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    American Hell, Anu Beginning, Unbowed, and Jetpacks to Jupiter at Red Papaya

    The long weekend kicked off with a bang, with GAIN Music and KronikNoise hosting American Hell, Anu Beginning, Unbowed, and Jetpacks to Jupiter at Red Papaya on Friday, May 17.

    Red Papaya is a large Thai restaurant – and bless their hearts, they also host metal shows! It was my first time there, and I must say, it’s a pretty cool venue with ample space for bands and fans. The restaurant has a few tiered levels of seating, and that makes for some unique vantage points for seeing a show.

    Between working the doors, catching up and making connections with other local metal heads, I was able to take in enough of the show to let you know that if you weren’t there … you missed a good time! This was a high energy show and a good size crowd came out to see some excellent Ontario metal.

    Stoney Creek’s Jetpacks to Jupiter kicked off the night with their rock/pop/alternative sound. Surprisingly, this was only the band’s second show, and I can’t think of a better way to say this – man, do these guys really have their sh*t together! They sounded great – very polished (in a good way) – and have obviously spent some time crafting their image, with a slick logo and a set of backdrops for their live show.

    Hometown melodic metal band Unbowed took to the stage next and delivered a powerful set consisting mostly of songs from their upcoming album, and WOW does the new stuff sound good! Last time I talked to the guys they said the new album was being recorded this summer, so keep an eye – er, ear – out for that. Unbowed drew the largest crowd of the night to the front of the stage, and were even successful in getting a little circle pit going. That’s right Guelph, there was a circle pit at Red Papaya. I think we need to give some credit to the boyz in Noiz A Noiz for that too.

    4/6th of Mandroid Echostar look on as Anu Beginning get the Red Papaya jacked up!
    4/6th of Mandroid Echostar look on as Anu Beginning get the Red Papaya jacked up!

    London’s Anu Beginning kept the energy rolling and prepped the stage for the main act.

    Niagara-area metal heads American Hell finished off the night and delivered some seriously satisfying headbangs. The current lineup has been together since 2010 and American Hell has been working the festival circuit and sharing the stage with some big names. Their experience shows – riffs were tight and frontman Craig Laro really knows how to get the crowd worked up. A full-length album is expected from American Hell sometime this year.

    If you like it loud, don’t miss the next GAIN Music & KronikNoise event on Friday, May 31 with Skynet, Partycat, Seducing Medusa and Kennedy.

    Mokomokai Are On My Radar

    Mokomokai is a band that I would have loved when I was thirteen. I would have had posters on my wall, T-Shirts, all of their cassettes. I would have followed them into my twenties, with the extra income I would have as an adult, I would have seen them live on all their Greatest Hits tours. Maybe Mokomokai are time travelers. As it turns out, they’re an up and coming band and I got to see them last Sunday at GAIN Presents (U) the Band, Mokomokai, Jeremy & the Pink Band and Waterbodies. A great all around line-up, down at the A.N.A.F. Club 344.

    What I noticed about Mokomokai right away, before I even entered the A.N.A.F., is that their singer John Ellis had the old-school Metal style. Tight jeans (not in the hipster kind of way), bullet belts (in the LMG kind of way), loosely tied high-tops (the FUBAR kind of way) and long hair (in the hair I used to have kind of way). John was a good twenty feet ahead of me while I struggled to get up to the venue door with my crutch (yeah, still on one crutch some of the time) and he held the door and waited for me to get in. Mokomokai people, are a courteous people. Then they hit the stage and became so much more than that.

    Mokomokai singer John has a angelic voice made of steel!
    Mokomokai singer John has a angelic voice made of steel!

    Have you ever been to a show where the audience high-fives each other as soon as a band starts playing? Because that’s what happened! As soon as the power-trio from Peterborough were grooving on the first song of their set, and John let out his first Rob Halford-esque wail, members of the whole audience looked at one another with giant grins and nodded. Mokomokai‘s whole sound is a throw back to the Classic Metal I grew up on, before the lace, lipstick and perms took over. They’ve compensated for the extra guitar players (a lot of NWOBHM bands have three) with speed and power. Simply put, Mokomokai play as loud and as fast as their bodies will allow. Drummer J.P. Contois nails a Led Zeppelin song. Who can say that?! Jeremy Pastic jumps around and makes the most insane faces while laying down a bass groove that kept the smiles on our faces through Mokomokai‘s whole set.

    Mokomokai: Rock so hard it turns to METAL!

    On stage, Mokomokai are aggressive, without being negative. Fun to watch, without being gimmicky. Different than anything new in The Metal you’ve heard in a while, without ignoring the fundamentals in The Metal‘s history. But mostly I’m a fan of Mokomokai because they ROCK SO HARD!

    See Mokomokai with Dance Laury Dance, Hellbros! and Little Foot Long Foot at Hard Luck Bar, Toronto, Thursday, May 16.

    See Mokomokai with Dance Laury Dance, Hellbros! and Little Foot Long Foot at The Atria, Oshawa, Friday, May 17.

    OR AS…

    Part of Pouzzafest at Pub St-Ciboire, Montreal, Canada.

    Grab their EP, Justice And Chrome, from their Bandcamp page.

    Band Spotlight: Unbowed

    I recently got a chance to sit down with Alex Snape (guitarist) and Nick Lennox (drummer) from local metal band Unbowed, to talk about their recent EP and future plans. Though I would’ve preferred a Viking ship as the location to conduct our interview, they’re a little hard to come by, so me and the guys settled into the Red Brick Café for our chat.

    Unbowed was birthed in 2011 when Alex and lead singer Ioan Tetlow started working on the project in their basement. A lot of lineup changes ensued over the next few years as the band went through some growing pains. But as of January 2013, they finally have the lineup they feel will be successful in moving them forward.


    Self-described as “epic melodic metal,” Unbowed touches on a few other sub-genres, including viking, folk, black, and death metal. Where many of the local heavier bands tend to fall into the core and progressive sub-genres of metal, Unbowed definitely stand apart. But the guys don’t seem to mind, as the music community here is tight knit. “We’re aware that we’re pretty different. We know there’s no other band like us in Guelph … but all the [core] shows are so fun, and people receive us well.” says Alex. The guys credit local bands such as Mandroid Echostar, Arkham Awaits, and Wakeless with re-awakening the metal scene in Guelph within the last couple of years.

    A few months ago Unbowed released their first self-titled EP to much success, and the recording was well-received by metal heads across the country. The EP is a powerful, heavy, and beautiful set of cohesive songs. Most of the work was done by Alex, Nick, and Ioan, and was started when they were all in their early teens – which is an incredible accomplishment, because the EP sounds amazing. Upon first listen, the riffs are immediately catchy. After a few listens, you’re a solid new Unbowed fan. The music is big, and full, and exciting. Get ready to don your armor, because you’ll want to suit up for battle after you hear this.

    One of the elements that often sets melodic metal apart from other sub-genres is the inclusion of keyboards, and Unbowed say they always intended to include the instrument in their mix. “It opens up what you can do, you can have guitars playing the usual heavy stuff and then bring in a whole other atmosphere and bring in other layers of music” says Alex. Nick chimes in “Adding keyboards in gives it that grandiose kind of feeling.” And I completely agree – listen to the EP and you’ll see how well the keyboards compliment and don’t distract from the composition.

    Another great element of Unbowed‘s first EP that can’t be ignored is the artwork. The band came up with the concept, and then reached out to Polish artist Marta Sokolowska to put their vision to work. The idea behind the image of the man with the burning city in the background was about moving on – personally and professionally – having been through an exhausting couple of years with the lineup changes and getting the project off the ground. “Burn it and move on” was the general idea according to Alex.


    And the band is doing just that – they’re booking shows and working on recording a new album later this summer. According to the guys, it’s shaping up to be 13 tracks of all new music. When asked what the new album will sound like, Nick says “You can tell it’s Unbowed, but it’s a different vibe. The EP was a lot of Alex, but now that we’ve got six people in on this writing process, it’s just a different blend of sounds.” Impressively, the guys plan to record the new album themselves. I was curious why they would take the tougher DIY route, when today, many bands find success in crowd-funding projects through sites like Kickstarter and Indigogo. Their response was not that it was a money issue, but that they wanted control over the music and recording process. They prefer the recording process to be more casual, rather than having to be pressured by studio time constraints. And because sometimes creativity strikes at 3 a.m.

    After chatting with Alex and Nick for a while, their commitment to the band is clear. From booking, to promotion, to recording – Unbowed is doing a lot of the heavy lifting themselves. And after a few years of struggling, the guys are happy to have all band members on the same page and be able to take the projects to new heights. “We all want to do other things in our life, but we have the drive to keep at this, and we’re not going to put other things in front of the band. We all want to be a touring, professional band; record and play live – for a long time.” says Alex.

    Unbowed is a talented and hardworking young metal band. They’re important to the local metal scene because they offer something different – and they’re very good at it. I expect to see great things from these guys in the future as they play more shows, release their first full-length album, and continue to expand their fan base. And just in case you needed another reason to support them, they’re really nice guys too.

    Be sure to catch their next show this Friday, May 17 at Red Papaya in Guelph.




    Music Monday August 20th, 2012

    After a 2 week hiatus, I’m back to avail your ears with something particularly grungy today. There’s one genre of 80s music out there that has some die-hard fans that won’t ever give up their love.  The admittance of love of this genre is often met with a groan when trying to explain it to someone who isn’t, and was never a fan. You know what I’m talking about. 80’s hair metal. 

    My love affair with hair metal began with a chance purchase from columbia house mail order CD’s, a package that contained  Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue and Whitesnake albums. My friends older sister had been blaring these artists all summer long, and I was salivating to hear them again.  I loved their acid washed denim, I loved all their broken hearts, I loved the word ‘bitchin’. I played those albums on my maxell deck for months straight, bought a crimping iron and never looked back. I may have been an eighties baby by birth, but I was a eighties rocker at heart now.

    As a result of that fateful purchase, I spent a good part of my formative years wishing I was Tawny Kitaen, sexily posing on a camaro in a sheer white shirt, backcombing my hair and putting a hole in the ozone layer from my hairspray youth. I became obsessed with the band Tesla. To me, they were the perfect blend of metal and pop, the entire decade just emanated from them. I was probably the only person under 40 at their reunion concert 6 years ago in Toronto (and definitely the only one screaming in the front row).  To some, they probably looked a little washed up and rough, but to me, they were still rock gods. I swear, you could hear every backstage, every venue, and every line of coke ever done in that decade coming from his voice.

    You probably know of all these bands I’m mentioning, they were quite popular. You may however, not know of Steel Panther. I only say this because I DIDN’T. Imagine my shock when I was in San Diego last month, discussing live music and hair metal with someone fantastic, and he completely scooped this music maven with his mention of these guys. How I had never heard of a current, touring hair metal/almost parody band? 

    Steel Panther has been around for a while apparently, and I’ve heard that they put on a live show like no other. Their lyrics are laughable, yes. They don’t have the sustenance of the aforementioned bands, no. I had a hard time finding you a video that wasn’t completely and almost solely comprised of profanity. But they’re fun in a way that doesn’t happen as often in music anymore. So hit play, maybe make yourself a nice brush microphone and let your hair down today. 

    *Note: The 2nd video contains some language that may not be appropriate for children, depending on how you parent. Watch the volume levels, FYI*

    My Life: Autobiographical Vol.5

    OH WOW! 35 was a couple of weeks ago and I honestly thought I had posted this already. If you need to read My Life: Autobiographical Vol.1,  Vol.2 , Vol.3 & Vol.4, DO IT! Also our YouTube channel has a playlist of all the songs in the series so far, plus the ones included in this post. Skip to video 20 if you’ve already listened to the previous tunes from the series. WARNING! The most dangerous music I’ve ever heard is included in this post. Well, minus all the danger I already listed in parts 1-4.

    Finally, I’m In High School
    During the summer before high school this gem came out. It spoke to me in a way music never had before and was a hybrid of what were becoming my two favourite genres of music, rap & metal. This song made me listen to all my Run DMC, Beastie Boys and Guns N’ Roses tapes even harder. Any just when I thought mainstream music couldn’t get any more, well, non-mainstream, September happened and I started high school and this little record came out…

    This album (movement really, read my Grunge blog post) caused a shift in all social circles. Guys grew their hair long and greasy. Girls shaved their heads. Everyone dressed in plaid, wore Dr. Martins and started smoking. There were the freaks and the sportos (meaning athletes). There were only a few people that could handle the cross over. OMG!!! Remember that time that Cathy started dating one of the sportos during winter break and then there was a huge brawl in the foyer of school when all the students came back because her new boyfriend was a sporto? (I think that’s how it happened, remember, it was about 17 years ago) Good times. FYI, MetallicaTenUse Your Illusion I & IINo More TearsTrompe le MondeCeremonyNevermindBlood Sugar Sex MagikBadmotorfinger and others all came out within the first 6 weeks of starting high school. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

    High School Dance

    First song I ever danced to in high school, with a girl! This song really would be awkward to slow dance to near the end and because the song is so long I’m surprised I didn’t get dizzy. What I really do remember about this song, and dance with said girl, was that I really wanted to see the video. I was a huge Gunners fan, but didn’t have cable and hadn’t seen the video AND the VJ’s played the WHOLE thing! My apologies to said girl for being more into music than you. Somethings never change.

    Not A Country Boy

    I’m surprised with myself. I had no idea that losing a friend to New Country had such an effect on me. I guess it could have been worse. I could have lost him to death. So cleanse your palette before more danger.

    Crush With Eyeliner

    One of my favourite bands of all time is Nine Inch Nails. I got Pretty Hate Machine from a friend that ordered it through Columbia House but didn’t like how “synthy” it was (I later found out he thought he was buying their follow-up album Broken, which is WAY heavier). I loved it! I liked Depeche Mode and INXS but I felt this had more edge and honesty. I traded in my Alternative Rock plaid for black jeans (which later evolved into leather pants), black band T-shirts, and in my early 20’s, black nail polish and eyeliner.

    Next On My Life…

    Look at that mane!

    We get funny. Cover my first job, my late teens and early 20’s. And don’t forget church!

    My Life: Autobiographical Vol.4

    If you need to, read My Life: Autobiographical Vol.1,  Vol.2 , & Vol.3. Also our YouTube channel has a playlist of all the songs in the series so far, plus the ones included in this post, that I will just keep adding to as I go. Skip to video 14 if you’ve already listened to the previous tunes from the series.

    Danger Is My Middle Name

    So in 1984 Run DMC was the most dangerous thing I’d ever heard, but then this happened, and  I’ve been a lover of Heavy Metal ever since. I saw Axl a few years back with his new version of GNR, and then we saw Velvet Revolver to see most of the other band members. I wish I had a time machine to see them in their original glory. Velvet Revolver was the better of the two shows. Anyway, Appetite For Destruction is still in my Top 40 albums of all time.

    Two For Ms. Shannon’s Class

    In 1988 the first of my generation’s boy bands emerged. I don’t remember what my feelings about the NKOTB were then. I’m guessing that as an 11 year old I thought they were pretty cool. They did have pretty sweet dance moves, but I really have no idea. I know I was in grade 6, and I know all the girls in my class LOVED them.

    I almost Rick Rolled you. This one goes out to my sixth grade class and our french teacher, Miss Ferguson. She danced like him, dressed like him. This was the only music we were allowed to play in french class. She was probably the most stylishly dressed teacher I ever had. I remember a few altercations with the teacher losing her cool but never at me.

    Driving Tunes

    I already mentioned that there where only a few songs me and my best friend could agree on. This is one of them. Don’t judge me for liking Young MC when I was twelve. Judge me for still knowing most the words today.
    I really don’t know how my buddy’s Dad dealt with listening to these cassettes over and over. We loved them but you’d
    have to be a special kind of patient man to put up with these songs every time he had to drive us around.

    Lost It Somehow

    There are a couple reasons why I might have picked this song a few years back. I remember having a vague crush on the lead singer. Not as big a crush as I had on Alyssa Milano but it might have been my first musician crush. It also could have been that Pretty Woman was a huge movie in 1990 and my Mom & sister loved it. Either way it was on the playlist so here it is.

    Next time on My Life…So MUCH Danger, my first Much Video Dance and some funny stuff.

    Question: Alice In Chains, Grunge or Metal?

    Our first bit of news is that I’ve created a YouTube channel.  That means you don’t have to fiddle around with playing different videos, they play in the order I’ve chosen. You can just push play once and just keep listening to music while you do other things like ‘Like’ our Facebook page or play Angry Birds, whatever it is that you do.

    So our first Facebook question of the week was based off of an episode of Metal Evolution. In episode 7 they discuss the place of Grunge in Heavy Metal‘s history. I’ve always had my opinions on certain bands rolls in the genre. The Melvins, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees, and of course Nirvana, all sounded different to me but a few bands really stood out. I’ve always wondered if Alice In Chains (and Soundgarden for that matter) are Grunge or Metal? Well the Facebook has spoken and by a landslide vote Grunge takes it with 18 votes to Metal’s 8.

