Gabe Hugh’s review of Briefcasefest 2016 held at Toronto’s Coalition
So, it’s the Victoria long weekend again and for those of you getting ready to spend it in the comforts of Kensington Market, either going to see some sights, shopping or getting a drink and grub – be forewarned that you may hear some interesting sounds coming from 282 Augusta Ave…
That’s because of the 2016 edition of Briefcasefest, held May 19 to 21, and organized by Toronto’s own Max Deneau. This fest boasted some of the best up and coming metal talent for not only Canada and Toronto but extending to bands from all over the world. It’s also not just about the grind here. We are talking tons of death, sludge, progressive, black and even some doom bands making appearances throughout the three-day lineup.
Sadly, I was only lucky enough to attend Saturday night, so that’s what I’m going to talk about and try to do some justice to.
Briefcasefest 2016: Saturday
Starting off Saturday night was Foreigns (Toronto), which is a relatively new band. They had lots of slower melodic elements that could be located in the area of doom but their music also contains progressive sounds that come out of modern jazz. For this listener at times they could be compared to Pelican. Guitarist Scott Bunn does a fantastic job with slow leads that move through different emotive states while encouraging heads to nod along to the powerful and doomy rhythms. The band has an EP called Metropolitan coming out on Labour Day.
Next up was Mad Trapper from Toronto. For me, it was a great opportunity to finally see this up and coming Toronto band live as I reviewed their album Dead Living last year and thought it was great. Live they were ferocious and executed a non-stop sensory attack on the audience. The start and stop visceral barrage of riffs and fast drumming was on par with the intensity of a Converge, Coalesce or Napalm Death show.
Drummer Julian did a fantastic job pummelling his hits and was very busy for the length of their set. Meanwhile the guitar was cutting down trees with fast chainsaw style riffs. The bass was the driving force of this road trip through the thickest and nastiest forest home to the most dangerous animals known to man. And that’s where the singer comes in. He is like a caged animal that was unleashed on the crowd at the Coalition. He was all over the stage screaming, falling, crawling, climbing on band members and running through the the attendees. Great set: tons of energy and aggression.
L’Habit Me Suce Lemoine
Next was L’Habit Me Suce Lemoine from Quebec. They are a three-piece, just vox, guitars and drums. The band pulled off some fast grind that was full of tight riffing and some breakdowns that had a powerviolence feel to them. Later the band slowed down for a number that some might even consider sludgy. Overall, good fast set and this writer would say they wore their influences (Napalm, Agathocles) on their sleeves throughout.
Sick of Stupidity
Next on the bill was Sick of Stupidity, who are from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Very intense fast band. Lots of early grind influences such as Napalm and Terrorizer. They also have dual vocalists which is different and adds more intensity. Guitarist Bruno Bakker plays lightning fast riffs that are just jam-packed with power chords and start and stop passages. Drummer Lemmy Konijn leads the destructive and purely chaotic rhythms with beats that are faster than a high speed train. Sick of Stupidity plays with a fury that is equaled by their passion and their apparent enjoyment of the genre.
God of Gaps
Following Sick of Stupidity was God of Gaps from Buffalo. Performing as a one-man noise act is no easy task but this was done with as much love and enthusiasm as, say, someone like Neil Young performing acoustically and discussing the environment. Except instead of using an acoustic guitar he used a dinner table full of effects pedals and mods accompanied by apocalyptic screams. Havoc was unleashed on unsuspecting ears, instantly drawing the focus and attention of all at the Coalition as electronics and feedback penetrated the deepest parts of the audience members’ minds. And almost as soon as it started it was over – in 10 mins. God of Gaps most definitely enjoys Godflesh and Author & Punisher, because the sounds heard here contain elements of both these artists.
