Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Iron Kingdom Cometh


Venue club was easy to find thanks to the ginormous sign on the Granville strip. The interior d├ęcor was something like a mini theatre with impressive lighting displays and a really well done mimic of a rock star’s stage. Though I was disappointed to find barely any seating available to enjoy the show… and by barely I do mean about four booths that no one wanted to share with strangers. There was ample seating on either side of the stage though, for what I'm assuming was VIP as it was roped off. Maybe had I mentioned I was press I would have gotten my own little seating area but I'm just not that type of gal. The light show on stage added to the magic of the performances and all in all it wasn't a bad...venue (excuse the pun) but it definitely was lack lustre to some of the other beauties I've seen shows at along the strip.

Medevil

Off to a very dramatic start, the band entered on stage standing with their backs to a medium sized crowd that cheered the arrival of their lead singer, who was dressed in a grim reaper-esk black cloak. His screams and bellows were definitely very metal but I found the band over all didn't strike my fancy. The lead singer used the beginning of nearly every song to crouch down on the floor and hide himself inside his reaper cloak. Whether he wanted an epic entrance for every song or he was just shy when he wasn't needed to sing...who knows. The movements of each member at the start were either non-existent, very subdued for the type of energetic music they were putting out or they just seemed contrived. No doubt about it though the band can rock, or should I say, they can metal? Ok I'll stop with the cheesy banter but seriously, they can play their instruments and scream enough force into the mic to knock it unconscious. Oh and did I mention the drummer has one of the harder hits I've seen in a while? It surely was a very powerful show especially for this genre of music. The melodies they intertwined with the harsh bellows and drums, made the pieces of music interesting to listen to and evoke emotion. The high light of the performance for me, was when their bassist declared "are you ready for some f$&king Metallicaaaa!?" and a bit of moshing commenced. I fully believe the effort was there to have that "greatest live band of all time" stage presence and it did get better with each song but I still suggest perhaps a step up on the energy with the performance boys, your playing deserves a show that matches the enthusiasm and spirit from START to FINISH. Though I couldn't really understand any of the lyrics as does happen with live shows sometimes (I wasn't sure if it was maybe the acoustics of the venue itself or just the singers pronunciation) I did really enjoy the instrumentals of this band and I could tell the singer maybe in a recorded scenario would be more audible and most likely very good. Over all I give the bands performance 3 out of 5 hammers. Keep up the work ethic boys and I believe you'll get those elusive two hammers. Check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/medevilband 



Omega Crom


Let me just say off the top, THIS BAND ROCKED. At first glance these guys look like Icelandic Vikings who can shred the guitar. The show started with technical difficulties with no audio coming out of the lead singer’s mic but when it did, his melodic vocals came out of the amps with force. The scream of the singer reminded me something of a very likeable 80’s hair band. Let's say Guns and Roses or something. Axel would be proud of the vocals and the guitar shreddage on this man’s part. I will say that as a woman...I was jealous of these men. Not because of their musical talents. No. Because of their gorgeous flowing locks. Damn I want hair that shiny and long! These guys had great melodies. I can only assume some of their influences might be GNR, maybe Metallica, and definitely some Iron Maiden. Stage presence wasn't a problem for these guys and I will say the drummer had intense eyes. He knew what was up and was making eye contact with his fans head-banging out in the crowd. These guys look like they had a few years of experience. They were definitely older than the previous band and their show screamed that, in the sense that it seemed effortless for them. I almost feel like they were too good to play for such a small crowd. The energy and shreddage, was INSANE and I know they definitely riled the crowd up. Damn near 4.5 out of 5 hammers for these men of metal. Thor applauds you. Check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/OmegaCromMusic


Iron kingdom

Iron kingdom had a warm welcome when they appeared on stage fresh from across the pond, kicking off their North American tour. Not only by the crowd that tripled in size from the beginning of the night but also by the sign in Venue that lit up with their band name behind the stage (a privilege none of the other bands received). The music was a different caliber of energy than that of the previous bands. I noticed that it was their North American kick off and could tell they weren't from around here off the bat. The rhythm section plunging along in a fast pace fashion was pretty good, although I wasn't as captivated by the performance. The lead singer had issues with pitch at times in the beginning. Something I've seen gets better throughout the show with quite a few bands and to this I say, WARM UPS guys and gals. It is essential. Maybe it was nerves but he definitely performed better in the latter of the show. The songs though rather fast paced seemed slow going if that makes any sense. There wasn't much stage presence in the beginning although I may attribute that to just being young and somewhat inexperienced. The band seemed eager to please but didn't have that natural ease quite just yet that comes with a more seasoned band. Maybe it's because I'm no longer 19 and I'm being age-ist, or maybe it's just because it's true. The crowd though larger, seemed more docile with their head banging and moshing which actually seemed non-existent at least in the beginning of their performance. Maybe the audience was just not used to staying up past ten o clock. Once the music started flowing so did the hair and the band seemed a lot more relaxed on stage. The heads began to bang and the smiles became apparent. Sometimes it just takes a while to make friends when you're new. They seemed like very passionate and friendly metal lovers and I especially appreciated the bass player’s monopoly man looking moustache. Maybe it wasn’t exactly that shape but that's what he reminded me of in my mind. It almost sounded a little less like metal vocals and a little more opera. Like if Freddie Mercury was just a little more badass...or had a baby with RUSH. All in all I give the foreigners of metal land 4 out of 4 coveted hammers. 100% these men can play their instruments. Rage on iron kingdom, rage on. Check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/ironkingdom
As for Unleash the Archers band, I’m not sure if they just started really early before I had arrived, or if they played AFTER the headliners (which is strange but what I thought Iron Kingdom said), but this reviewer had to be up early Friday morning. Alas, Thursday shows are just harder to rock later the more you grow up. Check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/ronkingdom

