This past weekend metal-heads from all over ventured to Montréal for the three-day festival known as Heavy Montréal. From Friday, August 7 through August 9, fans filled up Parc Jean-Drapeau and were ready to see their favorite bands. The weekend consisted of a large variety of metal sub-genres and it seemed to sit well with everyone.
With 4 stages hosting bands all day it was impossible to catch every band playing over the weekend. It seems fans had a game-plan going into the festival each day with a list of bands and their set times. Some fans though, decided to rail camp all day to catch the headlining act of that night from the front row. Luckily all three days had perfect weather so people could get away with that and not die from the heat some festivals get. Friday had a handful of bands that drew some awesome crowds. During the early afternoon, Venom Inc. and Arch Enemy had giant crowds at the Scène HEAVY Stage. Venom Inc. was the replacement for Mastodon who dropped off the lineup just a few weeks before. For being a late addition to the festival, they sure did look and sound prepared and the crowd was loving it.
The next band to take the Scène HEAVY Stage was Arch Enemy that day. With their new singer Alissa White-Gluz and new guitar player Jeff Loomis, Arch Enemy took the title for best band on that stage for the day. Having Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis in the same band makes for some serious guitar shredding. Alissa connected with the crowd throughout the set because she’s originally from Montréal and spoke mostly all French to the crowd. After Arch Enemy finished their set, Extreme started their set on the Scène Molson Canadian Stage. This band definitely appealed more to the older fans in the crowd but was respected by all. Extreme is led by singer Gary Cherone, who many know as the guy who was “that other singer” for Van Halen. On guitar for Extreme was none other than Nuno Bettencourt. For those who pay close attention to rock news, Nuno was just at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood as a special guest for Steel Panther who played the final show there before they demolish it.
Before Extreme was able to finish their set, many fans started the walk over to the Scène de la Forêt Stage for Nothing More. Easily one of the most anticipated bands of the weekend, Nothing More gave everything they had. Opening with “Mr. MTV”, Nothing More gave Montréal a performance that left fans eager for more. Not many bands can put on a performance like Nothing More did in just 30 short minutes. The band closed their set with, “This Is The Time (Ballast)” and “Salem (Burn The Witch)”. During their short time, Nothing More still setup their bass rig and the band all unloaded on it making crazy beats. At the end of the performance the entire band took to their personal drums to hammer away in the woods. After the performance was over, the band came off stage and greeted all the fans that stuck around to talk to them at the rail. The crowd showed incredible support for Nothing More and from the looks of it, they could have played on one of the main stages.
The last two bands that were caught on Friday were Meshuggah and Korn. Meshuggah who is a Swedish extreme metal band, seemed to fit in with the vibe of the weekend very well. The people of Montréal and surrounding areas seem to love the “heavy” and “extreme” metal that this festival brought in. While not every single person in the crowd was waiting to see Meshuggah, there were still a sea of fans screaming their name and banging their heads with singer Jens Kidman. Last up on Friday night was Korn, which was the band everyone there was waiting to see. Shortly after 9 P.M., the sea of people tightened up and everyone pushed closer to the stage. The set started with that very familiar cymbal intro which lead to a big “Are You Ready?!” from Jonathan Davis. Starting with “Blind”, then moving through the rest of their debut album Korn, the band had the crowd going wild. Fans may have seen Korn 10 times already, but this set was very special and has only been done numerous times since the band announced they would be playing Korn in its entirety for its 20th anniversary. After finishing the album with “Daddy”, easily the most emotional song ever written by Jonathan Davis, Korn played a 3-song encore. The three songs were, “Falling Away With Me”, “Here To Stay”, and “Freak On A Leash”. Heavy Montréal couldn’t have picked a better band to set the mood for the next two days of the festival.
On Saturday, the music once again started at 1 P.M. sharp. Some of the bands to open up the day were Slaves On Dope, Deafheaven, The Brains, Mass Murder Messiah and Rock From The Crypt. The crowd for the first few hours of the day seemed to scatter from stage to stage until they were ready to camp for a certain band. Starting at 3 P.M. is when the crowd seemed to shift mainly toward the 2 main stages. Lita Ford took the Scène HEAVY Stage at 3 P.M. and she absolutely rocked for her age. Some people may have scratched their heads when seeing her on the lineup for this festival, but she surely didn’t disappoint the least bit. After her set Abbath took the stage to keep the crowd right there in the main area.
