Mares of Thrace @ Kilroys, Thunder Bay, ON, August 8th, 2010

By Jason Wellwood

One of the worst times to agree to do a show review is probably for something happening the day before you return to work from holidays. Hence the reason this is late in coming. For me, the Mares of Thrace show as a long time coming, I’d been waiting to see Therese and Stefani again since the last time Kilbourne played Thunder Bay back in 2007. I’d always loved watching Kilbourne play, the band was intense and fun. There was always a sense of the band having a good time on stage and wanting to play that most touring metal bands, actually most touring bands period, seem to forget about somewhere along the way. Now, if you check LU Radio’s charts for the past few weeks, or my playlist from last month’s staff picks, you’ll see that I am definitely a fan of the new venture by Therese and Stefani. Having lost Therese’s sister Fran to marriage and a ‘normal’ type life, the remaining members stepped up their game and took their love of heavy, technical and noisy music to another level.

Live, Mares of Thrace are able to reproduce their jazzy/angular debut album The Moulting almost perfectly. The album was recorded almost exactly the same way they play live (with only a couple of overdubs here and there) in essence squashing any complaints that ‘it didn’t sound like the record’ from the audience. What you don’t get from the album though, is the incredible amount of life that these two breathe into their music live.

The Kilroys stage is pretty massive and could dwarf a lesser duo but from the minute Mares of Thrace begin to play, it’s like you have tunnel vision, your focus is on those two alone and you don’t want to look away lest you miss something. The sense of fun, and joy of playing has not gone away, if anything it’s magnified about 100 times in this band. Stefani is the only heavy drummer I’ve ever seen that smiles from beginning to end of a set. In fact, the more complicated she’s playing the bigger her smile gets. Therese is absolutely frantic on stage, not just her playing or the triggering of effects but her face never seems to stop moving. She gets this look on her face like ‘you have no idea what I’m about to do and I know it’s going to kick your ass’ right before she unleashes a bellow that would make Satan himself cower.

Mares of Thrace are one hell of a lot of fun to watch live and they will blow you away. If the new song they played at Kilroys is any indication (Pale Neck), their next record is also going to be a monster, possibly better than The Moulting but I’m not sure if that could happen. If you have a chance to catch them on the remainder of this tour, do so. You won’t regret it!

Special thanks to fellow Hellbounder Adam Wills for coming and hanging out with me for the evening and for letting me know that Hard Charger were good (I missed them due to a run to the bank machine) and gave me the verdict of ‘I feel stupider for having seen them’ with regards to the one local band we caught.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.