Monday, November 30, 2020

YouTube Channel Profile Series: jonasgasperas

Here is our last post of this exceedingly quiet month, namely our (delayed) newest YouTube Channel Profile! This monthly feature looks at the content on 1-3 randomly selected YouTube channels whose content is at least half devoted to local metal, hard rock, or punk artists and/or concerts, in order to spotlight their videos for current readers and encourage subscriptions.  This month's randomly selected channel has lots of footage of a late lamented local metal band, so here's what you should know!


jonasgasperas (

Elements/Wyld Stallyns drummer Jonas Gasperas, also known from his prior work in bands like Winkstinger, Soldiers of Misfortune, Operation: Killdozer, and The Soo Fighters

Channel Timeline: Launched on July 27th, 2009; Videos uploaded from January 30th, 2010 until May 23rd, 2012

Channel Summary: Jonas' channel features 9 videos relating to his old extreme metal band Winkstinger during their original run in the early 2010s, including seven from live concerts (two of which edited as music videos) and two early jam session clips. Though the concert videos were all posted in early 2012, only one was a brand new upload coinciding with a then-recent set. His last upload is a short video of a truck that Jonas called "the Winkstinger-Mobile", a.k.a. "Gertrude", but it's not otherwise musical.
Why You Should Watch: This channel is absolutely worth watching for fans of Winkstinger's classic original era and their best known quintet lineup,  and the videos on offer capture their loose fury well! That said, Jonas has not actively used his channel since 2012, so it does not feature content from Winkstinger shows through their first hiatus in 2013, nor their reunions with different lead singers from 2015-2018. While ostensibly a personal use channel, it doesn't feature any videos of Jonas' other bands.

 Our Recommended Videos To Check Out:
WINKSTINGER ...chuddnugget: After the demise of their 2009 band Operation: Killdozer, core members and long-time bandmates Jesse Cook & Jonas Gasperas launched Winkstinger, who first made a public presence in January 2010 via two jam session videos of them rehearsing original material, including live standby "Chudnugget" and two yet-unnamed tracks that you can see at this link. Also featuring singer Alan Wells (ex-Issues) and rhythm guitarist Jason Ladouceur (they were sans bassist at this point), these are promising glimpses at the live favourites that Winkstinger would become in the next few years! However, the dark lighting and poor framing do not help at all, especially with only Jesse not obscured from view and/or facing the camera (you can't even see Jason mid-song!)


winkstinger -feel all my hate: The only one of Jonas' Winkstinger concert videos to not come from The Rosie, this one was filmed during their set opening for Garden of Bedlam at the former Foggy Notions (now Coch's Corner) on December 18th, 2010 for Foggy's one year anniversary since their 2009 re-opening. Now featuring Ryan Sherman on bass, this was filmed by an attendee who shot at least one other video from Winkstinger's set for personal Facebook usage. The raw intensity of their original song "Feel All My Hate" comes through nicely here, and the contrast between the well lit stage and the largely darkened band members is effective!

Winkstinger - Where'd We Go Wrong - THE VIDEO.wmv: Jonas' most popular videos are two pseudo-music videos that were edited (at least in part) by Paul Boyer, combining concert footage that I shot during concerts at The Roosevelt Hotel (now Reggie's West) with post-production filters, pictures, and clips from outside sources. One is just called "Winkstinger - The Video", and features footage from multiple concerts and many Batman cartoon excerpts, but features here is the more viewed video for "Where'd We Go Wrong", featuring the studio recording of the song from their unreleased album set to their Rosie set opening for Garden of Bedlam again in July 2011. Well edited, if a little out there from the non-sequitors of outside clips used, but it accurately spotlights the irreverence and humour Winkstinger were known for back in the day! Watch for Dragon Ball, Richard Simmons, and South Park, among other offbeat clips sprinkled throughout!


I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profile! Next month in this series, we'll end the year by looking at multiple channels again, due to the first randomly selected only having four relevant videos, 3 being from the same jam session. I'll source two to feature from that, and include a single channel video to fill it out. As such, we'll be looking at Marco Pedalino's channel (featuring footage of Airbourne and The Wing-Its) and Soufiane El's channel (featuring a Woods of Ypres lyric video.) Watch for these on or around Boxing Day, and for more news and notes on the site this week, hopefully at a quicker pace than this month! Thanks everyone!

Friday, November 27, 2020

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Soundcheck), New Tarnished Videos, And Much More!!

I hope our American readers had a great Thanksgiving! For the first time all month, I am breaking our "one post every three days" pattern, but more because of SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS and less because of a sudden influx of news and updates. To fill things out, we have some new videos, an archive song from a prominent band, and asssorted updates to take in. Here's what you should know!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will return to Reggie's Place for headlining dates TONIGHT & TOMORROW NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, this booking was only announced on the venue's Facebook event page yesterday, and while it only lists TONIGHT'S show there, Soundcheck's Facebook page confirms that they are playing "this weekend", presumably meaning the usual double nighter. Intriguingly, Soundcheck and fellow pandemic-defying rockers Fort Creek have flip-flopped Reggie's bookings in consecutive weekends, with Fort Creek playing at Reggie's West TONIGHT & TOMORROW themselves, and the two bands played the other Reggie's location last week. If you prefer the downtown Reggies, TONIGHT & TOMORROW'S Soundcheck gigs are their first there in almost two months, so head there for lots of hard rocking covers!

