The Sunday show at Heavy Montreal (known as Heavy MTL by most) was packed with talent, and I thought that I would give a brief rundown of some of the surprises and standout moments of the final day of the outdoor concert, especially considering the fact that many of my favourite metal bands of all time were performing. I won’t be discussing the acts that I wasn’t crazy about, nor the technical flaws in some of the performances. Instead, I hope to shed some light on a few of the many aspects of the show that truly impressed me.
Most of the acts before 5:10pm were merely there to whet the audience’s appetite before the bigger, more well know acts came on. In particular, the three man instrumental band Animals as Leaders stood out, with their prog metal style and lightning fast shredding attracting quite the crowd despite the early ours in which they played. The beginning of the evening saw Zakk Wylde emerging onto the stage with his signature bullseye guitar and oversized beard. Surprising the audience by restraining himself from using pinch the harmonics that he is world renown for, Wylde instead took the opportunity to shred with his guitar behind his back, playing better than most of the guitarists at the concert who could see their frets. A final surprise was Wylde putting down his guitar and revealing his delicate piano chops, which was an audacious play at a concert known for displaying raw aggression.
The show continued with Alter Bridge being Alter Bridge: the band is notorious for putting on some of the best live performances in today’s current metal scene. Myles Kennedy’s vocals put the lax, unambitious, psyche rock vocals that have risen to popularity in recent years to complete shame; the killer high note in Metalingus was sung with pristine accuracy, shocking any in the audience who ever doubted the raw vocal power of the band. Next came Killswitch Engage, who announced that they were “here to drink beer, party, drink beer, party, and play some mediocre metal music.” Killswitch undeniably failed at living up their self-proclaimed “mediocre” status, impressing with “My Last Serenade” and “In Due Time” by providing a passionate performance due to the band’s combination of clean vocals and roaring.
Breaking Benjamin played a string of surprising tributes, including instrumental covers of “The Imperial March” (Darth Vader’s theme), “Schism,” by Tool, and “Walk,” by Pantera, along with a full cover of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit.” In order to obtain a good spot for the final set, I unfortunately missed Volbeat, and will hopefully see them the next time that they find themselves in Montreal. Disturbed ended the night with the dramatic presence that only they could bring to the stage, with David Draiman striking his preacher-like poses and receiving roars of applause from his flock. Draiman’s standout words of the night came after a particularly well-endowed woman had taken to flashing the band. “You want girls to keep flashing their tits?” asked Draiman to the crowd. “Then protect girls like this. Girls like this need to be protected, not grabbed against their will.” The crowd roared in agreement, and I’ve never been so proud to be a metal head in all my life. The concert concluded with the revered “Down with the Sickness,” spawning mosh pits across the crowd. I was presented with an interesting philosophical question during this final performance: what does one do when completely surrounded by mosh pits? The only answer: dive in head first.