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Matt Chanway – Self-titled – Album Review

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[bandcamp width=600 height=720 album=2358228080 size=large bgcol=333333 linkcol=e32c14 tracklist=false]

Coming from metal act Assimilation, Vancouver’s Matt Chanway has a lot to live up to on his self-titled solo record. The record shows a lot of amazing ability that metal heads will love and has enough of the style that made greats like Chris Broderick, Greg Howe and George Lynch influence artists like Chanway over the years to prove he’s got something up his sleeve.

The machine gun like rhythms, particularly from the drums on opening track “Evidence of the Arcane,” conjure up a dark vision of Chanway’s world. The overt technicality is almost too much on this track, and some of the switches from vicious rush to unnerving chug make a track that constantly keeps you on edge. “The Receiver of Wisdom” offers a brighter backing to its endless barrage of beats. The flurries of notes are broken up with much more groove driven sections that give more context and room for the thrash to play on and the playfulness of the outro is strangely fun.

The heavy crush returns on “Harbinger 2.1” which starts on a pulsing intro before launching into its mix of intentionally choppy guitars and drums, and some juicy licks from guitar to guitar. The song is truly at its best when the drums and guitar have room to open up and move freely, creating feelings of release every time it happens. It’s fire from the get go on “271114” where Chanway is a bat out of hell just pushing his relentless beats and riffs until almost halfway through the song where only some space is given every few notes. This said it almost feels to relentless and continuous as by halfway through the track the feeling is too familiar and the lack of shifting moments in the track, let alone room to breathe make it feel repetitive.

The dynamic shifts make “Eyes in the Sky” a unique beast on the album, with the stops providing the thrashings return with more reason. The freestyle guitar that flutters over the slashing rhythms are as frantic as they are apocalyptic, and are as impressive as they are fast. The song’s final rush feels like a race to the finish also crafting a mini-melody within itself that leaves the listener wanting more. Closing track “Lucidity” fits in some of the most satisfying drums on the record, a disturbing mix of guitar lines and some of the finest melodies on the record. The voicing Chanway pulls out on his guitar in place of vocals are a welcome replacement and make the track feel like it offers even more than the songs before it.

Matt Chanway‘s self-titled record is a technical showcase for the ages, and crams every last note into its composition. With this however, the tracks feel tiring in their relentlessness at times and until “Lucidity” feel to samey, more from a lack of variation within each track than to suggest each track sounds the same. If Chanway can channel the originality of his closing track going forward though he’ll have something powerful in his hands for the future.


Matchstickmen – From Our Own Ashes – Album Review

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Want to keep metal relevant? Learn from the best and go from there. On From Our Own Ashes, the bombastic new album from Matchstickmen, the band pulls electricity and flair from bands like Judas Priest, Metallica, Iron Maiden and even modern greats like Muse to create an album with some astonishing compositional prowess. In their efforts the band throws everything at each track, leaving nothing behind, and it sticks quite well, for the most part.  

A flurry of riffs open the album on “Wake Up Call” with heavy metal and the hefty thump of the bass and drums driving the track. The dynamic switch-ups in the song provide some shockingly powerful moments in a song derivative of much simpler metal. Gritty slide guitar sets the tone for “Cheap Little Thrill” before it hits the gas and powers along in its hook heavy glory. Between a suave lo-fi verse, vocal chants and a chorus full of catchy licks from vocals and guitar the track is overflowing with memorable moments leaving one to hope the rest of the album can keep up.

There’s a darker tone to “For No Reason” with bass and drums leading the track in heavy fashion. Although the catchy and memorable moments are less frequent, the moments like solos and the intense outro more than fill the void. On “Wrong Side of 30” things jump back into high-gear, with cymbals ringing with reckless abandon. Call-and-response between guitar and bass as well as some great harmonies make it a vicious track with more than just energy to offer.

Although a little more predictable, the sound-crafting on “Imperfection” is quite the opposite. With a mix of more hooks that will get stuck in your head for days the track only suffers from being a little bland compositionally. “Different Paths” comes out of left field with a bright and soft-rock tone to its mood. Although the track shows some pop and tonal range for the band, it just feels a little too out of place to land cohesively in the album.

There’s bookended brilliance to “Hit By Chance” opening on a riff that would make Muse blush but soon switching to a verse that just can’t match its raw power. The track makes up for it when it kicks into its solo, reigniting the flame the opening lick started and giving every last ounce of energy the band has before dropping into an over-the-top heavy closer that ends it with head-banging glory. “On The Surface” opts for a more clean and open sound, using tone for dynamics instead of just extra volume. This said the disjointed feeling of the song makes it feel like two songs trying to mesh but always feeling a little separated.