    So Why Are Alice In Chains Grunge?
    AIC, as I will now refer to them, were from Seattle. +1 for the Grunge voters. I’m not sure if  it was the climate, the public school system or just coincidence that so many new bands, all came from the same city, but it happened. How does a genre of music get attached to just one particular city?

    Yep! That’s Grunge!

    Another +1 for the Grunge voters and a common thread with most these bands is that they all play rock music. Angsty rock music at that. Something you have to keep in mind is that 1991 was saturated with ballads and dance music until September, and we’d grown bored of Hair Metal. These bands gave us a whole new list of things to be pissed off about. Mostly how bored we were in suburbia and how dark your mind can get when you’re apathetic about everything.

    So Why Are They Metal?
    By now you should almost be up to the AIC song on the playlist above. If that song had come out 2 years on either side of 1991 are you going to tell me it wouldn’t be classed as metal? Jerry Cantrell, the hair, the power-stance, the guitar solo that lasts over 20% of the song, all Metal.

    If this logo were any more Metal it would be a pile of sticks!

    The second reason I’m more inclined to put them in with the Metal bands is their first single. We Die Young went to number 5 on the metal charts off of AIC‘s first EP. Also their first major touring break came from opening on the Clash Of The Titans tour in 1991, opening for SlayerMegadeth and Anthrax. It doesn’t get more Metal than that.

    Now to pull the National Geographic documentary kind of ending. If I was asked this question I would be more inclined to stick to the Metal side of the fence. However, I stopped using the term Grunge shortly after it’s birth for two reasons. The first being that I didn’t understand how so many bands that sounded so different could all be labelled under one genre. The other reason being that it didn’t incorporate the other bands I liked at the time like Stone Temple Pilots and Nine Inch Nails. I just called everything Alternative.

    Does anybody else remember those days? Being asked, “What are you?” Which I always replied, “Alternative.”

    Now, if asked I’d just reply with a Nirvana lyric, “Teenage angst has paid off well, now I’m bored and old.”


    So looking at the date of my last blog post made me feel guilty about not posting. I miss you guys. Oaktree Media, our parent company, has been getting quite busy, but I really shouldn’t make excuses. When I realized that I hadn’t posted anything in two weeks exactly the phrase that went through my head was, “I has been 14 days since my last confession”.  I wasn’t raised and have never been Catholic. I’ve never confessed. Until now. I might get into some actual sins, but for the most part I’ll just be talking about music I feel guilty for liking.

    The Monkees
    Fictitious band or not I still love these guys. When I first moved out of the hicks and into a city that had cable television I watched them everyday on Much Music. It was summer holidays. I’m pretty sure they played a few episodes every morning. At least in my mind they did. I bought one of their albums on vinyl from the local flea market with my own money. It was the first time I’d ever done this, and an obsession was born.

    Limp Bizkit

    Some times a group puts out an album that just does it for you. Significant Other was one of those albums for me. I could justify this pick several different ways. What needs to be explained though is that MY first music, meaning not my Father‘s music, was rap and metal. Public Enemy & Anthrax‘s collaboration on Bring The Noize is still one of my Top 25 Songs. Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, Guns & Roses, Motley Crue.  I loved them all all equally. My Father hated them with a passion. I know, sounds like Father issues. I’ll fully admit that. I was a teenager. He was a Dad. It’s all good now. That being said I’m not fully surprised that I got into this album, even though I was well into my 20’s when it came out. When I listen to the record now, it seems childish, but I still like it.

    Hall & Oates

    These guys write great pop songs. I don’t expect much from pop music so it’s really easy to get into them. Funky bass line. Sing-a-long chorus. That’s pretty much all you need. I probably would still be in the closet about Hall & Oates if it wasn’t for 500 Days Of Summer. The one scene in the movie brought a flood of Hall & Oates fans back from the brink of forgetting about them. Nicely done Joseph Gordon-Levitt . There is nothing a great dance sequence can’t do.

    Burden In My Hand
    I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted! Maybe on this series of posts we can start a virtual support group for each other in the comments section. You should never have to carry the burden of liking questionable music alone. I’m here for you. I can absolve you of your musical sins. I’m qualified, I’ve been listening to Katy Perry’s Unplugged album the whole time I’ve been writing this post.