They came from far and wide in droves all with visions heavy metal glory still fresh in their mind from last night’s dreams. They braved the lines and wore their uniforms and together, marched into the fair grounds that is Heavy MTL 2013. The standard two main stages towering over the masses were there usual central hub but with the inclusion of other details, Heavy MTL had more of festival feel, something that seemed lacking in years past. There were giant gates with skeletons strewn about like garland leading festival goers to inside the grounds as well as to other parts of the festival. The inclusion of food trucks made for a nice addition to the festivals standard hot dog, pizza menu. Although the 3rd smaller stage has been present in the past, it was the route to get there that has been updated. Festival goers could relax in the chill out, free wifi zone, play some games at a small tent or even watch some campy yet wildly entertaining wrestling.
But, as it should be, it was the music was the focus of the day. Montreal’s own Obey The Brave opened the show bringing the heaviosity. Ferocious and unstoppable, this band was a great choice to get things rolling on the right foot. If that was a tad too extreme for some then it was David Draiman’s new band Device which would take some of the edge off. Albeit catchy and for some and a marked improvement on his still-in-hiatus band Disturbed, Device did feel a little too straight and narrow as a follow up to Obey The Brave. Still, they did get a few head bangs and shouts of approval from the crowd who was still slowly filing into the festival grounds.
Supergroup Hellyeah took to the stage with a surprising amount of aggression and energy. Aside from Chad Grey looking like a rooster on heroin, their set was a good one. Heavier live than on record, Hellyeah crunched it a little herder and screamed a little louder. After Hellyeah wrapped things up it was GWAR that decimated the crowd. Their set was riddled with sound problems from the start but GWAR is a band that is mostly about the visuals anyway. Standard GWAR antic never get old to see, watching them douse the crowd in jets of blood as they massacre everyone from hitler to jesus on stage in an elaborately hilarious gory display. If only the sound worked properly then we could all marvel at the fact that GWAR also play music really well!
It was Sick Of It All that brought the old school back with a strong set. The crowd not entirely sure what to make of this band but positive vibes surfaced after a few songs. Maybe it’s just me but it seemed like everything sounded heavier than it normal does through the speakers at Heavy MTL and it was no different for Sick Of It All. After an energetic hardcore set it was time to make way to the smaller stage to catch Savannah, georgia’s Baroness. These guys were a highlight, playing each tune not only with album-like clarity and flawless vocal harmonies but also with a light-hearted energy that is not often found on stage. They’re set was impressively tight and had the perfect balance between their signature moody slower tunes versus their raucous rock tunes.
Back to the main stage for Black Label Society who was late coming on, throwing the rest of the day’s schedule out of whack. Zakk Wylde is a guitar machine with talents well known that they need not be mentioned here but his vocal style just seems so grating and whiney that it tends to distract from the music. Zakk sounds like what would happen if If Hootie & the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker smoked a ton of cigarettes. But Black Label Society as a whole was alright. Back to the small stage where Jason Newsted’s new band Newsted absolutely destroyed the crowd. With crushing tunes, Newsted levelled the crowd, won over new fans and proved life after Metallica is a good one. In fact he even threw Metallica fans a bone by playing Whiplash. Even still, Newsted’s original material was strong enough to stand on it’s own.
Back to the main stage for A Day To Remember. Sigh. I’m not sure what happened here but aside from a select group of people enjoying this band it seemed like this group was not a crowd favourite. This band is as close to a pop hardcore band as you can find and although they did seem appreciative to have them on board, it was painful to listen to. Probably not the best plan to have them play a mainstay sandwiched between death metal notables At The Gates and the classic prince of darkness Danzig! Danzig, setting aside facts that should be obvious to him like he needs to wear sleeves or sing into the mic more often, was a really great set. All the classics came out spanning his seemingly endless career but the real highlights came when Danzig invited past Misfits cohort Doyle on stage to perform some classic Misfits songs. This is probably the closest anyone will ever see of a Misfits reunion and it was great (and sounds better than anything Jerry Only has been able to produce on stage in over 10 years!).
Then thrash metal giants Megadeth hit the stage with a surprisingly slower song to kick things off but then turned up the speed as the set ran through. Nothing new here in the Megadeth department. Frontman Dave Mustain’s lack of any stage presence and relentless winey snarl of a vocal style wasn’t about to deter Megadeth fans from enjoying all the classics they ripped out. They did play a lot of older material, much to the appreciation of the enormous crowd and their set was a highlighted by a clarity in sound that is so important with an exacting style such as Megadeth.
Finally Avenged Sevenfold exploded onto the stage… almost quite literally as there was a ton of fireball explosions throughout their set. If you can put aside Avenged too-cool-for-school attitude, these guys were actually really great. All members wildly talented musicians and their songs, although maybe not for everyone, had the right amount of heaviness versus catchiness that landed them the headlining spot. It seemed like those who planned on leaving as soon as Megadeth was finished decided to stick around and check out the spectacle that is Avenged Sevenfold as they sucked in the still energetic crowd. Avenged Sevenfold was a great end to a strong Day 1 of Heavy MTL 2013. Now onto day 2!
- Avenged Sevenfold, Rob Zombie, Megadeth Headline Heavy MTL
- GWAR @ Club Soda – 11.01.09
- HELLYEAH @ Club Soda – 08.24.10