Horse Lung from Toronto took to the stage next. At first listen one could say that this was a drone band with some sludgier aspects but that quickly changed a couple minutes later. The three piece made great use of slow downtuned passages the likes of funeral doom greats Asunder but also a midsection riff that you could swear was written by Reverend Bizarre. Lots of sustained power chords here; the bass work leads the band down the road to death followed by mourning and lots of slow methodical drumming. All of the above is right on key with describing your typical funeral doom group, but this band does well at making the listener think the band will lead them one way while just staying true with creating depressive moods and slow thundering ddoom.
RetardNation followed and brought to play a good combination of brutal death, thrash and grind. The vocalist here is a woman and she spews venom with each phrase. Soon lots of non-stop blasts and crunch and stomping death took hold. This writer heard some Cannibal Corpse and Incantation influences. Later the band used some samples to prepare the crowd à la Impaled. The band does well with their starts and stops and the assault ushered in some headbanging and lots of action in the pit as the last song laid waste with a pummelling attack.
Homolka from Toronto were up next. This four piece was not what this extreme music enthusiast was expecting. The band started off with some very grooving tunes and then warped in the new beast of grind and noise music. Max Deneau’s vocal delivery is not for the faint of heart and his death vox screams and shouts are just what the doctor ordered, especially when he is in the crowd pushing and inciting others to mosh and get into the pit. Yegor Zakharov slices and dices without abandon as the riffs and chugging progress with more start and stops than Tim Horton’s drive-thru in the morning.
If you like noise interludes, aggressive changes in tempo, mid sections that create chaos and a drummer who has a funny look somewhere between he might throw up or doesn’t know if he should use the restroom because he wants to make everything more uncomfortable, then this is the band for you. It may be noteworthy that the sounds echoed here contain vibes of early Terrorizer, Napalm, Converge and a touch of Full of Hell by way of the noise and powerviolence feel.
Soil of Ignorance
Soil of Ignorance from Quebec were up next, a fast powerful three piece that like their grind from the early days. So, yes, there’s a lot of Napalm in the sound but also some Disrupt and crust punk. The band did well ratcheting up the fun and speed with some picked power riffs accompanied by some Mick Harris-style blasts. Soil of Ignorance has been described by some as saying they talk too much and need to play more except it just seems that way because most of their songs are under the two minute mark. The band had fun playing their throwback grind (if there is such a thing) and everyone seemed to enjoy it very much. Great set.
Blurring played next; they are from Springfield, New York and Erik Burke (drums) and Dan Lilker (bass) were both formerly in Brutal Truth. Playing great, fast and high energy extreme music isn’t easy but that’s what this five piece makes it look like. Both guitars are relentless in their attack and the bass and drums drive the rhythm along a really beat up road.
If it could be amusing or interesting to be pummelled to death this would be the soundtrack.
The riffs are creative and the rhythm section is mind blowing and the vocals deliver all-out destruction. Burke is all over the kit blasting and getting busy and is full on crushing. The song “New Boat” is definitely a stand out here and is very technically challenging. The guitarists Matt Colbert and Scott D’Agostino do a fantastic job lifting it to new heights. Overall fantastic set.
AHNA are a two piece from Vancouver and were the last band of the night. Containing elements of crust, death and even drone they brought their nihilistic sound to the Coalition. Cutting or even scraping sounds emanated from the guitar cabinet; even though the crowd was not moving they could all feel the cringe-worthy sound. They band plays in the vein of some early black metal via the vocals and blasts. Another interesting tidbit is that the drummer (a woman) is also the vocalist. Lots of grinding noise with distorted guitar leads. Overall it was a great set and the crowd at the Coalition enjoyed it.
It was a great Saturday night here at the Coalition with a bill of diverse acts from all over. Max Deneau did a fantastic job organizing the fest and Matt Black did a great job with the sound and hosting all the bands at the Coalition. So next time, extreme music fans of South Eastern Ontario, don’t miss out on the chance to attend a Briefcasefest and experience it all for yourself.
For photos of Briefcasefest Day 3, check out this photo gallery from Devin Richardson Multimedia.