Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Look Back In The Year Of Local Metal

On this New Year's Eve, it's fitting to take a look back at the year that was, especially as 2013 was our busiest year ever at the SMS! From major concerts and events to band breakups and sad losses, there were a lot of highs & lows in the local metal scene on both sides of the border, so as usual, let's flash back to what happened in local metal & hard rock in the past 12 months in this special year-end post!

As usual, the biggest heavier concerts of 2013 were at The Dreammaker's Theater at Kewadin Casino, which hosted at least eight concerts with hard rock/metal bands (nine if you count Banned's anti-bullying rally set this month!) The year started strong with the original Queensryche rocking Kewadin on January 12th, with Sebastian Bach and the debuting 415E following suit just over a week later, with a classic trio of April Wine, Sweet (Steve Priest's version), and Head East rocking the Soo the following month. Modern hard rock fans were excited when Allstar Promotions brought Hinder, Trapt, and Acidic to the Soo Kewadin on March 24th, followed by Shinedown (pictured) & Prosevere on July 21st, and the well received Team Jessica benefit on August 14th featuring Pop Evil, The London Gentlemen, and Missy & Chelsea. Finally, hair metal fans got their fix in mid-2013 with Tesla & Fifth Way's returns on July 27th, plus Night Ranger and John Waite on September 22nd, giving a nice blend of old and new throughout the year, and hopefully there's much more to come in 2014!

Over in Sault Ontario, we again saw a number of huge, high profile, and very entertaining concerts in 2013, with the summer and fall stacked in that regard! For out-of-town touring bands, the Soo was graced with shows featuring 40 Sons, Airbourne, Biipiigwan, Bleeker Ridge, Caym, The Dayglo Abortions, Diemonds, Fuckface Unstoppable, The Golers, The Ripcordz, Skeletonwitch, Striker, West of Hell, Wilson, and Xanadu (among many others), ensuring some major shows throughout the year, with promoter/singer J.D. Pearce a major reason for them, so kudos to him for sure! As well this year: The Suicide Kings & The Bear Hunters won this year's two local battles of the bands, Garden of Bedlam headlined twice at The Algonquin Hotel, Josh Stephney and Bring The Fallen said goodbye to the Soo with July's Oddzfest 2013 Metal Mash-Up, AlgomA promoted the Big Loonie Bus Show in Echo Bay, The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre welcomed an expanded Soo Zombie Walk entertainment lineup in October, and lots of fundraisers like Toystock and the Ray Brown benefit provided quality entertainment, among many other 2013 dates!

Back in the Sault Michigan area, there was again many notable concert events outside of the Dreammaker's Theater, including the third annual LemmaFest in June, Tantrym Tyme's win at this year's Rock Till You Drop battle of the bands at the Chippewa County Fair, September's Walk To Rock Against Bullying outside of City Hall, and the Nick Cam Jam cancer benefit in Brimley last month. Out of town bands who played locally this year included Infathom, The Darwin Project, Nudge, Peril, and Driven, while a solid selection of local talent (mainly of the cover-centric variety) rocked the area, with Banned keeping an almost constant presence with tons of regional gigs year-round! Also this year: Power Slug continued their under-the-radar concert slate, Half A Man and Scofflaw returned at LemmaFest, 415E & Tantrym Tyme stayed busy through the summer, Full Throttle rocked the scene in early 2013, RamWagon became a frequent favourite in late-year Rapids Lounge shows, and members of Theatre of Night debuted at The Corner Pub on Memorial Day, among others! Look for more big Eastern U.P. events as we make our way to 2014!

Unfortunately, 2013 saw a sadly higher amount of local metal/hard rock musician deaths, starting with the sudden passing of Unbound frontman Justin Fratpietro in January, whose death preceded the band's launch, but their early 2013 activity was all dedicated in his memory, with their only concerts taking place in his hometown of Thunder Bay. Other passings this year reflected former mainstays in heavier local bands of past years, including former J.A.B. guitarist Jean-Paul Fecteau in April, former Thansis Colle bassist Jimmy Smith in June, and former The Chosen/Saint Mizry drummer Ray Brown (pictured) after a tough battle with cancer in November. I might be missing others, but these were the ones I could verify. Ray and J.P. were both honoured in life and death respectively with successful benefit concerts towards Ray's expenses and J.P.'s family this year. It's always tough to lose someone, but hopefully their memories are kept in the closest & highest regard by their family & friends!

A lot of general (but important) news items took place in 2013 as well, none bigger than Woods of Ypres' posthumous nomination and victory of a Juno Award in March for Best Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year for their last album "Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light"! It's just a shame that David Gold couldn't be here to accept it, but this was a very significant event for his legacy and the local scene for sure! Also this year: The Canadian Nightclub flooded once again and saw more renovations, while The Sault welcomed 180 Projects to the live concert scene and said goodbye to Bottoms Up Lounge, with venues like The Nicolet Tavern and Madison's Pub undergoing major name and theme changes. For bands, we saw Garden of Bedlam play live in Quebec, Shit Liver move to Toronto, Lion Ride release their last studio recordings, and Sykotyk Rampage release dozens of free new songs, while bands like Gates of Winter, The Bear Hunters, and The Suicide Kings continued high profile work towards new CDs. Also this year: Luke LeBlanc continued his cancer fight, SooToday bought Local2, and Colosimo's Music Store closed, joining other notable news events in 2013!

