For the most part, parody bands are usually just that: a joke. A good laugh with not a lot of legs longevity-wise. L.A.-based comedy rockers Steel Panther – appearing on one of the two main stages at the 2013 edition of Montreal’s hugely popular outdoor hard rock festival Heavy MTL, August 10 & 11 – turn that convention on its head. Superb hair metal satirists though they be, Steel Panther have rapidly accrued metal cred comparable to that of more serious-minded peers, sharing stages with the likes of Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses…
In fact, Steel Panther’s 2011 sophomore album debuted at number one on the iTunes Rock chart in the U.K., beating out Megadeth’s TH1RT3EN (this while also simultaneously debuting at number one on the Billboard Comedy chart), and their 2009 debut featured vocal performances from none other than Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows. And the extended metal family will find themselves all together again at Heavy MTL this year: Avenged Sevenfold and Megadeth are among the headlining acts at this annual gathering of the head banging clans.
Other acts enjoying top billing at Heavy MTL – situated in scenic and sprawling Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Ste-Hélène, just minutes from downtown Montreal by metro – include long-serving multiplatinum alt-metal shredders Godsmack and horror metal maverick, and all-around loose creative cannon, Rob Zombie. In fact, in addition to a broad sampling of contemporary metal sensations at the top of their game – folks like Atlanta sludge rockers Mastodon and hard-touring Pennsylvania metalcore five-piece August Burns Red – this year’s lineup has also loaded up on many of the legends of heaviness.
Among the greats would not only be Finnish extreme metal mainstays Children of Bodom, Oakland metallists Machine Head (22 years and counting) and indefatigable New York hardcore outfit Sick Of It All (who’ve been rockin’ ’80s-style hardcore since, well, the ’80s), but several pivotal figures in the evolution of metal in all its varied forms. We’re talking trailblazers like Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo (appearing at Heavy MTL as Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals), former Misfits and Danzig ringleader Glenn Danzig (appearing as Danzig and Doyle), and one-time Metallica bassist Jason Newsted (as simply Newsted, with Staind guitarist Mike Mushok). So if it’s a ticket to the future that you’re looking for, or a passport to the past, if you’re trippin’ on hard music, Heavy MTL 2013 is as much destiny as it is destination.
Heavy MTL, August 10-11, 2013
Photos: Susan Moss, courtesy of Evenko