Canadian Music Week has never been renowned for its programming when it comes to aggressive music. While clubs and bars, huge venues, and tiny holes in the wall fill to the brim with DJs, indie rock outfits, and electro-pop groups, the metal and punk representation tends to be on the thin side. Despite the fact that Toronto is home to some internationally acclaimed acts—from thrash and traditional metal to challenging and experimental black metal—more aggressive groups tend not to get the stage time they deserve.
However, there is still hope that, thanks in part to these offerings, the ambitious headbanger will be able to enjoy everything louder than everything else this Canadian music week.
Thursday, May 8, 1 a.m.
Sneaky Dee’s (431 College Street)
Since 2002, The Flatliners have been a mainstay of the GTA punk rock and ska scene. Recently, their 2013 record Dead Language was nominated for a Juno Award in the Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year category, drawing ire from many metal fans who believed their ebullient, melodic punk rock record didn’t belong in the category (in fact, a petition was started to replace their nomination with Target Earth by Quebec metallers Voivod). Despite the controversy, this is sure to be an upbeat, high-energy show. Earlier in the evening, Montreal punks GrimSkunk will also be performing, and the Flatliners will be followed by a 2 a.m. set from post-hardcore math rockers Life in Vacuum.
Friday, May 9, 9:15 p.m.
Virgin Mobile Mod Club (720 College Street)
While this Collective Concerts event is being headlined by Canadian punk rockers Comeback Kid, we think Ontario-based melodic hardcore/metalcore act Counterparts are going to steal the show. Their songs favour complexity without being convoluted, employing complicated rhythms and warm, accessible songwriting. With the up-tempo enthusiasm of Killing the Dream and some of the intensity of Shai Hulud, Counterparts are the band to watch in this lineup.
Saturday, May 10, 2 a.m.
Sneaky Dee’s (431 College Street)
If you can make it to the last set of the night, you’ll be rewarded—the 2 a.m. appearance by Kitchener hardcore band Exalt is going to be the best thing on the Travis Porter–curated lineup at Sneaky Dee’s on Saturday night. The emotional content of their music swings wildly between ebullience, joyfully wild aggression, and crushing, visceral anguish, and they’re equally comfortable with grind-like chaos and catchy melodies. There’s a lucidity to their violence that is refreshing and sophisticated—and well worth staying up for.
Saturday, May 10, 12 a.m.
Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor Street West)
While the headliners for this show, hardcore punk supergroup OFF!, are unquestionably going to put on a killer set when they take the stage at 1 a.m., our money is on Brooklyn punk rockers Cerebral Ballzy for show-stealing potential. Their self-titled 2012 debut record merged wildness and abandon with thick, fat riff structures and a surprisingly mature delivery; their followup, Jaded & Faded, will be released on June 17, 2014, and promises even deeper, thicker tones. If you like just a bit of sludge and a stoner metal fatness gumming up the otherwise lean works of your punk rock, Cerebral Ballzy is for you.
Saturday, May 10, doors at 6:30 p.m.
Sound Academy (11 Polson Street)
Sure, there are a lot of options at CMW if you’re interested in hardcore blended with punk, or metallic hard rock, but for the more devoted metalheads, the pickings are extra slim this year. However, a brilliant tour happens to be rolling through town just in time to cap off Canadian Music Week with an orgy of heaviness. Mastodon—those lords of heaviness from Atlanta—will be bringing destruction, as well as fresh material, to town as they prepare for the release of their newest record, Once More ‘Round the Sun, in June. Also featuring French extreme metallers Gojira and Norweigian weirdos Kvelertak (who blend everything from progressive to punk and whose name means “stranglehold”), this lineup will without a doubt be the one most exciting for metalheads during CMW.
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