakup in late 2010, Winter of Silence worked on a planned new album named "A Ga Blandt De Hellige Trærne" through Razed Soul Productions, before breaking up for good and being succeeded by Brynhildr this spring. There isn't a lot of posted material to check out from Winter of Silence, but the songs from their EP are definitely an interesting take on black metal! Some sites described it as "depressive", and there definitely is a slower and darker vibe to their songs, and a very deliberate pacing. The vocals are used more minimally than other similar bands, but when Ryan does unleash some black metal singing, they're used to great effect, and he has the right voice for the material! For casual listeners, Winter of Silence may be tough to get into, but Ryan is a talented multi-instrumentalist, and if you like slower & more downbeat black metal, Winter of Silence may be what you're looking for!

In terms of media, there are limited copies of Winter of Silence's debut EP available to purchase at this location for $7, so act quickly before they're all sold! You can also purchase some of the EP (though not all of it, oddly) online by clicking here. Their material can also be freely obtained on other websites, though I recommend Ryan's YouTube channel, which features two songs from "The Stars of Existence Have Faded", an EP ad, and a newer song, among other uploads! Here's their newer track "Nar... Vi Grat Ved Elvebredden", and hopefully their other older material keeps up the trend!

I hope you guys liked this month's profile! Next month, we'll be taking a look at Peterborough progressive hard rock quintet Azriahl in this series, as their guitarist is former Sault Ontario resident Paul Tikkanen! This should be an interesting post, so look out for it back on our normal schedule on May 26th! That's all for now, but stay tuned later tonight for a new show, a band reunion, and new videos! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Frightlight), Fifth Way Concert Preview, And LAST Week's Classic Video!!

Here's one more news post before we upload this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile, so here's what's on tap! Today, we've got a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (finally restoring a metal show to the Sault Ontario concert listings), a preview for the weekend's only heavier show (and related events), and last week's classic video, so here's what you need to know!

Frightlight have announced their next concert, and it will see their return to The Roosevelt Hotel next month! The popular horror punk/metal quintet will rock The Rosie on May 10th as openers for Toronto alternative/punk standouts Die Mannequin & Dearly Beloved! Die Mannequin in particular have made some big waves in recent years with their energetic female-fronted punk sounds, while Dearly Beloved have some interesting indie & punk mix sounds in their repetoire, so you'll wanna stick around for these bands, even if the show's not entirely metal! For Frightlight, this will be their first Rosie appearance since opening for The Dayglo Abortions last June, and it should be their first gig with their full current lineup in over 6 months, so this is a long time coming in both respects! It will be a 19+ show with a $10 ticket price, with advance tickets going on sale in the next couple of days, and a 10:00 PM start time is expected. At least one other local band is planned to be added to the lineup of this show, but more details are forthcoming. For more details, check the above links and the Facebook event page! It's always fun to see a stacked punk concert roll through the area, and with some metal touches, it'll be a can't miss show, so definitely keep Die Mannequin & Frightlight in mind come May 10th!

Also, I'll note that this show is taking place on a Thursday, so is it officially the 44th Roosevelt Hotel metal night? The metal nights' Facebook page hasn't confirmed it as such yet, and advance tickets at these shows aren't common, but May 10th is next on the "every four weeks" schedule that they'd been following this year (counting the skipped April 12th date.) Plus, the metal nights haven't been 100% metal exclusive, hosting acts like RedD Monkey, The Endprogram, and The Nailheads last year. It could very well be the next in the series, but even if it's just coincidentally timed, it'll be a great show, so circle May 10th on your calendars!

Next up, it's time for a concert preview in an otherwise light weekend in the local metal scene, but what we're getting is on a big scale, so here's what you should know! After 21 months away from the local stage, Detroit hard rockers Fifth Way are finally coming back to Sault Michigan on Saturday night for another public concert! Like their high profile 2010 sets opening for Tesla and Three Doors Down at Kewadin Casino, the band featuring Rudyard native Zak Stelmaszek will be opening for another major headlining band, that being platinum-selling Arizona pop rock band The Gin Blossoms! Though not metal, their 1990s hits like "Hey Jealousy" and "Follow You Down" will be sure to bring back great memories and entertain the masses at The Dreammaker's Theater on Saturday night! Notably, Fifth Way will also be debuting new bassist & drummer Mike McMann & Chris Castro for their local fans this weekend. Before they rock The Dreammaker's Theater though, Fifth Way will be playing a special private acoustic gig at Zak's alma mater Lake Superior State University for engineering alumni (click here for more details), and then (according to the Soo Evening News) they'll be in studio with Rock 101 tomorrow morning with Scott Cook & Brian Davie for an unplugged performance & interview, so tune in to 101.3 FM tomorrow morning at around 8:00 AM to check that out!