9:00 PM start times are advertised for these 19+ shows, which have no announced cover charges, though be respectful of Reggie's current social distancing policies, bring your face mask, and use common sense. Visit the above links for more details, and here's Soundcheck live!

Next up, here's more new videos from Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Tarnished's Facebook page! On Wednesday, the guys shared a second "After Hours" video, which notably features drummer Gary Croad, in his first appearance in any of their recent video uploads since the "Metalyn" music video teasers. This is a lighter clip featuring jokey discussion about upcoming plans, what they're thankful for, and other topics, though Alex does hint that they plan to record new singles in studio and teased another appearance on 9&10 News. The fast pan transitions between band members get old quick, but there is amusement to be had, and watch for the fox! Gary narrated a new parody commercial afterwards where he was allegedly volunteering to help the Disabled Under Many Banners program (read the capitals), and it puts music video shoot B-roll to amusing use! Lastly, the guys have taken to Facebook (by way of TikTok) to acoustically cover a couple of songs, so what should you know there?

While both are very short (as is standard for TikTok uploads), you can see Alex and Josh cover the opening of Metallica's "One" and, as embedded below, The Police's "Every Breath You Take" with Gary joining on on a cajon. No sign of Nathan on either one, for the record. Well done renditions while they last, so give these and much more a look above & below! Yes, the video works, ignore the black & white thumbnail.

Also, remember how I discussed local/Toronto indie punk quartet Treble Charger's now obscure cover of Neil Young's "Albuquerque" from a 1994 tribute album a couple of weeks ago? Well, that is not the only time they appeared on a compilation album with a song not otherwise on one of their own CDs! In July 1996, independent label Squirtgun Records released a compilation CD called "More Of Our Stupid Noise", and it just happens to feature a then-new Treble Charger song with the curious name "Bubble & Star (Here's Where The Guitars Come In)". Note that this song does not appear on the album's 1998 re-issue, one of six to not be included there. "Bubble & Star" proper is a live recording with Greig on lead vocals, and it feels a little like an early bridge to the punk sound that would start emerging on the next year's "Maybe It's Me", though it's more of a power pop song with a fun upbeat energy. It's a shame this only exists (publically) in live form, it'd be nice to hear a true studio copy of it.

Unlike the Neil Young tribute CD "Borrowed Tunes", Squirtgun have put the original version of "More Of Our Stupid Noise" on sale on major streaming and download services, but there are CD copies floating around Amazon and eBay too, and regardless, there's a nice array of 1990s alt-rock originals from a lot of talented Canadian bands there, including future one-hit-wonders Len. Give Treble Charger's cut a listen below, and thanks to YouTube user redstar7000 for uploading this back in 2011!

Finally for today, here's three assorted shorter news items from the last while, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by artist or event name:

  • Isolation Sessions/ex-Half Past bassist Arthur Lacasse is looking for a drummer for a band who plays "all kinds of music" ranging from The Black Keys to Green Day to The Tragically Hip. Whether this relates to The Isolation Sessions or a new band wasn't stated, but note that The Isolation Sessions haven't posted on their Facebook page in a month, and have not confirmed anything regarding Chris' status on drums. We'll let you know if we hear anything, but message Arthur at this link or via his Musicians Wanted Facebook group post from Sunday for more details!
  • This is extremely belated by now, but I wanted to make an acknowledgement of it on the SMS: The sixth annual Go Skateboarding Day concert at Queen Elizabeth Park did not take place on June 21st due to the ongoing pandemic. I don't believe promoters Tidal Records ever made an announcement to confirm the cancellation, but even outdoors, a late-June 2020 show with 4 live bands probably wasn't advisable in the current climate. Fingers crossed that we'll see a skatepark concert on Go Skate Day in 2021!
  • Skull After Betrayl/Bear Hunters alum Mike Vincent and an uncredited bassist are looking to join or launch a "productive band" that is "open to lots of genres". Mike noted that their "previous band was a classic rock/hard rock band", but his more recent groups that he's advertised band member searches for haven't gotten too far off the ground. Hopefully something sticks this time out, Mike is a talented musician, and message him at this link or via his Musicians Wanted Facebook group post from Wednesday for more details!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profile to absolutely end the month with by Monday! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Fort Creek), A Surprise Album Release, And Much More!!

In what will likely be our last news post of this painfully slow month at the SMS, we have some new videos, a couple of bands likely destined for our inactive band links, and a very surprising metal album release. Leading off are a pair of SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, and while this is a day earlier than usual, keep in mind how slow things have been this month, I have to slot in stories where I can. Here's what you should know!

Local southern hard rock quintet Fort Creek will return to Reggie's West for concerts on FRIDAY & SATURDAY NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, these dates were only announced via the band's Facebook page on Monday. One week removed from rocking the downtown Reggie's, this will be Fort Creek's second concert weekend at the former Rosie, following their debut gigs there over a month ago. Like this past weekend, FRIDAY & SATURDAY'S concerts will double as Christmas Cheer donation events, so if you have new/unopened toys or non-perishable food items, bring them with you to the Reggievelt to help those in need over the holidays! You can witness Fort Creek's brand of hard rocking covers on FRIDAY & SATURDAY at 9:30 PM with a 19+ age limit and no announced cover charges, but remember to respect the venue's social distancing protocols. See above for more details, and here's Fort Creek live at Reggie's West last month!

