By Renee Trotier
Oh the local show, a place where bands go to hock their collective wares, gain some experience and exposure, and have a bit of fun. That this would be my first review for Hellbound seems only fitting. We all start somewhere and for me it’s at The Corktown Pub, a venue that is as you might imagine it complete with fireplace, pinball machine and a couch that is more inviting than it is comfortable. With relatively few people milling around inside, I grabbed a drink and a seat, eager to see what the evening had in store.
Twilight Child kicked things off in grand fashion, backs towards the audience and an epic choral soundtrack overhead. They played a competent style of melodic death metal that was complimented by a heavy layer of keyboards, giving their sound depth as well as ambiance. It’s within this sense of atmosphere that they excel, convincing me they’ll do well opening for Katatonia/Swallow The Sun later this September.
I was in the unique position of being able to see Hallows Die perform on the first and last date of their “Ruin the East” tour, tonight being the latter. After playing live every night for almost two weeks straight, I was interested in how the two shows might compare. The first was good, but I could tell right from sound check that the second would be even better. Not only did they play their solid slab of melodic death metal with ferocity and fervour, but as a band they sounded tighter than ever. The crackling energy that was just below the surface of their previous performance had swelled until it could no longer be contained, bursting from fingertips, feet and lungs. Even their stage presence had improved, throwing in moments of choreographed headbanging which reminded me at once of a more fun-loving Behemoth. The always charismatic and humorous vocalist/guitarist Ryan Bovaird cracked jokes throughout, going as far as to insist that touring made the band smell like “Bigfoot’s dick”. Hey, it might be heavy metal but who says it can’t be fun?
The first thing that struck me about Orillia’s Esoteric Doctrine was the diversity of their sound. Combining black metal style tremolo picking with death metal inspired riffs, guttural growls and stoner-esque clean vocal passages, they are clearly a band with a healthy number of influences. Initially I was a bit thrown off – they’re death metal, no wait, black metal – but once I had dismissed the inherent need to categorize them neatly within a genre, Esoteric Doctrine proved to be an enjoyable experience. They didn’t play so much as march, a linear and forward moving set that was both the same and different, shifting from one influence to the next without being jarring or obvious. By the time they left the stage I had concluded that they were simply fucking heavy.
Next on the docket was Hamilton’s own Deathmarch. For reasons I’m not fully aware of they were without a drummer tonight, getting by with a drum track and Northern Storm Records label head Rob Cranny. By this I mean that Rob sat in the middle of the stage, shirtless with drum sticks in hand, phantom drumming throughout the entire set. Remember what I said about metal being fun? I don’t know if it was the music, the “drumming” or the fact that Deathmarch had been away from the stage for months but they managed to garner the largest crowd response, a string of fans willing to relinquish their seat and their beer in favour of a good old fashioned mosh pit. Even vocalist Jarrett Lowry got in on the action, frequently jumping into the pit and leading the crowd in chants of “Hey! Hey! Hey!” Their blend of black, death and folk metal was enticing and their performance fun and energetic. The only pitfall for me was the lack of live drumming which seemed to dampen their sound. The instruments being played were underlined by a robotic tone from the drum track, blending human warmth with cold, calculating electronics. I don’t fault them for this however, and as entertaining as Rob is I’d love to see them again with a drum kit in tow.
It was well after midnight when Deathmarch descended from the stage, and although Strings of Ares has yet to play, I decided to leave with the majority of the crowd. Tonight was a lesson in humble beginnings, a celebration of local metal and the community that helps it flourish. I was glad to be a part of it.