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Beautiful Ruins


Saturday, July 18th, turned out to be an amazing night for metal. Invisible Orange, a local promotion company, sure knows how to stack a wicked line-up and throw on a good show. Before I get into an overall show review I’ll start with each bands individual performance.
                  
Meridius:  Where to even start. These young thrashers were first up for the night and didn’t disappoint. From the first riff to the last lick they kept the energy high and the crowd excited. Not once did I see them stop moving on stage or head banging. Eric Willmotts vocals were pounding and left me in awe of the seamless changing between dirty and clean vocals. Tie that in with the never-ending riffage and harmonies of Kieran Marquis and Sam Buchanan and you have a fresh take on a very old genre. Also I have to give a shout out to their drummer, Nolan Olson. It’s always nice to see a drummer head banging just as hard, if not harder, then everyone else in the band. Kudos.  There really wasn’t much that they did wrong for this show. Anytime I picked on anything it was remedied quickly. Found one guitar tone muddy at the start, fixed way before the end of the second song. I’d start feeling that some of the riffs and rhythms sounded like recycled riffs but then I’d get smacked across the face with a hard hitting thrash riff for evening thinking so. So all in all, great job by these young performers. That night this band made a fan, I know I will be following them and can’t wait to see what the future holds for these guys.
                  
King Coyote:  Second up was a local prog sludge band. Musically this band is very talented. Their sound is very sick and dirty, and I mean that in a very good way. As for the show I noticed it took them a few songs to dial in with each other, but once they did they never broke off or skipped a beat. The first half of their set was fun and they tied in some stage theatrics. My only issue was the second half of their set the theatrics started to seem awkward. As this being my first time seeing them I couldn’t tell if they were actually fighting on stage as they seemed to start rushing songs just to finish their set. All and all; great dirty head banging sludge, awkward and confusing show.
                  
Spellcaster:  Third band up was a very talented power metal band from south of the border. You know you’re going to be in for a surprise when a guitarist walks on stage with a guitar set up just like Jimi Hendrix. Once that first chord rung the band didn’t stop. Great groovy riffs that definitely had me feeling nostalgic, it brought me back to my days of skate boarding while rocking iron maiden as a kid years ago. Cory Boyd and Bryce VanHoosen are power metal guitar wizards. The band as a whole played a wicked well put together set that had all the songs just flow into the next. I only found two issues with their otherwise textbook set. They didn’t involve the crowd too much or talk to them. Also I found the vocals kind of getting lost. I’m a stickler for being able to hear every word when I’m hearing clean vocals, and the words seemed to get lost when Tyler Loney would sing in lower tones. Keep in mind the vocal arrangement was tough and it’s understandable a singer would want to hit every note, but it came at the cost of not fully enunciating words. Other than that they kept the energy high and the crowd captivated.
                  
Out of the Ruins: Before I start, I’m going to feel really bad because this band is probably going to have the shortest write-up while being the band of the night. Though what can I really do? I’m doing a show review and here I have a band, which in my opinion played a flawless show. They were dialed in from the start and with a well thought out set list never let up. The crowd was involved and their energy on the stage was second to none. The whole set really felt like an onslaught of articulated riffs, crushing vocals and pounding drums. Grigor Avensov is a beast/machine (haven’t quite figured out which, but I know he isn’t human) on the bass, and it’s always nice to see female representation in the metal scene. Ange Ruin is probably the only female I’ve seen drum in a melodic prog band and she f****** owns it! Seriously hats off to this band. Too bad they moved to the center of the universe (Toronto) cause Vancouver lost one hell of a band.
                 
So to sum up the night, it was one hell of a show. I feel sorry for the people that couldn’t make it out cause it was worth it. Solid bands, solid promoter and solid venue, really you can’t ask for better than that. Out of the Ruins is one solid band and I really can’t wait to see more of Meridius. Good job everyone.
                  Cheers,
                  Mike Watson

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Valentines In July

Trying to find Red Room was a fun time for someone new to the city, it’s not exactly situated with the rest of “club society” down on Granville bar row but the neon red sign proved helpful. The venue itself was a pleasure to view a show in mostly in part to the abundance of space. If you wanted to crowd closer to the stage for that intimate, sometimes pushing each other around- type of experience then you could but there was a plethora of seating available in every which direction, with pool tables and booths in the back. The venue even had its own light show electronic booth set up with TV monitors around the walls, so even if you couldn't get a good view of the show, you could still see it.