Next up, local death metal quintet The Bear Hunters have finally released their second studio album "The Dead Testament"! Over five years after recording sessions began at Mission Control Studios, and almost two years after the debut of their "I Fear No God" music video, the album was released on their Bandcamp page on Saturday on a "name your price" model, with all twelve previously teased songs present, though "The Forest of Forests" is no longer labelled as a "bonus track". In their new Facebook page posting, the band revealed that "the album has spent far too long sitting here ready to release", but a proper CD release party hasn't taken place due to personal life commitments and the ongoing pandemic. The guys admitted that "proper metal shows are probably still a long way off", and while they did want to finally get the album out there, they hope to be able to sell CDs at a normal live concert and play the album in full there when "the day finally comes".

Of course, The Bear Hunters have only played two concerts since the end of 2017, and until Saturday, they hadn't been publically heard from since the Lycanthro concert in April was cancelled. Though the circumstances certainly aren't ideal, it is great to see "The Dead Testament" finally on sale, and while you can download it for free, consider actually paying something for this labour of love! Not expecting any metal/punk albums to go on sale in November 2020, I already reviewed an archive album for this month, but "The Dead Testament" will be reviewed on the SMS in early December, I promise! Buy or stream the whole thing at the above links!

Also, let's head to Sault Michigan for more new videos from local hard rock quartet Tarnished's Facebook page, where they have been staying busy in in the last few days! Following the reveal of their planned merchandise give-away next month, the guys next uploaded a short video of them driving to the recording studio at night, which has some amusing moments while it lasts! Next was this short video of a band member(?) in a fox mask eating a shirt(?!), while three videos followed where the guys showed off a huge lot of Yooperlites (the syenite rocks found in this region that glow orange under blacklights) that they borrowed from discoverer Erik Rintamaki (yes, the former Half A Man frontman) to make their logo and other designs with. Fun and decidedly local idea, hopefully I'll find even one Yooperlite in my travels!

Lastly, Tarnished uploaded two blooper-reel videos from their merch give-away video shoot, including a short one featuring line flubs from Josh and Nathan. Embedded below is the first of the two, which is also on their YouTube channel, and features failed takes from Alex's appearances in the giveaway video (this and the "On The Road Again" video are the only new ones covered above to be uploaded on YouTube). Fun idea to generate some new content and make light of themselves, so give the blooper-reel videos and more a watch above and below, and also visit the the band's new TikTok page (that's a new one for the SMS!)

Finally for today, I wanted to acknowledge two Sault Ontario-based tribute bands that I will likely be moving to our inactive band links on Sunday due to a year's inactivity, namely Volbeat tribute quintet The Guitar Gangsters and Distillers tribute quartet Coral Fang. I'm lumping them together here because both bands share a common member (guitarist/vocalist Tiffany Stocco), and we last heard from either band when they both took a road trip to Sudbury for a joint concert on November 29th of last year. Naturally, the pandemic could be a big factor into both bands' public hiatuses, but with Tiff and Guitar Gangsters frontman Buzz living out of town, updates would naturally be slower on that basis already. Coral Fang debuted at J.D. Pearce's annual Halloween party in October 2018, and resurfaced at last year's Joni Radford memorial concert and Go Skateboarding Day, while The Guitar Gangsters played their only local date at J.D.'s Halloween party on November 1st of last year.

With familiar supergroup lineups behind both bands, and solid musicianship to make their tribute sets stand out, both Coral Fang & The Guitar Gangsters delivered for their limited live dates, and hopefully we'll see them (and/or their members) on stage again when the pandemic eases up! Best of luck to Buzz, Jesse, Mike, Derek, Tiffany, Chris, Adam, and Johnny in the future! That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profile next, barring a sudden influx of stories in the days ahead! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Toystock & Tarnished Updates, Plus More News & Notes!!

Here is our newest post on the SMS, keeping with our recent schedule of having a new SMS post every three days due to a lack of new material. At the moment, I am forecasting this month's YouTube Channel Profile hitting the site on Wednesday, but if I catch word of any short notice concerts for the upcoming weekend, I could bump the feature post ahead to likely end this very slow month. Time will tell, but let's kick things off with a big concert cancellation, followed by some more recent updates!

Despite an optimistic teaser post on their Facebook page on November 4th, the ninth annual Toystock charity concert has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a post shared from organizer/performer Greg Simpson's personal Facebook page yesterday, he noted that they were looking into hosting Toystock as a live-streamed event with one band playing online each day over a 10 day span, but fears from organizers and performers of coronavirus case increases, restrictions on indoor gathering allowances, and a potential second lockdown have led to this decision, as well as the reality of fundraising websites needing to take a percentage of donations. I fully understand Greg and company's call, especially if it hinders their ability to entertain while also facilitating Christmas Cheer donations as usual. That said, Greg promises to bring back "the biggest and best Toystock event yet" in 2021, and he strongly encourages everyone to donate new/unopened items to Christmas Cheer.

Were it not for COVID-19, Toystock IX likely would have been held this coming Sunday at The Grand Gardens North, FYI. This is definitely a disappointing announcement, but if you can't give Toystock your all for the great cause it supports, especially as a kick-off to Christmas season, postponing it to next year does make sense in that way. See above for more details on the Toystock cancellation, and donate what you can for Christmas Cheer to make the holidays brighter for those in need!