Although Abbath sounded pretty great, many of the fans stayed right in front of the Scène HEAVY Stage. The reason why many fans stayed put was because Gojira was next up on that stage. These metal giants from France had a huge fan base in French-speaking Montréal. The mosh pits during Gojira were unlike anything seen the previous day and a half. Following fan favorites Gojira, Testament was ready to keep the crowd moshing. Fans must have known Testament was going to come out all business just by seeing their cryptic looking backdrop, one of the most bad-ass ones of the weekend. Their set consisted of a mix of songs spanned across 5 albums but mostly from The New Order which was their 2nd album. That being said, old-school Testament fans had a smile on their face. Unfortunately for Testament, their bass player and drummer couldn’t make the show so Tilen Hudrap from Vicious Rumors took over bass duties and Alex Bent from Battlecross took over on drums. Even with the fill-ins, Testament sounded great and casual fans probably didn’t notice any difference at all.
After Testament, the attention shifted over to the Scène de l’Apocalypse Stage for The Devin Townsend Project. This band is led by Canadian born Devin Townsend who was the head of Strapping Young Lad from 1994-2007. Now Devin focuses on his solo project and it’s just as heavy. Taking the stage Devin told the crowd to get ready for the nerdiest show of the weekend, due to the fact he wears headphones on stage now. The DTP was one of the best performances of the entire weekend. Devin did a fine job mixing crowd interaction, humor and straight up metal during the set. Right after watching the entire Devin Townsend Project set, fans shifted to the Scène de la Forêt Stage to catch a bit of Battlecross. This band just seemed to fit on this stage perfectly with the look they had.
Unfortunately due to other acts, time with Battlecross was cut short. Die-hard fans definitely stayed the entire half hour, but many shifted to the main stages for Iggy Pop and Faith No More. Iggy Pop put on one hell of a show for his age. Although he may not be “heavy metal”, this 68-year-old was most likely an influence for half the bands playing over the weekend. This punk-rock legend definitely had the respect from the crowd and other artists who came out to see him perform. Last up on Saturday was Faith No More. These legends who just got back together in the recent years have been headlining major festivals all over the world and Heavy Montréal was next on their list. The band opened with “Motherfucker” off their album Sol Invictus, which came out this year. Faith No More dug into this new album six times throughout the night. It only took the band 5 songs to play their biggest hit “Epic”. The crowd definitely knew Faith No More would be playing “Epic” and hearing the whole crowd sing, “You want it all but you can’t have it” was simply amazing. After “Epic”, the band eventually played other hits such as “Midlife Crisis” and “Easy”. To end the set before the encore, the band picked their song “Superhero” which was also on Sol Invictus. The set was ended with “Digging The Grave”, “This Guy’s In Love With You” and “Just a Man”. Faith No More certainly didn’t have a metal atmosphere going for their stage setup; dressing in all white, having an all white stage decorated in only flowers. Although it was different from what the rest of the day had musically, Faith No More still drew a very large crowd that kept the energy going throughout the late hours of the night.
The final day of Heavy Montréal seemed to have the best lineup judging by the increase in people right from the get-go. Chris Jericho opened the day with his band Fozzy. This guy earned a lot of respect from other guys in the music community and that showed when Corey Taylor from Slipknot and Randy Blythe from Lamb Of God came out and watched his band side stage. Next up for the day was Motionless In White, who seemed to have a huge number of fans there.
After Motionless In White, was 90s band Coal Chamber which is led by front-man Dez Fafara. For those who don’t know, Dez is also the singer from DevilDriver. After being split for nearly 7 years, Coal Chamber just recently got back together and released their new album Rivals on May 19th. Dez and the rest of Coal Chamber got the crowd moving while security had the fire hose out cooling them down after moshing. The next two bands up on the main stages were a blast from the past, Warrant and Dokken. Warrant has been out on the road with singer Robert Mason after the death of Jani Lane their original lead singer. With Robert in the band, Warrant still plays all the classics and sounds like them took a time machine from the 80s to 2015. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Dokken. With Don Dokken and drummer Mick Brown being the only original members still in the band, they had a lot to live up to. That being said, the band itself sounded great but the vocals just aren’t there anymore. After almost singing for nearly 40-years, Don Dokken at the age of 62 just can’t hit the notes he could in the past. Although the set wasn’t an absolute disaster, the power wasn’t there in Don’s voice. In some instances it did sound like the notes could be hit, but there was no power behind them. Most of the energy from their set came from drummer “Wild” Mick Brown, who introduced Dokken to the crowd.
