Calgary Metal Fest: June 8th & 9th

Written by: Doc Godin, Lemski
Published: 26.06.2012
Calgary Metal Fest - the first of its kind! Although there has been a few festivals around this area over the years, never has there been one like this; a multi-day, multi-venue event featuring bands exclusively from the Calgary & Alberta area.

There was some interesting bands; fresh faces as well as local heroes. Trying to cover each one would quickly become pointless, as there admittedly was a large number of forgettable bands playing. We decided instead of trying to force-feed you info about lack-lustre performances, we'd list all the bands here, in chronological order, and pick out the highlights.

Warm-up Party: Verns

Lemski: Thursday June 7th's launch party was intended as not only a kickoff to the weekend's happenings, but also as organizer Nate Renaud's 30th birthday celebration. As such, the tone of the night was markedly more lighthearted than the days to follow, but foreshadowed the positivity of the festival's remainder. Likely a result of the lesser sound capacity compared to the other venues, the Vern's lineup featured more treble-heavy music styles, i.e. black metal, punk, and deathcore.

The night's first performance, signifying once again the mellow mood, was a country 2-piece entitled The Mark Russell Band, who would then play miniature sets in between the official bands.

Vile Insignia
Lemski: The first of said bands to crack the country vibe were blackened-death act Vile Insignia, a group with diverse influence yet straight-forward song writing. While black and death riffs balanced in nearly equal proportion, the lack of a bassist gave V.I. a distinct tinny coldness, assisting the many tremolo melodies but hindering the more death-influenced portions.

Oh Shit
Lemski: In another whiplash-inducing mood swing, crossover punkers Oh Shit hit the stage with a set of 2-3 minute party anthems. Although not entirely fitting for a metal festival, Oh Shit's snapping d-beats and energetic gang vocals put much of the crowd in a moshing mood.

Immortal Sacrifice
Lemski: Bringing back the black metal ambience, Immortal Sacrifice donned full bullets, nails, and corpse paint for their set of Norwegian-style BM. Although hardly an original idea, Immortal Sacrifice delivered a high energy Gorgorothian take on black metal with impressive execution. Songs such as Mutilation Of The Catholic Faith raised the blasphemy-bar for the rest of the fest.

Black Pestilence
Lemski: The next, and easily most interesting act of the night was 3-piece avant garde punk/black metal enigma Black Pestilence. Once a one-man recording project and now a bandana brandishing live ensemble, B.P. dropped jaws with a fusion of Hellhammer or early Mayhem-type primitiveness with otherworldly samples and electronic segments, all of which make comparison next to impossible.

Train Bigger Monkeys
Lemski: To cap off the opening night with yet another metal subgenre, Train Bigger Monkeys resuscitated the thinning crowd with a dose of breakdown-focussed deathcore. Technically impressive and structurally variable or aimless and convoluted, either way the level of energy they brought at such a late hour in such a small venue deserves some major kudos. To those that attended, Thursday's show threatened an enthralling weekend to come.

Day 1: Dickens Pub

Gales Of Avalon
Lemski: Gales Of Avalon, being a former one man operation, has high aspirations for deep symbolism and significance; The lyrics revolve around a modern emotional interpretation of Celtic lore, meaning the music carries an expected blackened epicness. Granted the venue's unfavorable shape and textures drowned out some of the melodies, Gales greeted the audience with little more than black/death pleasantries, dressed in suitable black-tie regalia. However, the overall flow of the performance and well-placed bars of double kick thickness had much of their intended effect: Powerful, but predictable.

Sub-Atomic Chaos
Doc: The second band of the first night was some fantastic tech-death work from Sub-Atomic Chaos. Normally, especially with local shows, the sound board will generally manage to fuck something up rendering whatever performance, regardless of how decent, unlistenable. Well, the sound was pretty bad, but somehow S.A.C managed to make it work. The jabbing, crunchy riffs permeated all the imbalances on the sound board. The overwhelming sound just seemed to give the music more of an edge, as opposed to obscuring the sound. Altogether a memorable set which defied all expectations.

