July 28 -29 – Montreal showed us how Heavy it can get ! Ghost’s and Slayer’s screams are still echoing through the festival’s ground as Heavy Montreal wraps up its 10th edition and it’s one for the books. The festival did a strong comeback after theirs 2017 hiatus, but this year might just be an anchor points for the festival’s growth
Heavy Montreal’s little sister, ’77 – opened the ball on the Friday with a line-up focus on the punk’ier side. Offering a nice diversity in the music and the scenery, the ’77 was the perfect way to pre-drink and test your headbang abilities for the weekend.
Celebrating cult band from the punk era and including a fair amount of rock fuses through the day – this year line-up didn’t miss their target. Bad Religion made an awaited return to Montreal, presenting their old classics and some of their newly released album. Bad Religion have been a influential force in modern punk and they are offering even more maturity and counterpoint to a culture of consumerism and anti-intellectualism. Their new songs mixed naturally and they played them with even more excitement. Check out their new Album – Age of Unreason
Other highlights of the days included Pennywise, who absolutely rocked their afternoon set. Authentic and explosive, they gave more than anyone was expecting and their DGAF attitude might just have won the ”Most mosh-pit award” of the day. Meanwhile, Streetlight manifesto who brought their ”Ska punk” horns and brass, definitely set up a different mood and offered a nice variety for the sunset – Don’t miss their show at the Olympia, on Nov 16th. Final mention to Charly Bliss, one of the few female performer, for a strong and smooth psychedelic performances on the refreshing ”Scène des Jardins”.
Discovery of the day : Wavves
Montreal’s band of the day : Gutter Demons,
Local’s Bands of the day : Mute, The Dirty Nil, Anti-queen
Best Touch of the day : The market and the vintage Arcades
Not taking anything from ’77 – but things got real quick and early that Saturday. Metal and rocks fans were unquestionably eager to show off their mohawk, wear black and drinks like this was a beer-olympic. Arguably, few were ready for the Satanic black mass celebration that was ahead.
Saturday’s headliner is not something I’ll forget anytime soon. I can’t say it’s really my style, nor can I say I was a fan – I barely knew three or four songs – Yet, I can say that Ghost is amongst the most catchy and mesmerizing show I’ve seen in a while. Mysterious, dark, spooky and theatrical. I didn’t expect a band that wear masks to leave such an impression on me and be that sastifying. Their live presence breathes an entirely new energy from theirs songs and it is nearly irresistible once your in the crowd. It’s a mix of fascination and raw power that bewitches and captivates instantly.
Even thought Ghost’s recording sometime sound like they are flirting with pop and electronic music – Live, they feel like true rock band. It made me wish I saw them at their beginning – in a smaller indoor venue, where they first build their reputation as allegedly one of the scariest and freakiest live acts. You see, Ghost increase in popularity also meant bigger stage, which necessarily meant sacrificing intimacy. Nevertheless the performance was unique, sinister and devilishly entertaining.
It’s more than just the costume, the creepy mood, the guitar battle or the pope skeleton playing sax, it’s that Ghost is chilling. It was the Swedish’s band only appearance in North America this summer, and I doubt we’ll miss the next one !
Ghost wasn’t the only band that left ears ringing and legs sore that day. The Heavy Montreal very first hours was already packed with loud screams, aggressiveness and randomness. The first band on stage were all dressed in Star-War outfit. But Bobafett on the drums and Darth Vader on the guitar wasn’t enough and didn’t even make the cut for the ” Best costume of the weekend”. Although a great effort from Galactic Empire, the title goes to this crew :
That being said, Killswitch Engage and Godsmack both delivered great solid hours-long set under the scorching sun, that was only helping the crowd general state of frenzyness. At some points counting mosh-pit, circle-pit or crazy situation seemed pointless – it was common currency –
Not at all influencing the surrounding agressivity was a stage dedicated to wrestling games and shirtless fighting. Nothing like a touch of violence to bring up the testosterone needed for a romantic evening listening to hardcore heavy metal.
The YUL garden once again brought outstanding flavours to the festivities. Gruuman’s sweet potato and tacos, Street Monkey’s fried chicken or literally any other vegetarians option that I didn’t try , were pure gourmet. That being said, credit to Evenko for proposing as many vegetarian meals as meat ones and confirming Montreal’s fine gastronomic reputation
Evanescence, was by far the best throwback for our team. The lead singer is in no-other word a powerhouse of pure talents. Still in her prime and sounding exactly like the album, evanescence was genuinely a fresh after-sunset moment that made us forget all our sunburn of the day and prepared for Ghost chilling entrance.
Steel Panther win the funniest and most disturbing set. They are mostly known for their profane and humorous lyrics, as well as their exaggerated on-stage personae that reenact the stereotypical “glam metal” lifestyle. Still there is something unearthly ridiculous about a crowd singing along the verse of their song ”Gloryhole” ; a marvellous ”family” moments
Overall well set-up, the big anticipated return to the festival’s original site was on point and well handle. The newly renovated complex is filled treats and hidden potentials. New features include ; 360 sound pillars and 360 lights towers disposed across the hills and the main stage, concrete plaza and walkways, new amenities. Audio in the large picture was well balanced, clean and comfortable. Light were visually striking. Crowd dynamic well distributed and circulation fluid.
Slayer – Tim Snow
Anthrax – Pat Beaudry
Day two of Heavy Montreal was perhaps the most ”hyped-up” day of the festival. Receving two members of the ”Big four” of trash metal. Slayer playing their last performance ever in Quebec and Anthrax, who was just inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History at the festival. Those two pioneering band highly influenced heavy metal and are considered by some like legendary, needless to say they were must-do for the real fans out there. Honestly neither really needed special effect to get the crowd going or rock the stage, it’s just what they do naturally.
Slayer showed Montreal that they were still true to their fast and aggressive musical style and they played each song like furious madmen until the very ends. Pyrotechnic, explosions and screams for the closing act of the festivals followed by endless and tireless cheers from the crowd that wouldn’t let their icon leave the stage so quietly, especially for the last time.
Tim SnowTim Snow
Benoit RousseauSimon WhiteSimon White
Written by – Xavier Hébert
Photos not-captionned by Xavier Hébert