Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Hot Alberta Metal Scene. Seriously.

Who knew Calgary (and Lethbridge, and Edmonton) had such an awesome metal scene? People in Alberta, that's who. Having just returned from the Great White (or at this time of year, green) North I must spread the word. Last week I was in Alberta, mostly in Jasper and Banff National Parks, so when I passed through Calgary I unfortunately didn't have time to take in a show. But the writeups in the local free papers were many. Of the names I gleaned, here are a few stand-outs:

Akakor - Hot technical Death metal! Imagine a heavier more metally Dillinger Escape Plan. Personal favorite track, Perceived to Be.

Enceladus - Described as Lethbridge power metal (a south Alberta city). I'm partial to showboating neoclassical stuff with melodic vocals (e.g. Symphony X) so I dig these guys too, although they could do with better vocal production and mixing. Check out the other bands at their CD release party. (No offense to Lethbridge, in fact congrats to Lethbridge, but how can San Diego not have a scene like this?!?!? If it does please direct us all to the right resources.)

Mark of Cain - These guys are slightly more technical than average and are helping move death metal past the point of trying to out-shock and out-gore the next band. Plus they like robots, and anyone who combines science/fiction and metal is making the world better.

JJS3 - Fun pentatonic neo-hard rock bordering at times on doom-metal. (Though from the Yukon rather than Alberta. Is there death metal in the Yukon? I spend too much time wondering if there's anything about certain cities that contributes to the musical style aside from contact with other bands; maybe in a massive territory like YT with only 30,000 other people the population density is too low to get really angry.) I find myself listening to Warrior Warrior repeatedly. The guitar tone and style reminds me of Crysknife in some ways, along with the simple arrangements and catchy melodies.

Kataplexis - Perpetual Apathy is my fave. Technical bordering on black death metal.

Striker. Excellent! Imagine Black Tide meets Hammerfall; ergo, not at all like the 80s hair band the name makes you think of. Check out "F*ck Volcanoes", an ode to that unspellable Icelandic eruption this summer, musically given the full serious-minded operatic hard rock treatment, but lyrically, er ah, not: "F*ck volcanoes! Spewing shit into the sky / Stupid assholes, Iceland why don't you go die / F*ck volcanoes, you're seriously killing my buzz / Motherf*cker." Believe it or not, it works! You will also smile when you listen to "The Keg That Crushed New York".

Divinity's record is called The Singularity, which is also a good union of metal and sf. I would say they're a slightly less grating Meshuggah, but you can hear the influence, even in the vocal style. About time for a generation of Meshuggah-influenced bands to appear.

Also check out Ominosity and Viathyn.

I don't know about you but when I find an excellent metal scene in an unexpected part of the world and I'm checking out their tunes I'm like a kid opening presents at Christmas. Enjoy!

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