Lemski: The first experimental/technical death metal band to touch down on-stage Friday was Sub-Atomic Chaos. Many would follow, but none breaching the experimental atmosphere to quite the same effect. Complex drum patterns layered with innovative but intuitive guitars build a cybersonic atmosphere of galactic malevolence, aggressive and challenging but with logical linearity. The bassist wore a NASA uniform, one of the guitarists a lab coat, and vocalist Clennon Aranha had the enthusiasm of a supernova, what more do you want?

Sacred Savage

Day One
Doc: Another tech death band...Yet, despite being what sounded like a fairly typical form of tech-death, this band managed to really get the crowd moving. It was grimy and frantic, with a certain unpredictable quality to the whole thing, but where their strengths really lied was in the actual performance, outside of the music. Some bands play music on stage, bands like Day One put on a show.


Doc: Here's a performance that felt like it was on a timer. What started off as an incredibly exciting performance by a super-heavy hardcore act with tonnes of groove grew tired roughly halfway through the set. The material being performed seemed to grow beyond stale and repetitive. Luckily this band is experienced enough on stage to keep the crowd interested, long after the music loses its lustre.

Doc: Here's where it would have been extremely nice to get clearer sound. Kyoktys were playing something along the lines of some grooving, and yet again, techy-deathcore. In a night that felt like it was dominated by various takes on technical death metal, it was refreshing to hear a somewhat more creative angle. Not a total departure from the more predictable trends of the night, but an engaging enough performance to make it at least feel like something new was being done here.

Lemski: In one way the climax of the fest, being organizer and birthday boy Nate Renaud's brainchild, Kyoktys gathered the fans for a full-on tech-death attack. Sharpened barking vocals and rampant semi-melodic arpeggios killed the crowd in maniacal arrangements. However, with so much technical death metal to be seen Friday, and throughout the entire festival, the ordinarily extraordinary Kyoktys were no longer a sound for sore ears, and their complex composures were difficult to decipher.

Annex Theory

Begrime Exemious
Lemski: Begrime Exemious of Edmonton were the last to attack Friday night, slaughtering with the same blackened death antics of British Columbian predecessors Blasphemy—a sound near forgotten since. The venue's muddy qualities mimicked Begrime's intentionally terrible recording practices perfectly, and verbal harassment from guitarist D. Orthner between tracks with titles like "Sacrament of Virgin Flesh" was meant to offend and entertain in equal measure. Throw in a circle-pit seducing punk appeal and you've got yourself a heap of head-banging regret in the morning. Fuck yeah.

Day 2: The New Black

Blackest Sin
Doc: Here's a band that really got fucked by circumstances. Playing the worst time slot on the bill, at the smallest venue. Playing at 3pm in a venue the size of a broom closet isn't exactly a recipe for an explosive performance, but this hyper-active thrash band (with what could have been a few extreme power touches) still played like it was a sold out arena. There's something to be said about a band who refuses to play half-assed, even if the crowd numbers barely top a dozen. It's a shame too, because these guys were far more fun than a good majority of the other bands playing this fest.

Lemski: With the first scheduled band cancelling last minute, Saturday's afternoon show was late to begin. Blackest Sin vanquished the beer-aches of those of age with their tasteful blend of thrash and power. Diversity between if not within tracks quenched the urge to crawl back into bed, and surprisingly clear and crunchy guitar tones pumped some much needed blood into the brains of the audience.

Edge Of Attack

Throne Of Vengeance


Exit Strategy
Doc: Here's a band that has been kicking around the Calgary area for quite a few years. Relatively speaking, the life span of independent bands really isn't very long. Needless to say, Exit Strategy's longevity comes as no surprise when witnessing this techy-grind bands live performance. Seamless, entertaining, and engaging with no visible pot holes to be found. Always a band to deliver.

Lemski: For some of the most seasoned death-grind veterans in Calgary to play the show with the youngest average attendee was a great organizational move: "Let's show these kids what it takes!" Despite the enormity of death presence at Metalfest, Exit Strategy blew all others into oblivion. Their impeccable precision as players but also overall cohesion gave them a much higher live audibility over other bands of the same breed. Unfathomable amounts of tempo changes, all the while maintaining a greater song concept, and incredible individual instrumentation engineered with each other in mind, all at par with the highest levels of speed and intensity in history. Music must by no means be like this. But, if extreme is what you're aiming for, Exit Strategy have you beat.

