Archive for Heavy MTL

A Tale of Two Metal Cities

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 6, 2011 by Lightning Slim

Recently my crew convened for what we call the Gentlemen’s Constitutional, which is basically a Sunday afternoon spent drinking, solving the world’s problems and talking about music. Our last GC concerned the summer festival circuit, in particular the Heavy MTL event and its new offshoot Heavy T.O. Since both events are being held the same weekend (how stupid is that?), clearly there were decisions to be made. Listed here are some of the main concerns we had at the time, and our rationale leading up to ticket purchases. You can compare the facts yourself at and

Lineup – Toronto has Rob Zombie, Slayer, Testament, Mastodon and Megadeth. Also Melissa Auf Der Maur, but no one cares. What’s that you say? We saw every single one of these bands at Heavy MTL last year? Wow!

What else you got T-dot? Motörhead, Diamond Head, Anthrax, Children of Bodom, The Sword and Devildriver? Montreal will see those bands and raise you In Flames and Machine Head. Montreal has all the ‘Head bands! Only the lack of Anvil and Volbeat makes the people of Montreal sad. Oh wait, some guys named “Kiss” are there instead. Advantage: MTL

Travel Arrangements – As Ontario lads, a trip to Montreal will require an extra day off work. This issue was quickly dismissed by asking ourselves the question “Do we Like Going to Work?”  There will also be extra cash outlay for gas (it’s a six-hour drive for us) and hotel rooms. Driving to Toronto would be easier (1 hour) and we could go home at night. But why would we want to? It’s a vacation! In Toronto someone would have to be a Designated Driver and pay outrageous parking prices, or someone’s domestic partner would have the lovely task of fetching us. On the chances of one of us wishing to be DD, I would like to  reference this image from last summer: 


Advantage: MTL

Ticket Prices – Montreal is $202.50 for reserved seating with semi-private concessions and washrooms. The service charges are included. Toronto’s Live Nation Lounge, which sounds like a similar arrangement, is $275 for the weekend plus service charges. Fewer bands for more money; nice work LiveNation. Advantage: MTL

Hospitality and Vibe – Inertia Entertainment has tried very hard for the last 20 years to bring great bands to Toronto, and we’ve seen some fantastic shows there. Toronto is a familiar city to all of us.  We can get around, we know where the food is and we won’t get lost. We’re also familiar with strip-search event security, rude cab drivers and skinheads with radar for any show with a pit. In our two Heavy MTL experiences, we have taken the subway (beer in hand) directly from our hotel to the show, chatted about music and girls with police and event staff (who still did their jobs) and met about 1000 chilled-out people for every one douchebag. The hotel concierge asked every sunburned, reeking metalhead stumbling back to their rooms if it was a good show. Advantage: MTL

What do you think we chose? For my crew it’s about spending some time together, and the music. I realize not everyone has the same priorities. The trip will cost us some more money, but we understand who we are and why we’re spending it. I can’t wait for another edition of what has become the highlight of my year. I’m not dissing Toronto; I lived there for years and was proud to do so, but the fact remains that it is a stuffy, puritanical place unsuited to a massive outdoor music festival celebrating heavy music. The lineups and pricing just put more nails in the coffin. Perhaps one day Heavy T.O. will aspire to the level of sophistication and class that Heavy MTL already has down pat, but that would require Toronto to become Montreal.

Can you believe this is Post #100? It’s been a strange trip, and thanks to all those from my extended Derby and Metal families who have made it with me. Stay Heavy! – Slim

Deals and Steals: NWOAHM Edition

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  We’ve got a fearsome foursome of U.S. cruise missiles for this set of bargoons. All prices in the currency of their birth, shipping was a fiver.

Lamb of God – Hourglass: The Anthology $18.99. What’s the best way to get from zero to LoG in a hurry? Why, this three disc set of course. Two of hits, one B-sides. I’d been looking to catch up ever since Heavy MTL, where they impressed me mightily with their Pantera-come-again swagger.

Killswitch Engage – Killswitch Engage (2009) $11.97. Two-disc special edition, still not their best.

