Hellbound is based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This year, on July 1st, 2016, Canada turns 149 years old. Canada’s first contribution to the pre-history of heavy metal was (according to Wikipedia)* a band called The Sparrows, which formed in 1964 and went on to become Steppenwolf. Canadian heavy metal band Anvil released the album Metal on Metal in 1982. The documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil was released in 2008 and in 2009 the film began winning international awards.
In 2012, the Junos finally introduced a separate heavy metal category. One hundred years ago, some Canadian women were granted the right to vote. This year the five talented Juno nominees for Canadian Heavy Metal Album of the Year included two bands featuring women musicians (one each): Fuck the Facts and Diemonds. The Juno went to Québecois metal / “northern hyperblast” band Katakylsm, which features members Maurizio Iacono, Jean-François Dagenais, Stéphane Barbe and Oli Beaudoin, and much deserved the recognition.
Today, several Hellbound contributors share the metal albums they’ll be cranking. Happy Canada Day 2016!
Canadian Metal for Canada Day
The Wolves of Avalon – Across Corpses Grey
I’ve picked this album for a multitude of reasons, all equally important to me. Firstly, musically it is superb: all the musicians are at the top of their game and play their hearts out. Secondly, this is music made for just the right reasons. The title track is a prog-pagan epic of thirty minutes duration, yet it does not feel overlong. Thirdly, the lyrics from my old friend Metatron are truly superb, and would easily stand up as poetry, for they are beautiful heartfelt odes to a world light years away from the imaginary isolated digital world so many now find themselves self-imprisoned in. Fourthly, the packaging and artwork is fabulous, reflecting Godreah’s commitment to the physical product of music in the face of a world that increasingly devalues music by stealing it, and in the process, foolishly destroying the future of the music they profess falsely to love. Last, but by no means least, it features an incredible cover of Venom’s “Die Hard,” which features original (and best) Venom guitarist Mantas, and as well as Metatron on vocals. Alan Averill from Primordial, Rob Miller from Amebix/Tau Cross, and Mirai from Sigh, all guest on vocals, to make this a truly special cover. How many albums this year will I be able to write thusly about?
Steve’s Canadian pick:
A Devil’s Din – Skylight
Imagine Purson and Ghost jamming with Black Sabbath, Trouble, and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, and you’re still only half-way there. A Devil’s Din have produced a superb album that owes nothing to modern trends. It owes it all to great musicianship, great songs, and just a most out-there psychedelic sound to their music. No Pro-tools “sound” here, just a truly warm, inspiring analogue sound. It seems appropriate that Canada would nurture this unique international three-piece. Recommended highly for anyone who loves music.
(Island Dive Records)
Harangue – No New Prey
While I don’t need a holiday as an excuse to crank Canadian metal, I do try and make it all Canadian on Canada Day. I’ll even hashtag my playlist on Twitter. But what YOU need to be listening to is the latest EP from Toronto’s Harangue, No New Prey. It’s a vicious hardcore/metal hybrid that makes the weak feel small, breaks necks and generally doesn’t put up with your crap. That doesn’t sound very Canadian but Harangue are tough as shit and so is our country. Besides, after that brutally cold Edgefest 2001 (on July 1) that I spent with vocalist Michael Kopko he’s always on my mind on Canada Day. Now he’s in my ears too!
This year I’ll be listening to — what else? — Voivod.
Canada Day usually finds me pulling out choice selections from the Saga and Max Webster catalogues. This year I think I’ll spin Silent Knight and A Million Vacations. After I’ve driven my family out of the house with all that quirky hoser-prog, I’ll also need to hear Post-Society, the new EP from Voivod, which I bought at their show here a couple weeks ago. Given that I’ve only played it through once so far, I haven’t come close to figuring it out. Their mutated rendition of “Silver Machine” struck me as clever though.
My pick for the Canada Day feature is a local Hamilton band that’s steadily on the rise. They’re called Prismind: featuring John Mamone on vocals, Kelly Kereliuk on guitar, Mike Hardshaw (ex-annihilator) on drums and Justin Faragher on bass. July 1st they will be opening for The Agonist at the Underground and playing some new un-recorded songs in their set!
DREXELL’S EYE – Always Room for More
It’s a Canada Day tradition; I whip out the debut by this long-forgotten, but consistently-awesome-and-standalone-unique-when-they-were-around bunch of Edmontonians and those in the know are all like, “Again with you and that band,” while everyone else is all, “I still don’t know who you’re talking about.”
Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia
This album has only been out a couple of weeks, so I’m listening to it today not as a much beloved classic but as a new treat. Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings was one of my favourites of 2013 and so far Metachthonia is sounding like a worthy successor to the band’s full-length debut.
Striker – Stand in the Fire
With more and more impressive Canadian albums being released every year, choosing a single album to represent the Canadian metal scene continues to get more difficult. But if there’s one album that I have kept coming back to this year, it’s Striker’s latest, Stand in the Fire. If you’re into the classic heavy metal sound, the Edmonton-based quartet brings all of the essentials — sing-along gang choruses, catchy riffs, soaring solos and most importantly, great songwriting. Stand in the Fire will be amongst the best Canadian releases of the year and I’ll be playing it loudly this Canada Day and for years to come.
* See also www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/heavy-metal-emc. Know any other histories of Canadian metal? Share them in the comments below.