Tickets for their set opening for The Gin Blossoms on Saturday will be $32.50, which isn't bad for a Dreammaker's Theater show, especially if you like both acts! Tickets are still available from the 8th row and back, so click here to buy some online, or call 1-800-KEWADIN, or visit the Kewadin box office in person. It should be an all ages event, and a 7:00 PM start time is listed. Check the above links for more details! It's about time that Fifth Way come back to the area, and hopefully all of their sets go off without a hitch! They're a very talented and hard hitting band, and even though the Gin Blossoms show isn't a 100% fit for a band of their intensity, keep it in mind for your weekend plans! For a preview, here's Fifth Way playing an unplugged version of their song "Lose Control" in Detroit last year!

And finally, you may have noticed that we didn't post a weekly classic video on YouTube last week. I apologize for that, as I intentionally planned to hold it off until after the Humane Society Battle of the Bands to avoid a bias for any of the performers. My plan was to upload a video of or with members of the winning band, but it completely slipped my mind last weekend, so now it's time to catch up, as we've got a classic video of battle winners Late & Loud to share! Most of their videos are on YouTube by now, but one that isn't comes from one of their first gigs circa November 2010, where they played an original song named "Down Like This" at what appears to be Sault College's old concert venue The Outback! Featuring drummer Josh Hatherley and singer/guitarist Jonathan Tiberi swapping roles, this is a more acoustically driven composition, and Josh shows solid songwriting skills on this one, but it's not a frequent track in their more recent setlists. It's a solid different sound though, and it never hurts to show some diversity! Note that other videos from this set (including a Witchcraft cover and an original named "Dark Sunrise") are no longer on the band's Facebook page, but good thing this song still is, as it deserves an audience!

Uploaded onto Facebook on November 22nd, 2010, you can view the original video at, which is of pretty good quality. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED!! All credit for this video goes to Late & Loud and the original filmer, I'm just trying to share this performance with wider audience like it deserves! It's a nice video, and hopefully we'll hear this song live again soon, so check out Late & Loud playing "Down Like This" in 2010 below, and stay tuned for THIS week's classic video soon!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for our Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile on Winter of Silence TOMORROW, and tune in to Rock 101 tomorrow morning for Fifth Way live on "Scott & Brian In The Morning"! Thanks everyone!

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Nudge), LemmaFest Lineup News, And More From Theatre Of Night!!

Sault Michigan's had a lot of news lately, and that trend continues this morning with this post full of news and notes from across the river! We've got the latest news from a local metal project, all of the latest details (including an early lineup) for a major upcoming concert festival, and leading things off, some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, so here's what you need to know!

Marquette hard rock quartet Nudge are finally coming back to Sault Michigan for a pair of concerts next weekend! These talented local favourites will return to The Satisfied Frog for their first local shows in almost six months on May 4th and 5th, in what should be a solid weekend of hard rocking covers! Notably, these shows will be Nudge's first local stops since drummer Eric Schlumpf left the band in December, having been twice replaced since then, so welcome new drummer Jed Thibeault to the Nudge fold next weekend! As well, the band will have some new merchandise for sale, and frontman Danzo McCracken will bring his acoustic solo concert back to The Frog tomorrow night as well, so keep that in mind! Admission should be free for both of next weekend's shows, you must be 21 to attend either, and there'll be 10:00 PM start times. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page! Nudge were almost last seen in February at The Frog, but those dates were later moved to Gladstone, so if you've been missing Nudge's prolific and entertaining hard rock covers, you know when and where to be! They'll be sure to rock the house and impress their local fanbase, so circle the return of Nudge on your calendars if you're across the river!

Next up, the lineup for this year's second annual LemmaFest has been announced! The festival in memory of late Dondee Lanes employee Michael Lemma now has a full lineup set for the July 23rd festival outside of the Dondee, and though I'm sure it's subject to change (last year's changed a lot beforehand), there's a solid lineup of veterans from last year and some new bands and talent, so here's who to look out for on the current schedule! The festival will open at 12:00 PM with Brimley metal quartet Half A Man in their first live concert appearance in 13 months, and their first with their current lineup! They were tentatively lined up for last year's event at one point, but with a hard hitting metal sound a Lemma tribute song in their setlist, they'll be the perfect band to open LemmaFest on June 23rd! They'll be followed by the new local acoustic quartet The London Gentlemen at 1:30 PM, who are comprised of Fallen Heroes' members Mike Russo & Steve Sivret on vocals & guitar and Trail's End bandmates Kyle Beaumont & Jake LaLonde on bass & drums. You may recognize Mike & Steve alone from their set with Fallen Heroes at last year's LemmaFest, but the presence of a fuller lineup (and Nixxon Dixxon alumni) shouldn't indicate a radically different sound from Fallen Heroes, so expect some proficient indie rock covers from these guys!

