Loud As Hell V Metal Fest
July 29-31, 2016
Review by JP
Photos by Jeff and Rene Bartelli, JP and special guest contributor Dana Z.
The Loud As Hell Metal Fest has been going for a number of years. Founded in 2011 by Geoff Bourie and Ryan Semchuk the Fest has been steadily growing in stature. The organizers are always kind enough to invite me every year however due to a long-standing personal conflict with that weekend, I was never able to attend…until now. Circumstances changed and I suddenly found myself are on the long, holiday weekend in Canada so I knew what I had to do!
Drumheller is situated about 120 kilometres from Calgary, Alberta is nestled in the badlands of Alberta’s west. The average sized town is well known for it’s cowboy culture, rich deposits of dinosaur bone deposits and the World Heritage Site, the Royal Tyrell Museum.
However, it is lesser know for an undercurrent of rock and biker culture with a good number of bike shops, tattoos parlours and hard drinking bars where ex-cons and biker tend to frequent. Think of it is as Sturgis North, just a little smaller. It is the perfect setting for a Metal Fest!
The venue was at the Agricultural Society Hall also known locally as Dinosaur Downs.
It is a great venue, a nice large too with big stage and pro-lights. There is an open-air food area and the vendor area lined the outer walls of the hall. There were about eight vendors this year offering a range of the usual, but surprisingly no one selling Metal CD’s!
The official Loud As Hell merchandise was reasonably priced as was all the band merch. Drink prices were reasonable (with plenty of selection) and each day there was a complimentary pancake breakfast.
Because it is a combo indoor/outdoor Fest there is a huge camping area overlooking the gorgeous badlands, plenty of free parking and perhaps most importantly, indoor bathrooms with hot running water. Overall it is very well organized.
The while event was filmed by five camera shoot, so perhaps one day we can expect a DVD of the show. Loud As Hell is part of a five festival alliance called the Western Canadian Metal Fest Alliance, where five festivals share resources and have a general non-competitive and friendly atmosphere. The festivals include Shredmonton (Edmonton, Ab) , Calgary Metal Fest, Armageddon, (Riley, AB) Armstrong, BC and Loud As Hell (Drumheller, AB) I decided to make the drive each day instead of camping as the weather was surprisingly cool and quite windy. Normally this fest has a reputation for being extremely hot as it is situated in the badlands! It was warm during the day but the wind and rain made camping less than fun for some.
However, Loud As Hell V was blessed from above as Ronnie James Dio himself was watching from Valhalla and he sent us a rainbow in the dark in the calm after the storm!
FRIDAY JULY 29th,
Lack of punctuality is pet peeve of mine so I was very pleased that the event started on time after I made the 120 km drive right after work. After a brief speech from organizer Ryan we were off to the races.
The chant for the entire weekend was ‘LOUD AS HELL…DRUNK AS FUCK!!” which was shouted faithfully all day and all night! The Festival sound was handled by Tyson from the sister festival Shredmonton (which I also reviewed here on Metal-Rules, earlier this year). The sound was clear and with a good mix and with the exception of the occasional pop and crackle as things got underway the sound was very well done. I was especially pleased that the sound guy has similar tastes to me as in-between sets we heard music from King Diamond, W.A.S.P. , Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Helloween, and a surprisingly large (but welcome!) amount of Running Wild. I only mention this because it was nice to have slightly mellower music between sets of largely death/thrash Metal with gruff vocals. 85% of the bands o the bill were of the more extreme genres, so a little Power Metal in-between gave everyone’s ears break.
As things started I was pleased to see at least 100 people for the opening band. The rest of my review will consist of some short comments on a variety of bands. With 36 bands and a number onside-show events and clinics on a smaller second side stage, it would; be difficult to cover everything that happened, and this review would be 10 pages long, so I just added a few thoughts and comments along the way. I highly recommend the festival you can visit www.loudashell.com for more details.
DAHLMERS REALM (Edmonton, AB)
Fun, good choice to start the Fest. Some nice , melodic soloing. The obligatory cocaine song! Punchy with modern, groove.
