Ev has synesthesia, and they incorporate their sensory experiences into music reviews. Synesthesia is a condition in which the brain links a person’s senses together in a rare manner, prompting unusual sensory responses to stimuli. People with synesthesia, for example, might see a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet. Those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion.
The first band to go on was one called Trigon and they did not hold back on showcasing their talent. Vibratos and tremolo picking included, wicked solos, a fusion of classic rock with metal components, this band goes all out.
Sweeping the crowd with a cruel energy, the guitar drives most of the soundscape. Carefully crafted and straight out of old-school metal, the guitarist shreds riffs with a passion unlike any other. Tremolo picking and vibratos seemed to play an important role in the construction of each song. Expanding upon preexisting riffs only bulks them up and adds an angrier more agitated edge as the songs progress. Each strike of the notes paints the scene a mellow yellow as a contrast to the chords that seem to paint the atmosphere deep blue.
The vocals were steady and stable, having tonal differences and holding a power behind them. They built anticipation and kept it peeking. The only downfall being that I found the vocal buildup leading to a dead end. As much as the sound traveled and bridged from mellow to aggravated, I would have loved to see a more developed vocal technique. While the agitation and red tones are prominent, my ears yearn to hear the release in forms of screams. Evenly toned and well controlled, the singing does rub off on you and you let it swallow you due to the way it falls in time with the instrumentals.
The drums resonate in a shallow and colder manner. While dry, they don’t come crashing down and don’t reverberate as much as the typical drums do. Having full control over what they’re playing, the drummer manages to tame the cymbals. Not letting a single beat get away, the soundscape created is almost as cold as you’d imagine Hoth – a planet from Star Wars – being.
Present but just barely is the bass. Most prominently heard in ‘Nightmare‘, it adds a masked stability to the piece, a grotesque and nightmareish vibe. Adding deep pools of burgundy and maroon to the soundscape when heard, the bass seems to have few peak moments. I may have a bias towards basslines but I believe that if it were overdriven and more pronounced it would really drive home the songs. Granted, blending into the soundscape provides that support when the guitar is toying with feedback. Allowing for a more natural transition, it backs the illusion of the guitar being continuous.
CeVilain drummer rocking out at Mevericks in Ottawa, ON.
CeVILAIN, from Carleton Place, was next up. This was my first time seeing them as a full band and as the rock band that they’re meant to be. The band is not static and they truly immerse themselves into what they’re doing, losing themselves in their performance. Peeling your eyes away is a task and a half with this band.
Mellow and unrestrained, pooled with a passion are the vocals. Given their all, there is an asphyxiated edge to the vocal stylings. Emotionally pitted with inner turmoil, the lyrics tell a story. Watching the performance is what drives home what I’m saying – closed eyes, the facial expressions, the vocalist loses himself in each and every song. While there isn’t harmonization or melodies sung between members, this almost makes it more intimate, adding various tones of greens to the overlay of hues.
Soft picking, aggravated chords, the guitar playing covers a range of stylings. Overdriven and higher pitched but with heavy weight, it stands out against the rumble of the bass. The room is overtaken by a deep magenta accented with bursts of a pale sky blue. The riffs are ever so present and accentuate the otherwise beetling chords. Despite the hard edge, the guitar-work fans out into soft tones before picking back up into an angry, choppy, overdriven aggression.
The bass rumbles and supports the guitar playing to the very end. It doesn’t play the backbone, it’s its own and could take on a role more primary than in the present. Despite this ability, the fact that it holds a position more secondary adds a sense of volume and makes the sound that dominates the room a fat one. It borders on a scarlet red and dances with those magenta undertones.
The drums are warm and loud without a thing held back. They radiate a heat that paints various shades of sunset orange across the scene. The heavy use of the tom and snare creates that soft and hollow heat, with contrast being brought in by the high-hat. The amount of rambunctious energy brought to the kit boils over. The music sweeps through the drummer and pulls him into the performance allowing the emotions to spill into each song.
Fallen Heirs showing their chops at Mavericks in Ottawa.
Pumping out proper hard rock was Fallen Heirs. Featuring a light show to be remembered, a restless spirit, and intense love for what they’re doing, the band did not disappoint.
The guitars bit at one another from different ends of the stage. Bitter and violent, the riffs fell heavy and quick. The overlay of solo work with the intense chords accentuated each component. The solos conjuring higher pitched sounds – superimposed onto the lower pitched chord progression. The solo work was quick and absolutely shred.
The vocals came with an undertone of grit to them. With a bit of an edge of a metal vocalist, it really drives forth the emotion and tone of the songs. The few growls that found themselves present took me by surprise and gave a sense of completeness to the performance. Harmonisations came in the form of screams and emphasized the choruses. The vocals drenched the room in pale reds and worn down rusty colours, creating a soothing atmosphere despite the angst of the instruments. Imagine the muted tones of The Scream – that’s what it looks like.
