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.

 

AlanCross.ca

Arguably the biggest trend in heavy metal over the past 15 years has been folk-metal, a combination of various styles of metal with ethnic music from a variety of countries. Many bands give the credit to Finntroll for originating the style (they’re from Finland in case that wasn’t obvious). Their upbeat “humpa-metal” has inspired many metal bands to go folk, and even some folk bands to go metal.

They have had a stable line-up for the past few years and things seem to have gone full circle as the band still works with original members who aren’t part of the touring band. Current vocalist Vreth coordinates with original vocalist Katla on lyric writing, while stay-at-home member Trollhorn comes up with many of their musical ideas.

I had a chance to sit down with Vreth and guitarist Routa before their recent stop in Toronto to talk about their new album “Blodsvept” (“Shrouded In Blood”), their collaborative writing process, and their first ever North American festival appearance at Heavy MTL.

 

AlanCross.ca

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: baronessmusic.com/update-from-baroness/

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”.

 

AlanCross.ca

The Dillinger Escape Plan are one of the most unique entities in rock n’ roll. Their albums can be confusing as the majority of the tracks are a unique blend of punk, hardcore, and metal, but they sit next to soaring pop songs with a perfectly clean tone. Including pop songs on their albums next to tracks that often verge on pure noise seems somehow both commercially savvy and yet suicidal. Their audience has grown slowly, but it’s a dedicated crowd, some of whom discovered them on the unlikeliest of bills.

They’ve toured with Nine Inch Nails, Deftones, and AFI and collaborated with Mike Patton. At the moment their headlining the annual Summer Slaughter Tour, an all-day affair usually dominated by extreme death metal.

Then there’s the live show. There is no other band that physically occupies more space on stage than Dillinger. I have no scientific evidence to back that up, other than to say that their live experience have resulted in serious injuries to the band and damaged equipment.

I had a chance to sit down with guitarist Ben Weinman and bassist Liam Wilson and chat about being inaccessible and commercial at the same time, attention from more-famous peers, and why they haven’t been paid for a number of dates on their current tour.

 

AlanCross.ca