Four straight bands from last year's LemmaFest will follow The London Gentlemen on June 23rd, those being sporadically seen local metal trio Scofflaw at 3:00 PM, local hard rock quartet Powerslug (who were known as River Witch last year) at 4:30 PM, the page and media-less rock band known as Bucksaw (featuring Blind Baby alum Bill Ogston) at 6:00 PM, and Munising hardcore metal quintet Infathom (this year's only band from outside the Sault Michigan area) at 7:30 PM. It's great to see these bands back for more LemmaFest action this year, and in most cases, it's been many months since they've played a publically announced concert locally so this is as good a time as any for them to rock the area! The outdoor portion will end with new local cover rock quartet Chump Change (fronted by 2PumpChump's Terry Talentino from last year's LemmaFest) at 9:00 PM, while one more band from last year (classic rock cover trio The Hixx) will be on at the exact same time inside the Dondee to close out the night. Remember that this lineup is subject to change, and bands & times could change for varying reasons, so stay tuned to LemmaFest pages and the SMS for updates, and for more details, check out the above links and the brand new Facebook event page!

This sounds like a very solid lineup of familiar and new bands from the area, and if you attended last year's LemmaFest, it should be just as entertaining! Note that the band total is 8 rather than 10 from last year, but this does likely give each band slightly longer sets, so that works out! Also, for trivia sake, note that 4 musicians (Barney Gravelle, Ivan Schliska, Dillion Semasky, and Jason VanLuven) are all in two of the bands this year, if returning band lineups are the same, which is awesome to see their hard work for in Mike's memory! There will be food, drink specials, and raffles at this year's event, and though official sources haven't confirmed age limits or admission costs yet, note that last year's LemmaFest was all ages with $10 admission. Also, a fundraising event/band camp will be held on May 29th at the Taco Bell in Sault Michigan with part of the proceeds going to LemmaFest and the cause, so click here for info on that evening's event! This is all shaping up well for this year's event for sure, so stay tuned for more updates as they roll in, and go honour Mike Lemma's memory with some great music on June 23rd at the Dondee!

And finally, here's some more recent updates from local classical metal band Theatre of Night! First off, they have officially confirmed that German musician Gaby Koss is their new singer for the project, and she'll be featured in a re-release of their debut album "Christmas Night" later this year, along with an additional release projected to come out by early next year. I'm not overly familiar with her work, but she has experience in both opera and metal settings, and she has a beautiful voice for sure, so click here to hear some of her past work! Among other recent news: A new instrumental song named "Dreams of Winter Night" was posted onto the band's Reverbnation page, which has a nice epic orchestral feel, and I recently heard from keyboardist Craig Harrison that their planned American patriotic-themed album is only planned to be finished in May, not released that quickly. No matter what though, I'm anticipating their next work, as they're definitely a unique band in the local scene, and I'm a sucker for orchestral influences in metal, so fingers crossed more updated and material come out soon! Check the above links for more, and stay tuned hopefully by this weekend for my review of End of Existence's debut album!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for weekend concert previews later tonight, and our (delayed) Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile TOMORROW! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Theatre Of Night News, New Sault Michigan Audio Tracks, And More!!

Well guys, if you've heard some rumours or informal word regarding some big metal concerts and band returns next month, then so have I, but I'm waiting for official promoter or venue confirmation before plugging them here. Until then, we've got a new news post featuring news from a prominent Sault Michigan metal act, new audio recordings from a pair of bands across the river, and some assorted other recent stories, so here's what you need to know!

In an e-mail to fans and subscribers of theirs on Reverbnation on Monday, Theatre of Night keyboardist Craig Harrison announced that the Sault Michigan classical metal trio is planning to release a new album by the end of next month! Apparently, this will be a concept album (like their debut "Christmas Night"), only this album will have a heavy patriotic theme with renditions of American standards like "Battle Hymn of the Republic". Though not completed yet, the band is hoping to release the album with some sponsorship that will allow free copies to be distributed to the troops and combat veterans, which would be awesome if it went through! In another recent posting, the band also indicated that they'll be working with a German musician named Gaby Koss "very soon", but the extent of that partnership is not yet known. This all sounds good to me, and it sounds like there's some great plans for the future from Theatre of Night! If this American patriotic-themed album comes out next month on schedule, I'll hopefully make it next month's CD review (our third from a band with Craig and the Giles brothers in 7 months), but time will tell! Check out lots more from Theatre of Night at the above links!

