Zombitrol Productions is once again a proud Media Partner of the Wacken Metal Battle Canada, now in its fourth year. After weeks of competition it’s down to five finalists who will go head to head in Toronto to decide who will be the one that represents Canada this summer at the Wacken Open Air festival in Northern Germany. Canada has now won the international final two out the last three years with Crimson Shadows in 2013, and Vesperia in 2015. With The Governor’s Ball on indefinite hiatus I’m stepping back from my hosting duties this year to sit on the judge’s panel for the first time.
The final takes place this Saturday June 11th at The Opera House in Toronto. Here are this years’ finalists:
The special guest headliner this year is none other than 2013 Winners Crimson Shadows. This will be their first major headlining performance since they were joined by their new vocalist Paul Ablaze, known for fronting Montreal’s Blackguard. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door and it’s a 19+ event. Come out and see who will be crowned Canada’s newest metal ambassadors to the world.
UPDATE: Congratulations to winners Profaner, and runners-up DistortHead!
I was a bit iffy on Beartooth’s debut album Disgusting (2014). On the one hand the metalcore meets pop-punk approach worked, but the production was too polished and syrupy. When vocalist Caleb Shomo (formerly of Attack Attack!) would deliver one of his big, layered, soaring choruses I often winced at how overdone it seemed. But it was crazy popular. The videos from that that album each have over three million views, with the track “In Between” (the sugar-iest one of all) topping out near four million.
That’s why I was really surprised when I heard the title track/first single from their just-released second album Aggressive. The blend of styles come together more like a nineties punk band, and Shomo’s clean vocals are mid-range with a more natural sound. Sonically the rest of album follows suit. The punk and hardcore elements are pushed to the front, with riff styles that give nods to classic rock and Swedish death metal. Shomo’s formerly-saccharine choruses now have a warm in-the-room resonance. The song styles are also surprisingly diverse. With a writing assist from ex-Goldfinger frontman and mega producer John Feldmann, they range from hardcore (“Burnout”), to alt rock (“Hated”), to pop-punk (“However You Want It Said”).
Beartooth are a strange entity in loud music. They tour with metalcore bands like Of Mice and Men, but also with bands like Slipknot and Suicidal Tendencies. While they may piss off the average headbanger, they have an appeal to an audience who dip their toes in different pools. Perhaps Behemoth is too heavy for them, but maybe Green Day is too soft. Regardless of those who may bemoan their presence, Aggressive is a well-written and sharply-produced album, and a definite step forward for Beartooth.
The band have upcoming tour dates in Europe, Australia, and Japan, as well as a number of festival dates including an appearance at Heavy Montreal on August 7th. Aggressive is available now and you can watch the video for the title track here.
Written for A Journal of Musical Things
Photo by Ole Luk
My latest interview for A Journal of Musical Things is a controversial chat with one-woman Danish black metal act Myrkur a.k.a. Amalie Bruun. We talked about her transition from indie pop act Ex Cops into heavy metal, and some of the misogynistic reactions from men she’s received on Facebook. It was the latter topic that moved the conversation in a surprising direction, as Bruun revealed that she’s far more worried about the proliferation of Islam in Europe than sexism in metal culture. Have a listen to the interview and let me know what you think.
Photo by Adam Wills
I’ve just updated the Interviews section with my latest chat with vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway of Napalm Death. There’s also my first interview with Sweden’s Tribulation, as well as a conversation with Roger Costa from the Jeff Healey Estate about Healey’s first posthumous album and the upcoming tribute concert.