SHOW OVERVIEW: Spread The Metal Festival

Cryptopsy

Photos by Tiffany Naugler & Evan Pooley
Review by Josh Pothier

July 5 at 12:00pm until July 6 at 11:00pm
The Halifax Forum
https://www.facebook.com/events/190001607777740/

I arrived at Spread The Metal just after six o’clock on Thursday. I was red in the face and had a nice ring of matted hair and sweat along the inside of my hat. For the entire walk over my black T-Shirt was sucking up the heat and slowly searing my skin, and I could feel sweat dripping down under the pant legs of my jeans -- It was collecting at the bunched up sock at my ankle and turning it into a damp mass of itchy fabric. It was bloody hot out, that’s for sure.

Since the only pair of shorts I own that I haven’t blown the front button off of are a pair of pocket covered cargo shorts I decided against rocking the Indiana Jones look and wore some jeans - the only other kind of pants I own. I guess I could have worn some swim trunks and did a sort of metal/Steve Zissou kind of thing, but that only occurred to me after I was halfway to the forum with a dry throat and a damp back.

Once inside I made my way to the bar and asked the bartender what my choices for beer were. “Coors Light,” She said. “and Coors Light.” I bought one of each and scanned the area for an empty seat in the fenced off beer garden area. There were lots of them available. I sat down hard, spilling beer from each cup on my wrists.

I was hot.
I was thirsty.
I was uncomfortable in my clothing.
I was angry about it all and I was ready for some fucking metal.

The stage was in the process of being set up for France’s Fallen Joy. Now, when I watch bands I try to pay attention to entire process of the show. I like being able to see them set up because usually the level of professionalism displayed during set up translates pretty well to how awesome the set will be. As I watched Fallen Joy set up I did not have high hopes for them, and it was for one reason only but it’s my biggest pet peeve of all time.

Fallen Joy
As the band walked onto the stage their lead guitar player found his area, set his amp up, got settled in and played some riffs for the soundman to get a level. And then, he didn’t stop playing his fucking guitar the entire time the rest of the band was setting up. Was he constantly twisting knobs on his amp, trying to get the perfect tone? No. He was just walking aimlessly around the right side of the stage playing little licks and finger exercises while the rest of the band did their thing. For twenty minutes he just played the guitar. Non stop. COME ON. I understand you need to warm up those digits but you don’t have to do it plugged into a gajillion watt PA system.

Fallen Joy

It was so bad that he was still fiddling around even as their own intro track came through the house system, totally ruining the mystique that I’m sure was the intention of having it there in the first place. I was prepared for sub-par metal played by a band that wasn’t ready for a stage that big, but I was wrong in my assumption, and not even slightly wrong. Totally wrong.

Right from the get go Fallen Joy didn’t fuck around. Sometimes they sounded like Carcass (which was awesome) and sometimes they sounded like Death (which is even better). Their guitar player who had spent the whole time dicking around was phenomenal, and they were an extremely well rehearsed and tight band. The small crowd that made up the front of the stage was losing their shit. The French know their metal, that’s for certain. The country spawned Gojira, so case closed. Fallen Joy even did this thing where the bass and guitar player fretted each others’ instruments while playing, It’s cheesy as hell but who gives a shit it’s a pretty badass thing to bust out in the middle of a metal show, and it was awesome.

Fallen Joy Fallen Joy

After Fallen Joy was Blackguard, whom I had never heard of before, but two huge stage banners with their name on them were set up before anything else, mounting my anticipation. There are lots of trends in metal that I love, and huge banners are one of them. When you form a metal band it’s very important to get a banner done even before you’ve played a show. Branding is essential, for those of you taking notes.

When Blackguard started it was obvious that they were not only used to the large stage environment of a metal festival, they thrived in it. The vocalist was very animated and was constantly on the move. He ran from side to side engaging every member of the crowd and the entire band had a polished, professional feel. The music was heavy and melodic and the drumming was absolutely incredible. Blackguard knew how to command attention, each member had their own way of drawing the crowd in. Judging by how many Blackguard shirts I saw after their set, I don’t think I was the only one who was impressed.

BLACKGUARD
BLACKGUARD

The last band of the night was Kataklysm. I’ve got to say, after being surprisingly into Fallen Joy and blown away by Blackguard I was underwhelmed by Kataklysm at first. Musically it was great and on par with everything else I had heard, but for the first few songs there felt like a disconnect between the band and me, the audience member. It started to all blend together and I was starting to lose interest when a few songs into their set the vocalist took some time to give a very heartfelt speech about the tightness of the metal community and from then on I feel like things were kicked up a notch. From that point the band seemed to be playing a little harder and giving it that extra ooompf that was really needed to set them apart from the rest of the amazing talent that had been on previously. The crowd gave them the energy back and the last five or six songs of their set really capitalized on the energy of the crowd. Everyone definitely seemed to leave satisfied.

