By DCU - No Sleep Til Bedtime - 04/22/2005

Wake up early in Montreal, head to the border expecting the worst… AND nothing; 20 seconds talking to the border guard and away we were to the most incredible metal concert North America has to offer (of course after stocking up on Labatt 50s, JD, and Jager’s at the Duty-Free).

The metal fest was setup with two stages with shows commencing concurrently on each. The upstairs (second stage) was a large room with a gallery, comparable to maybe slightly larger than Foufs. Downstairs featured the main stage, about the size of Metropolis, but designed much more effectively with multiple levels allowing you to check out the action no matter where you stand. So here are some quick reviews of the many performances which I saw, sorry if the details are minor as fetivals like such can be a sensory overload.


ION DISSONANCE (15:30 - 15:50)

It was really cool to check out our locals down there, and it was even more amazing when people were going insane for them. A really intense pit broke out for their set as they blasted through several tracks, and even though I've seen them many times before, their stuff never gets old, as they gave one of the best performances of the fest. The amount of kicks and windmills during "The Death of One Man..." was just incredible. A great start to the day and a sign of things to come.

CATASTROPHIC (16:00 – 16:20)

Second time I've seen these guys in concert, the first was several years ago. I wasn't impressed then, and this time was much worse. There was barely even anybody around to watch their set. I have know idea why they decided to do this comeback/reunion or whatever, but it isn’t working.

THE MINOR TIMES (17:10 – 17:30)

I've been excited to see these guys live since I heard their recent album "Making Enemies". They play a style of technical hardcore which I guess is comparable to Ion Dissonance, but with a more quirky warmer edge to it. Their set was pretty cool, the sound was really thick and intense while still showing a lot of technical skills that translated really well to the live setting.


THE ESOTERIC (15:50 – 16:10)

For a band with members of Coalesce, Today is the Day, and Reggie and the Full Effect they create a sound all their own. In the live setting the mix of hardcore, metal, and alt-rock came off admirably, as they showed much diversity in a festival full of straight up hardcore and metalcore bands. The crowd wasn’t so much into these guys, but lets just chalk that up to playing the big stage early in the day… gotta conserve energy!

PREMONITIONS OF WAR (18:00 – 18:20)

The album they released last year, Left in Kowloon, never really impressed me, so I didn't really know what to expect. I don't know if it was the live setting, or that I didn't spend enough time with that record, but they were really damn good live. With a rather piercing metal sound they rifled through a bunch of tracks, including new stuff. Excellent set that has made me go and dig out their album again.

(20:00 – 20:30)

Now this is a band which just keeps on surprising me. With the release of their previous album Frail Words Collapse they cultivated a huge following with their metalcore style, and constant touring schedule. They played an incredible high energy set barely stopping for a second; playing hit tracks like "94 Hours" as well as new music from the forthcoming Shadows are Security. This set really impressed me as one of the best performances of the festival, and I have no idea why Unearth was headlining over As I Lay Dying as these guys blew literally every other band of the day out of the water. They closed out their set with the crowd favorite "Forever" causing the floor action of windmills and slam dancing to intesify to the wildest I had seen all day. All of us who went for the fest persisted on singing it in the hotel room for the rest of the trip of course.

OBITUARY (21:00 – 22:00)

No matter who I seemed to mention to that I was going to this festival, everyone seemed to flip out when they found out Obituary was playing. I personally have never been a fan of the band, but I was still incredibly excited to see if their performance would initiate the coming apocalypse, as others had described it to me. They took the stage in due time and hammered away for an hour straight with classic death metal that everyone loved, save for the hardcore kids. My main issue with there set though was that I found myself bored at certain moments. Their playing was amazing, sounding like a band who had not missed a beat, but still the energy level was kind of low and I was left slightly disappointed. Maybe headlining their own gig, where I have not been standing on my feet all day, frantically going from stage to stage would make the difference, but I really was not that excited by the end of their performance.

UNEARTH (22:30 – 23:30)

Some people have attributed great things with Unearth, and last time I saw them (many a year ago) their drummer was not allowed pass the border into Canada (he was actually replaced by John from Cephalic Carnage, an interesting performance in and of itself), so I was interested to see the band which had come so far from opening for Shai Hulud to being one of the headliners for one of North America’s biggest festival. And I could not have been more disappointed. The fact of the matter is, I am not such a big Unearth fan, I think in the metalcore style which they play (and arguably helped pioneer) there are many other bands doing more creative and exciting things. That being said, I had no problem with this at the show, but my bigger issue was their onstage antics. Doing beer funnels between songs, playing guitar behind your head, I don’t know how everyone else feels about these kind of antics, but generally I like the music to speak for itself, and I really wasn’t impressed.

HATEBREED (24:00 – 1:00)

If you’ve seen Hatebreed before you know exactly what to expect. A high energy show complete with patented chugging breakdowns, tough guy hardcore talk, and lots of kids throwing kicks and punches... and it totally works! Although I’m never totally blown away by their performance, like usual, it was rock solid from beginning to end. Lots of old school material for the diehard fans, and of course new stuff off The Rise of Brutality. Not much more to elaborate here, can’t expect too much more from a festival headliner.