Noctis Valkyries Metal Festival (Noctis)
October 1, 2011
Review and pictures by Monika Deviat
The Noctis Valkyries Metal Festival (Noctis) is an annual metal festival held in Calgary, Alta. For five years, Scarab Metal Productions has been organizing the festival which has grown in size and popularity every year. Noctis brings in a stellar line up of bands every year, providing Calgarian – and anyone else from around Canada and the States that might be lured into make the trek out to Noctis – opportunities to see bands that might never have played in Canada if not for the festival. The event also gives local bands from around the province a chance to play alongside some amazing international acts.
This year’s Noctis was a bit different than previous versions of the festival. Numbered as Noctis 4.20, the festival was a one day event at two different venues, Vern’s Tavern and The Distillery, which are just an alley away from each other. “Because of the amount of time required to plan Noctis, we have a three week window where we are free of other activities. We can stage Noctis in late September and early October. Mac Hall [the venue used in past years] was booked way in advance this year for the time period and it took us by surprise,” says Terese Fleming, owner of Scarab Productions and the mastermind behind Noctis, in regards to the smaller festival this year. The Distillery has previously hosted a Noctis pre-party and was also one of the venues for Noctis III. Vern’s is a smaller venue in Calgary that has always been welcoming to local metal acts. Scarab Productions supped-up the sound and light systems in both venues to create excellent stage shows.
The Distillery and Vern’s provided intimate environments for fans, with no barriers separating the crowds from the stages. At Vern’s the stage was only raised a few inches off the ground so the fans were right up in front of the bands. The bands set times overlapped so we were running back and forth between venues to catch at least a portion of every set. The review and photos are split up by venue.
Sub Atmoic Chaos opened up the night just after the doors opened for the event. The band from Calgary labels themselves as Quantum Death Metal, saying they are of course inspired by quantum physics. The group is really musically talented and people were coming right up to the stage after the entered the venue to check out the set.
By the time Calgary’s Atomis hit the stage the venue was really starting to fill up. Their post-rock experimental style was really well received by the crowd. The music is mostly instrumental with a lot of ambience and the distorted arrays of lights added to the atmosphere. Atomis usually has a projector going with videos to accompany their music but due to some technical difficulties they played without it.
We caught Samandriel just as they were launching into an impressive cover of Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark”. The progressive power metal band from Edmonton Alta.,had the crowd singing along to the song. These guys are very active on stage, jumping around and running from either side of the stage. Samandriel’s material is melodic and theatrical and their stage show was energetic and engaging.
Midnight from Cleveland OH were one of the favorite bands of the night and incited the most headbanging, moshing and even stage diving. The blackened speed metal band impressed everyone at Noctis 4 last year and this year’s show was even better. Midnight destroyed the crowd as they ripped through songs like “Black Rock’n’Roll”, “Endless Slut” and the title track of their upcoming album Satanic Royalty [Hells Headbangers, 2011]. Midnight’s finale included frontman Athenar setting a rag on fire on the headstock of his bass and then tossing it into the crowd (no one was lit on fire).
Noctis 4.20 was Grave Miasma’s Canadian debut and from what we heard after the show, they had such a good time they would like to come back again. The band has an incredible live presence. Their stage was set with burning incense and gloomy red lighting which complimented their haunting and menacing death metal. There were some minor issues with the sound in that the guitars were not brought out enough in the mix, but it was still a great set from another exceptional band of the evening.
Acid King captivated the crowd at the Distillery. The stoner doom metal from San Francisco CA played under a suffusion of psychedelic lighting. Frontwoman Lori S. mesmerized with her hypnotic vocals and low ended guitar riffs. They started the set with “Busse Woods” and also included songs like “2 Wheel Nation” and “Electric Machine”.
Tech death band Martyr from Trois-Rivières, Québec was another favorite of the evening. Their intricate and aggressive riffs are innovative and catchy. Founder and guitarist Dan Mongrain’s insane solos were amazing to see and hear live. Their set included “Lost in Sanity”, “Erzgul” and “Warp Zone”. The floor of the Distillery was packed for Martyr and it looked like they had the largest audience of the night.
Death Grind metallers Brutal Truth from New York, NY played a fantastic set to end the night at the Distillery. The entire band seemed to be having a good time on stage. Frontman Kevin Sharpe was charismatic on stage stalking around in a white cowboy hat. Drummer Rich Hoak was especially entertaining to watch as his face contorted during his intense drumming. Their set featured songs off their newest release End Time [Relapse Records, 2011] and a range of older material like “Fisting” and “Choice of a New Generation”.