Hyperspace Metal Festival- Vancouver, B C
April 13th & 14th, 2018
Story by JP
All photos courtesy of and with much thanks to James Weekes
I recently made the road trip, a 1000 km (one-way) drive from Calgary, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia to attend this event. I was not going to miss the inaugural edition of the Hyperspace Metal Festival! Hyperspace is a new, two day event focusing on Melodic and Power Metal genres. Think of this as an early West-coast version of Prog Power. There are no Power Metal festivals in Canada so this was a unique and interesting event.
The event was held at the Rickshaw Theater. This old movie theatre has certainly seen better days but is a hub of Metal activity in Vancouver. It is a rough part of town (the corner of Junkie Lane and Bum Street to be precise) and it was a cold, rainy, Friday the 13th…what could possibly go wrong? The damp conditions did not deter the enthusiasm of the gathered faithful.
The Rickshaw is actually a perfect Metal venue. It has a really good sound system, big light rig, lots of sloped seating in the back, and lots of floor space and plenty of room for merchandise on the sides. There were big screens with graphics and band logos flanking the stage as well. There were a small handful of merch booths and the beer prices were fair. Overall my initial impression was that this (and still is!) that Hyperspace was a professional, well-organized and well run event, especially for a first time. Most importantly it started on time!
I made a few brief notes as the show went on and please enjoy this feature and the photos courtesy of James.
(Please note it was quite difficult to ID each member of every band so I apologize in advance If I have attributed a photo to the wrong band. Feel free to contact me to make any necessary corrections.)
Ophelia Falling. Friday, 8:00pm
Ophelia Falling were a very last minute replacement for Odinfist. Odinfist had to drop off the bill due to a medical emergency of one of the members. Ophelia Falling rose to the challenge admirably! This was the first time I had seem them.
The Fest was off to a good start. The five piece played solid melodic metal , with nice keyboard tones. Thier vocalist is a great singer, good range and power. Apparently it was only their second gig ever! They were professional but you could tell the performers lacked a bit of stage presence and/or chemistry yet but that is completely understandable under the circumstances! A solid and upcoming band.
Apprentice. Friday, 8:45 pm
If there was one band that had the most buzz on Friday, as an impartial out-of-town observer, it was Apprentice. This band is making was good waves in the local underground and is also the band of Joey, the founder of Journeyman Productions and the organizer of the Fest. Apprentice were significantly heavier than the previous act. They ripped through a bunch of great tunes and played tracks from their forthcoming album, which I didn’t quite catch the title when it was announced from the stage but it sounded like, ‘The ‘something’ of Mortality! At one point they slowed down and got some fans to do a ‘Metal Waltz’. People were actually waltzing! I’ve seen a lot of weird shit at shows but a metal waltz? I’ve heard of Doro doing the ‘Metal Tango’ but this ruled. It showed the fun side of the band and the fest. The band finished off with a cut called ‘Desecrated Miranda’ from their debut EP.
Medevil. Friday, 9:45
I have seen Medevil once before in a tiny bar in Calgary, a few years back. I was impressed but it was hard gig with only eight people there. Back then they were pretty unknown and raw. A couple of years later they are much better. I’d suggest that Medeval looked most like a band, they had great interaction, and some synchronized stage moves but not lame. Many people commented on the just insane and unique voice of Liam. This local band, from just up the road in a town called Chilliwack, did a great job. Expect to hear more from them soon!
Arkenfire. Friday, 10:45
Arkenfire are a relatively new band that hails from the interior of BC, a town called Kelowna. Their singer had really high powerful voice! It was first time all night I felt the sound mix wasn’t perfect. I was very impressed and went over to the merch booth and bought their EP. I had never seen them before and they were probably my favourite pick of the night.
Iron Kingdom. Friday 11:35pm
The Friday night headliner was local heroes Iron Kingdom. The band is now at least a decade and three albums deep into their career and well deserved of the top billing. This was a special event because they elected to play their album GATES OF ETERNITY in it’s entirety. I have seen them on a number of occasions previously and they never disappoint, despite having the guitarist from Eterna having to fill in.
We were treated to some super long, technical passages; they owe a debt of gratitude to 80’s Maiden, and that can only be a win. The song ‘Egypt (The End Is Near)’ is their very own ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ with lots of tempo changes and atmospheric passages.
They even threw in a very cool cover of Medieval Steel, including the intro monologue playing over the P.A! It made me feel a bit old for two reasons. I bought the Medieval Steel EP on cassette when it came out in 1984 which was before most of the guys in the band were born! A nice treat nonetheless.