LEAVE THE LIVING (Red Deer, AB)
ORDER OF CHAOS (Edmonton, AB)
Going places, more specifically they recently performed in China. With a backdrop side screens, they had a pro look. Showmanship, nice transition between songs, seamless…good audience participation.
DIVINITY (Calgary, AB)
Unfortunate little delays accumulated to mean that Divinity hit the stage 40 minutes late but no one seemed to care… By 10:00 the sun had set cooling off the warm 25oC day. I’ve seen Divinity over the years well over a dozen times but this is the first time with vocalist Waite and the new double vocal attack. Cool sound effects, pre-recorded tracks… Techno feel… They played ‘At last’, a new track from the forthcoming EP, The immortality Pt. 3.
WEST OF HELL (Vancouver, BC)
Most traditional old school band of the night featuring some nice,harmonized twin lead soloing. Heathen busted out his grinder and when the shower of sparks were hitting the roof it, gave my brief unpleasant visions of the Station fire! Played a song called ‘Hammered’ from their forthcoming record.
SATURDAY, JULY 30th
The intrepid campers were woken early by a violent, but thankfully brief windstorm. I had opted to commute in each day and made it into me for the complimentary pancake breakfast and the first band. Wanted to get their early on Day 2 to see one of only band on the bill I had not seen before.
BLACK FRIDAY (Edmonton, AB)
3-piece. Good energy for 10:30am. Unfortunate slot, toughest 20 intrepid souls. Modern groove metal. Formerly Oceans of Fire, new band. Temperature rising, promised to be a scorcher. Road crew partying… already 20 late but it is metal not a bank or museum so it didn’t really matter.
FALSE FLAG (Calgary, AB)
New song destroyer. Down timed groove thing. Popular local favourites.
THRASHADACTYL (Calgary, AB)
Comedic old school thrash , songs and sex, drugs, metal, drinking Satan, All the best things in life. fun energy.
Nice change up after a couple of ‘serious’ bands.
SENTIENT (Calgary, AB)
Finalist in Western Canada. WMB. The most organized and professional band so far. Intro music, masks, choreographed stage moves, only slightly, not enough to be gay. 3-piece. Heaviest band thus far.
ODINFIST (Armstrong, BC)
Opposite of spectrum, least stage production, image stage presence. Awesome music, Power Metal. Most closely aligned with my personal taste. Lots of good song-along epic Viking thrash type songs with several numbers off truer brand new album The Old Lighthouse.
DRUM CLINIC featuring Brett of Divinity.
Played on along to a simple backing track. Went through some fundamentals of seating, body position, height, angles poise origin of various drums and cymbals to make it more comfortable ( and healthier) to play. Unique and clever idea to face away so people can see what he is going. Only thing missing was the flaming gong!
STAB TWIST PULL (Calgary,AB)
Very decent crowd for their brand of metallic groove-laden hardcore. Lots of samples. Breakdowns and horror movies.
Progressive Death, top notch musicianship. Longer instrumental passages, jam oriented. Introduced a new song apparently about Cannibalism! Little disappointed with the turnout to see Quietus. Maybe 20 people inside and well over a hundred hanging out at their campgrounds partying in tent city.
This brings me to a side note I want to share. People are going to have fun and do their thing but it seems strange to me to travel, pay money to go to a metal fest and then just sit in your tent or trailer and get drunk and high. On Monday these same guys will say “I went to the Metal fest”, which is technically true but if you stayed i your tent drinking and only saw a couple of the three dozen bands, were you ‘really’ there? I’m not convinced. On the flip side, I don’t expect everyone to sit quietly and watch all 36 bands and listen to every note, but it seems there was way more people there to party than to watch bands. Why?It is possible that the scene is reaching saturation point. There were 13 to 15 bands that appeared last year at Loud As Hell IV and another dozen from Loud As Hell III. Maybe people were just getting tired of seeing the same bands, and are going more as a destination/party event, which is always cool.
REVENGER (Vancouver, BC)
Singer uncanny resemblance to ‘Gumby’ of Battlecross. High energy boost after the musicianship of QUIETUS. Good stage banter. Metal core? modern thrash? At about 6:00 the rain came and drove almost everyone inside and by the end of Revenger the hall was very full!
