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Anvil/Joe Thrasher/Sweet Damnation Live in Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 @ 11:17 AM


At Café Dekcuf in Ottawa

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According to my last review on Anvil when they killed the stage at this very same venue 2 years ago to which I bore witness to for the first time, I prayed that their next visit wouldn’t have a 13-year gap in between. It turned out to be a 20-month gap due to recording commitments, lots of European tours, a movie deal with a British director who’s a diehard fan and a possible performance at this year’s Sundance Film festival to promote this same movie.

Things are looking up for one of Canada’s most underrated guardians of the sacred trinity of old school heavy fucking metal.

And that night a new generation of aspiring local thrash acts gave ‘em a couple of extra hands to keep that torch raised high. You probably read about two of them already in past reviews which is good because I got sidetracked while editing some resumes to the sounds of that Pamela Moore interview on WildSide and almost missed their shows entirely. Actually I missed all of Bastardator’s set as I wrongly assumed that when a venue’s doors open at 7 for a show the band wouldn’t actually have their equipment set up, have run through a soundcheck and be playing by then. Then again, it’s not like your average Bastardator stage show has to compete with U2’s. Whatever their show was like that night, just apply my review from their show with Cauldron last November and you’d be about right. On a positive note, congratulations to the band for finally getting a MySpace page up. You can stop e-mailing their drummer now with offers for new iPods and penile implants.

http://www.myspace.com/bastardator

By the time I arrive to the show Joe Thrasher have 15 minutes left in their setlist which they spend playing 2 more new songs whose names escape me, their other new song “More Hate” and a riveting version of their closing namesake. This must be about the fourth review I’ve done about Joe Thrasher on KNAC.COM at this point. Hell, they get more coverage on the Headbanger’s Section than Danger Kitty do nowadays but they always seem to sound better live and really gel more as a cohesive live unit ever since Scott joined so it’s justified. Now hurry up and get a full-length CD out and avoid the Spinglesteins’ bar mitzvah at all costs.

And tell Gumby I have yet to see that photo he took of me and Lips anywhere on his personal MySpace profile.

http://www.myspace.com/joethrasher

Next up and hailing from all four corners of the globe (to be more specific, that would be eastern Ontario, western Japan and a rural town in northern Hungary near the border with Romania) is local four-piece band Sweet Damnation. With only a year of being an actual professional band the quartet do a good job commanding the attention of the audience with a slick mix of classic rock, some classic thrash metal, some classic alternative and even some elements of funk metal with some powerful yet emotive vocals. Shame I couldn’t remember a single song from them even with vocalist Andy Currie announcing most of them in between numbers. Maybe it had to do with the fact that as well tuned and precise their performance was that night, it seemed to lack something. More aggressive solid guitar playing? Granted, Koji Okazaki is no Herman Li but he can pull off and execute a decent solo and carry a sweet rhythmic groove so he’s doing something right especially in the eyes of the 8 or 9 Japanese fans that flew in to town just to catch this show (actually half of them were cousins and a sibling or two but let’s not hold that against him). A tighter rhythm section? Actually, drummer Shawn Vadneau and bassist Csaba Farkas can deliver a solid display of sharp drum and bass grooves that wouldn’t be out of place on almost any album by Saigon Kick or Wrathchild America in parts. And Andy’s singing and stage presence holds up well although we really didn’t need to hear him read off from a list of people he wanted to thank for making not only their concert but Sweet Damnation in general a success in between songs. That aside, with as much talent and driving hunger all four individuals possess how come the parts come off as greater than their sum? The main reason would be the lack of real discernable hooks in their songs. It’s not that they can’t write good songs but rather they write songs that are just…there. If anything, it’s the guitar playing that saves Sweet Damnation from total mediocrity from my perspective but that night I thought that the whole band had a lot more to offer than what they brought to the table. But this is after all a band still in its infancy despite having years of club and touring experience so rather than recall when all four members of Sweet Damnation were individually good in the past it’s better instead to wait and see how they’ll progress together as a band in the future.

P.S.: Put some songs up on your site while you’re at it.

http://www.myspace.com/sweetdamnationofficial

In between bands I run into Exciter bass player Clammy at the bar who expresses gratitude on behalf of the band for my review on my audition with the band last summer. I also get the inside scoop on what the band have been up to since they found their new singer Kenny “Metal Mouth” Winter and the news is that the band are still hammering out new songs and negotiating deals on upcoming concert appearances in North America and abroad.

While I’m trying to find a way to include a clever lead-in between this sudden piece of Exciter news updates and the night’s show in the then-stillborn review I’m proofreading in my head the opening riff to “666” fills the room and the headlinersAnvil have taken the stage – except for lead guitarist/vocalist Lips who always jumps into the crowd while playing the first 30 seconds of the song among a sea of rabid horns-throwing metal fans. With the opener going down well with the crowd, Lips launches into another, um, number in the form of the title track of the band’s recent release cleverly titled This Is Thirteen and the crowd momentum remains upbeat for the rest of the evening. What especially helps for an awesome crowd reception is Lips’ stories stemming from his years on the road and having an opinion on almost anything that crosses his mind. And then dedicating a song to it. Such was the case when “Old School” went out to Jeff Waters (Annihilator ) who’s currently negotiating a European release for Anvil’s new album in between days off from Annihilator’s co-headlining tour with Trivium (and while I agree that Matt Heafy and company are a bit overcanonized by the media just for modernizing many of the sounds of 80’s thrash that other bands had done before them they at least merit credit for taking a more established band as Annihilator out to a wider audience even if as an opener for a younger band), “Blood On The Ice” being dedicated to the latest saga of the Ottawa-Toronto rivalry in the NHL (“my heart goes out to you guys for losing to the Maple Griefs”) and “Winged Assassins” going out to those engaging in the follies of war in foreign conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan (Anvil, incidentally, are self-confessed hippies at heart seeing as they have been around since the mid-70’s so further proof that we never really needed Sleater-Kinney for anything).

Lips also let in on a story about whenAnvil first played Ottawa in 1977 at a now-defunct club called the Rose Room in which the owner would book the band for a series of shows if they would learn 10 Led Zeppelin songs for their performance despite having arrived with a setlist of mostly original material and having notified the owner well in advance that they had their own original material. Lips’ response to the owner was to have him bring over Led Zeppelin to do the show and have them learn 10Anvil songs instead. The owner’s response to Lips was to fireAnvil on the spot, leaving the band to scramble to find an alternate venue to play at that day at short notice which they did.Anvil went on to greater success stemming from the strength of their shows from their first cross-country tour that year and onward while the hapless owner of the Rose Room fell out of favor with the local mafia and the Hells’ Angels through some bad drug deals and was subsequently car-bombed for his troubles. It was likely on the same year that Metal On Metal came out although Lips was vague on the exact date of when it happened.

Awesome poetic justice, while at the unfortunate expense of the life of a sleazy nightclub owner who would’ve been taken out by the mafia sooner or later, is still awesome poetic justice. This was felt by the crowd whenAnvil blazed through “Mad Dog”, “Forged In Fire”, the anthemic “Metal On Metal” and the encore number “Mothra” as if the owner of the Rose Room was at the show while out on a day pass and questioning his failure at life.

Lips is Lord. Respect.

Setlist (I think):

  • “666”
  • “This Is Thirteen”
  • “Smokin’ Green”
  • “School Love”
  • “Old School”
  • “Blood On The Ice”
  • “Winged Assassins”
  • “March Of The Crabs”
  • “Mad Dog”
  • “Forged In Fire”
  • “Metal On Metal”
  • “Mothra” (encore)
http://www.myspace.com/anvilmetal



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