Hey all, now that there’s snow on the ground here it’s probably time I got off my ass and shared some thoughts on this year’s edition of Heavy MTL. You know, while it’s still the same year. The 2012 edition will likely be remembered as The Year It Finally Rained, and rain it did for much of the Saturday. That didn’t stop the bands, however, and it certainly didn’t stop me and my crew from getting down and especially dirty in the mud pits of Montreal.
Big Hit: The word of the weekend was OldSkool, with both Overkill and Suicidal Tendencies absolutely laying waste to the place before a crowd that was eager to receive their 80’s thrash offering. Both bands seemed fresh and vital, with ST in particular back from the dead with a parade of rock-solid hits.
Big Miss: Marilyn Manson was an unmitigated disaster. Sloppy play, uninterested banter, poor singing. And this from a band with one of the prime stage slots, which makes it insulting, considering there were so many small, more interesting bands working their asses off on the same weekend. From what I’m hearing, this unprofessional behaviour has continued, as well. Slipknot was a bit auto-pilot as well, truth be told, presenting us with a lot of clown-goes-up, clown-goes-down and a distinct lack of the same chops that captivated folks back in the day.
Great as Expected: Gojira, Kataklysm, Cannibal Corpse. Killswitch Engage had a powerful set with new/old frontman Jesse Leach, holding audience attention even at the height of the rainstorm.
Pleasant Surprise: Who knew the NWOBHM was alive and well in suburban Quebec? 80’s rockers Sword put on a clinic on the third stage, putting me in mind of Grim Reaper and Mercyful Fate. Late on Saturday, Battlecross tore up the place in front a few in-the-know folks, making it feel like a private show. Very cool.
Mo’ Canada: In addition to Sword, we had more Canuck action than ever this year, with Voivod, The Agonist, Diemonds, battle of the bands winners Hollow and many more. Hell, even old chestnuts B.A.R.F. put foot to ass for our listening pleasure. The local scene is always one of my favourite things about Heavy MTL, and this year was stellar.
Organization Bad: C’mon, guys. Let’s talk about line-up. Here are the headliners, year by year:
2008 – Iron Maiden + Motley Crue
2010 – Rob Zombie / Korn + Slayer / Megadeth
2011 – Godsmack / Disturbed + KISS / Motorhead
2012 – System of a Down / Five Finger Death Punch + Slipknot / Marilyn Manson
It’s not what I’d call a direct decline, but does show evidence of corner cutting, as did the late arriving, inaccurate, single-page “programme”. Let’s hope we can see them lure at least one Metal God here in 2013.
Organization Good: The nuts and bolts stuff seemed well in hand, with better access to drinking water, and more (and more interesting) foods than years previous. It rained and they gave out raincoats, so that wasn’t too shabby. Heavy MTL remains the most consistently easy festival to enter in my experience, with the journey from the subway car, lining up, scanning tickets and searching bags all taking less than 15 minutes.
The Vibe: As always, the best in the biz. It’s what keeps us coming back. These are our people, gathered together in an easy-going place. The fact that we have such a place and that they offer a variety of bands to enjoy and complain about is something to be celebrated.