The Metal Just Keeps On Coming

Photo by Daniel Robichaud

Ah, Mondays. You drag yourself out of bed and make your way to work in a haze thinking – “Where did the weekend go?” Apparently, those in attendance at the Biltmore last Monday didn’t get the memo that the work week had started. A number of Vancouver metal notables were on hand, including members of Angry, Abriosis (or the bassist’s doppelganger…) and others, I’m sure. Leave it up to the metal crowd to turn a… yawn… Monday into a full-blown thrash-bash.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ancients twice in the last few weeks (at the Vogue on July 20), and rarely do I remember a band growing on me as quickly as this one has. Not to say I didn’t enjoy them the first time – I did so, very much actually. But I’ve gone from “yeah, I like ‘em” to “yeah, these guys are pretty great” in a matter of weeks. Maybe it’s the closeness of the shows, I don’t know… Whatever it is, count me among the faithful.

Unless you have a $20,000 budget for pyrotechnics, shows are always better (for fans anyway) in a smaller venue. I enjoyed Ancients so much more at the Biltmore than at the Vogue. You could’ve smacked ‘em across the face if you really wanted to. I’m sure they would’ve smacked you right back. Performing a good mix of their older, nastier stuff and their more recent, fuzzy mix of classic and modern stoner stuff (think Baroness, but bloodier, like the wicked “Built To Die”… hooah, solid), these dudes could not have kicked off the night any better. There’s some truly impressive stuff happening here. They have a new album coming out soon, so keep tabs on ‘em. Seriously, Vancouver – see these hometown guys now before they go off and tour the universe.

A solid hundred or so people had arrived by the time Baptists (also from Vancouver) took to the stage. After acknowledging a happy-birthday-dirty-thirty-year-old in the audience (check out Baptists’ facebook to figure out who it was, this guy was pumped), the cordial frontman (rocking a Gaza shirt, yeah buddy!) wasted no time in lighting the place up (are there too many parentheses in this sentence?). These guys didn’t waste a second, flooring it through their sliver of allotted time at a breakneck pace with most of their songs lasting but a few minutes – a few brutal, assaulting, sickeningly heavy minutes (like “Good Parenting”; I don’t want to see how these kids turn out.) I can see these guys touring with Trap Them or Converge, and giving them a run for their money every damn night. The one constant with Baptists is the disturbing amount of energy that explodes from them, whether they’re playing doomy, let-ring riffs backed by galloping drums or nitro-fueled stoner-thrash. The lead-singer spent a lot of his time rocking it in the audience, screaming his wicked little heart out amongst the sweaty. Awesome.

Montreal’s Barn Burner kept the hairy, stinky ball rolling with their NWOBHM-inspired stoner metal. These guys displayed an innate sense of groove that really made it look all too easy. Led by Kevin Keegan and his seemingly effortless, adept guitar-playing and classic metal shriek, this Quebec quartet succeeded in carrying the Monday Metal torch even further, ready and burning for the evening’s headliners to bring it on home.

The place was as packed as any Saturday night would be by this point. The curtains were pulled shut after Burn Barner, adding to the anticipation already apparent in the crowd. Athens, Ohio’s Skeletonwitch came on like true metal veterans and threw out anything you could expect or want if you were dying for a solid metal show.

The following exclamations were heard from frontman Chance Garnette’s metal mouth:

“This song’s about the desire to kill!”
“Smoke weed, Vancouver!”
“This one’s about revenge!”
“This one’s about goin’ to hell!”
“Eat some [expletive] [kitty cat]!”

With stock song titles such as “The Infernal Resurrection”, “Cleaver of Souls”, “Of Ash and Torment”, and the chugging “Crushed Beyond Dust”, I can’t say these guys won the Originality Award for the evening, but in all honesty, that’s besides the point. Skeletonwitch expertly cranked out a cemetery’s worth of heavy metal. Their abilities as musicians and performers cannot be questioned, as most of these slabs of rock were delivered at a neck-injuring pace, and not once did the energy level wane. Garnette’s ghoulish delivery only added to the menace these four men managed to put forth. Granted, he does basically sound like a barking dog on some tunes, but it’s an angry yet playful bastard of a canine that barks with all his might, and you’ve got to respect that. Or else he’ll bite you.

Stupid amounts of PBR consumed, remarkable heads of hair among both the boys and girls present, a museum’s worth of body art, a circle pit, a lead singer and bassist getting lost in the adoring crowd – not to mention some tight, heavy-ass metal – is there anything else one could hope for from a show? I can’t think of a thing. Metal is alive and well in Vancouver, it seems. Join the throng.