Varga in Kingston ON, Dec 5, 2014


Varga live in Hamilton, December 2013. Photo by Adam Wills.


with Non-Existent, Rise of Dissension, Meathook and Ithon

December 5th, 2014 at the Overtime Sports bar in Kingston, Ontario

What better way to spend a Friday night than watching a band you grew up listening to and, not to mention, supporting your friends and their local bands that were also attending and playing on that night?

Ithon from Kingston were first up on the bill. With winter close at hand, those fast and chilling black metal sorts of riffs were a great way to start the night. A listener might hear some Krallice and early Emperor influence happening. The lead songwriter and guitar player, Matt, played the first two songs of the set solo as the other members had yet to learn the new songs (he made great use of back tracking and programmed drums to full effect). As a full band they played more of a concoction of death and thrash, while still making a different vibe happen. The crowd enjoyed it and we even saw some headbanging and nodding.

Next up: Meathook from Kingston. Meathook have been around for a while but when I was talking to Joey MacDonald, the band leader, he said they hadn’t practiced in almost nine months as he had been away up north. But when they began to play it only took a couple minutes to settle into their groove. Said groove is a mash-up of catchy punk beats filled with crossover thrash and some death metal elements. Crowd pleasing cuts like “Radiation Mutation” are always a good staple and have a knack for getting heads banging and pits starting. They also do some great grind-flavored stuff, such as the two-second “Toad Hammer.” Zach’s leads also fit perfectly with Joe’s clever raucous song-writing, bringing together a beast that is as powerful as it is fun.

Following Meathook were the more recently created Rise of Dissension. They could be from Belleville or Kingston, as members hail from both towns. The vocals go from a Zakk Wylde style into a later era Metallica spirit. Having members of Excarnation and Polidicks in the band is always sure to get the local crowd and observers interested, as those bands both have had solid histories here in the Kingston area. For me the highlight is always seeing friend and drummer Landon Chatterton play with machine-like time and precision. Most of us that were privileged to see Polidicks open for Napalm Death in Kingston three or four years ago will never forget how tight and amazing their set was, and part of that was Landon’s drumming. Here the band played tribute to some classic thrash and groove metal, and that fired the audience up and heads were found to be nodding and then banging. The chugging and pummeling songs continued for the entire set.

The band from Belleville known as Non-Existent was up next. The band leader and local promoter, Dan, has long been helping and working in the metal scene for as long as I can remember, so it’s nice to see that his band is popular locally. From the turnout it seemed that most people were fans. The intros to some of the songs were melodic and had lots of classic metal power vibes. Dan’s vocals combine punk with Jamey Jasta power and sometimes almost guttural flourishes. The strengths of this band are the guitar players; both can shred up a storm. John takes the old school approach while Joe takes the more modern one, but both work to equal effect. The sweep picking makes the sound feel epic and John’s 8-string guitar gets a workout few guitar players are able provide. Maiden-type gallops lead into furious breakdowns that the moshers seem to love. Overall, another fantastic set.

Finally Varga hit the stage. This band from Hamilton does not disappoint. Their brand of technical thrash mixed with progressive and industrial structures is just what the listeners and crowd needed in Kingston. It was great to remember the first time I heard Varga, which, by the way, was on Beavis and Butthead. The vocals were spot on. The drums were tight and the guitars had a ripping epic quality that some would say is unique to them. The band played everything from the earlier material right up until the new album Return of the Metal. Highlights for this contributor were the covers of Priest’s “Solar Angels” and Diamondhead’s (or Metallica’s) “Am I Evil?”. Friends in attendance were excited to hear the covers but also “Gamera,” one of the band’s classics with its crisp time signatures mixed with punk sounds. This was the last song of the set and ended it on a great note.

Thanks also for the fun times Matt H, Russell, Hamish, John, Joey M, Dan, Matt K, and Zach.