Recently I had a chance to sit down with vocalist Erik Danielsson of the popular and controversial Swedish black metal band Watain. The band is unique in the sense that despite the fact that they have maintained their extreme sound throughout their career, their appeal continues to widen.

The band has also expressed the idea that their music and outlandish live performances (which have often included severed animal heads -- yes, real ones) are a very specific form of artistic expression, occupying a space outside of a world that they view as a shallow place.

Their latest album "The Wild Hunt" is the band's most diverse album to date, and has received widespread acclaim from critics and fans alike. The inclusion of a moody gothic ballad on the record has been a point of discussion on the web and in many publications. That being said the album is no more melodic or accessible than their previous releases, so I thought it would be a good idea to speak to Danielsson about their strange cross-over success, and I delve deeper into the in-between place where the music and philosophy of Watain dwells.

After three years, fans of the Ontario ska-punkers The Flatliners will have their patience rewarded when the band releases their new album entitled “A Dead Language” on September 17th. Expectations are high, as their previous release “Cavalcade” was a big hit amongst fans and critics alike.

I met up with the band following their short-but-sweet set at the Toronto edition of Riotfest to talk about the new record, their sound, and what it’s like playing the hometown gig after touring the world.

I became aware of Castle when I received a promo for their latest album “Blacklands”, a tight collection of female-fronted hard rock steeped in the tradition of early heavy metal. The band was listed as being from San Francisco, so it was a bit of a surprise when the next time I saw them mentioned it was on the 2013 Juno nominees list in the Metal/Hard Rock category.

Recently Castle passed through Toronto’s Lee’s Palace on their tour with The Sword, and I had a chance to speak with guitarist Mat Davis so we could clear up the Canadian connection, and also discuss the band’s sound in context with the glut of traditional rock and metal bands currently being signed and promoted.

The story of Georgia’s Baroness is one of rock’s more turbulent tales in recent memory. Their two colour-titled releases (“Red Album” and “Blue Record”) garnered critical acclaim, and they went on to tour with Mastodon, Deftones, and even Metallica. Much like Mastodon, Baroness’ unique mix of progressive rock and heavy metal riffs found an audience with the indie crowd, and the band played both the Coachella and Bonnaroo festivals.

Their latest double-album, the bluesy “Yellow & Green”, came out in May of last year to an extremely positive response. Nearly three months later the band suffered a disastrous tour-bus accident in Bath, England. Frontman John Baizley, who broke his left arm and leg, vividly chronicled the accident on the band’s website:

A year later Baizley along with fellow guitarist/vocalist Peter Adams, took Baroness back on the road with a new bassist and drummer to finish the job of presenting their newest material to their fans. I met up with John and Peter before their gig at The Mod Club in Toronto to talk about how the fans react to a band’s personal struggles, the perceived direction of their sound, and tunes they’ve been working on during their hiatus.

Baroness are currently on tour in North America, and have just released the BBC EP “Live At Maida Vale”.