Despite an underwhelming start, “Not Knowing” builds into a powerful and epic track that shows a powerful song-writing ability from the band. A solo that oozes emotion and chorus chants that beg for crowd sing-a-longs the track definitely hits its stride with a fury. There’s a distinct level of Jane’s Addiction overtones on “Numb” with fun production choices and the album’s heaviest distortion making it a unique track sonically. Save for some clever moments the track is a little light on originality at times and just doesn’t impress like some of the album’s earlier stompers.

You can buy the record from Holier Than Thou Records’ Bandcamp page.


Hamilton’s Profaner wins 2nd place at Wacken 2016

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Hamilton’s Profaner wins 2nd place at Wacken 2016

2016wackenprofaner2ndplace

Hamilton, ON’s PROFANER conquered the 2016 WACKEN METAL BATTLE CANADA competition this past June beating out over 100 bands from across the country to be the ‘One Band To Rule Them All’ and perform at the world’s largest metal fest Wacken Open Air 2016 in Wacken, Germany, which holds an attendance of over 80,000 metalheads. Ready to pillage the crowds at the international WACKEN METAL BATTLE representing Canada among 27 other countries,  the dust settled from all the mosh pits and PROFANER were presented 2nd place for this year’s 2016 world competition, continuing the prestige of metal talent produced out of Canada.

Witnessed by WMBC organizer JJ Tartaglia at Wacken Open Air, he had this to comment:

“Profaner played their best set I’ve seen yet. They’ve beyond proven themselves here at Wacken and have impressed a lot of people. I’ve never been prouder of the Metal Battle and the dreams that it realizes. Canadian metal is stronger than ever!”

PROFANER also commented on their win:

“Profaner takes second place!!!! We won 1000 beers!! Thank you to everyone involved back home and worldwide. We owe you our greatest thanks for all our success. This is beyond a dream come true. Thank you Wacken Open Air and Wacken Metal Battle Canada. Can’t wait to come back home and celebrate with Crimson Shadows and Vesperia.
PROFANER was defending Canada’s world title after Vesperia were crowned 2015 world champions. In the last three years of Canada’s participation, they have produced two world champions, Vesperia (2015) (video) and Crimson Shadows (2013) (video).

The 2016 national final for Wacken Metal Battle Canada was held on June 11th in Toronto, ON at The Opera House,  with the country’s top five bands, Vancouver’s The Mountain Man (BC Winner), Edmonton’s Tales of The Tomb (Prairie Winner), Hamilton’s Profaner and Toronto’s Pyramid Theorem (Ontario Winners) plus Montreal’s DistortHead (Quebec Winner).


Rockfest 2016 Day Two

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Day2Crowd

After everyone stumbles back to their tents, Air bnb’s or hotels to get some sleep and recharge a bit, it’s time for day two. Of course, not without the help some good ol’ poutine and egg breakfasts, and maybe a couple Gatorades. 

This year’s second day may not have been quite as invigorating and intense as the first, but with the heat being upwards of 30 degrees throughout the day, the rest was needed- not to say that it didn’t compare sonically and energetically. Although the day was tamer, the energy in the crowd didn’t change for a second, nor that Montebello vibe that you can’t really put into words. Festival-goers lined the streets as early as 8 a.m. in search of food and drinks, listening to distant sound checks in anticipation of the day to come. After breakfasts and recoveries were had, the festival grounds once again flooded with hundreds of thousands of music lovers.

Guttermouth and Streetlight Manifesto opened up the Budweiser stage. Streetlight’s energy powered vocals, upbeat horns, and all around feel-good ska music got the crowd fueled up, throwing their legs around and dancing their hearts out. The seven-piece band hit the same stage two years ago and came back with the same big smiles, wicked attitudes and a performance full of fun.

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While the day was untouched by disappointing performances, the Budweiser stage did have its own letdowns to offer. Lamb of God always puts on an unreal performance, but the headbanging came to a 10-15 minute halt about midway through their first song. The stage’s technical difficulties did the opposite of losing the crowd’s attention though, and it had Randy Blythe even more amped up after the issues were resolved. Triumphantly going straight back into their set, Lamb of God was without a dull moment. Shaking speakers, crowd surfers galore, a mosh pit not to be reckoned with, and Blythe’s dreads going every which way. Being one of the only metal acts this year, with a name to match their status in the metal community, Lamb of God had fists pumping front to back, left to right, with a crowd packed up almost all the way back to the festival entrance. Blythe is a LambHandphenomenal performer, with a stage presence that continuously blows my mind. Beginning to end, the seasoned metal rockers had the crowd completely involved and did not let their set run short because of the technical difficulties. Fans were actually graced with an extended set, seemingly in protest of the machines robbing them of the beginnings of their performance.

Ice Cube was a highly anticipated name this year, and while it was an absolute nightmare to try and get an even relatively nice picture of the set, it was epic to see Ice Cube live. Smoke clouding the air and lyrics being chanted aloud, it would not come as a surprise to see his name reoccur in years to come.

