Rock Out With Your Cock Out!

Plant journalist and full time headbanger Tyler Finigan takes a peak into the realm of Canadian metal

by Tyler Finigan

You turn to your comrade, drenched in sweat, with nothing but piss and vinegar streaming through your veins. Time’s running out and the air reeks with weed and your ears are ready to explode. He says, “Let’s go” . It’s short and blunt but it’s all you need to hear. The venue is dark but your mind is as lit as the blunt being passed around the room. The crowd grows restless, awaiting their saviours, then the show begins and the crowd charges the guard rail without any care in the world. Like a puppeteer, the musicians manipulate their listeners, make them move whatever way they want. But this is no puppet show. The crowd collides like the pounding hammer of a blacksmith and music screams its way into the heart of each and every soul present. There’s nothing like being at a metal show.

Metal is a genre of rock music that originated from the late sixties/early seventies largely in the UK and in the United states. With deep roots in blues and psychedelic rock, metal is known for its assertive and unforgiving sound. Heavy metal generally consists of two elements; hard hitting percussion and melodic speed. But the fast paced machine of metal is evolving with every decade and more and more genres of metal are being created, inspiring legions of headbangers/metalheads across the world.

Who came up with the term “Heavy Metal”? In a song lyric from “Born to be Wild” performed by the classic, 60’s rock and roll band, Steppenwolf, lead singer, Tommy Holland grinds out the words “Heavy Metal Thunder”. This was the first official occurrence in which the term was used. In the song it refers to the sound of a motorcycle engine barreling down the highway, but it is now used to name the genre of music which categorizes bands such as Metallica and Slayer.

“Metal is the loudest, the meanest and the most technical sound in the world,” proclaims Dimitri Vadrahanis, metalhead and second semester communications student, “It’s more than music…it’s practically a religion!”

If metal is a religion, then there needs to be someone to worship, someone to call god. Metal enthusiasts all over the world have been debating for decades, who was the first to create the sound of heavy metal? People fight to entitle their favourite band as the first metal band but this battle has two main heads: Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Both peaking their success around the same era, both bands are considered the forefathers of metal. If it was up to me and I feel that many metalheads would back me up, I would choose Black Sabbath as my deity. Their catchy song structure, involving Tony Iommi’s heavy tritone riffs and Ozzy’s haunting vocals are the sperm and the egg of what was to become the mind bending call of metal.

“Black Sabbath came up with all the best metal riffs and any other riff you hear is the same, only modified or played faster.” said frontman/movie director Rob Zombie to Sam Dunn, Documentarian.

It seems like every year, countries spew out more and more bands to carry on the name of heavy metal. Even though most bands of the genre are centralized in the mother countries  (United Kingdom and United States) people are usually surprised to learn that metal is a global phenomenon.

According to the Encyclopedia Metallum, there were over 70,000 bands in existence in the world by April 2009 and with an average growth rate of 20 bands per day on the Encyclopedia’s website, we can assume that by 2014 there will be over 100,000 metal bands on the earth!  Where does our country fit in to this massive metal concubine? Are we too far up north to produce the hellish paroles of metal?  “Not to many people know how popular metal is in Canada, Montreal even.” Vadrahanis said.

Canada’s metal scene is sadly mistaken for a lighter one. A scene that lacks intensity and if you were to ask any one “who is the heaviest canadian band you’ve ever listen to?”, unless you are talking to a metalhead, they will probably say something like Nickleback or Rush. With all associations aside, Canada is very well, one of the biggest contributors to the metal world.

In Canada alone there is a list of 2700 bands active, not to mention the hundreds of bands crawling their way up the music ladder today.  Montreal has been known for its Indie scene for the last few years but unknowingly to most Montrealers, metal is becoming the new Indie. Montreal is quickly becoming the harbour for canadian metal. From the guttural metal sounds of Cryptopsy to the budding action from the metalcore scene, bands such as Blindwitness and Despised Icon are putting Montreal on the metal map.

So not only are there  Montreal bands being formed but international metal bands from all over the world make it a priority to stop by Montreal during their world tours. Due to its extensive metal venues and the number one metalfest in North America (Heavy MTL), Montreal is oftenly dubbed the “capital” of North American metal. Although debatable, the title can be backed up by the thousands of headbangers that attend these shows which are most of the time sold out.

“Montreal is definatly the place for metal,” acclaims Jacinthe Benoit, second semester Cin/Vid/Com, ” there are shows all the time, and I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed.”

Even though metal music is becoming more mainstream, there are always going to be criticisms.  “All it is, is noise,” describes Carmello Marsala “It makes me cringe, I can’t take it.”

Many people feel the same way about metal therefore they shy away from listening to it. Metal has been linked to Satan and violence and has been blamed for all kinds of wrong doings from school shootings to mass suicide. Studies show that even though most of the incidents involving music, most listeners that enjoy metal, feel a sense of calm and joy when they are subjected to the music.

According to the documentary film: Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, metal has been shunned and condemned for over 35 years and many religious groups and even politicians have activated campaigns against heavy metal. Sam Dunn, the creator of the film says that he’s been defending his favourite genre of music ever since he was twelve and he created the film to enlighten mainstream media on the culture of heavy metal.

“It’s hard these days to get noticed,” says Ryan Mattigetz, a second semester Visual Arts student,” so many bands and so much demand, but there’s not enough publicity.”

This makes it hard for up and coming bands to get noticed because many people are set on the fact that metal is evil and should not be played on the radio. So bands are forced to gain credit form live performances in order to sell albums.  Ryan is the lead guitarist for a local underground band called, For Every Season. His band performs at gigs around Montreal so that they can spread the word of their unique kind of  metal music.

Their sound meshes the traditional metalcore sound which features chugging riffs and marching percussion performed by drummer Patrick Vezina, as well as the pop punk sound which lead singer, Sergio Petracone delivers every night.   “We are a metal band,” Says Mattigetz,” no matter what happens we will always have the music.”

Devotion is what lies in the very heart of metal. Its what glues the whole thing together and it’s what keeps this music alive. These Montreal metalers are a part of the young snowballing metal industry and aspire to be a part of the new generation of heavy metal.
Metal is one of a kind. It is a culture and ever since its birth during the 70’s it has managed to captivate the world.

Writing a giant chapter in the history of Metal, Canada not only has its foot in the door, but it’s knocking down the hinges.  “Montreal is going to be a metal heaven… you just wait and see.”  Mattigetz affirmed.

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