I woke up this morning and saw my weather app tell me that there was going to be thunderstorms today. Luckily, that was a lie. Under the somewhat cloudy sky, the bands played on. My personal highlight of the day was Metalachi playing three Iron Maiden songs in a row in their unique “Heavy Metal Mariachi” style. (Interview with them coming soon.)

But of course today was also full of some ridiculously amazing headliners too. Slash, Anthrax, and Slayer! Honestly, if you weren’t see there to experience this in all its glory, you missed out!

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Banh Mi Pork Tacos from the Grumman 78 stand!

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Beast in Black at #HeavyMontreal2019

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@dirtyhoneyband at #HeavyMontreal2019

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Photos by Adrien G Photo

In April, the Montreal City Council officially dubbed it a “heavy metal city”. The whole thing seems to be City Councillor Craig Sauvé’s idea – or at the very least, it was Sauvé who brought this to the Council’s attention.

Sauvé’s motion basically says that Quebecois heavy metal – with Montreal at its center – is globally acknowledged for its quality and the liveliness of its local scene. 

As this year’s Heavy Montreal (formerly known as Heavy MTL) approaches, this whole Heavy Metal City™ thing got me thinking. First of all, what the heck does that even mean?

Well… As mentioned in Sauvé’s motion, Montreal has a very rich history of metal. So many great bands got their starts in our beloved city – or around it at least. Sauvé mentions Cryptopsy, Necrotic Mutation, and Despised Icon, but those are but a few examples. Voivod wasn’t included in that list because it’s technically from Jonquière, even though they are very active in the city to this day. On top of these more classic bands, you also got groups like Mountain Dust and The Great Sabatini, which keep the scene always fresh.

But you don’t get to be a Heavy Metal City™ by just producing good bands. You’ve also got to have a pumped up audience to get trashing. And oh boy do Montreal crowds trash. I’ve been to quite a few shows here and it’s always a treat. Sure, you pay to see the bands perform your favourite songs, but the true joy comes from experiencing it together with a bunch of long haired, black t-shirt wearing, sweaty people headbanging and jumping up and down. 

And also Metallica’s James Hetfield has said (among a thousand other people) that Montreal is his favourite city to play. Sure, he may say that a lot, but to say that about the place where you suffered serious burns on stage and then Axl Rose still got the headlines, that’s some serious love of our audiences.

That being said I’m just a young boy, so feel free to doubt my experience and expertise on this matter. But…Montreal was the home to North America’s first international heavy metal festival, aptly named World War III. 

I wasn’t even alive in 1985. But talking to Hellbound in 2010, “Toronto scene mainstay” Dave Busch was “blown away by such an incredible lineup.” You had Quebec’s Voivod, California’s Possessed, Florida’s Nasty Savage, Switzerland’s Celtic Frost, and Germany’s Destruction. 

And although the vibrancy of Montreal’s local scene is in a league of its own, it is this global, international side of things that makes me think that Montreal truly deserves this new-ish title. What was started in 1985 lives on today via Heavy Montreal.

I’ve been self-proclaiming as a Montrealer for only seven years, but I’ve been to every Heavy Montreal since 2012. And while I hate the commute to and from Parc Jean-Drapeau, I still end up at Heavy Montreal because they keep attracting great metal bands from all over the world.

Montreal doesn’t really need its City Council to officially dub it a Heavy Metal City™ to be one. The metalheads of this city already knew that. But there are still some benefits to this acknowledgment. 

Metal remains the so-called “black sheep” of music genres. It’s loud, in-your-face, and VioLEnt (whatever that means.) People have no trouble embracing genres like jazz or indie pop. Getting that official recognition might make it easier for the nay-sayers to get over themselves. 

One such nay-sayer was councillor Marvin Rotrand who was concerned that heavy metal is too ViOlEnt. I mean yes, but it’s not like a musical genre can be inherently evil. If anything, it’s like a pitbull. It might end up being bad at the hands of bad people. But like, let me enjoy my metal, I don’t do anything bad with it. Get over yourself. Listen to some Black Album Metallica and embrace this beautiful genre, like the city did.

Heavy Montreal 2019 is July 27-28 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. A preview of some of the acts to check out this year is coming soon

In 2015, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced that the concert space on the western end of Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène is getting a redesign. The municipal and provincial government will invest a total of $73 million to expand the space used by promoter Evenko to stage events like Osheaga, Heavy Montréal and ÎleSoniq every summer.

While originally planned for Montreal’s 375th anniversary, it won’t be ready until next year. This means Osheaga will have a new home for the summer and Heavy Montréal will take a year off.

Capacity would increase from 45 000 to 65 000, though it will remain an open-air ampitheatre. At the time of the original announcement, the Mayor assured people that some of the budget would be spent on reducing the sound that made its way across the water to the South Shore where St-Lambert residents had been filing noise complaints for a few summers. This would presumably mean that Evenko could stage more concerts in the space.

This week, the environmental impact of the project went public. 1000 trees will have to be cut down to make it possible. While Coderre promised $18 million to plant new trees, Projet Montreal, the official opposition party in City Hall, is not happy to say the least.

Calling it a “chainsaw massacre” of Montreal’s shared greenspace to benefit one private promoter, they argued that a more environmentally-friendly version should have been considered. They also decried the lack of public consultation on the project.

With so many issues at play here, we decided to turn to you, our readers and not just make it a straight Yes or No question. In this poll, please let us know whether or not you support this project and why. If none of the answers fit what you think, you can add your own:

How do you feel about the current plan to build a new ampitheatre in Parc Jean-Drapeau?
  • Bad idea through and through 30%, 25 votes
    25 votes 30%
    25 votes - 30% of all votes
  • Any plan of this scope needs public consultation. Period. 30%, 25 votes
    25 votes 30%
    25 votes - 30% of all votes
  • I like the idea of a new ampitheatre but cutting down that many trees is unjustifiable 14%, 12 votes
    12 votes 14%
    12 votes - 14% of all votes
  • The area was in great need of repairs and a place able to welcome all the events happening an the Parc.* 10%, 8 votes
    8 votes 10%
    8 votes - 10% of all votes
  • The old concert space was fine and doesn't need to change 8%, 7 votes
    7 votes 8%
    7 votes - 8% of all votes
  • We need a new ampitheatre and this is the right way to make it happen 6%, 5 votes
    5 votes 6%
    5 votes - 6% of all votes
  • I don't care (well, I care enough to answer the poll, but that's it) 1%, 1 vote
    1 vote 1%
    1 vote - 1% of all votes
  • I live in St-Lambert (or have friends who live there) and am fine with any plan that curbs the noise 0%, 0 votes
    0 votes
    0 votes - 0% of all votes
Total Votes: 83
April 1, 2017 - May 1, 2017
Voting is closed

This week is very yellow line centered as two festivals hit Île Sainte-Hélène at the same time, I tell you the coolest (or maybe it’s the most random) thing you could do tonight and we actually mention a local band (Les Breastfeeders) amidst this sea of summer festivals.

Heavy Montreal

For anyone into the metal/hard rock scene the angry little brother of our city’s festival season Heavy Montreal takes over Parc Jean Drapeau for it’s ninth’s edition this Saturday and Sunday. Around since 2008, this fest has steadily grown in popularity and has even seen a re-branding from it’s earlier incarnation Heavy Mtl (or heavy metal!!!!) in order to hopefully gain some crossover appeal and attract fans from a wider variety of musical tastes.

A little piece of advice for the organizers: you can change the name of the fest all you want but when you book bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed, Nightwish, Killswitch Engage, Napalm Death and Hatebreed to play then who are you kidding, it’s a bloody metal show! I guess their idea of diversity is a couple of headliners that are more hard rock than metal.

For those who don’t want to leave the island or pay the rather ummmm heavy ticket prices there’s also a Heavy in the City aspect to the fest with a bunch of smaller shows and after parties you can attend for a fraction of the cost. For example on Sunday you can head down to L’Astral and check out Cult of Luna as part of the official after party.

The most interesting off site activity by far is taking place Thursday night at Concordia University where organizers Grimposium are hosting a screening of the new film Death by Metal followed by a bilingual panel discussion with members of the industry as well as the director Felipe Belalcazar.

This will be followed by the coolest thing you could possibly do tonight, a workshop on how to sing death metal vocals. That and the fact the event is totally free makes this my hands down top pick of the week!

Heavy Montreal plays Plaine Des Jeux at Parc Jean Drapeau, Saturday and Sunday, August 6th and 7th, tickets $149.50 or 275 through Heavy Montreal.

Cult of Luna play L’Astral, 305 Rue Saint-Cahterine Ouest, Sunday, August 7th, 11:45pm (Doors at 10:45pm), tickets $21.50 through Heavy Montreal.

Grimposium presents Death by Metal at Concordia University, VA114 Cinéma, 1395 René-Lévesque Ouest, Thursday August 4th, 7pm, free ($5 suggested donation)

ÎleSoniq

Also taking place at Parc Jean Drapeau this Friday and Saturday will be one of our newer and more musically specific festivals, ÎleSoniq, which basically turns part of Île Sainte-Hélène into a big outdoor rave. This event is also expansive in it’s secondary options available to people who want to stay on the island of Montreal in the form of a series of afterparties.

ÎleSoniq plays Parterre du Parc Jean Drapeau, Friday and Saturday, August 5th and 6th, tickets $95 to $250 available through ÎleSoniq boxoffice.

Yellow Line Fashion Show

For those paying attention to the dates you’ll notice that on Saturday afternoon there will be an overlap of people heading to Île Sainte-Hélène for both ÎleSoniq and Heavy Montreal. The festivals are obviously separate but anyone taking the yellow line will be treated to quite a display of strikingly different fashion senses.

Les Breastfeeders + OL’ CD + Hobo Lord

For those who want a straight up kick ass rock show I suggest you head down to L’Escogriffe on Saturday where Montreal’s own Les Breastfeeders will be playing with the support of two Toronto acts OL’ CD and Hobo Lord. Take a little pinch of punk, a dash of surf, mix it with a three and a half minute garage rock song and you’ve got the recipe for the evening.

In festival season we sometimes get locked into trying to see the biggest and best international acts around. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s important to remember there are some seriously talented local acts ready to give you their all… and for a much more affordable price.

 Les Breastfeeders, OL’ CD and Hobo Lord play L’Escogriffe, 4467 Saint-Denis, Saturday, August 6th, tickets $10.

* Featured image from Heavy Montreal 2013 by Chris Zacchia

Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Despite criticism from fans based on interviews, the Heavy Montréal line-up ended up being one that should sell more tickets than its 2013 incarnation. Headlining one of the days, love them or hate them, is Metallica. The other day will go to Slayer, appearing at Heavy MTL for the first time since 2010.

Other featured bands include Lamb of God who were scheduled to play in 2012, but couldn’t. Three Days Grace, Hatebreed and Symphony X clearly show what the festival’s creators meant by going back to their roots. On the punk/rock side of things, The Offspring, Bad Religion and Pennywise are standouts.

In addition to the stellar line-up, a fourth stage was added. Since the festival intends to reach the largest number of people (and considering the event has grown considerably since its inception) is it possible that stages will now serve a greater importance with the farther out stage catering to the rock and punk fans while the two main stages cater to the heavy metal fans.

Another interesting note is the amount of North American artists. While Heavy MTL has always mainly featured artists out of North America with some European bands thrown in (In Flames, Children of Bodom, At The Gates), this year’s Euro flavour comes from Epica and Apocalyptica from Netherlands and Finland respectively.

In an interview with Canoe, Nick Farkas, head of programming said: “In recent years, the festival took a very metal corner and it has put off people to go.” Part of the reason why the festival had a lower attendance in 2013 than it did in 2012 was because of groups such as Avenged Sevenfold headlining and a lack of ‘must-see’ bands. While 2012 had SOAD, Manson, Slipknot and Deftones, 2013 had to settle with Danzig, A Day to Remember and Godsmack. It should be a no brainer why fans chose 2012, myself included.

Tickets go on sale this Friday with weekend passes going for $165 and gold weekend passes for $400.

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