In the three years that I’ve been attending Rockfest, not once have I heard the festival tell the crowd to calm down. Limp Bizkit has been around for 20 plus years, but they still have such a strong following that even the security guards were getting themselves extra prepared for the show. It was so packed that people were lined up behind the fences of the entrance gates trying to get a view of
the stage. Fred Durst has quite the distinct look to him, even some photographers were flinching as he threw water bottles to the crowd. Durst threw himself around the stage, toured left to right across the front row, and went into the crowd a few times to give the fans an up close and personal performance. At one point Durst was actually atop the crowd, held up by screaming fans.

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Headlining such an enthralling festival with so much energy and so many anticipated acts is a large spot to fill. While the organizers have a lot to do with ever so perfectly scheduling Rise Against as the headlining act on closing night, the band filled the slot in a way that could not have been foreseen.

Through weathered voices and tired fists, the size of the crowd for Rise Against did not simmer. Their message is clear, their music is beloved, and the only real way to describe their stage presence with the utmost diligence is to say that it’s almost a live version of when you spend that moment alone, with your headphones in, or in your car, searching to find bliss in their music.

Rockfest 2016 was somewhat of a reflection, or even a live reminiscence of the past 20 years. The outcome of which tremendously represented belief, courage, standing together, and remaining strong through the fiercest struggles.

RiseSolo


Rockfest 2016 Day One – Nostalgia Edition

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DeryckCrowd

Another year of Amnesia Rockfest shenanigans has come and passed, and what a year it was. The 11th edition of Montebello, Quebec’s two day festival was jam packed with hugs, tears, fights, and couriously enough, a panda suit here and there.

This year was especially a treat for anyone who identifies with the music of the 90s. Bands like Sum 41, who most never (like myself) thought they’d ever get to see on stage again, and The Used, MarkSingingtreated fans to energy filled sets that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

The first day was a force to be reckoned with. A day that I can honestly say, only had a couple disappointments, which unfortunately, both go to the members of Blink 182. Travis Barker having to cancel his solo set was quite disappointing, but seeing such a beloved band (Blink 182) put on such a disappointing set in the headlining slot, was far more dispiriting. While many Blink fans are accepting of Matt Skiba of Akaline Trio taking the place of Tom Delonge, supporters still expect to see a lively set when they head out to one of their shows. This was nothing of the sorts. Skiba was not charismatic with the crowd on any level, and the connection between him and Mark Hoppus was non-existent. Although Barker put on his usual high-powered performance, it did not pull away from the lack of emphasis put forth by the frontmen. Despite the lack of energy and enthusiasm, it’s always great to hear Blink 182 play live, and there were just as many pleased crowd members as there were disappointed, if not more.

The amount of bands to see on the first day of Rockfest 2016 had people running from one stage to the next, not wanting to miss a moment. The day started off with an astoundingly dynamic set by the Creepshow. The crowd was just as involved with the set as the band was with the crowd, and what else could you really ask for to kick off such an electric festival?

Laura

Other highlights of the day were sets from Against Me!, The Used, Mustard Plug, Sum 41, Billy Talent, and Korn. Laura Jane Grace brought a unique, wild, and incomparable performance to the Budweiser stage mid-day, with a presence to match the scorching heat. Against Me! has a way with their fans, and there is no mistaking the chemistry between bandmates there. Thrashing through their hits, old and new, they connected with the crowd to the point where you could see tears running down faces from left to right.

Unsurprisingly, the only band to leave the stage in shambles, throwing instruments array and jumping around like crazy, was The Used. Celebrating 15 years, the band was clearly ecstatic to be in the presence of so many loyal fans. A circle pit competition was inevitable, but they also stopped mid-way through their set to tell the crowd to be thankful for what they’ve got, take care of each other, and give the person beside them a hug. Looking out onto a crowd of drunk, sweaty music fans hugging it out after throwing each other around in a mosh pit is almost descriptive of the festival itself.

BassistScreaming

Of course, Brampton’s Billy Talent, never disappoints. The band is known for getting the crowd wild, and who could be surprised with Benjamin Kowalewicz’s energizer bunny-esque live persona.

Another Canadian favourite, Ajax’s Sum 41, came back with a vengeance. After years apart the band came to the stage with a couple new members, but the same outstanding, adrenaline fueled act. Die-hard fans were lined up long before the show, and the crowd was seemingly entranced. With all of the trials and tribulations that the band has faced over the past few years, people could not have been happier to welcome them back to the stage, and it was more than evident that the band was just as ecstatic to be back. Deryck Whibley overcame a serious addiction to alcohol, survived organ failure, and came back to give us his all on stage. What a recovery it was too, it’s quite the inspiration to see such a miraculous turn around for a man who had such a heavy influence on a generation.

All in all, day one of Rockfest 2016 was a blast from the past, a nostalgia filled trip through the sounds of an extremely angsty generation. Crowd surfers were a plenty, fists were pumping, and the screaming fans must have been audible from three towns away.

TheUsedThanks


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