By Kyle Harcott
As far as metal festivals go, historically speaking Western Canada has been about as headbanging as a church potluck. It’s kinda ridiculous, when you think about it; I mean, what’s a more metal atmosphere? Our majestic mountains, copious deep woods, and snow-packed winters evoke Viking sentiments and blackmetal moods; the grizzled beardo/doom-metal-lumberjack type is practically an archetype for our area; we’re known for world-class beer and of course, there’s our *other* #1 export, courtesy those fine folks at BC Hydro (hint: it ain’t salmon). Western Canada bloody well screams metal, when you actually think aboot it! But there just never was much in the way of a cohesive, all-encompassing, year-to-year headbanging festival in our part of the world.
At least, not until 2007, when Scarab Productions in Calgary got together to put on the first Noctis Metal Fest. And to such rousing success, they decided to keep doing it every year after.
Since that fateful first one, the festival has gathered steam year after year, and in the three (and-a-half) editions since, has seen the likes of Sodom, Brutal Truth, Incantation, The Devil’s Blood, Cynic, Suffocation, Deströyer 666, Cephalic Carnage, Korpiklaani, Watain, Melechesh, and Inquisition grace its stages, to name but a few.
For this milestone fifth edition of Noctis, Scarab Productions have really pulled out all the stops and topped themselves over all years previous; Stretching this year’s stellar music fest over three nights (September 27-29) instead of the standard two of the last few Noctises (Noctii?) has allowed for that many more epic bands to get added to the bill. This year, Calgary gets its head banged righteously by the likes of VENOM, MANILLA ROAD, PIG DESTROYER, AGALLOCH, BLACK WITCHERY, NUNSLAUGHTER, MIDNIGHT, GRAND MAGUS, BLOOD CEREMONY, SPEEDWOLF, THE CONTORTIONIST… and the list goes on from there. Not that you needed further proof, but it’s certainly telling that a handful of the Noctis bands have also been confirmed for the Maryland Deathfest lineup for next year.
If the lineup of concerts wasn’t enough, Noctis’ annual metal conference is also stretched over two days instead of the usual one, and the cast of metal insiders on deck to speak is again, top-notch: Venom’s Cronos, authors Joel McIvor and Martin Popoff, Pigface founder/music industry guru Martin Atkins, Profound Lore maven Chris Bruni, Gorguts mainman Luc Lemay, and a host of others.
Hellbound.ca, of course, will be there. No stranger to the insanity of Noctis, Helbound’s history with the festival is a storied one; in his first pieces for the site, Rob Hughes covered Noctis III: Tritagonist in 2009, and Da Ed Himself, Sean Palmerston, was a featured panelist in the conference portion of Noctis IV: Thrones Of War in 2010. At this year’s conference, senior writer Adrien Begrand is a featured panelist, and contributing writer Sarah Kitteringham is a moderator/interviewer.
And of course, Your Humble Narrator will be there as well, doing my part to cover the fest in all its denim-and-leather glory: taking in the bands, the panels, the booze, the schmooze, banging heads, hunting vinyls and generally just being stoked on being in a town with a real live metal festival (not to mention an actual Manilla Road – Google Map it, suckers!) So if you want to say hello, or point me in the direction of the most metal-friendly vinyl store in Cowtown, or even just come up to me to tell me how bad you thought that Tank review sucked, please feel free. See you in Calgary!