Hvy MTL: Mud and Metal Invade Montreal With System of a Down, Killswitch Engage + Others
Festivals. They are a dime a dozen when it comes to heavy metal, whether they are touring events that pass through town or are stationed in one location over a weekend. There’s Warped Tour. There’s Mayhem. There’s UPROAR. There’s Carnival of Madness. But that’s the U.S. The European festival is the gold standard when it comes to “must attend” metal concerts, like Download or Wacken. Metallica swooped in this summer to try and recreate the weekend Euro fest vibe with the first-ever Orion Music + More fest, and they succeeded. Also, we’re pleased to report that our neighbor to the north –that’d be Montreal, Canada, has done the same with Hvy MTL, which has been in existence for several years. It needs to stay that way, since it’s of the utmost quality.
While Heavy TO took place in Toronto concurrently, with the lineups swapping on Saturday and Sunday, Hvy MTL unfolded in one of the loveliest cities in this French-speaking province over the Aug. 11 and 12 weekend. Since Montreal boasts an edgy, European vibe as a city, it makes sense that Heavy MTL, which launched in 2008, was canceled in 2009 and has been going strong since 2010, would effectively mirror a European fest.
Despite the so-thick-you’d-need-a-machete-to-cut-through-it humidity hanging in the air at the Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal and the eventual rain which created a muddy mess, the idea that System of a Down would be performing together again on Saturday night created an electric, crackling air of excitement. With Slipknot headlining on a cooler, more comfortable Sunday, it reminded us of 2001, when both bands were a the top of the game (live, they still are, despite each band’s individual circumstances in other realms) and touring on Pledge of Allegiance!
Here’s Noiscreep’s rundown of the highlights of Hvy MTL.
Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Zoltan Bathory told us that he is currently in training to become a close-quartered combat instructor. He will teach cadets how disarm people. Is there anything this man, who also flew in a fighter jet like Maverick from Top Gun, can’t do? FFDP put on a tight set right before SOAD, but it was hard to ignore the anticipation of seeing Serj Tankian take the stage alongside Daron Malakian once again.
System of a Down’s set was a hit parade. Nothing new, obviously. While many assumed their summer tour was a cash grab to capitalize on their absence from the marketplace for several years while on hiatus, the band soared through two solid hours of classics, opening with ‘Prison Song’ and ‘B.Y.O.B.’ before cycling through “Aerials,” “Sugar,” “Suite-Pee,” “Toxicity,” “War,” “Cigaro” and “Lost in Hollywood.” We don’t need new music. This was beyond good enough. When they took the stage, the packed crowded surged (make that “Serjed!”) forward and things got dangerous and terrifying for a hot second. We heard there may have been a few broken bones, but thankfully, no fatalities.
And how about Killswitch Engage with Jesse Leach? If you’ve not seen his return to the band he fronted first, well, do yourself the favor. He does a beyond fine job with his replacement Howard Jones’ songs, just like Jones did with his!
Deftones‘ tossed off hits from Adrenaline, Around the Fur, White Pony and the self-titled release. While singer Chino Moreno dealt with a nosebleed during much of the set, nothing stopped the ‘Tones from delivering those quiet-loud dynamics that are their signature. Not even a torrent of rain, which made life muddy and miserable, but not less metallic.
The quote of the fest had to go to Overkill‘s Bobby Blitz on Day 2. He told the Montreal crowd that it “looked good but smelled bad.” After Saturday night’s soaking, there was a noxious odor in the air, but nothing to deter the enjoyment of the really loud blasts on stage.
When Gojira‘s Joe Duplantier, who is French, spoke to the crowd in his native language, he was met with many choruses of cheers. We were also struck with curiosity as to what otherworldly force powers the arms and legs of his brother, drummer Mario, who is a beast behind that kit.
Dillinger Escape Plan are always unpredictable with Greg Puciato hanging from the lifts on the stage (we cringed, worrying he was going to fall and get hurt) and guitarist Ben Weinman smashing his guitar to smithereens after “43% Burnt.”
Marilyn Manson went on right before Slipknot on Sunday, and the God of Fuck covered Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ quite well, but he also mentioned performing fellatio. Why is he always talking about other dude’s dicks? That can’t have helped his relationship with ex-fiancée Evan Rachel Wood. Overall, Manson was dramatic and theatrical. As if we expected any less!
Slipknot had over 30,000 metalheads moshing, jumping, screaming and bending to singer Corey Taylor’s will. The ‘Knot are wrapping their touring cycle for Antennas to Hell with the Knotfest shows this week, but they performed like Hvy Mtl was their last show ever. You know, we thought we felt the ground shake and move.
As for amenities, we tried the poutine – local fare which is french fries doused in brown gravy and mixed with cheese curd. Delish! We also received free ponchos to protect us from the rain. This factors added to our extreme enjoyment of a festival that mixed mainstream metal with underground maelstrom. And mud.
If you are a self-respecting metalhead and you want to enjoy a metallic weekend in a phenomenal city, start saving some cash for Hvy Mtl, V. 2013. Heavy metal is Montreal!