Next up, here's the latest from Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Tarnished, starting with the launch of their own YouTube channel! So far, there are four videos uploaded there, all re-shares from Facebook, including the previously seen behind-the-scenes clip from the "Metalyn" music video shoot. The most substantial of the others is embedded below, and it relates to a new merchandise give-away contest that the guys started last week, as teased via a series of Facebook page-exclusive videos. These were all short and primarily feature new pictures of band members alongside a lot of post-production clip-art and logos, with last Sunday's video's description noting that it has a "victory selfie from finishing recording at our studio." Did they record more studio material, or is this referencing work on the music video? Only one of the teaser clips actually has motion, namely the last one featuring a pan and scan of wintry conditions before bassist Josh Fair hypes the giveaway.

That all said, what should you know about the actual merch give-away? In the video, Tarnished (minus Gary) announced that they will hold draws starting on Wednesday, December 2nd for five merchandise bundles, and you can enter by liking, sharing, and/or commenting on the video, which will count for up to three entries. The five bundles will include signed copies of their debut CD "Down To The Wire" and frontman Alex Traynor's solo album "Crazy World", t-shirts, wristbands, and/or guitar picks, with one winner getting everything, and they'll do another set of giveaways if the video is shared 10,000 times. This sounds like a fun idea during this low point of the pandemic, and it may be a remedy for Tarnished to disperse some of their merchandise when they can't sell it live. In a follow-up "After Hours" video, you can see Alex, Josh, and Nathan jokingly discussing what their next plans are, albeit with some honesty about the pandemic-hit 2020 calendar.

There are more videos from Tarnished's Facebook and YouTube pages to share here, but to spread things out and ensure content for posts next week, I'll hold them for now. Tarnished are doing what they can to keep up fan interest at a rough point in the pandemic, and this contest should definitely help, so get more details on their current activity above & below!

Finally, here's three assorted shorter news items from the last while, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by band name:

  • Local hard rock solo project Hubbard announced on their Facebook page last month that they have "been fine-tuning a lot of songs in the past few weeks", that there is "fun stuff to come next year", and to "stick around for new music". Given Chris' pedigree as a guitarist and his familiar local band work, the sporadic updates from his solo work are very surprising, but fingers crossed we hear more of his new original content in the near future!
  • Back on June 1st, The Sault Community Theatre Centre's Facebook page announced that the Queen: It's A Kinda Magic tribute concert in Sault Ontario has been rescheduled for Wednesday, June 2nd of next year, exactly 50 weeks from the original June 17th date, obviously called off due to COVID-19. Hopefully the new date holds up, as this tribute band deliver the goods! Tickets bought for the original date should be honoured, and contact the S.C.T.C. box office for details on refunds if so desired.
  • Local punk trio Redundant announced on their Facebook page on November 1st that they "spent some time writing tonight" and have "new songs coming your way", while later asking fans to suggest songs that they should cover. Nice to see that the guys are staying busy this fall, and hopefully the fruits of their labour will turn up at some point soon! See above for more details!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profile by Wednesday, unless there's some concerts to preview! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Fort Creek & Soundcheck), Plus COVID-19 Updates!!

Here is a new news post for your Thursday morning, and while we do have a handful of SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS,we'll start with the latest in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on what little remains on the local concert calendar. If you've been following the news as of late, you'll know that infection rates for the coronavirus have been sharply increasing in recent weeks, and while the Algoma District isn't too bad compared to Southern Ontario (58 cases with no deaths), Michigan is having a tougher go, including 590 cases & 2 deaths in Chippewa County, and much more further south in the state. As a result, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have issued an emergency order to basically shut down the state again for a 3 week period, and you can click here or visit your preferred news sites for more details. As a result, Kewadin Casinos have announced that they will voluntarily close through December 8th, as per their Facebook page.

The concert calendar has already been ravaged by the pandemic, but this announcement will 100% cancel the Scarkazm concerts scheduled for The Northern Pines Lounge in St. Ignace next weekend, not to mention anything else we either didn't know about or was out of genre range. This leaves the announced New Year's Eve gig from Scarkazm at The Rapids Lounge in the Soo as the last show in our 2020 concert calendar, though I would be shocked if it takes place, especially as Kewadin hasn't signalled any kind of live band schedule. Regarding a possible second shutdown in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has hinted that the hardest hit regions of Southern Ontario could be locked down again soon, but it doesn't sound like they are planning on shutting the whole province down at the moment. Things could easily change, but as of this writing, the Algoma District has fewer cases than all but ONE county in Michigan, so remember, it could be a lot worse.

This pandemic isn't over by any long shot, especially without a vaccine, and while I know there is a lot of fatigue with social distancing and safety precautions, please do what you can to keep yourself and others safe. At least with winter nearing, face masks will help keep you warm! And of course, concerts can still take place in Sault Ontario if they follow provincial health regulations, and here's what you should know regarding a SHORT NOTICE batch for this weekend, both under the Reggie's umbrella!

