March Of The Frozen North Tour
Feb 16th, 2018
Photos by Jeff
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show that lived up to it’s name quite like March Of the Frozen North. (Maybe 70,000 Tons of Metal came close). It was indeed a cold, stormy and frozen winter night as this tour package rolled into Calgary on February 16th. The one main disadvantage of the weather is that it did keep some of the less hardy, less adventurous souls from venturing forth to see a night of Mexican warriors, vikings and Mongol invaders. Perhaps the big Kreator/Sabaton show the next night might have siphoned off some crowd.
The ever-popular Distortion nightclub hosted the six-band bill but through a pair of unfortunate circumstances, Valfreya (Quebec, Canada) could not make it, nor could, To The Mountains (Lethbridge, Alberta). That left (in running order) Cabrakaan (Mexico/Calgary), Mongol (Edmonton), Osyron (Calgary) and Forsaken Rite (Edmonton). It was like a mini-multi-cultural Metal fest!
I thought that Cabrakaan would headline, thanks to some recent buzz and even a splash of local, mainstream media attention but they hit the stage first and on time. Originally from Mexico but recently transplanted to Calgary this was the bands second ever Canadian show. Maybe the cold weather was too much for one member as the bassist defected right before the show but that did not deter the rest of the Mayan warriors in the band.
Cabrakaan in Mayan mythology is the god of the mountains and earthquakes…a very Metal name for a band. Bands that inject local/ethnic influences into their music and presentation is nothing new, but this is quite unique among Metal bands. The Folk/Power band played a very fine brand of Metal with some exotic influences. Vocalist Pat played some sort of mini-flute instrument, which was very nice. Her own voice was dynamic with range and power. She is quite the song-bird and even sung in Spanish for a track. The band played the world premier of a cut called ‘Burning Flame’ from their forthcoming album. They employed a dual vocal attack with the drummer providing the harsh vocals. Another highlight for me was the cut ‘Obsidian’ (the creator god of the Aztecs).
They seemed a little apprehensive but that is completely understandable for a new band, recently transplanted and played short-handed. Overall it was an impressive debut. Expect to hear more of these guys.
At 10:30, Mongol from Edmonton stormed the stage, looking very intimidating in their battle-regalia. The sextet kicked off in a powerful fashion with some nice synchronized wind-mill head-banging. They are considerably heavier than Cabrakaan. This established band is always well-received and they ripped through a fairly relentless set. I felt there was some really nice bass work laid down. In case you don’t know they incorporate Mongolian influences and styles into their death/thrash/pagan styles. The band played one of the more obscure cover tunes I have ever heard in a concert, ‘A Pagan Storm’ by the German band ‘Wolfchant’. Mongol thrashed the place and then left.
Up next was Calgary’s own Osyron. My bias stated up front, Osyron were my favourite band on the bill. They were probably the least interesting visually compared to the other bands decked out in battle-gear, but they were the most musically compelling to my ears. This tight, progressive Power Metal band was also the most conventional, in terms of external infleunces, of the bill as well. Drawing heavily from the debut album KINGSBANE, the quartet seemed to be the most polished and professional band of the night.
Forsaken Rite took the headlining honour and these guys are always fun. It was now 1:00am and there were a few loyalists remaining. After their huge and epic extended intro/theme music they hit the stage. Mongol looked intimidating but Forsaken Rite were scary! They were arguably the heaviest band of the evening, but it is not a contest. They presented their traditional Viking Metal and they looked and sounded great. Singer had some great stage banter (about drinking nautrally) and looked like he knew his way around the horn of mead he carried, ands used, especially during the song…’Mead Horn’! The played a good chunk of their independent, debut album, ‘The Northern Saga’ including one of my favourites ‘Rhiannon’s Hymn’. They finished off the few survivors of the invasion with a cut called ‘A Heroes Path’.
It was all over… the Mongols, Vikings and Mayans marched across the frozen north of Calgary, laying waste to all in their path. Another great bill.