Next up, here's a pair of Sault Michigan audio recordings, though both are fairly quick, so don't let them skip by! First is a short clip of the chorus from Brimley metal quartet Half A Man's brand new song "What If", as uploaded onto the band's YouTube channel on Sunday. Featuring guitarist Erik Rintamaki on vocals (as their debut EP will have), this doesn't tell us a whole lot about the full song, and it's not complete in terms of band members, but he seems to be singing well to match the song's intensity, and I definitely wanna hear the full track! Check out this new Half A Man sample below, and stay tuned for more updates from them!

The other new sample is even shorter, but it actually might be the full song?! Strongs metal trio Swampghas uploaded this 17 second video onto the Werehold Records YouTube channel yesterday, but when you take out the Werehold logo, song title, and dead space, you get only about 4 second of music! That said, the track (entitled "If I Didn't Know Any Better, I'd Say You Were Trying to Kill Me") sounds complete rather than a short clip, so maybe it's an allusion to extremely short songs like "You Suffer" by Napalm Death? I dunno, but the 4 seconds we get sound promising! Check out Swampghas' new song (though short, it may be) below!

And finally for today, here's three assorted shorter stories from the last little while, and as always, these are in alphabetical order by band name:
  • Though their next local concert isn't known yet, Kinross hard rock quartet Banned are hitting the road for concert dates in Hessel & Gould City, Michigan next month, as per their Facebook page! For reference, the Hessel show on May 12th is closer than the Gould City show the following week, being only about 50 minutes from here compared to 90. Still, check out Banned's latest "jobs" if you can!
  • Local horror punk/metal quintet Frightlight have released their first CD for free download via torrent website The Pirate Bay! Their October 2010 live EP "It's Alive" from their earlier quartet lineup can be downloaded for free at this location, though download speed is pending on if seeders of the album are seeding it at that time. It's an official free release from the band, so give it a download if you wanna!
  • In case you missed it, local metal quartet Garden of Bedlam got some airplay across Ontario on CBC Radio One on Sunday! The Rad Zone's Paul Muncaster called in to their music series "Bandwidth" towards their International Record Store Day broadcast, where he briefly plugged The Rad Zone and requested "New Rain" for airplay! Nice feature for sure, though shorter than some other call-ins on the broadcast, but it's awesome to see CBC continue to support Canadian music!
That's all for now, but stay tuned for our next Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile tomorrow and much more news shortly! Thanks everyone!

Monday, April 23, 2012

YouTube Channel Profile Series: genesyco & ElementsOfMadness' Channels

Well guys, we're a day late this month for our latest YouTube Channel Profile (thanks to forgetfulness and my rush to get the Battle of the Bands recap up), but the series isn't stopping, and we've got some quality videos to look at today! In this monthly series where we profile YouTube channels with at least a 50% concentration of local metal-relevant videos, we're profiling two (not one or three) channels for the first time in this series, as the first channel I randomly selected only had two videos, so I needed one more to fill things out. Read on below for all you need to know on these coincidentally Sault Michigan-centric channels! (Updated on August 28th, 2013)
genesyco's Channel (

Owner: YouTube user & likely Sault Michigan resident genesyco (real name unknown. His first name is likely Gene, but that could be a Kiss reference, given his uploaded videos)

Channel Timeline: Launched on January 28th, 2006; Videos posted on July 21st, 2007

Channel Summary: One of a few YouTube channels featuring videos from Kiss' headlining concert at Kewadin Casino on July 20th, 2007, both of the videos posted here were ripped from Donna Hopper's review of the show on SooToday shortly after it was posted, and you can view the original videos at the above links. Despite originally being from an outside source, and not knowing who genesyco is, it's good to see him put these videos on YouTube for a wider audience, as each video has attracted at least 19,000 hits!