SIDESHOW PUNX AND PERMAFROST SUSPENSION (photos courtesy of Dana Zuk)
Freak show, inserting various objects, (forks, nails, etc) into their nasal cavity. Good times!
XUL (Vernon, BC)
XUL is probably the heaviest band on the bill, classic old school brutal Death Metal.By the time XUL hit the stage it was 45 minutes behind schedule. It is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but I was personally disappointed because I had to leave for a previous (Metal related) commitment and cumulative delays meant I missed another band that I could have seen and I also had to miss most of XUL. Fortunately, I had seen all the upcoming bands on the bill several times each. A friend described them as bit like Dissection and Death Metal which is pretty accurate.
VX36 (Vancouver, BC)
STRIKER (Edmonton, AB)
INTO ETERNITY (Regina, SK)
SUNDAY, JULY 31st
I’d be lying if I said the heavy rain and delays on Saturday night didn’t dampen the spirits of many of the festival goers. There were a lot of waterlogged and hung-over metal heads on Sunday morning!
MAIMED WOLF (Didsbury, AB)
A couple dozen faithful gathered to catch Maimed Wolf. Only caught the last three songs. Nu-Metal, Alt-Metal unfortunate 90’s sound but a bit heavier than I expected.
JUNKIES RUSH (Calgary, AB)
Cool looking stage, garbage cans, chain link mike stands . For some reason started their set with two covers, a Metallica instrumental and possibly the worst song in Sepultura’s entire catalogue ‘Roots’. I liked their minimalistic thrashy three piece sound with many tempo change. Some good song-writing but also tainted by a groove heavy 90’s vibe and by Noon the size of the crowd had doubled.
SLAUGHTERHAUSER (Mission, BC)
Rough gig. The bands lead singer had an accident and had to go to hospital. Apparently getting wasted, falling over and hitting your head on the tailgate of a pick-up can be hazardous to your health. We wish him a speedy recovery! So the guitar player put down his axe, picked up the microphone and screamed the entire set. He admitted he didn’t know a single word. Then suddenly the singer from REVENGER jumped on stage to help out. Even though he didn’t know the words he was a bit more of a natural front man and they band blasted through their gig. He introduced a song as “This one is called, I have no fucking idea!” It derailed pretty quickly and degenerated into any number of various members of bands jumping on stage to ‘help’ but one day Slaughterhauser will look back on it and laugh….
Guitarist running around the crowd., the ol’ AC/DC guitarist on the shoulders thing. Straight-up thrash. First mosh-pit of the day. Very decent sized crowd.
THE AVULSION (Lethbridge, AB)
5 piece, tech, death, grind two vocalists, virtually indistinguishable. Lots of chuggy stop-start stuff. Bassist decided to play in his bathrobe, Hugh Hefner style and the singer was a child of the 90’s with his baggy pants (with his brand-name underwear hanging out naturally), dreadlocks and rap posturing didn’t match his very decent extreme vocals.
DISPLAY OF DECAY (Edmonton, AB)
Brutal Death Metal. Guttural vox, not always fast. Probably the most ‘pure’ Death Metal band on the bill. Sadly, the Crowd was a bit thin as after a rainy day the hot sun had come out and the party-people of tent city were drifting away from the stage to start the ritualistic inebriation ceremony.
EXPAIN (Vancouver, BC)
THIRD ION (Sask, SK)
One of the more interesting bands on the bill. One of the best stage set-up’s. Quirky, angular, progressive death thrash pre-recoded sound-effects. Dave Padden (ex-Annhilator) is a natural talent. Tunes off the new album, Bio-lith. The band has a bit of Sci-Fi theme including an Illogical song about Spock!
PLANET EATER (Regina, SK)
One of the buzz bands and probably saw more people wearing PE shirts than any other band. Biggest crowd of the day so far. Have the ‘X-Factor’ that makes a good band, a great band.
WITHOUT MERCY (Vancouver, BC)
DISCIPLES OF POWER (Lethbridge, AB)
NINJASPY (Port Coquitlam, BC)
UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, (Vancouver, BC)
It was a whirlwind weekend. Many thanks to all the photographers who helped make this report look too good. Watch for Loud As Hell 6 next year!