After Dokken, Andrew W.K. came on the other main stage as the singer for Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. This was a very cool pairing and Andrew W.K. seemed to have that energy to keep the rest of the band behind him going. After a 45 minute set, things shifted back to the Scène Molson Canadian Stage for Asking Alexandria. These guys from England just filled their singer vacancy after the departure of Danny Worsnop with singer Denis Stoff from the Ukraine. With an identical voice to Danny, Denis is the perfect fill in for this band. His youth and energy brought life back into Asking Alexandria, which seemed to die out during Mayhem Tour last summer. AA just finished up their summer on Warped Tour where Denis got to show the US crowds that he could fill the big shoes that Danny left empty. The crowd at Heavy Montréal was filled with fans of Asking Alexandria to the point where Denis didn’t even have to sing any of the screaming parts of their last song “The Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel)”. Hearing the entire crowd yell, “Oh My God” during the intro of the song easily proved that Montréal has Asking Alexandria fans.
Next up was Within Temptation on the Scène HEAVY stage. This Dutch symphonic metal band was stellar. Sharon den Adel the lead singer of the band was an absolute delight to watch. Within Temptation was a complete different breed of what the rest of the festival had over the weekend, but they showed they had what it takes. There’s no wonder why this band sells out all their shows over in Europe. The 11-song set they played seemed to not be enough for festival attendees.
The last bands to close out Heavy Montréal were absolute monsters. Those three were the ones from the Summer’s Last Stand Tour: Bullet For My Valentine, Lamb of God and Slipknot. Before and after Bullet’s setlist, two great bands got stuck with bad set times over at the Scène de la Forêt stage: Upon A Burning Body and Wilson. Unfortunately not many people wanted to lose their spots at the main stages to go see them.
The good news for Bullet For My Valentine fans was that they got to play a bit longer than they have been on their tour with Slipknot. In the previews for the festival, fans knew they could expect songs like “Your Betrayal” and “Scream Aim Fire”, but Bullet added a few more in the set for Montréal. Fans got to hear songs like “Alone”, “The Last Fight”, and “4 Words (To Choke Upon)”. It was obvious that Bullet was itching to play a longer set for quite some time, as they had even more energy to spare.
Lamb of God also got to play a little longer on Sunday with a 12-song set. Unfortunately for those looking to hear new material off VII: Sturm und Drang, LOG only played “512” and “Still Echoes”. Even though the set wasn’t heavy on new material, Randy and the rest of Lamb of God put on a brutal show that surely left fans bruised and sweaty.
There’s no better way to end a 3-day heavy metal festival then with Slipknot. When there’s 9 guys on stage wearing masks and playing loud music with flames going up everywhere, that’s how to end a weekend. Corey Taylor is one hell of a leader on stage. Corey has the ability to control the crowd with ease. The highlight of Slipknot’s setlist was easily during “Spit It Out”. There’s a huge difference watching Corey control an amphitheater and a sea of people in an open field. Every single person at Parc Jean-Drapeau was down on their knees waiting for Corey to give them the command “jump the fuck up”. When that command came, the entire crowd at once lifted into the air and went absolutely insane. When that song was over, there was no time to rest because Slipknot went right into “Custer” which was off their latest album .5 The Gray Chapter. With time running out on the weekend, the band ended with a 3-song encore featuring “(sic)”, “People=Shit” and “Surfacing”.
Heavy Montréal proved to be a huge success this year going for a full three days of music. With a perfect variety of bands, a perfect venue and a large variety of food and drinks, Evenko set up one killer festival. Anyone who likes to attend festivals such as Rock on The Range, Carolina Rebellion, etc., try to attend Heavy Montréal at least once.
*Be sure to check here periodically for next year’s Heavy Montréal festival info*