Why Should You Watch: Because these are a more convenient source to check out two nice videos from Kiss' show at Kewadin Casino in 2007, and being a notable and well attended concert, there's a definite audience for them! They're also notable for being older SooToday-filmed concert videos, something that they don't do frequently anymore at reviewed shows. Note that genesyco hasn't uploaded a new video since these Kiss videos were posted, but he still actively uses the channel for personal needs.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out:

kiss live 07/20/07: Originally titled "KISS Video Hightlights" on SooToday, this 2:38-long video features a montage of clips from the concert, fans in attendance, merchandise tables, and portions of the opening songs from their set that night. The video quality is pretty good, though I'd have liked to have heard real audio of the fans prior to the actual concert footage, and some clips of the opening bands (Clownsack among them) wouldn't have came amiss. Still, this is a nicely compiled collection of footage from Kiss' first local stop in 2007!

kiss backstage at Sault Ste. Marie 07/20/07: With over 45,000 views, this is by far the most popular of the two genesyco/SooToday videos from the 2007 Kiss concert, and like an earlier video from the old Kewadin Casino YouTube channel, this is from the pre-show ceremony where Kiss received the key to the city of Sault Michigan! Entitled "Exclusive Footage" on SooToday, look out for City Commissioner (and ex-Rock 101 DJ) Ray Bauer hosting the proceedings, and also look out for footage from the meet & greet with Kiss at the end of this solid video that shows Kiss' popularity and influence well!

ElementsOfMadness (

Owner: Elements of Madness guitarist Cody Rosebohm

Channel Timeline: Launched on March 20th, 2011; Only video posted that same day

Channel Summary: This is the official YouTube channel for inactive Sault Michigan hard rock band Elements of Madness, but it did not prove to be actively used for band-related material compared to Cody's personal YouTube channel, which features at least five videos of his solo guitar work, including a second copy of the only video on the actual Elements of Madness channel. Entitled 'Guitar for "Falling"', it's of Cody playing a "work in progress" acoustic riff towards their original song "Falling", and though there's little to go on, it sounds like it could be promising if expanded on! Definitely follow the above links for more band-related videos, and click here for another solo portion of "Falling" from Cody's personal channel!

I hope you guys enjoyed this month's YouTube Channel Profiles, and hopefully we'll be back on time for a May 22nd posting next month! What channel are we looking at next though? Through random selection, I've chosen the YouTube channel of Ashley Traynor, the sister/daughter of Alex & Don Traynor from the Kinross hard rock quartet Banned! She's filmed over a dozen videos of Alex & Don's live concerts (Banned or otherwise) since last year, and this should supply a solid profile next month as our run of Sault Michigan-centric channels continues, so watch out for this profile late next month! That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news shortly! Thanks everyone!

Posted Around Preview, New Videos, And The Return Of State Of Misery?!

Hey guys, I wanted to first apologize for the delays in getting our YouTube Channel Profile up, but it completely slipped my mind while trying to get the Humane Society battle recap up and other related stuff, but I promise it's coming TONIGHT! Until then, here's a new news post featuring a preview of a cool art exhibition this week, a local band's possible return, and some new videos, so here's what you need to know!

Firstly for today, I wanted to preview an art exhibition that you guys should definitely be interested in attending! In cooperation with National Youth Arts Week next week, some of the organizers are hosting an art exhibition named "Posted Around" starting today and until Friday that will showcase local concert posters from the 1980s through last year! Metal concert posters are among those being displayed at the event (including the poster from the 11-band Sewer Swampstravaganja show at The Oddfellows Hall last year), and prints of said posters will be on sale for as little as $5, so if you like any or fondly remember a specific concert, you can own the poster for yourself! I'm not sure of how wide or large of a selection there'll be, but I bet it'll be a great exhibition with lots of memories and talents on display, both in the posters and the bands that played them! The event will be hosted at the Circle of Creative Arts building across from The Grand Theater on Queen Street East, with the grand opening taking place TONIGHT at 7:00 PM, though if you miss it, the exhibition runs until Friday. Admission is free and all ages (to my knowledge), but proceeds from sales of the prints will go to arts programming in Attawapiskat. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page!

I will 100% be there this week to check out "Posted Around", and I will definitely have photos and a recap for you guys this week as well! I wanted to make the grand opening, but my exam schedule doesn't gel well with it, so I hope to be there Tuesday evening, and I wanna buy at least one print to help the cause and support local art and music! I hope to see some of you guys there this week, and hopefully this jogs some memories of the scene as it once was, while introducing old school posters and bands to a new audience! Go check it out if you can, and stay tuned for my coverage of it!

Next up, remember last August when local death metal quintet State of Misery returned to activity after a three month breakup, only to quietly dissolve and delete their Facebook page by the end of last year? Well, it may be deja vu all over again, as recent postings on their Facebook group are hinting that State of Misery may have reunited for a second time. Nothing officially indicating a reunion has been announced, but drummer Nick Kainula posted a status there yesterday that says "big news regarding May 4th!", followed by posting a link a live video from a January 2011 concert. I'm not sure what the allusion to May 4th would indicate, but for reference sake, May 4th is one week from Friday. If they're reuniting, I'm not sure what their lineup will look like (given Steve Rhodes & Ray Cowan's current work in The Valentine's Day Massacre & Social Suicide), but the fact that Facebook is hyping up a date in May must mean something. If I hear anything positive or negative towards a potential State of Misery return, I'll have it here, but keep posted for updates, as their hard hitting death metal originals would surely be welcomed back to the stage if this is indeed another band reunion!

