An onslaught of screaming guitars, guttural vocals and headbanging crowds may have brought fame to Heavy Montréal, but what the festival really thrives on today is the non-stop high-energy of bands that run the gamut of the heavy-music spectrum…
Formerly known for years as the pun-perfect Heavy MTL festival, Heavy Montréal, August 9-10 outdoors at Parc Jean-Drapeau, promises just as much metal with its 2014 name change, along with even more crossover punk, hardcore and hard-rock acts. As if to prove the festival is just as heavy as ever, none other than the apparently unstoppable Metallica, still going strong and consistently reinventing themselves and their sound after over 30 years, and Slayer, one of the most revered and ruling bands in metal, headline this year’s fest.
They’re joined on the two massive main stages by bands who’ve also built the best of bad reputations over the years: Anthrax, Lamb of God, Bad Religion, The Offspring, Dropkick Murphys, Pennywise, Epica, Three Days Grace, Hatebreed and more, including one of the most influential heavy bands in the world, Montreal’s own Voivod.
Not only is the festival known for its loud and raucous atmosphere but for its high entertainment value, with so many bands putting on a stage show for the eyes as much as for the ears. Not only does Ice T’s answer to rock, Body Count, make a comeback at this year’s Heavy Montréal, but Twisted Sister – the hair-metal makers of We’re Not Gonna Take It – prove they’ve still got the chops and the wit (and, yes, a lot of the hair) to rev up any crowd. L.A.’s Nekrogoblikon mix H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional death-tome Necronomicon with goblins, both in song and live on stage. Thrash-punks Municipal Waste simply need to be seen, as hilarious as they are brutally awesome. And Japan’s ultra-popular Babymetal turn J-pop and teen angst into a metal din.
While the main stages draw big crowds with nonstop mayhem, some impressive local, Canadian and international bands give everyone good reason to trek to the smaller stages in the park’s woodsy areas. Sweden’s Truckfighters maintain metal cred while treading a hard-pop line, Scotland’s Alestorm survive on booze and pirate-core metal, Montreal’s Eagle Tears bust out some classic ‘70s rock riffs, Cynic claims their high-ranking place in melodic, heady metal, Massachusetts metalcore stalwarts Unearth slay on the Apocalypse stage on Sunday night, Quebec’s La Corriveau give us classic doom-inflected noise, and Moncton’s The Motorleague, who recently released a 90s-style music-scene videogame called Atlantic Canada: The RPG, punk-bro down with the best of ‘em. And don’t miss out on the spectacle that is Heavy Mania, a weekend-long tournament-style battle between 16 pro wrestlers fighting on four demonic teams.
After all is said and done in the park, get thee to downtown metal club Katacombes for the fest’s afterparties: the Annual Heavy Montreal Official BBQ, with Bat Sabbath (what happens when Toronto’s hardcore Cancer Bats decide to play only Black Sabbath covers), Biblical, Eagle Tears and Boids – and plenty of barbecued good eats – runs late into the night August 8; Saturday sees New Jersey thrash-metal pirates Swashbuckle and Colorado’s “extreme chiptune dance metal” master Rainbowdragoneyes take the stage at midnight; and Sunday closes the festival in sweaty, small-stage, post-midnight style with the great and powerful and genre-bending F*cked Up (also playing the fest earlier on Sunday) and one of Montreal’s favourite local loud-rock bands, Solids. In the city or in the park, Heavy Montréal keeps it turned up to 11.
Heavy Montréal, August 8-10, 2014
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