Local southern hard rock quintet Fort Creek will return to Reggie's Place on Queen Street East for concerts TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, these shows were only announced via the band's Facebook page on Sunday. These will be Fort Creek's first concerts since rocking the same venue over Halloween weekend, and like then, there will be a holiday connection to note TOMORROW & SATURDAY, namely a Christmas Cheer canned food drive! There's no stated incentive to bringing canned foods beyond helping a wonderful cause at a special time of year, but really, isn't that enough? Of course, with Toystock's 2020 status still unknown, this may be your best chance to see live local music at a Christmas Cheer fundraiser! Start times are at 9:00 PM (slightly later than we've recently seen), and these are 19+ events with no cover charges, but use common sense. See above for more details, and here's Fort Creek live!

Finally, local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will return to Reggie's West for their own pair of concerts TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! Again, apologies for the short notice, these dates were only announced via their Facebook page yesterday. These will be Soundcheck's first concerts since rocking the downtown Reggie's early last month, but it will be an almost two month wait for west end fans to see Terry, Cameron, Paul, and Glen at the Reggievelt. With a fan friendly blend of old school covers, including a number of heavier cuts, Soundcheck should fit right back into the concert scene (such as it currently is) TOMORROW & SATURDAY! Like with Fort Creek above, this weekend's shows are 19+ affairs with no cover charges and 9:00 PM start times, but be mindful of the venue's social distancing policies. Visit the above links for more details, and here's Soundcheck live!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for a new post of some kind by Sunday! Thanks everyone!

Monday, November 16, 2020

New Videos, Plus More Recent News & Notes!!

Sadly, news at this stage of the pandemic remains painfully slow, hence the recent 6 day spans between formal news posts, with features dotted in between to keep our "one post every three days" rule alive. I have cobbled together enough content to keep things relatively active until Thursday,  Today's post is largely comprised of videos (with some assorted topics to end things with), so here's what you need to know!
Let's start with new music from Dafter, Michigan hard rock musician Kenneth "SweetKenny" Sutton, and it's been a long time since we've covered him on here! Ken's once-prolific slate of solo albums and scores quietly dried up in the late 2010s, but he has kept active online, and he uploaded four new videos on his YouTube channel this year. Two relate to his old score work, while the other two are of new music of his, including this remote vocal cover of "Sway" by The Pussycat Dolls(!) with South Korean singer An "Jerry" Sohyeon. Ken jumps in late via a picture-in-picture window. Very atypical of his guitar-heavy original songs and his scores, but An is a good singer, and Ken's accompaniment doesn't take anything away! Embedded below is SweetKenny's brand new original song "What If?", which is about growing old together with someone you love. The video features free-to-use stock footage of couples, which fits the theme well enough.

The lyrics feel a little over-detailed to me, but the song is well paced and melodic, and Ken's vocals work with the song without getting too Elvisy as was common on some of his harder edged material. Hopefully SweetKenny has more music in the works, but give "What If?" a listen below!

Next up, here's another new original song from Sault Ontario hard rock musician Tym Morrison's YouTube channel on Thursday! Entitled "Living On Mars", this is a song that he wrote back in high school about colonizing the red planet, but he has amended the lyrics since to be about alternate theories, with lyric video and photos to match. Musically, this is a metal song that lets Tym use his lower register singing well on verses, and it has a solid classic riff with some nice soloing, so fans of his past electric metal work will want to hear this song below, and stay tuned for more!

Also today, here's the newest video from local gore/cybergrind solo project Malignant Neoplasm's Facebook page! Uploaded last month in their first post there in over a year, the video features 16 seconds of a promisingly heavy instrumental track on the computer, with no audible vocals. Tyler hints that there's new material coming soon, but will there be an attached album? Time will tell, but give it a listen below, and stay tuned for more from Malignant Neoplasm and the Blood Shed Productions camp! Yes, the video works, I don't know why the thumbnail is white.

Finally for today, here's three assorted shorter news items from the last while, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by artist or event name:
  • Last month, in their first written Facebook page update in well over a year, local hardcore punk quintet Destroilet revealed that they have a new run of official t-shirts coming on sale soon for $20, and to let them know the sizes you want so they can have the right ones ordered. They look good as you'd expect, and it's great to see that the guys are still quietly active during the pandemic!
  • I have moved local acoustic hard rock duo Tattoos & Scars to our inactive band links, not having updated their Facebook page since sharing a video from their now-defunct main project Halfway Loaded's page on November 7th of last year. Quietly and sporadically active since the fall of 2018, Tattoos & Scars updates largely tailed off once Justin & Shane formed their current southern hard rock band Fort Creek, so follow that band for their current musical work, including our next post on Thursday!
  • The annual Toystock charity concert's Facebook page revealed on November 4th that there is an "announcement coming soon" and that "we finally have something in the works." Details have not followed at press time, but with the pandemic, a normal installment of Toystock IX likely wouldn't be possible. Could this be a virtual concert with Christmas Cheer fundraiser options? Would organizers have 10 bands again (let alone in 10 hours?) Also, the event proper likely would have been on Sunday, November 29th, so will that date mean anything with the likely changes? Stay tuned to the above links for details as they roll in!
That's all for today, but stay tuned for a new news post on Thursday, barring a massive influx of news! Thanks everyone!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Detroit - "Let The Hammers Fly" EP Review!!