Bloated Pig
Doc: Here's what is without a doubt, one of the high points of the festival. Though the spirit and dedication put into assembling this event should be lauded, the almost complete and utter lack of variation between bands was obvious, and became even more so with Bloated Pig's performance. Standing in contrast to the hours of tech-death/grind/deathcore so far was this stripped-down, no-bullshit punky stoner metal outfit. Despite being crusty, raunchy music, Bloated Pig's brand of filthy Motorhead-drenched stoner punk was an unbelievable breath of fresh air, and a great performance to boot.

Lemski: Doom, stoner, sludge, whatever term fits your fancy, Calgary has gone groovy in the past handful of years. Bloated Pig has been here the whole time, and they're still groovier than you. Not exactly fitting the metal bill, but not exactly not, Bloated Pig were a welcome interruption from the more extreme subgenres. Think redneck Church Of Misery, or Motley Crue in a meat-grinder. Good stuff.

Doc:...And now back to more tech-death. Luckily, if you're reading this, it means the performance was actually good. Yeah, it was more tech-death, but what felt like some really demented avant-garde touches here and there. Think maybe some Necrophagist meets Avicularia. Unfortunately, due to the stagnancy of the overall festival line-up, Akakor's performance felt like a bit of overkill by this point.

The Neumenon


Annex Theory

Royal Blood

Day 2 Cont'd: The Distillery

Streets Of Pestilence


Reverend Kill
Doc: Once again, another band that's been kicking around Calgary for a number of years, and once again, this edge of experience over a lot of other bands here seemed to make for a lot more comfortable performance. Just solid death metal was about the only way to sum it up. Sure, Reverend Kill aren't exactly what you'd call forward-thinking with their music by any stretch of the imagination, but the rest of the festival was almost a testament of why over indulgence is frequently a lot weaker than executing the straightforward, tried-but-true in a convincing manner.

We Found The Body

Phantom Limb

Death Toll Rising
Doc: Certainly another big surprise of the night. Now, some of you may or may not remember me not exactly being kind to these guys in a review for their album, Defecation Suffocation, a few months ago. Well, turns out, much like Reverend Kill, this simple form of death metal translates extremely well in the live setting. I stand by my opinions of their studio work, but after seeing them live, I can definitely see where all the local support and favourable feedback comes from.

Statue Of Demur

World Class White Trash


Dark Forest
Lemski: An epic end to an epic festival, no matter how small the scale; Dark Forest never disappoint. Summoning the snow-tipped Rockies with atmospheric elegance, D.F. capture the raw beauty of Burzum with a uniquely Canadian essence. The only possible criticism is the absence of a keyboardist, since the cold, synthetic tones shoulder much of the melodic burden. Samples hardly suffice. Regardless, representing Calgary's mountainous surroundings has been never been done better.

*Photos courtesy of Lemski


Written on 26.06.2012 by
Doc Godin
Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.
More articles by Doc Godin ››


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Comments: 6  
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Boxcar Willy - 26.06.2012 at 17:25  
Randomly saw an Interview for Reverend Kill while searching for Woods Of Ypres stuff, It and your article make me want to check them out.

Nice work guys!
D.T. Metal - 26.06.2012 at 17:43  
Awesome !! sounds like a good time all around
Bad English - 26.06.2012 at 23:56  
There is the flame sthere is teh Flames in Calgari and let there be

Gales Of Avalon only band what I like
Milena - 27.06.2012 at 12:37  
This sounds fun, and a nice report too.
Butters49 - 27.06.2012 at 20:33  
Im from edmonton, and havent heard of any of these bands.
It would be cool to go see this
orphy - 28.06.2012 at 02:23  
I don't know about the other bands from Edmonton, but Begrime Exemious will be playing in Edmonton on July 19th and August 7th, both at DV8. Both gigs feature different bands on tour from BC, I suggest you come out!

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