The drumming is staccato and full. It has frigid and boneless crashes but the rest is so dense that it adds to the array of reds painted by the vocals. It sets the pace and timing for the near complete and abrupt stops that the rest of the instruments follow. The drumming holds power but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t know when to make room for others. Known to mellow out, it creates space to emphasize the qualities of everything around it. Featuring rolls to add effect, it’s clear that the structure and technique are well practiced.
Lost deep within the vivid soundscape is the bassline. It follows with the guitar progression, allowing a deeper and more resonant rumble, however, it would have been more intriguing had it been more prominent. Due to blending into the soundscape I find that it gives off a burnt sienna colour as a subtle overlay. It’s muted and almost drowned out.
Iconoclast shredding on stage at Mavericks in Ottawa, ON.
The last band to absolutely wreck the stage was Iconoclast. Rumbling, strong-willed, and with pronounced energy, soaking the room in crimson and scarlet, the band goes at it full on.
The drum lines stick out the most, crashing and bordering cool tones but still painting the room red with cold undertones. They crash with hollow sounds – almost with emptiness. As soon as the tempo picks up, that hollow sound fills up and generates a strong personality, welcoming headbanging.
The guitar chugs forth, eighth notes muted before being let loose for choruses. Intricate solo pieces are known to be played over the resentful chords to create a mellowed out and melodic aspect to the songs. The solo work gets your body moving, at least for me. It grabs your attention due to the way it’s played and refuses to let you go. The riffs spread through the length of the songs in a nature similar to that of metal songs and twist themselves in and out of chords.
The vocals compliment the guitar work well. Grit and harmony come with a fiery spirit and tie the pieces together. It’s incredible how the grit of the vocals comes naturally as opposed to being forced. While holding a rough edge, there’s an aspect smooth as honey to them. Even without powerful screams ripping out from the vocalist’s throat, the vocals feel complete due to the nature of the riffs being played around them. Deep and resonant, you hear a single low rumble of a scream come from the very back of the vocalist’s throat during the song Nothing Owned.
The bass is hard to hear but the performance was given it’s all. The bass smoothly blends into the background, offering a camouflaged sound, supporting the guitar playing. Personally, I would love to hear the bass boom and resonate. I would love to see how a bassline that rattles one’s rib cage would sound with the intensity of the performance put on. No doubt that soul has seeped into the performance, and I was dumbstruck by it.
Each of the bands breaks off parts of themselves and put them into their performances. Passion driven, hardworking, and high energy – if that’s what you’re looking for in a show, I recommend checking these bands out. Their acts don’t disappoint in the least and watching them all is mesmerising.
The “Double Header Bat Madness” tour, they said. See a great show, they said. I boomed back from Toronto the day of their Ottawa show but of course I could have seen them at Lee’s Palace on Friday. I was staying nearby and it was apparently the climax of their month-long Canadian tour. It’s okay, I was content to be with my brothers. And oh boy, I was actually black out drunk for the end of it. The horror was as wonderful as it sounds, a crazed three-band show at our beloved Mavericks, filled to the tits with folks wanting to celebrate Cancer Bats in all their glory under the full moon.
Dance Laury Dance opened just after 8 and woke the room thoroughly up. This quintet from Québec City was pulling the hair out of their heads and shrieking at the top of their lungs. They’ve been playing for a long time now but very rarely come to Ottawa. We were blessed with their finger-wiggling madness. Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier came out and raged out the last song of their set, a track that’ll be featured on their next album Hellelujah, coming out this winter. “Hells Rock’ N’ Rollers” was my favourite track just because of “We’re coming to your town, we’re gonna burn it down!”
The Jägerettes were handing out swag to any schmuck with hands and of course there was Jäger in large amounts. It was a sticky mess but not sticky enough because the mosh pit was slick underfoot. Most pits I’ve encountered you can spot coming, like a hurricane forming on the radar. Unsuspecting slobs in front of the stage were dazzled by the first scream-o tune of Cancer Bats’s set and swiftly thrown head over heels when the mosh erupted without warning. It was a good one, it hurt.
Their recent album Dead Set on Living was the focus of the tour and there was a large amount of energy put into perspiration. No body was dry at the end of that show, and I’d like to mention that it was pissing rain outside and even the pipes on the ceiling ventilation were sweating. Cancer Bats make music that could melt copper wiring, that thoroughly thrashes ear drums. On top of the frayed nerve endings & burnt metal I also smelled madness: schizophrenia! The Toronto foursome ran through the proverbial revolving door to put on their costumes and came out dressed as Bat Sabbath, essentially a Black Sabbath cover with a cancerous twist. From what I remember it was raucous. Liam kinda looks like a young Ozzy, when you think about it.
As far as a cover band goes, it was tastefully done. Well, as tastefully as the guys were willing to be. But basically they played good songs, old songs, channeled the band’s zeal without making fun of them, and finished their fall tour with a solid bang. Between the two alter egos, the first was my favourite. Anyone who performs in my city and mentions Bridgehead is obviously after my vote. So I vote for the Mother Fucking Cancer Bats.