Modern metal is shit. More accurately, a lot of modern metal, with its clumsy uses of pop melodies, is over-produced, clinical and soulless. Fortunately, none of the four local bands on this bill fell into such pitfalls and reminded us that there’s still plenty of great metal being made, and much of it right on our doorstep.
Former CiTR Shindig winners Hidden Towers began the night’s show with an inventive deconstruction of metal’s boundaries. Lurching from frenzied polyrhythmic thrashings into jazzier passages, they completely disregarded anything approaching a traditional song structure. It was refreshing to witness a band with such considerable technical ability actually doing something interesting with their skills instead of basking in their own smugness and indulging in unlistenable displays of their own proficiency.
It’s hard to overstate just how good Ancients are. Their storming “Built To Die” showed that it is possible to seamlessly combine melody with brutality by making it an integral part of the song’s arrangement, rather than just tacking on a cheesy chorus as an afterthought as so many bands do. Each one of their songs is an expansive, sprawling epic with a dizzying number of brilliantly crafted riffs. They’re biting hard on the heels of Bison B.C. as Vancouver’s most formidable masters of metal. Let’s hope an album will soon be forthcoming, because big things are surely afoot.
What Galgamex lack in hooks, they make up for in sheer brute force. Frontman Chris Mathis got in people’s faces by taunting them and throwing himself into the mosh pit. He did a great job of properly interacting with the crowd, an important part of live performance that many bands on this level overlook. Attention to dynamic shifts and variation was sometimes sacrificed for pure grind and power, which resulted in some of their material being a tad monotonous. Being able to pull off this level of ferocity in death metal, however, is a lot harder than it looks or sounds and for this alone they deserved respect.
By the time Weirding (formerly Weapon) finally began their set, much of the crowd had dispersed. Had there still been a significant audience remaining, it seems likely that the audience would have parted like the Red Sea by the Moses-like command of Weirding’s clout. “Cursed and Damned” steadily built up around only a couple of gargantuan riffs, invoking the ardour and determination of mountain explorers. Though their vocals were sometimes unrefined, the fluidity with which they unfurled such hulking grooves exhibited great finesse. That said, the band clearly understood the value of volume – their set was obscenely loud – utilising some impressive amplification to their advantage. The British band Charger once had a t-shirt with the tongue-in-cheek slogan ‘Volume Over Talent,’ and though you could be forgiven for thinking that maxim might apply here, there’s much, much more to Weirding than that.