Black Moor

Friday came around and it was another sweltering day out. I walked into the Forum just as Black Moor were starting and I made my way near the stage to get a good spot for some prime Dartmouth metal. Black Moor are a band I’ve seen numerous times; Once in a basement of Joseph Howe street, once in my hometown of Yarmouth and many times at the bars here in Halifax. I can’t think of any other band that can conjure up the same sort of response that you get from listening to classic Maiden or Judas Priest but without sounding dated or re-hashed. They have the style and the chops and I hope their new record brings them some recognition around the country.

Black Moor Black Moor

As Black Moor finished the crowd was much loftier than the night before, and you could tell everyone was getting antsy for the last 2 bands of the night, Cryptopsy and Morbid Angel. I saw Cryptopsy when they came to Halifax for the first time probably seven years ago, and they are just one of those bands you have to see to believe. This is not your parents’ metal, Cryptopsy is a total sonic assault on the ears. Its metal sped and turned up to a level that is just incredible if you’re the kind of person that gets pleasure out of absolute chaos.

When Cryptopsy began there was a complete explosion, both of sound and and of hair and it did not cease for their entire 50+ minute set. When a band like Cryptopsy plays you can’t help but be taken aback by the level of skill and precision it takes to make a sound that I’m sure to the average listener would be too much to handle. No one drums as fast as Flo Mournier, and he really shapes their sound, able to play at such speeds that at some points it sounds like a steady wall of noise.

CRYPTOPSY - Spread The Metal Fest - July 5th 2012 - 02 CRYPTOPSY - Spread The Metal Fest - July 5th 2012 - 03

Along with intense sounds crushing your ears from the stage, there was also a strobe-heavy light show to go along with it. I was in heaven - I love it when bands test the limits of what the brain can handle, and being alive after listening to Cryptopsy at full volume with strobe lights going off at all times feels like some strange kind of accomplishment.

My favorite part of the Cryptopsy set however, has to be lead singer Matt McGachy’s insanely long head of hair. Every time he did a circular head bang it was like a airplane propeller was at the front of the stage. It’s like he anticipated singing in this band since he was 15 and never cut his hair on purpose.

Cryptopsy

While all the bands I saw were pretty phenomenal, you should probably know that by the end of the Cryptopsy set I just wanted to see Morbid Angel. They were the whole reason I wanted to be at this show. My exposure to extreme metal began with my friend Andre lending me a VHS cassette with various metal videos taped onto it, and “Where The Slime Live” was eventually rendered unplayable from frequent viewings. I am by no means an expert, but I did spend an awful lot of time driving around in Andre’s car listening to Altars of Madness, Blessed Are The Sick, and Covenant, so I felt like I had to go see them in my own city. Along with bands like Death, Carcass, Napalm Death, Deicide and Cannibal Corpse they are one of the most important bands from that era, and one of the only ones to have some level of commercial success.

The crowd was small but there was the right level of excitement. You could tell everyone was just really fucking excited to see Morbid Angel. Not wasting anytime they played a significant amount of material I recognized, which made me feel a bit more in the loop than I really am. I stayed away from the pit but it was good to see Halifax still knows how to stir it up.

Morbid Angel Morbid Angel - Spread The Metal Fest - July 5th 2012 - 02 

Morbid Angel have been playing shows almost as long as I’ve been alive. Their first album came out when I was 4. You can’t fake that kind of experience; it just comes from tirelessly trudging it out year after year. Musically it would be tough to match how tight they have become over the years, and I’m almost glad it took them so long to come to Nova Scotia because their performance was absolutely pristine. I wish I had jumped into the pit at some point, but I spent most of the show standing on the perimeter mouth-agape constantly reminding myself that “Holy shit, it’s fucking Morbid Angel in Halifax!”

Morbid Angel - Spread The Metal Fest - July 5th 2012 - 05 

As I was walking home I couldn’t believe how much talent I had just seen in two days. Considering I was only able to take in about half of the festival, that’s pretty incredible. My legs were cramping from all the standing, and I was starving, but I was content. The crowd might not have been massive at Spread The Metal, but no one that attended could possibly say they didn’t get their money’s worth.

See all Evan's Photos from this show here:

See all Tiffany's Photos from this show here:

See the interview Noisography did with Morbid Angel here:

noisography

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