By Matt Lewis
On Friday, March 12th, Metal Blade Records put on a showcase of their Canadian talent during Canadian Music Week in Toronto. The list of bands was exciting: Assassinate the Following, Toronto locals Starring Janet Leigh, Aeternam from Quebec, Titan (also from Toronto), Barn Burner and the almighty Bison B.C. This was looking like a good night of bands, some I had seen before and some I was unfamiliar with. Where was this taking place you might ask? The Bovine Sex club. I had only been there once, many years ago and beforehand thought that place is fucking small – this is going to be nuts. As I started my one hour drive from St.Catharines to Toronto, both the weather and traffic were not on my side. It was raining heavily most of the way and with the inclusion of Friday night traffic this made what was supposed to be a one hour drive into almost two. Great start to the night. Unfortunately I missed Assassinate the Following from being late and got in just as SJL started their set.
Starring Janet Leigh plays a brand of Jazz infused tech metal that can be heavy and beautiful all in the same song. They were playing with a fill in drummer this night and from having seen SJL a lot you could tell the difference – but it wasn’t in a bad way. This drummer took the less is more approach and rode the groove unlike the previous drumming blasting it out as fast as possible. Different styles of drumming each with merit. As much as I liked the band before I think the less is more approach works very well with the music, now having heard both styles. As for their performance it was spot on, more energetic than past shows and definitely focused. With Jon Karel formerly of The Number 12 Looks Like You signing on as their permanent drummer this is definitely a band to watch for in the coming months.
Following SJL was Aeternam from Quebec who took the stage around 11. Playing a mix of death metal with Middle Eastern influences it reminded of Nile but not going as far with the influences. It seemed the music was middle of the road, trying to balance both death metal and mid eastern music. For some songs this really worked for me. I found myself drawn to a riff and a passage and then on a dime losing focus. When a song works from these guys it is great and when they get it wrong it is boring and uninteresting. They are a young band and having just put out their first album I think they will tighten their songs going forward.
Next up was Barn Burner, also from Quebec. Let me say these guys were a fucking treat to watch. Playing a punk infused southern rock style; it was rocking riff after rocking riff. Great energy, catchy tunes and mature song writing. Couple this with a sense of humor it made for a goddamn entertaining set. They played most of the songs off of the reissued Bangers album, recently released on Metal Blade. Definitely a highlight of the night, I’ll be keeping an eye on this band.
After Barn Burner was the mighty Bison B.C. from where the name says. By this time the Bovine was rammed with people who were more than anxious to see Bison play, pushing and shoving their way to the front. I have heard a lot of good things about this band yet having not heard their music before I was looking forward to the set. I had always meant to check them out, just hadn’t gotten around to it. Well wasn’t that a huge mistake on my part. Bison destroyed the place. Playing some of the heaviest grooves known to man. They commanded the stage like it was a star destroyer; no one was left alive after their performance. The hype about this band is real and I apologize for not listening to my friends sooner. They have a new album coming out in April on Metal Blade – I suggest all of you buy it and see them live if you can, no one could be disappointed.
Unfortunately I missed Titan, the closing band, it was already 2 AM and I still had a long drive home. I can say this though: having seen Titan before, their take on post hardcore is a sight to see, one of my favorite songs is “The Glory of Fleet”. Check this song out on their MySpace and you’ll know what this band is about. Heavy, melodic and emotional. Great show. Metal Blade has some new Canadian talent on their hands and there is more where that came from.