Somehow I managed to get off to an even later start on Day 3, disappointingly missing both Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium, who I’d been looking forward to. By the time I arrived for the final day of Heavy Montreal 2015 I was just able to catch a couple of songs from Hamilton, Ontario’s Dead Tired before heading over to Scène d l’Apocalypse for Pig Destroyer. They were as ferocious as I’d been expecting.
I joined my companions for the last half hour or so of the non-stop 1-2-3-4 of Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg with Andrew W.K. on vocals. Next on the main stage was Asking Alexandria, performing with their new frontman. It’s hard to believe such monumental growls can come from such a delicate-looking frame, but the band performs heavy at least as well as they pull off the melodic contrasts. It was an entertaining set, but not enough to keep me from leaving early to catch Sanctuary on the other side of the park.
I’m more of a Nevermore gal but I am aware of the Sanctuary hype and I’ve been digging new album The Year the Sun Died, released late last year. Frontman Warrel Dane engaged in some friendly banter with the crowd, promoting the band’s most recent material while teasing with the promise of older stuff to come. My Nevermore allegiance remains unchanged but Sanctuary tracks like “Question Existence Fading” come across really well in a live setting.
We made our way back to the main stage area in time to catch some of Within Temptation‘s catchy and melodic set (and some more vegan poutine). I’ve only seen the band perform once before (Summer Breeze 2003) and though I enjoyed them then I was more impressed this time – they’ve clearly settled well into their upbeat melodic rock style (never mind the dark goth aesthetics).
I made sure to head back toward the trees with plenty of time to find a good spot to witness Ihsahn‘s live return. I seem to have chosen the musicians’ corner, as I was surrounded by members of bands like Deafheaven, Augury and Insomnium, who had wandered out to take in some Norwegian prog as well. Considering the complexity of Ihsahn’s solo recordings (and the mythologizing of his Norwegian black metal past) I wasn’t sure if the man and his new backing band would live up to expectations but they did without question, providing the main highlight of the final day’s line-up (for me, at least).
Another trek over to the main stage area had me relocated in time for Lamb of God. Having just seen them at Tuska several weeks ago I wasn’t that excited. There were plenty of people who were though, so much so that the photo pit shut down a song and a half early to clear the way for crowd (surfing) control. Witnessing Lamb of God’s sincere and brutal power alongside that audience energy, my own excitement slowly grew as well. By the time the Virginians wrapped up I’d been firmly reminded why so many people are still so passionate about Lamb of God.
After Lamb of God, Slipknot felt a bit like a radio-friendly apology – all the appearance of heavy metal brutality without the bite. Again though, there was no shortage of people who were clearly pumped for the finale performance. Watching from the hill, it was hard to resist being impressed by the sea of glowing screens poised to capture the band’s grand entrance. It’s been a long time since I listened to Wait and Bleed, but the notes of the title track and “Spit It Out” still caught my ear right away, and if my attention wandered during some of the newer material there were thousands of ears and eyes still glued to the stage.
As my reflections on Heavy Montreal 2015 draw to a close, I want to reiterate – this is a top notch metal festival, one that I’m proud to say takes place in my home country. I may not love every band on the bill, but I applaud the range of performers and sounds. I appreciate the free water supply, the fresh fruit, the vegan options, the places to chill out in the shade with wifi and the helpful staff. I value the inclusion of small labels like Dine Alone Records and historical treasures like the Musée du Rock’n’Roll bus. And I look forward to attending many iterations of Heavy Montreal in the future.