Hyperspace Festival was roughly divided into two sections along the choice of band billing for each day. Friday was largely the BC bands and Saturday featured the touring acts from farther away. This might have contributed a slightly smaller crowd on Saturday as the local crowd likely came out to see their favourite locals. Fortunately everything started on time again on Saturday.
Elysium Echoes (Edmonton, Alberta) Saturday, 7:30
My first time seeing this quintet and I was very entertained. Their sound featured awesome keyboard solos and longer instrumental passages. I think they would appeal to fans and of Stratovarius and Sonata with their keyboard driven sound. I was less enthralled with the gruff vocals. They were the only band to have the ‘beauty and the beast’ male-female vocal delivery. It seemed a bit out of place. However, overall I was very impressed.
Valyria (St. Albert, Alberta) Saturday, 8:30
I’ve seen Valyria once or twice before and they always seem very professional and bring a show. They hit the stage with a good pre-recorded intro and backing tracks. The set had a few little technical guitar issues but they soldiered on despite a slightly murky sound. They treated the fans to the world premier of a track called (I believe) ‘The Floating World’ from their forthcoming album. Solid and entertaining through and through.
Tanagra (Portland, Oregon) Saturday 9:15.
Tanagra was the band I was most curious about only because I knew nothing about them at all. They hit the stage with good presence and delivered a very solid prog infused Power Metal set, perhaps reminiscent of Fifth Angel and Iron Maiden. They were some really good harmonized twin-lead soloing section that blew me away! A highlight for me was the title track of their forthcoming album ‘Merdian’. Like Arkenfire I was really impressed so I went and bought their album mat the merch booth as well. I’m definitely going to follow this band.
Ravenous. (Calgary, Alberta) Saturday, 10:00.
Ravenous from Calgary is well known to me. Despite only having a few gigs under their belt, this sort of collective all-star group from Calgary features (or featured) past and present members of Scythia, Viathyn, Villanizer, and Black Pestilence. All this makes for years of combined stage experience. For this road trip they had recruited local hot-shot guitarist Skyler from thrash act W.M.D. They band played most of their debut EP, RAVENOUS HUNGER and in a nice surprise, a rather speedy version of the Blind Guardian classic ‘The Bard’s Song’. It is ambitious to cover such an iconic track but they pulled it off really well. Lead singer Rav commanded the stage and audience and even climbed up on the speakers as did Skyler. You could tell they were among the most professional and polished bands of the night. They also had the highest energy getting one of the only mini-mosh pits going, something you might not normally see at a Power Metal festival .
Scythia. (Calgary, Alberta) Saturday, 10:45
In the past I’ve seen Scythia absolutely on fire and maybe tonight was not one of those nights. Line-up instability, a long journey to Vancouver, and a long break of over a year between gigs meant the veterans had some rust to knock off. This time the battle-gear usually worn on stage was kept to a minimum and the band functioned as a stripped down trio. I’ve seen them have five (or even six?) members at a time before. I’ve seen them many, many times and have all their albums and despite a slightly off night they still got the job done and entertained a receptive crowd. They busted out the old fan favourite ‘Bear Claw Tavern’ to the delight of the assembled warriors.
Helion Prime (Sacramento, California). 11:45
At last it was time for the headliners! The bands entrance music was some hilarious techno music which seems sort of familiar. Recently signed to AFM, Helion Prime hit the stage with..a new singer! Very shocking. This was an unexpected surprise, the world debut of new vocalist, Sozos Michael from Cyprus, who flew in for the gig. He is a fantastic fit for the band.
Another treat was the band performed another World Premier of a track called (I believe) ‘Silence Matters’ from their forthcoming sophomore record. The speedy science-based band, and was very tight on all fronts. Another highlight was the arrival on stage of none other than Brittney Slayes of Unleash The Archers. She did a superb duet with Sozos on the track ‘Queen Of The Galaxy’, which she had guested on, on the actual debut album. They finished the night strong with the song ‘Ocean Of Time’.
After the show the obligatory chant of ‘One More Song! One More Song!’ was ringing out Sozos when retuned to the stage to sheepishly explain they did not have any more material prepared because they were not expecting such a great reception! Although the words ‘charming’ and ‘sincere’ are not usually associated with Metal, it was a nice moment. The band spurred on by appreciative audience decided to return and play the song, ‘Apollo (The Eagle Has Landed)’ one more time.
The first annual Hyperspace Metal Fest was a complete success. Its was well run, well-organized and a super fun weekend. I fully expect this event to grow and become a premier Festival in Western Canada. Long live!