The Sword – Age of Winters $6.99 and Gods of the Earth (Free with promotion). Thick slabs of retro-Sab ready for the ale tankard. Priestess’ American cousins. I am appropriately ashamed that I’ve been wearing one of The Sword’s T-shirts for a year now before hearing the music, but now relieved that it’s great.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Heavy MTL 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2010 by Lightning Slim

I’ve had a week to decompress and collect my thoughts about the second edition of Heavy MTL. I think it was a tremendous success by anyone’s standards, featuring some great performances by a truckload of bands and the legendary hospitality of Canada’s hippest city. I initially tried to put everything into a coherent, travelogue-style narrative, but then I decided that would bore the pants off y’all. Here’s the meat of things: 

It's the one that you wanted.

Big Hit: Rob Zombie wiped the floor with the place. In these sorts of festivals, bands usually have enough time and presence of mind to  wander out, play a few songs and disappear again. Not so Mr. Zombie, who brought all the robots, pyro, costumes and video that make him the proper heir apparent to Alice Cooper (Cooper himself didn’t fare so well, conjuring up images of an elderly, croaking transvestite). All this stage mummery didn’t diminish the playing chops of Zombie’s band, who didn’t hide behind their makeup and treated us to a huge committed rock show filled with that thing metal sometimes forgets about: fun. It was interesting to juxtapose the maniacal stage personae with the perfect gentlemen signing autographs earlier in the day. 

Big Miss: Fear Factory, after delivering what might be the record of the year, fumbled their soundcheck badly and then went through the motions in a badly truncated set.  I went in looking for the icing on the tasty cake of FF’s return, only to find it was straight out of the tin. 

Skeletonwitch's Chance Garnette spends some time with Slim's crew

Great as Expected: Skeletonwitch, Testament, Halford, 3 Inches of Blood, Lamb of God and Slayer made the most of their stage time. All these bands have reputations for delivering consistent live performances, and they kept the faith in MTL. 

Pleasant Surprises: Airbourne, as the sole whiskey-rock band between two armies of Metal and Emocore, did much to lighten the mood and gave people their second wind for fun on Day 2. Hail the Villain conquered the crowd with self-deprecating humour and heavier versions of their radio sound, and In This Moment grabbed no small number of new fans with an arresting performance on the third stage. Speaking of third stages — 

Organization Bad: Three stages in competition. I’m old-fashioned, I guess, but I think that every fan should have the chance to see every band. Chimaira in one ear and 3 Inches of Blood in the other isn’t enjoyable for even the most indiscriminate fan. 

"Patches" was sad that he had to pick and choose 😦

Organization Good: Almost everything else! Polite security staff, almost-reasonable  concession prices, on-time performances, great selection of bands. Some might quibble that Day 2 was Emo Day, but I say if you’re gonna have this thing and you want it to thrive you should cram in as many bands as possible. I know that may contradict my thoughts on multiple stages, but it brings me to my next point: 

The Vibe: More important than any one performance or memory, Heavy MTL represents a gathering of the metal community. It puts like-minded folks together to bang their heads, have a beer and talk about the music they love in a safe, positive and party-like atmosphere. Canadians love (and play) metal as well as anyone else, and we need this festival to continue. It’s like our Wacken or Milwaukee, done in our smaller, more polite way. 


So when Heavy MTL 2011 comes around, I won’t be going for any particular band, although I have a ton of suggestions if anyone’s listening. I’ll be going for the good times, good company and that rare chance to be amongst one’s own. 

That’s all for now – I was always taught not to over-analyse anything good. \m/ \m/! 

Don't recall it being "metal -on- your ass", but a'ight.

Classic Album Review – Slayer “Seasons in the Abyss” 1990

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  When Megadeth announced that they would be performing Rust in Peace in its entirety on tour for that record’s 20th anniversary, there was some polite applause. “Why not”, we said, “that’ll be pretty good”. When Slayer announced that they would be doing likewise with Seasons in the Abyss, they got more of a “Hell Yeah!”

The general book on SITA is that it’s a combination of the aggression in Reign in Blood with the clinical skill of South of Heaven. Who am I to argue? There’s no secret to this album’s success – it’s simply got more of what everyone liked about the preceding releases, and about Slayer in general. Quite a lot more, as the quality is upheld by quantity: there are no bad songs on the record, which doesn’t always happen, even with great bands. Slayer is operating in high gear in rarefied air – even the least compelling track (the good but forgettable “Born of Fire”) would have entire albums written around it if it had sprung from the mind of Annihilator or Testament. No disrespect to those bands, but SITA is some next-level material, and Souls of Black (released on the same day!) hasn’t aged well at all.