A solid crop of new CDs and album releases also made their way to shelves, online marketplaces, and concerts this year, especially in the last few months! In April, Late & Loud reissued their "Heavy Rockin' Hard Metal" EP with new recordings in honour of their last show, while Haggith followed suit with their last studio album "Deuce" in May. The summer saw the releases of the long awaited Woods of Ypres tribute CD "Heart of Gold", Crimson Crusade's debut CD "Upon The Eve of War", Sailor's Tongue's "Pierced" demo, and Bring The Fallen's long-shelved "Stand Before" EP to give closure to their run, while Mike Haggith's "Neighbourhood Watch II" saw an early fall release. The last months of 2013 saw a steady stream of new paid albums, including Pillory's "Cringe At The Cross" demo, Telephone & Address' "Rotten EP", self-titled digital releases from The Strange Coyotes and The Hiroshima Mutant Mindframe, while Sault Michigan's Ken "SweetKenny" Sutton released three albums this year, and Blood Shed Productions put out a number of independent demos throughout 2013! Hopefully the trends keep up in the next 12 months!

Following a slow year for new band debuts and launches in 2012, things turned around quickly in that department in 2013! In Sault Ontario, we saw BeeFMouTH members return to prominence in the doom metal trio AlgomA, with drummer Jamie Vincent fronting the crowd-favourite hardcore duo Bad Back, while members of T-Rex Manning and The Bear Hunters launched the new local punk/metal band Jack Spades this summer. New heavier leaning cover projects like Glitch and The Thrill Junkies made their debuts at local bars, while new all-female hard rockers The Danger Cats made plenty of new fans in the last months of the year, and Giwakwa & The Hydra's Teeth made their long awaited live debuts. Saints & Serpents succeeded The Valentine's Day Massacre, The Strange Coyotes & Project 421 debuted at Haggith's farewell show, Suicide Kings & Haggith members formed Punch, bands like Brutaly Fatal & Rotopsy made their mark through Blood Shed Productions, and over in Sault Michigan, RamWagon, Plastic, and 415E injected some new life across the river! Look out for these bands to keep up their early success in 2014!

As in prior years, local metal/hard rock bands saw a lot of turnover in their membership, and among the biggest was to Sault Michigan hard rock cover quintet Full Throttle, who lost 3/5ths of their lineup earlier this year to the newly formed RamWagon, leaving Jason Lamoreaux & Mark Gillotte to make a new lineup, though the changes gave us two "new" bands in a sense! Also this year: Pillory settled on Josh Amendola & Tyler St. Amour to round out their new lineup, Unbound recycled the With Blood Build Character name to go along with major lineup shifts following Justin Fratpietro's passing, Banned reverted to a trio after a brief country-influenced quintet run, and Winkstinger said goodbye to both Ryan Sherman and Anthony Orazietti. Among single lineup switches: Josh Stephney left The Bear Hunters & Giwakwa after moving out of town, James White returned to Caveman Morrison on bass, drummer Paul Burns left Plastic, Joel Syrette became Griphook's new frontman, and Blake Jackson rejoined Sailor's Tongue on guitar, among other band member changes in 2013!

Of course, it could be expected that some prominent local metal bands would disband or fall inactive in 2013, most notably local classic metal quartet Late & Loud and grunge/alternative rockers Haggith, who both ended brief but eventful runs this year, though members remain active in bands like The Hydra's Teeth and Punch. Among other band breakups this year: Central Algoma death metal bands For All That Is Lost & Inhuman Methods abruptly disbanded early this year, Turner Up and The Valentine's Day Massacre ceded way to The Thrill Junkies and Saints & Serpents, and bands like Ashes To Dust, The Side FX, Unbound, and Winkstinger have been void of major updates in many months. For Sault Michigan bands, End of Existence fulfilled their name to focus on Theatre of Night, Monkey's Uncle successors Sir Charge disbanded in their own right, and bands like Dirtbag In A Dress and Half A Man have been dormant since the summer, but fingers crossed that most of these artists keep up their music work!

Luckily though, the local scene saw some welcome comebacks and reunions from local metal talent in 2013, with Bring The Fallen's one-off reunion at July's Oddzfest event hitting many metalheads in a good way, giving needed closure to their run! Also in 2013: Destroilet finally returned to the stage 2 years after their previous concert (and they haven't looked back since), bands like Frightlight, Winkstinger, Half A Man, That's Chester, Scofflaw, and Sailor's Tongue returned after 8 month+ concert hiatuses, As It Stands resumed activity after a year-long break, both James Watterworth and Telephone & Address returned to regular local solo sets, and Josh Stephney rejoined The Bear Hunters at this month's Bam Margera concert! In other comebacks: Sudbury's Aggressive Acoustic brought hard rock back to Coch's Corner/708 Queen, Aerosmith tribute Mama Kin brought hard rock back to Hempfest, and Tym Morrison brought heavier tunes back to The Harp (formerly Madison's Pub), ensuring some welcome returns over the past 12 months!

2013 was an exciting and interesting year, and here's to much bigger and better things from all avenues in 2014! Hard to believe we'll truly be in the mid-2010s tomorrow. That's all for now, but stay tuned for our preview post on what to look for in 2014 tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

No comments: