I have it on good authority that Genghis Khan would have been a huge Slayer fan. Galloping double-bass drums and furious riff-based thrash seems like a natural fit for the Golden Horde charging through the steppes of Central Asia. Just add booming Mongolian throat singing and horsehead fiddles that sound like a blade being drawn, and you have the perfect recipe for an incredible live performance.

The crowd at Foufounes Electriques got a taste of that Friday evening, when the Nomadic Folk Metal Horde known as Tengger Cavalry charged into town at the end of their North American tour with Incite.

Tengger Cavalry with FTB before the show
Tengger Cavalry with FTB before the show

These guys aren’t just fronting about the whole horse thing, either. In addition to using folk instruments like the Igil, Shanz, Morin Khuur and Throat Singing, Tengger can ride too.

“Yeah, I’m okay on horseback,” muses Nature Ganganbaigal (Guitar, Vocals) at the beginning of our pre-show chat. “One time, I went to the Mongolian grassland and I had to stay on a horse’s back for one hour because he ran off from his owner. I got the bridle on, and I can gallop no problem…I’m more comfortable playing guitar, but I can make a horse go, too.”

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Alex Abayev

While experimental genre-defying music is always exciting, it’s unfortunate that a lot of this blending of traditional music with contemporary styles can be seen as a gimmick, or attempting to cash in on the novelty of “look at us, we combine The Monolythic ‘Old’ with The Monolythic ‘New!’”

The obvious workaround is authenticity and commitment to what the artist is creating as a performance that creates something new, unique, and hybridized instead of just two distinct styles – see Canada’s A Tribe Called Red, and Chile’s Matanza for examples of groups who do this well. Tengger Cavalry does this spectacularly in the studio, but live it’s even more impressive.

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Nature Ganganbaigal

Tengger Cavalry presents a fascinating live show because these musicians focus their stage presence into capturing the sonic rush of stampeding cavalry as opposed to attempting to shoehorn sacred Mongolian traditions into popular contemporary music.

“When you travel a lot, and play from place to place, you’re already living a Nomadic lifestyle,” says Alex Abayev (Bass). “And since we’re all together, it’s like a Unity we can all feel,” chimes in Josh Schifris (Drums). Alex continues that with their music, “we can make people feel connected to the Steppes, even if they’ve never been there.”

To paraphrase from the acclaimed Coeur d’Alene author Sherman Alexie, writers from Indigenous cultures are often better off treading lightly on hallowed ground. Writing about sacred traditions and exhibiting them for public consumption outside that cultural group is an invitation for people searching to give themselves cultural capital via conspicuous consumption of “the other” (“look at how cool and open-minded I am, I saw a ~~Mongolian Metal band~~ last night”).

“When I was in high school, I listened to a lot of metal, which meant I listened to a lot of Scandinavian bands bringing traditional music into their sound,” explains Nature when I asked about the genesis of the band. “I thought, ‘well, why can’t I do this with my own culture? Why not create something brand-fucking-new?’”

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Josh Schifris

The band tells me that “talks are happening” about a future tour in Turkey and Central Asia. “We get a lot of messages from Istanbul, with fans telling us that we are their nomadic brothers.” This current tour has been a blast for the band, and despite weeks on the road, they show no signs of fatigue; if anything, they’re coping with post-tour depression now that the constant gigging has finished.

Canada has treated them well, with some of their favorite shows taking place in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Josh has asked me to include a note to Neil Peart shouting out Rush (and the Great White North in general) as major inspirations to this band.

“The most important thing is about what’s in your music,” says Nature. “We see ourselves as combining cultures, not combining genres. We’re all from different backgrounds, but we’re all in this band.”

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Nature Ganganbaigal

The band would like to express their sincere appreciation to the tour’s sponsors, Kay’s clothing (UK) Killer B Guitars, Rock N Roller, Reunion Blues, Sinister Guitar Picks, and Strukture.

 

Photos by Cem Ertekin

 

Kvelertak are a six-piece metal band from Norway whose success back home is stuff dreams are made of. Their brand of metal fuses rock n’ roll and punk (and just a tinge of black metal, for good measure) for a seriously playful sound that isn’t exactly customary for metal bands out of Norway. It speaks to the boys’ spirit that they’ve toured with some of the greatest bands in metal, like High On Fire, and it’s a testament to their music that they’ve been signed to a major label (Sony). I, for one, am sold on their music. For my first time interviewing a band, I had the chance to meet up with Erlend Hjelvik, the band’s singer, on their tour bus when they were passing through Montreal, sharing a bill with Mastodon and Gojira (check out some photos of the show and read the review).

Nairi K.: How do you like Montreal so far?

Erlend Hjelvik: I haven’t been able to do much, I just woke up like two hours ago, so just had breakfast and I’ve been hanging out on the bus. But we’ve played in Montreal before, and yeah, I really like the cit. It feels pretty European I guess compared to the rest of North America. So it feels like a good break from being in the U.S., you know?

What’s something that you really miss from home when you’re on tour? Food, activities…

I actually miss making my own food. That’s basically my main task of the day, making dinner and stuff like that, and that’s one of the things I miss. And just hanging out at home I guess, I’m kind of a homebody.

Let’s talk about your music a little bit, because I only discovered you because you’re on the bill with Mastodon and it’s been a really nice, pleasant discovery for me. I’ve noticed your videos are really different from one another, which is super cool, there isn’t one overall look, and in the video for “Kvelertak” there’s a super fun touring vibe. Who documents your tours?

On that tour, the one on which we did the “Kvelertak” video, we actually had a photographer with us, his name is Stian… I forget his last name, I think Andersen? But he has taken photos of Turbonegro and bands like that before, like really good photos, so he just came with us a couple of days on the tour and filmed a lot of stuff and then he made the video out of it and yeah, it just turned out awesome. It was pretty fitting for the song too, ‘cause it was supposed to be a band anthem, so it was cool that it showed what it’s like on tour for us.

Keeping in that same vibe of it being super jolly, which I think most people don’t expect from metal, the video for “Bruane Brenn” is super fun with the kids playing the band.

Yeah!

Who came up with that, how did you guys think of that?

We just asked a friend of ours who makes movies in Norway — he’s a movie director — and he’s made a lot of good movies, and it’s just kind of his style. We just asked him to do a video and he just did his own thing with it and I thought it turned out awesome cause… [pauses]

The kid playing you is super into it!

Yeah! [laughs] Yeah it was great! And I dunno, I guess we kinda feel like kids when we’re playing music and it’s just fun to like, show a different side of the music. Even if our music can sometimes be dark, we’re also a bunch of guys who like to have fun.

I think that shows a lot in your videos.

Yeah it’s important to include that too.

I noticed that in a few videos there’s an owl, and the first time I saw it I thought it was a live owl that you were holding up and was about to fly off. I’m a really big fan of Twin Peaks (Erlend: Yeah!), and I actually wondered if it has anything to do with like, “The owls are not what they seem?” But what’s the deal with the owl?

Yeah I’m a fan of Twin Peaks too, but I don’t think that’s where it’s from. It’s kinda random, it came about when we needed a cover for a homemade demo collection we made back in 2007. Our bass player just came up with the idea of having an owl on the cover and then our guitarist Bjarte [Lund Rolland] made the cover. He found an owl online and just made the cover himself. And it just stuck with the band ever since, he’s kind of become a mascot.

Do you bring him on tour?

Yeah, actually! It’s starting to get pretty beat up, after a while, this owl, or the owl mask. Like a few days ago the tail fell off, and we had already fixed it a couple of times, so we’ll see how long it lasts. But I think maybe we’ll have to do something different on the next one because it’s just gonna fall apart.

Is the tail dead and gone now?

It’s in the box! So maybe we’ll reattach it.

Who’s the artist for the “Evig Vandrar” video?

Yeah, that’s another friend of ours, his name is Torjus [Førre Erfjord]. We just discovered him because he had a band in Stavanger where we live called Ultra Sheriff, and he made awesome animated videos for it, and then he started studying animation and stuff. So the video for “Blodtørst” was actually, I guess you could call it like a bachelor assignment for him. I think he aced the project with the video, it just turned out great I think. He made the “Blodtørst” video and it was so good, so we asked him again to do the video for “Evig Vandrar.” We have a couple of friends who make awesome videos, so we try to use those people as much as we can.

How’s touring with Gojira and Mastodon?

It’s awesome, yeah! We did this same tour before the summer, with the same line-up and it was a lot of different places. It was more on the West Coast and some different places in Canada, but yeah, it’s just a great tour. They asked us to do it again and it was just impossible to say no. It’s a great bunch of guys and there’s really good chemistry among the people on this tour, and it’s just great being on tour with two of the best live bands in the world. It’s really inspiring to be playing with bands that are that good. It makes us better too.

You think it has an impact on how you play?

Yeah, it’s just so inspiring. We try to step up our game when we’re with bands like that.

Plus maybe when you’re an opening and lesser known band and you’re opening for a band like Mastodon who has a huge following you wanna make sure to impress as much.

Yeah, but we’ve been pretty lucky on this tour and last. I dunno, we’re the first band playing but people still show up early and most of the room is pretty packed already when we go onstage, so that’s a great thing. ‘Cause normally it can be a pretty thankless job being the first band but that isn’t the case at all on this tour, so it’s been great.

I did hear that Brent [Hinds, of Mastodon] has been giving some guitar lessons on tour. Have you taken any classes with him, or maybe shared some riffs?

Yeah I don’t know how to play guitar, but maybe you should try one of those lessons one day [speaking to guitarist Bjarte Lund Rolland who has just walked in]. I think they do it every day and they get paid for it so I think it’s just a good side business for those guys. Both Bill and Brent are doing it.

I think that’s most of my questions…

That was easy!

Photo by Adam Reider. 

The annual punk/hardcore/metal festival presented by local promoters Blackdot takes place this weekend. What’s that? Your friends are all at Osheaga but you can’t afford it/are afraid of massive crowds/hate it with all your guts? Well this festival pretty much falls on the total opposite end of the spectrum as far as summer music festivals go.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 1

Noothgrush + Iron Lung + Haymaker + Mammoth Grinder + AHNA @ La Sala Rossa

The opening night of Montreal punk/hardcore/metal festival Rrroooaaarrr features two shows, one at La Sala Rossa and another right across the street at Casa del Popolo. My pick for the night would have to be Oakland sludge metal band Noothgrush.

Show starts at 8 p.m., $20 at the door.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 2

Cro-Mags + Powertrip + Enforcers + Weak Link @ Katacombes

Legends of the 80s NYC hardcore scene Cro-Mags are coming to Montreal for what promises to be a lovely afternoon performance. Also, free BBQ and drinks (while supplies last so get there early).

Show starts at 2 p.m., $20 at the door. 

Blasphemy + Black Witchery + Funebrarum + Innumerable Forms + Hellacaust + Oath @ La Sala Rossa

Blasphemy, a black metal band formed in Vancouver, released two albums in the early 90s and people are still losing their shit. They released a live album in 2001 and have been coasting heavily on their cult-fame status for quite some time. I’m not hating though, nope. I think it says a lot about a band’s influence and staying power when people are still coming out in droves to see them, especially when they haven’t released new material in 20 years.

Show starts at 9 p.m., $35 at the door.

Mental Abuse + Omegas + Long Knife + Hounds of Hate + Ajax + Wild Side @ Casa del Popolo

Mental Abuse were a highly influential 80s hardcore band from Jersey. Rumours that their vocalist, Sid Sludge, was dead had been circling around for years but he finally put them to rest by reforming the band in 2013. This guy is for real. One time, his car broke down in the Lincoln Tunnel so he abandoned it there and hopped on a bus to go hang out with his friends.

I’ll be hitting this show mostly because I never tire of watching Omegas play live and you never really know if it’ll be their last show. These guys are getting old and have moved on to bigger and better things so there’s a huge possibility that they might call it quits any day now.

Show starts at 7 p.m., $15 at the door.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 3

Revenge + Incantation + Abyss + Sabbatory + Occult Burial + Phobocosm @ La Sala Rossa

There’s something about cold places being great spawning grounds for black metal. Revenge hail from Alberta and their sound is so extremely heavy, so brutal and downright barbaric it’s terrifying. This line from a Pitchfork review of their 2012 album Scum.Collapse.Eradication sums it up nicely: “This is black metal ground down to its ugliest, most primal essence, spat out at furious powerviolence tempos and dredged through a filthy morass of down-tuned death metal.”

Show starts at 7 p.m, $35 at the door. 

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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Hey you! Yes you! Go see these shows this week!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15

UNER + Mayssam @ Habitat

This one’s for all you club kids out there. Winner of best newcomer of the 2013 DJ Awards, Lleida, Spain’s UNER specializes in minimal house and techno with a definitively smooth European flavour. The club scene is really not my thing, and usually when I see the words “minimal house” my mind draws a total blank. That being said, there’s definitely something refreshing about UNER that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries.

When: 10 p.m.
Where: 1248 rue de la Montagne
How much: $25 ($20 pre-sale at Kafein and Atom Heart)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16

MUTANK + Squalor + CroMagnum @ Barfly

Montreal band MUTANK strip away all the superfluous nonsense to give you pure thrash metal at its simplest and punchiest. There could be no better venue to see them in. Ah, the smell of dingy bar sweat and cheap beer. Good times.

When: 9 p.m.
Where: 4062 St-Laurent
How much: $5

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17

Scale the Summit + The Reign of Kindo + JOLLY @ Il Motore

Scale the Summit are touring in support of their fourth album, The Migration, released earlier this year. Their music, as does their name, evokes that tingly feeling you get when you’re about to embark on an adventure. Get there early and catch NYC’s JOLLY.

When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: 179 Jean-Talon o.
How much: $15

OBEY THE BRAVE

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Formed in January 2012, this Canadian band boasts former members of established metalcore acts Despised Icon and Blind Witness. Their debut album Young Blood displays a no-frills, straightforward approach in a genre that is flooded with bands trying to do too many fancy things. Simple and unpretentious but packs a mean punch.

Obey The Brave play Saturday, August 10 at 1 p.m. on the Molson Canadian stage. 

WITHIN THE RUINS

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This is a good example of a band doing lots of fancy things but in a well-executed manner. Their 6th release to date, Elite, was released earlier this year. It features rapidly changing tempos and a machine-gun stop-and-go style built on solid melodies.

Within The Ruins play Saturday, August 10 at 2 p.m. on the Galaxie stage. 

SICK OF IT ALL

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Yes, this is the legendary NYC hardcore band. Many of the bands playing Heavy MTL owe it all to these pioneers of heavy music. Although they celebrated their 25th anniversary as a band in 2011, Sick Of It All show no signs of slowing down and are working on a new record, no release date as of yet.

Sick Of It All play Saturday, August 10 at 3:30 p.m. on the Jägermeister stage. 

OCEANO

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This is dark, relentless deathcore at its most frightening. The members of this band do not eat food and breathe air to stay alive like the rest of us. They sustain themselves on pure rage and aggression. Possibly the most violent pit you’ll see all day.

Oceano play Saturday, August 10 at 5 p.m. on the Galaxie stage. 

OF TEMPLES

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They beat out over 200 applicants and 20 qualifiers for one of two winning spots at this year’s En route vers Heavy MTL, a battle of the bands that takes place over several months leading up to the festival. They effortlessly blend the traditional heavy riffs and fast drumming with electronic elements reminiscent of bands like Between the Buried and Me.

Of Temples play Sunday, August 11 at 1 p.m. on the Galaxie stage. 

FINNTROLL

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This Finnish band’s music immediately makes me think of Taco Bell’s Fries Supreme: excessive, unnecessary, drowning in cheese but comforting and irresistible in its own special way.

Finntroll play Sunday, August 11 at 2:30 p.m. on the Molson Canadian stage. 

MASTODON

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There is nothing to say about Mastodon that hasn’t already been said. They are one of the most original bands making heavy music today. Their music pushes boundaries not only in terms of playing style but also in their wacky lyrical concepts and mind-bending album art. Their live shows are a total-body experience incorporating all the senses.

Mastodon play Sunday, August 11 at 7:15 p.m. on the Molson Canadian stage.

INDIAN HANDCRAFTS

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The Ontario band released their first album not even a year ago but there’s already an international buzz around them. They are signed to Sargent House, home of Rodriguez Lopez Productions and bands like Boris, Fang Island, and Russian Circles. Indian Handcrafts are spacey, sludgey garage rock mixed with operatic, screechy guitars and a punk flavour reminiscent of Dead Kennedys.

Indian Handcrafts play Sunday, August 11 at 3 p.m. on the Galaxie stage. 

Featured photo by Susan Moss for Heavy MTL. For a complete schedule and ticket info, visit the Heavy MTL website

Heavy MTL turns 5 this year and the festival has grown a lot since its first edition in 2008. This year’s edition features over 40 bands spread out over two days and three stages.

Besides all the great metal, hardcore, and rock bands you’ll get to see, the Heavy MTL team have added an exciting new event: Heavy Mania. It’s a live professional wrestling event that showcases the best men and women of Montreal’s independent wrestling scene. The event will take place August 10 and 11 at Parc Jean Drapeau. For more info, including a list of participants, click here.

Also part of the festival is The Summer Slaughter Tour taking place at Metropolis on August 9 at 3 p.m. If you can’t afford the $75 for a single day price tag for Heavy MTL, this is your opportunity to see 9 great bands, many of which have played the festival before, for the very low price of $25. Bands include Dillinger Escape Plan, Animals As Leaders, Periphery, and Norma Jean, among others. See here for more details.

Fantasia International Film Festival and Heavy MTL partner up this year to bring you DJ XL5’s Spandex Zappin’ Party taking place at the Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre on August 10 at 11:30 p.m.

If you’ve never been to a DJ XL5 Zappin’ Party, you’re in for an experience like no other. As a director for Fantasia, DJ XL5 started hosting what he called Zappin’ Parties each with a different theme. The parties are basically an audio/visual experience of extremely short, obscure clips from films, cartoons, commercials and televised events spliced together in the most hilarious fashion.

 

This is a separate ticketed event but one that is extremely affordable, especially if you’ve already dished out the money to buy tickets for the festival. It costs $5 for Heavy MTL ticket holders and $10 for everyone else.

Heavy MTL takes place at Parc Jean Drapeau on August 10 and 11. Check out the schedule here.

I have never seen a metal show at Casa del Popolo – but that doesn’t mean it never happens, or that it wouldn’t be a fantastic, mind-blowing experience.

Initially, I was excited to hear that The Great Sabatini and Barn Burner were playing a show together, but how would their heavy sound fit into this smaller sized venue? It’s not like Casa is known for metal shows, but it has built a reputation, over the years, for being a top indie music venue in Montreal. Could the walls handle these monsters of metal?

Headlining the show was Barn Burner. They’re one of those bands that manages to impress you with their illustrative hair metal sound and make you long for the easy listening of the eighties. Their sound also has the sweet touch of stoner rock and 90s heavy metal influences.

Barn Burner played a few awesome tunes, mostly from their latest album Banger II: Scum of the Earth. This band was hard to classify but had a large following of supporters at the show, shouting and wailing to their songs with names like Scum of the Earth, Dark Side of the Barn and Skid Marks the Spot. How could they go wrong? Well they didn’t. They rocked the house! Check out their latest album from Metal Blade Records.

The Great Sabitini have been getting a lot of great press, and we’re glad to be heaping on the praise. Lately their shows have been cerebral and exciting as these talented musicians, fronted by Sean Arsenian, are due for a great album soon to be released in the near future. Sabatini put on what many come to expect from their shows: a wall of sound that is quite experimental, engulfing the entire body in the inevitability of doom.

With my back against the wall and nose bleeding, I knew I was having a good time. Much of the packed house at Casa, which included doom-fiends, metal heads, rockers and dark hippies, covered the back and made getting a drink a difficult experience. But damn, could these boys belt it out! Check out their latest album Matterhorn and their other records on Bandcamp.

The Abyss put on a great performance and had great stage presence and a killer garage jean jacket 80s rocker look. Many of their songs traveled between the hard rock and heavy metal genres. They played their roles and their clothes fit well.

Opening the show was The Forum. They were hardcore whiplash metal on ADD. Every song ended within an allotted 50 seconds. It was a very interesting experience and the drummer really had a lot of stage personality. He slit his throat with his drum stick after every song just to show how cut-throat this band really is. They are definitely one of those bands with a great sense of humor and I would definitely want to see more of them in the future.

With the walls staying stable and my gut full of alcohol, my first experience at Metal at Casa was highly enjoyable. The sound is excellent at that venue and was able to handle the very powerful guitar cords and bass notes by these bands without oversaturation. The crowd dispersed, having received their metal fix for the night thanks to the awe-inspiring combination of these bands, taking us on a tour of the different sub-genres of metal while complimenting each-other really well.

* Photos by Phyllis Papoulias, see the full set on our Facebook page