Much of the praise for this should go to Dave Lombardo, who really puts his stamp on the record and sends it over the top. He’s not “providing a beat”, he’s playing his instrument to affect the song at hand with every swing of the sticks. His kick drum work is especially savant here, making good songs even better and taking great ones off the charts. The tom rolls in the title track are a big reason why it in particular never gets old and still receives airplay on metal shows 20 years on. 

Few metal albums can approach the insane genius of Reign in Blood, and everyone (including Slayer) knows this. This means that, for now, whenever a new Slayer record comes around we all say “I hope it’s as good as Seasons“. 9 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Megadeth “Rust in Peace” 1990

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  This is a tough one. Rust in Peace is a record that gets by on what it represents rather than how it sounds right out of the box. It’s the pinnacle of early period Megadeth, the orbit-reaching third stage of the rocket that took off with Peace Sells and soared skyward with So Far, So Good…So What? It’s the logical conclusion of their straight-up non-ironic speed and thrash movement, when it was still OK to follow up a political antiwar track with some stuff about wizards.

RIP has some Top 20 Megadeth songs on it, but they’ve done better. It has a couple of dogs on it too, but they’ve done worse. What it really has in its favour is a bit of swagger (as the band finally feel comfortable in their own skins) and some fantastic guitar playing by Mustaine and Freidman both. At its release, it also had a bit of luck in terms of timing. Fans happily pummeled by …And Justice for All the year before were looking for something with a bit more flash, Maiden were entering the stagnant years and many folks just weren’t ready for this thing called GWAR yet. Into this gap of expectation rode Megadeth with the answer for the day. It was clear that while the material had not matured, the players most certainly had. 

Rust in Peace is always worth a spin in the car on a hot summer day, but it’s really just a proof-of-concept that the band made to show their label and the public that they were ready for success. The fact that it was so well received allowed them the time , the tools and the means to make Countdown to Extinction. For that, it has my thanks. 7 out of 10 

One word of caution: the 2004 remaster is a bone of contention for many. It features clearer basslines (yay), new untreated vocals from Dave (boo) and a general air of sterility that removes much of the grit (and I think, the fun) from the record. Your mileage may vary.

Deals and Steals: Prepare for MTL!

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  As we prepare for Heavy MTL 2010, my friends and I have created a mixtape challenge to keep us occupied and entertained on the drive up to la belle province. Each of us must make a CD for all the others, using songs from the artists appearing at Heavy MTL. We also gave each other scatalogical challenging titles and obscure byzantine rules to follow (mine is that Dio is always allowed, Glassbane wants everything to “sound as Quebecois as possible”, whatever the hell that means).

Since I’m no download ninja and I have a serious used record addiction, I seized the opportunity to grab a bunch of obscure online finds to broaden my options and help me win this mix war. Here’s what just arrived:

Three Inches of Blood  – Advance and Vanquish $5.59. Three-Inch were a hoot at the last MTL, and are now back to destroy more orcs and metalheads alike. 

Shadows Fall – Seeking the Way: Greatest Hits $2.27. To my shame, I had no Shadows Fall in the house to work with. This gets me up to speed quickly – and look at that price!

In This Moment – Beautiful Tragedy and Dream $6.99 apiece. A nice change of pace from a band I didn’t know much about. Rides the Evanescence/Emilie Autumn/Lacuna Coil train; and after a few listens I’ll tell you which car they’re in.

This Moment – Finding a Voice in the Dark $1.07. Clicked on it by accident looking for the band above. The sound sample (gotta love Second Spin for that preview feature) revealed heaviness. I decided that for a buck, this decent hardcore record could hop the border for the chance to be resold, perhaps for three bucks.

And also some MTL-unrelated stuff:

Unleashed $3.77. Jet Li acts like a dog. And a little boy lost. And a badass. Ultimate date movie.

Scanner vs. Signs Ov Chaos $1.27. One of the smoothest operators in electronic music records with one of the strangest. If you know which is which and would like to share, please comment.

  Roadrunner United: The Concert $12.99. I’ve always been a huge fan of RR’s All-Star project. I think the meeting of the minds that took place was a great idea, so it’s only natural that I’d want the matching commemorative concert. Heavy MTL has the same kind of vibe to it – a metal summit to create new friends and new ideas about heavy music.

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