Happy Canada Day!
You know, people always ask me* “Des, you’re a metalhead who’s Canadian, what are some of the best Canadian metal bands?”
Here’s my top five list in response. First off, I will say that my list will be a little West Coast heavy, but that’s because that’s where I’m from and what I got the most exposure to coming up. Secondly, I need to give a couple of honourable mentions:
Cancer Bats, HellTrack, Anciients, Skull Fist and Bison B.C., Sumac and Gorguts. All of these guys kick ass. Check out their stuff on Bandcamp or iTunes.
Okay, here we go:
Baptists are pretty new on the scene, but their mixture of blistering hardcore and sludge metal is delightfully abrasive.
Montreal’s Kataklysm is pushing 30 years together as a band. They’ve just released their twelfth studio album, and it might be their best. They are, undeniably, Canada’s best death metal band. They have not made a single bad album and there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon.
Very excited that I will be able to see them live for the first time in Victoria in October.
3 INCHES OF BLOOD
3ioB are no longer active, but for 15 years, they cut a brutal swath across the Canadian metal scene. I’ve seen them live a ridiculous amount of times, and one of my old bands even opened for them once.
Their mix of power metal and thrash with tinges of death and extreme metal really drew me into the heavier side of the genre. I am choked I never got to see them live at their insanely fast sellout final concerts in Vancouver, but I am pretty happy with my last memory of seeing them live: it was at the first and last (as far as I know) BC Metal Show here in Port Alberni, where they headline about 10 years ago.
It was an outdoor concert in a farmer’s field. A few songs into their set, the generator for the stage lights went out, but the generators for the equipment still worked. They performed the rest of the show by lighter and flashlight. Transformative metal experience.
WOODS OF YPRES
Windsor, Ontario’s blackened death doom purveyors are what, at times, I would call my favourite band. Over four albums and one EP they went from black metal to something more akin to Type O Negative.
Unfortunately, David Gold, the main songwriter, died in a car crash shortly before their final album was released, robbing the world of one of its great metal songwriters.
Most of their songs are about how living in a cold, wet place is shit and death. They did it with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks and I’m choked I’ll never get to see them live or get another album from them.
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD/DEVIN TOWNSEND
Okay, I’m cheating a little bit. If I included Devin Townsend’s stuff on this list on their own, there would be little room for any other bands. First, Strapping Young Lad was my first real introduction to extreme metal. Devin took guitar lessons from the same guy I did at the time and gave him the CD. He was a blues fan, so he was like “it’s too much for me, do you want it?”
That album was City, and it’s still one of my all-time favourites. A ridiculous sense of humour and gonzo approach to extreme noise is what delineates SYL from other bands of their ilk. An amazingly tight live performance accompanies their releases. Unfortunately, they’ve never gotten the props in their home country as they do overseas, so if you’re reading this in Europe, you’ve probably had many more chances to see them live than I have.
I’ve seen them a few times though, and have loved it every time. But, Devin’s moved on from SYL to do various other musical projects that bear his name.
To this day, he’s one of the only artists on my blind buy list. Kind of like Canada’s Mike Patton, he’s a musical genius of unparalleled creativity.
So I’ll leave you with his most Canadian song, which likely has nothing to do with Canada, “True North.”
*No one’s ever asked me that. It’s a political tactic, like when a candidate says stuff like “I met a single mother in Bompsabingling, Wisconsin** who told me….”
**Any town in Wisconsin named Bompsabingling that exists does so randomly. I had no idea you existed. I’m sorry if I offended you Bompsabinglingians.