The staff seemed to be mostly friendly albeit some, a bit uninviting as a waitress I’d never seen before interrupted my conversation with a firm "you done with that?" she said while tilting her head towards my drink. I am and thank you for interrupting me. There was a great sound system; the venue was definitely built for shows. You could hold a conversation in the back or get blasted with sound at the front. Great for music lovers of all types though if no bands were playing I’m not sure how the space is utilized. It seemed large enough to be a bumpin’ night club but there wasn't as many people present per square foot as there could be on this particular evening.
Unfortunately I was not able to make it to see the acoustic stylings of the opening act “After our Juliet” but from what I can tell with their social media, it’s clear next time I will have to be present. After listening to a few of their songs like “cut me like you love me” and “remedy” on their Soundcloud page (https://soundcloud.com/afterourjuliet)

 I can say that I’m definitely intrigued to what probably would have been a great acoustic show. The band’s sound reminds me something of maybe Bayside or Say Anything, the energetic guitar riffs and dreamy “scene boy” voice will be sure to rack them up a teenage fan-girl basis and let’s face it, screaming teenage fans = record sales. I will look forward to the next gig these guys play at with Hammer Records present.

Remember Lite-Brite


 



The show, for me, started off with the band “Remember Lite-Brite?” as
the lead singer approached me not knowing I was the reviewer for Hammer Records. At the bar he was super friendly and charismatic asking me...so do YOU guys remember lite-brite?? His charm on stage was abundantly present between songs when chatting to the crowd.

The band had a bit of a rocky start with fixing instrumental issues but their energy kept the crowd from rolling their eyes with annoyance like anyone would when itching to see a rock show amidst tech issues.  That being said there was A LOT of talk for the set as a whole. When you want to chill out to a good music set for a bit and there are all these intermittent stops to tune and pause and talk, it can be a bit distracting. Though, who can really help technical difficulties? Make sure you guys can tune those guitars a little faster next time boys! The lead singer’s voice seemed to get better over time. Warm up of vocals I think. Lots of cuss words and banter about sex, though I'm a fan of it some people may not be but then again, if you want a censored show, listen to any top 40 on the radio, did I just say that?



These guys seem like the type of kids I would have loved to be friends with in high school, the colourful hair, the charisma, the Billie Joe had a baby with Tom Delonge-ish voice, oh it would have been a sweet teenage experience. Hell, I'd settle for being friends now, shout out to the band to be friendsies!

Though the crowd was a sub-par interactive experience, the band played on with the essence of not giving a f*ck whether two, or two thousand people showed up. Their catchy guitar riffs and rhythm section reminds me something of Gob back in the day or maybe Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. It was a pleasure to witness and the nostalgic 2000's pop punk rock girl inside me was geeking out during the performance. Whether or not the band was going for that vibe, I think it was brilliant.


The band as a whole jive well, a bit of the back and forth banter seemed contrived at times but I believe with more and more shows it will come naturally. Banter and songs were a bit immature in content; I thought they resembled a young blink 182 though so my older self may be a bit biased. I do believe if the will to survive thrives in these young musical Jedi, that they will make something very special of their career. May the musical force be with you.

Check the band out on their Facebook page HERE.

Cigarettes and Valentines




Well… the bands entrance was pretty fantastic. The screaming fans, the epic entry music, starting with an in your face loud American Idiot tribute to Green Day, I think Billie Joe would be proud. I certainly was impressed although my dad moonlights as an Elvis Presley tribute artist and he plays the same song before walking on stage… so I may be a little biased on thinking it’s a bit cheese. Cute. But cheese.

This band seemed to have a much bigger following than the previous two as the dance floor filled up with gently jiving bodies, still needing a few more brews to loosen up and then an over load of Green Day fans screaming every lyric back in their faces with fists pumping in the air.


No doubt the band could play their instruments and play them well; it was a pretty spot on impression of green day. Impression I say because with some "cover songs" you get that the band has taken something old and put their own self into it, a “spin” on it if you will, where as a tribute artist, as these such men call themselves at least in the playing portion, did not seem to try and deviate from the greatness that is Green Day but rather, mirrored it well. The black attire and red tie even reminiscent of the bands earlier days. Who doesn't like a good Green Day tune?

The band had an intense energy and stage presence about them, thus making me wonder what they would be like with their own material. That being said the Green Day tribute was a well-executed one at that, I will definitely give them that one. They seemed to be comfortable with the material, their performance and their star quality without even trying. A bit of a strength compared to the previous band. The crowd that followed them out seemed to be that of a real life, fan girl, "please marry me" following. I give props to these men on their performance and will look forward to anything original if/when they put that out to the universe.

Check out the band on their Facebook HERE.




Review and photos by: Julia Lynn Monk