Due to the immense slowdown in news as of late, and the unlikelihood of a major new album release this month, I'm posting our 137th monthly CD review on The Sault Metal Scene today, and we're finally looking at defunct local/Toronto hardcore punk/crossover thrash quartet Detroit's debut EP "Let The Hammers Fly"! The album artwork pictured is a recreation based on a low-res photo of one of the physical copies, I will update this if I find a scan of the actual liner. Independently released on December 27th, 2008 at their live concert debut at The Oddfellows Hall, this EP features Detroit's classic (and very familiar) lineup, including current Slumshine frontman Brenton Ellis on vocals, his old Labour Of.../Maximum RNR bandmate Curtis Faux (recently of White Cowbell Oklahoma) on guitar, and Brent's then-Lion Ride bandmates Mark Rand (now of Cross Dog) on bass and Mikey Hawdon (The Inner City Surfers, The Fairmounts, and his uke, et al.) on drums.

A lot of the finer details on "Let The Hammers Fly" have been lost in the sands of time, including it's original price, but the album had a limited print run and was largely succeeded by Detroit's second & final album "Brace For Impact" in 2009, which featured re-recordings of 5 songs from their debut. Not having done so in the follow-up's review in 2010, I will compare those 5 songs to their revisions here. Each song name below is linked to the copy uploaded on our YouTube channel. Featuring 11 tracks running for a blistering 16 minutes in total length, let's let the titular hammers fly!

The opening song is "Blue Collar", which was also re-recorded as the second track on "Brace For Impact" Kicking off with Mikey's very familiar seven-hit drum intro (which you'll hear on all but two songs here), this 97 seconds-long delivers an assault of hardcore-tinged thrash with a solid groove to the riff and a great bass line during the bridge. The gang vocals on "I'll sleep when I'm dead!" are effective, and Brent's underrated screaming ability is put to strong use! Comparing to the 2009 re-recording, it's near identical structurally (aside from an extra yell at the end). but it is a little faster, and the production is noticeably better, with less of a tinny sound and more oomph. That makes the re-recording optimal, but this definitely kicks off the first EP on a high and heavy note! Second is "Lord Beer Me Strength", which has more of a punk tinge to Curtis' guitar work, and it's paced more like a punk song, even down to clean vocals in the chorus!

Needless to say, these leave a false impression, as it feels like the song will run longer with a traditional structure, but it ends after just 74 seconds. Solidly done while it lasts, but given Detroit's punk pedigree, this felt like an unfinished song. Next is "St. Christopher", which later turned up as song #6 on "Brace For Impact". Atypically opening with a simple four-hit intro from Mikey and religious-tinged shouting from Brent, everyone jumps into a hardcore frenzy after, and this song returns Detroit to their crossover thrash wheelhouse, including strong pounding guitar work and aggressive & speedy drumming throughout it's 85 seconds length, so this is an early highlight! Production aside, the 2009 re-recording has a more distorted intro, but is otherwise functionally identical. Fourth up is "On Madness Reared", another song to be re-recorded on "Brace For Impact". Musically, this delivers more of the same hardcore/thrash hybrid fury in a short form factor.

The almost surf-inspired guitar licks and vocal tradeoffs from Brent to his bandmate are very catchy, and everything works so well for genre fans, but I was wishing this would have lasted longer than 86 seconds! The 2009 version is played slightly faster, but it's otherwise no different structurally. That's followed by "Circle Of Thieves", which makes great use of Mikey's rapid fire drumming, but this song is mostly driven by the vocals, which are relentless and increasingly sound strained & nasal. The music proper isn't bad, but before it can really get going, it ends after 55 seconds (and there's shorter ahead!) Not my favourite song on the album, especially as it didn't even feel half finished. Next is "Forward To Death", whose title was slightly changed to "Foreword To Death" when re-recorded for "Brace For Impact". The longest song on offer (at a diffuse 2:37), and the last of 2 songs without their standard drum intro, the opening 45 seconds or so are much slower and more serious in tone.

Once things start to pump up in aggression, the song shares more in common with punk, almost like if Billy Talent had a little  more screaming (if that's a fair comparison to make.) This is a good showcase for Brent's clean vocals, and it lets the guys stretch their legs on something less in-your-face, with Curtis and Mark trading off well throughout! I like Detroit faster and heavier, but this works well as a musical showcase! The 2009 re-recording drops the quiet "1-2-3-4" count-off entirely, but is otherwise identical beyond the improved production. Track #7 is "Shithouse Ratt", which oddly starts with a fakeout of their usual song intro before kicking things off as you'd expect. The verse has some of Detroit's quickest and most aggressive music yet, but the melodic chorus/bridge does give fans of that side a little something. A lot was packed into 101 seconds here despite an abrupt ending, and this is a solid track with strong musicianship while it lasts!

Song #8 is "Random Eyes", which opens with steady drums and stop-start riffing before the full band kicks into gear, and this is a very hardcore-friendly song when Brent's vocals are in play! The gang vocals are somewhat overdone here, but the aggressive music is well done for this song's brief 72 second length! Not a lot else to say, songs this quick in a short time period can blend together. Next up is "KilloRama", a 93 second ripper with Brent's screaming vocals strained almost to Alexisonfire-meets-black metal levels, if you can picture that! Curtis gets to have some fun on guitar with this one, and the chaotic nature is appreciated, but I think this one is too vocally dictated, and it's easy to lose track of the music as a result. Not a bad song, but not well weighted. The penultimate song is "Spiritual Autopsy", which is the last of 5 songs re-recorded on "Brace For Impact", though I'm surprised it's not called "Let The Hammers Fly" given that the album name is in the lyrics multiple times.