We'll close today's post with some new videos, starting with a new solo performance video from Bear Hunters bassist (and "Best Bassist" winner at the Sault Humane Society Battle of the Bands) Justin Lam! The first solo video he's uploaded to his YouTube channel of him on bass in almost four years, it's a cover of Trivium's "A Grey So Dark", and I like that he plays in the video like he does on stage in terms of presence! He seems to know the song very well, and compared to some other musicians, he doesn't have the backing track at an overpowering volume level. Solid work as expected, so check out Justin's new Trivium cover below, and fingers crossed it isn't another four years before he posts a new bass cover!

Finally, here's another archive audio upload from Flat Stanley/Wishbone drummer Glen Thomas' YouTube channel! Posted last week, this is of one of Glen's early 1990s hard rock bands named J.A.B. (short for "Just Another Band") covering "Rock Candy" by Montrose at an unknown local bar (it was in the Jamestown area), and while this is newly posted, it's one of three J.A.B. videos that Glen has put on YouTube. He originally uploaded tracks of J.A.B. playing an untitled original and a song named "Solar Angel" onto YouTube in November 2009, and all 5 feature Glen on drums alongside vocalist Gigi Micelli, guitarists Gerald McKinnon & Jean Paul, and bassist Dan Jones. The three songs are pretty interesting, and they sound like they had talent way back when! Gigi's singing has that retro melodic feel that flows with the material, Glen's drumming is as great as ever, and the band seems to have good chemistry! I like when Glen posts old audio recordings from his bands, they're a nice glimpse back at the local scene's past, and I can see myself rocking out to J.A.B. 20 years ago if I was of age to!

Check out the songs above, and their Montrose cover below, but note that the audio fades in and out here and there on these recordings. Also, click here for an interesting story relating to what happened after the concert that the song below came from!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news and notes very soon, including our overdue next YouTube Channel Profile! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Sault Humane Society Battle Of The Bands Recap, Results, And Videos!!

Before we get to my battle of the bands recap, I wanted to extend our deepest condolences to the family & friends of Northern Storm Records owner Rob "Rab" Cranny, who passed away yesterday at the age of 27. While not from the Soo, Rab was a well known figure in the Southern Ontario metal community from his work as a label owner & musician (including with the comedy metal project Detsorgsekalf), and from what I understand, he was an extremely kind and funny person that touched many lives. Woods of Ypres fans may be aware of Rab from his recent links to David Gold tributes, including seeing bands on his label play at the David Gold tribute show in Toronto, along with Northern Storm's involvement in releasing the upcoming David Gold tribute album, which Rab was scheduled to sing "Suicide Cargoload" on. David's old band Will of the Ancients were also signed to Northern Storm Records in the mid-late 2000s. I didn't know Rab at all, but I definitely was very aware of him and what he's done for Ontario metal, and I've never heard anyone say a bad word about him. He was definitely taken from us way too soon, that's for sure. R.I.P. Rab!

Now, let's discuss Friday night's Sault Humane Society Battle of the Bands at The Grand Theater! I'm not going to give this event a review in the traditional sense, because I was in a different position beyond "the SMS guy in the crowd with the camera." I didn't promote this openly before the battle, but I was one of the judges! I was asked by battle organizer Dirk Becker from Sykotyk Rampage if I was interested in volunteering as a judge last month, and I kindly accepted, but just to stay on the safe & impartial side of things, I didn't announce it at all. My fellow judges last night were former Browbeat frontman Dutch Vanderploeg and local solo guitarist Mike Cliffe, and we were assisted by Dirk's niece Stephanie in tallying results and deciding the award winners. I think there was a solid judging panel with fair and qualified choices to judge, and at last night's battle, we were perched up on the balcony to see everything from a clear angle while we judged the proceedings. I've never seen a concert from the balcony like this, but it was an interesting vantage point, if nothing else! Before the battle began, the bands drew numbers out of a hat to decide their performance order, with the exception of The Bear Hunters, who were slotted first by default due to drummer Johnny Belanger's set with Caveman Morrison later that night.

Basswerx Recording Studio was on hand to provide sound, and they did a great job through the night with all of the bands! The opening band last night was the original crash band themselves, Sykotyk Rampage, and though they weren't competing in the battle itself, it at least leaves me free to properly critique their set! They delivered a fun set of songs like "Lit'le Crocochild", "Sex Toy Oh My Baby", and "Treating You Bad" for the fans in attendance, and their improvised take on alternative hard rock and blues is always a fun listen at a local concert! It was also good to see Brian Cattapan on bass again (he was absent the last time I saw the band live), though he didn't seem as animated on stage as he has in the past. Sykotyk Rampage's music isn't for everyone, but it was as fun and creative as I expected it would be! Note that they played a second set of their drinking songs after the last competing band wrapped up, but we were sequestered to judge the battle itself during their second set, so I can't comment on most of it firsthand, but I saw them do "Drinking on the Weekend" and they rocked it for sure!

Now to the battle competitors itself, and I won't spend too much time on them individually for two reasons: They still only had 15 minute sets, and I don't wanna go into great detail about my judging preferences. I want to keep things fair and impartial without publically highlighting anything negative or showing a preferential bias, and I entered the battle with as much of a blank slate as I could so I could judge each band fairly. The opening band was local death metal quintet The Bear Hunters, who unveiled their new logo on Mitch Sirie's guitar and were decked out in effectively bloody white t-shirts. Their set included songs like "Collapse The Sun" and their newer original "Deception", and the fans up front definitely seemed to enjoy their set! They were followed by classic metal quartet Late & Loud, who unleashed originals like "Machine Gun Maiden" and "Whisper of the Damned" on their fans, and they shown a lot of energy and enthusiasm to match their 1980s-inspired sound, look, and atmosphere! Third on the bill would have been local indie trio Cowboys & Indians, but they were absent from the event after bassist Alex White couldn't make it. Disappointing for sure, as their collective talent and past battle successes would definitely have helped them on Friday!

With their absence, local punk quartet T-Rex Manning rushed to take the third slot at the battle. While I've seen 3/4ths of their lineup as the one-off band Pools of Booze, this was the first time I've ever seen T-Rex Manning live, and without going into detail from my judging, they reminded me of a more punk-based variant of singer J.D. Pearce's other bands. Their set was covers heavy, including two Misfits songs and a Blink-182 cover (I think), and their paint splattered suits added to their look well! Local rock quartet Wishbone followed them with a set of their diverse original songs like the new track "Heartbeat", and they shown their talent well with some nice energy, especially from frontman Dennis Duguay! Fifth was local hardcore quintet As It Stands, who definitely attracted the biggest crowd up front of any of the bands on Friday! Their set featured originals like "Embay the Terrible" (now I actually have the right spelling) and their new track "David & Goliath", and their energy and talent seemed to get the right reactions and response! The two Desbarats death metal bands followed them, starting with For All That Is Lost, whose masked look fit with their brutality, and while I won't go into detail with my scores, they're improving quickly! Their set included original songs like "Blood Law" and "Tenth Commandment".

Next was Desbarats death metal quartet Inhuman Methods, and they played two originals (one of which had a callback to a retro cartoon) and a Lamb of God cover during their set. Without giving away my scores and thoughts, they definitely built on their debut in February, though vocal timing is still an issue, particularly on their cover. The Valentine's Day Massacre (pictured) were the penultimate band, and they blasted originals like "Make Death Wait" and "Vampiric" while demonstrating some energetic moves and interaction, mixing death metal and hardcore well! The battle ended softly with local acoustic folk duo Tea With Lincoln, whose talented material and originals (like "Locked Box") somehow encouraged a large circle pit! Though not a genre match with the other bands, the night ended well, and while Sykotyk Rampage partied with their drinking songs, me, Dutch, Mike, and Stephanie deliberated on the award winners in the projection booth. After "Drinking on the Weekend" wrapped up, we went up to the stage, where Dirk thanked the bands and sponsors, and announced the winners, starting with the individual awards! For the first time since the Case's Music battles dried up in 2009, a Sault Ontario battle had awards beyond just the top ranked acts, but who won what? Read on below!