More of a thrash metal-inspired song, this is easily one of my favouites on the EP, with a nicely paced yet attacking structure, a good balance of Brent's harsh verses with some clean singing, and strongly aggressive bass work from Mark in particular. The 104 seconds just speeds right by on this very solid track, though again, I wish it was longer! As for the 2009 re-recording, it's a few seconds faster but is otherwise the same song before the production upgrade. The EP closes with it's shortest track, the 54 seconds-long "T-Minus" (with a name like that, I'm surprised it wasn't at the start!) This song is a solid excuse to fire on all cylinders one last time, and it fits well with the heaviest of earlier tracks on the disc, but when Brent announces that "we explode", there's nowhere to go from the level they were already at, so the anticlimactic nature wasn't to my liking. Diehard fans will like the brutal note to end on, however!

So, what are my belated final thoughts on Detroit's debut EP? Overall, if you want an explosive blast of crossover thrash metal, this will do the trick! An album with such short & often fundamentally similar songs by design is hard to critique song-by-song, but Detroit knew exactly what they were doing, and they were able to craft memorable and aggressive hardcore punk tunes that were sure to get a mosh pit going wherever they played. Brent's vocals could be strained at times, but he had some very solid screaming on offer, and Curtis' strong riffs, Mark's well seasoned low end bass work, and Mikey's dependably hard hitting drums all came together nicely! My favourite songs included "St. Christopher", and "Spiritual Autopsy", but no song is bad, and despite seeing almost half of the songs re-recorded just a year later, the EP doesn't sound bad even in 2020, just a little tinny in comparison. My main quibbles are with some songs being too short, mainly if it felt like it ended too soon for comfort.

In production quality alone "Brace For Impact" was Detroit's best CD, but it only has 4 original songs, so fans will not want to overlook the hardcore fury of "Let The Hammers Fly"! It's a shame that Detroit broke up in 2010, so early for a band with such promise, though as we know, the guys had busy musical schedules locally and in Southern Ontario, and still do today. Give "Let The Hammers Fly" a listen at the above links, and I hope you guys liked this month's CD review, albeit earlier than normal! Next month in this series, I can't predict what will be reviewed or when, but of course, our next "Where Are The New Albums?" post on December 2nd may offer clues, and if any musicians play live locally next month that I can tie something in with, that would be worthy of precedent. It will not be of a Treble Charger, Inner City Surfers, or Chase Wigmore album, due to our 6 month anti-bias buffer. Stay tuned in any event, and for more news by Monday! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Local Metal/Punk Video Showcase!!

As promised, here's a new news post on this rainy Tuesday, though things are still creeping along at an unreasonably slow pace for local metal, hard rock, and punk activity, so unless there's late notice concerts to preview, I'm not forecasting a new post on the site until Friday. Hopefully things start picking up sooner or later! Now, all of today's topics have an attached video, and we'll start with two uploaded to St. Ignace, Michigan progressive metal band Heavy Lies The Crown's Facebook page this fall! One is a 7 second clip from September of their tracking computer, with singer Brandon West screaming a bit in the background (the Snapchat-esque caption notes that "screams sound funny without music.") Not too substantial, but it is a sign that their new album is getting closer! Embedded below is their newest album teaser video from exactly one month ago, whose attached post notes that "mastering starts next week" and that they "will be dropping a couple (of) singles very soon."

Clearly, "very soon" means more than a month, but there is definitely visible progress from their camp! The video in question features a 42 second sample of one of their new original songs, as accompanied by a heavily filtered shot of the tracking computer, and the words "Almost Done" end the video. Sounds like things are well at hand for H.L.T.C., so give these videos a look! 

Next up, let's head to Sault Ontario, where local hard rock solo musician Tym Morrison posted another original song onto his YouTube channel earlier today! Entitled "God Vs. Drugs", it's about how praying to God will help a drug addiction, and as such, it fits well with Tym's modern day Christian beliefs. No Filmora trial watermark here, this actually has a proper video made up with song lyrics, visual effects, and a slideshow of relevant photos. The song itself is a mid-tempo rocker that is well composed, but starting so many verses with "God" feels a little overdone to me. Give Tym's new song a listen below!

Also, local alt-punk trio A Dire Setback shared a new video on their Facebook page on Friday, but it's not what you may be expecting. Here, bassist Matt Quinn is on (standing) drums playing alongside Idina Menzel's "Let It Go" from the Frozen movie soundtrack, with his daughters (kinda sorta) joining in on karaoke vocals. Cute for what it is, and Matt does have some hidden percussion talent put to surprising use! Give it a watch below! 

Finally, I wanted to belatedly address a studio-released song by local/Toronto indie/punk veterans Treble Charger that has definitely flown under my radar over the years, but came up in my research on their Defunct Local Band Profile last week. In August 1994, just a month after the release of their debut album "nc17", Treble Charger were featured on "Borrowed Tunes: A Tribute to Neil Young", a two CD set released by Sony Music that was also split into two halves and released separately (in this format, Treble Charger appear on "Into the Black: An Electric Tribute To Neil Young"). Proceeds from the album's release went to The Bridge School for special needs children that Neil's then-wife Pegi co-founded, which is a wonderful cause, as fans of his Bridge School Benefit concerts will know! Treble Charger submitted a cover of "Albuquerque", a deep cut from Neil's 1975 album "Tonight's The Night", and their cover is track #8 on "Into The Black". 