Best Vocals: Dennis Duguay (Wishbone)
Best Guitar: Andrew Angelic (The Valentine's Day Massacre)
Best Bass: Justin Lam (The Bear Hunters)
Best Drums: Kameron Nicholson (For All That Is Lost)
Best Audience: As It Stands
Best Ensemble: Late & Loud
Best Sound: T-Rex Manning
Best Headbanging: Inhuman Methods
Best Mosh Pit: Tea With Lincoln

We came to fairly quick conclusions for the individual awards, though you'll notice that every band got one of these awards in this category. That was out of fairness to ensure that every band won something, and each band or musician got a creatively designed trophy as a result! Late & Loud smashed their "Best Ensemble" trophy, but they were pumped up as it was. In case you guys are curious, I'll say that 6 of the 9 individual awards went to our original choices before we evened everything out, but we agreed that every winner deserved their award, and nothing was a compromise choice based on what was left over! Of course, if you weren't there, the fact that Tea With Lincoln won "Best Mosh Pit" might seem very odd, but they honestly had the only solidly active mosh pit at the battle, and they were 100% the deserving winners! After the individual awards were announced and handed out, the top three bands received their awards, but what did they get? All three bands got trophies, but first place also received studio time, a hat, and a pair of headphones, and second place received a gift certificate to the Delta Waterfront Hotel. The results were extremely close (more on that in a second), but here's the final results for the top 3:

1st Place: Late & Loud*
2nd Place: As It Stands
3rd Place: Wishbone*

We mostly agreed on the results for the top 3, but I have to emphasize something, as the results were EXTREMELY close (that's what the asterisks are for.) According to our scoresheets, we actually had As It Stands & Late and Loud tied for first place, and not only that, but Wishbone were tied with For All That Is Lost and The Valentine's Day Massacre for third place too! That, and the sixth place band was actually one point away from forcing a four-way tie for third, and I'm dead serious. We had a tie for first and a three-way tie for third, it was that competitive and close at the battle, which I've never heard of happening before. When we were deliberating the top three, we had to make a lot of tough choices, so just in case anyone's disappointed with their finish, remember that the results of this battle could have been thrown upside down with just an extra point for any of the top 6 bands. That's a testament to how equally talented the bands were and how even the competition was, and that's very nice to see! Personally, I'd have advocated a play-off or audience vote for the tiebreakers, but I hope we made the right call to break the deadlocks. I will give a special shoutout to T-Rex Manning though, as J.D. was vocally expressing his hope last night to either finish dead last or be disqualified. I won't publically disclose the latter half of the results, but I will say that you were last in our hearts!

So with their razor close victory, Late & Loud have won their first battle, and band members Benn Garside & Josh Hatherley have improved on their 3rd place finish with The Glass Statues at the YMCA battle in March 2009 by claiming first three years later! Their energy, look, old school sound, and enthusiasm prevailed, and though I had fears going in that their lack of a real singer would cost them, they overcame that flawlessly! As It Stands did awesome too, and you guys shouldn't be disappointed with the finish, it literally could have been decided by a coin flip, it was that close! Wishbone's close third place finish sees them return to the upper echelon of a battle, following the Kiss battle in late 2009, which 3/4ths of their current lineup made the finals in with Wishbone & Flat Stanley. $600 was raised for the Humane Society at last night's battle, which is awesome, and though attendance wasn't as big as organizers were hoping, there are apparently hopes to make this battle annual, which would be awesome! Since the Bon Soo & Case's Music battles ended, there hasn't been anything firmly scheduled year to year in Sault Ontario, so hopefully we get another one from the Humane Society next year!

Thanks to all of the bands for their performances, along with Northland Music, The Rad Zone, Music Depot, the Delta Waterfront Hotel, Rock 101, Sports Gold, Fuzednotions Creative Studio, Scott, Steve, and Jim from Basswerx, The Grand Theater, Northeast Security, West 49, Coch's Corner, and Sykotyk Rampage for their support in making the event possible, sponsoring or donating prizes, and helping out on Friday! I also wanna thank Dutch, Mike, and Stephanie for their input and hard work last night, I was impressed with their opinions and professionalism from start to finish, and I'd be honoured to judge with them again if the call came! Same goes for the dropped out bands, it'd have been cool to see them compete if possible, but their interest in the event was awesome! It's been far too long to see a Sault Ontario battle of the bands, and I hope it won't be another two years until the next one! Congratulations again to the winners, and to close this post, while I forgone photos due to my judging, I did get videos!

I got the first song by each competing band (including the non-metal bands) to stay impartial and fair given the nature of the event and my role, though note that I got all these on a tripod with no zooming so I could focus on judging over filming. So here's (in performance order) Sykotyk Rampage playing their song "Li'l Crocochild", The Bear Hunters' original "Deception", Late & Loud's song "Whisper of the Damned", T-Rex Manning's cover of The Misfits' "Bullet", Wishbone's new track "Heartbeat", As It Stands' song "Embay The Terrible" (and the instrumental intro that preceded it), F.A.T.I.L.'s original "Blood Law", Inhuman Methods' song "Inside", The Valentine's Day Massacre's track "Make Death Wait", and Tea With Lincoln's original "Locked Box"!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for a new news post hopefully soon! Thanks everyone!