This cover (let alone the album) is not on major streaming services at press time, but you can buy used CD copies, and the songs do circulate online, with this YouTube copy thankfully uploaded by user Yrret Noskcaj two years ago. Admittedly, I'm not an ardent Neil Young fan, but I definitely respect his songwriting and career, and this Bill-sung cover is respectfully done with a rock edge, and it would fit in well on Treble Charger's first two albums! Give their take on "Albuquerque" a listen below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site by Friday! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Defunct Local Band Profile Series: Treble Charger

Due to the incredibly slow pace for news on the local metal, hard rock, and punk scenes, I am bumping this month's Defunct Local Band Profile up three days to give the site some content within our general rule of "at least one post every three days." Our next proper news post will hit the site by Tuesday, I hope! Now, this month's feature profile post looks at another inactive local band as randomly selected from our band links, and we drew quite a big one this time, making this (in all likelihood) our longest single band installment to date! Here's what you should know!

Treble Charger
Genre: Alternative Rock/Pop Punk
Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie/Toronto, Ontario

Members: (Members not in their last known live lineup are in italics. This information may be incomplete, particularly regarding their touring bassists & drummers post-reunion. Let me know if you can fill in any blanks!)

Greig Nori, vocals/guitar
Bill Priddle (Pointless), guitar/vocals
Darcy Yates (The Great Lakes Swimmers), live bass
Ian MacKay (The Soulkicks), live drums

Devin Bronson (Avril Lavigne), guitar
Rosie Martin, bass/keyboard
Dave McMillan (Big Wreck), live bass

Morris Palter (Red Fish Blue Fish), drums
Trevor MacGregor (Four Square), drums
Jason Pierce (Our Lady Peace), live drums

(Note that Wikipedia credits Richard Mulligan as their current drummer and Rosie Martin as having returned to the band on bass, but there are no citations listed there to corroborate this, and neither played in Treble Charger's most recent concerts. Also not listed above are session drummer Mike Levesque, who performed on most of "Maybe It's Me", or Bill's Pointless bandmate Dustin Goodall, who was announced to play bass on their next album, but hadn't publically been confirmed to have joined the band otherwise.)

Audio/Video: Treble Charger released five albums in their original run, including the indie/alternative leaning "nc-17" & "Self=Title" in 1994 & 1995, their commercial breakthrough "Maybe It's Me" in 1997, and their pop punk-centric albums "Wide Awake Bored" & "Detox" in 2000 & 2002. All are easy to find on major streaming services and for sale online, and do turn up in local music stores as well. A new album was in the works as of 2018, but updates were sporadic at best. The band also covered Neil Young's "Albuquerque" on the 1994 tribute album "Borrowed Tunes", and original songs of theirs were featured in a lot of compilations and promotional CDs in the 1990s & 2000s. Numerous videos from their live concerts (pre- and post-reunion) exist on YouTube, as do music videos for many of their singles. Here's the music video for their biggest hit, 2000's "American Psycho"!

Info/Analysis: Arguably the biggest band to come out of Sault Ste. Marie in any genre, Treble Charger formed in 1992, a few years after Greig & Bill met in high school. Originally named nc-17 (the eventual name of their debut EP) before a name conflict with an American group, the album of the same name gave them their first early recognition, most notably via the single "Red". Success and notoriety steadily grew with "Self=Title" (complete with CD-ROM zine content) and their major label debut "Maybe It's Me", which hinted at the more rock-based sound they would take in the early 2000s. Treble Charger peaked in Canada with the release of "Wide Awake Bored", and saw similar success (if less sales) on their last CD "Detox", both featuring their classic lineup of Greig, Bill, Rosie, and Trevor. Their last three albums all went gold or better in Canada, and each album netted at least one Juno Award nomination, while they also had notable airplay & promotion on MuchMusic. 

Bill left Treble Charger in 2003 due to dissatisfaction with their pop punk shift, and they played one tour with Devin on guitar, ending in 2004. The band went on hiatus the following year, and officially disbanded in 2006, with Greig focusing largely on production and Bill performing in various solo and band projects. In 2012, Greig & Bill reformed Treble Charger alongside touring bassists & drummers, and would play concerts off and on through June 2019, primarily on Canadian festival lineups, including a handful of hometown dates at events like Bon Soo & Rotaryfest. A public statement on band activity was last made in August 2019 via this Sault Star article where they finally confirmed their periodic teases about recording a brand new album here in Sault Ste. Marie, but no public statements have followed in the past year (the pandemic & their minimal online presence are acknowledged.)

It's hard to sum up a long and successful career like Treble Charger's succintly, especially given their huge change in sound after the 1990s, but they proved themselves nationally and have a lot of memorable songs & live dates to show for it! I admittedly prefer their pop punk material with Greig on lead vocals to the Bill-led indie rock of their early albums, but they were always a very talented band with a knack for catchy songwriting, and Rosie, Morris, and Trevor were all more than capable on their instruments along the way. Treble Charger may quietly still be plugging away on that new album for all we know, and hopefully we'll see them back out there down the line!

I hope you guys liked this month's Defunct Local Band Profile! This series will return on or around December 10th, pandemic willing, as we'll finish 2020 in Sault Michigan for our next randomly selected profile, namely of Tarnished/ex-Banned frontman Alex Traynor! Look for that then, and for more news and notes on the site next week! Thanks everyone!