Why should you go to Mettalfest? For Rob Nickerson of Black Moor, the answer is pretty obvious: "Two nights of great heavy metal music for one price." The brand new heavy metal festival, celebrating the first anniversary of promotional firm Mettalworx Music Group (hence the name) hits Gus' Pub this weekend. Eight of the gnarliest local metal bands will melt the skin off your face.
Founded last year by Bill Arsenault and based in the Annapolis Valley, Mettalworx has been connecting hard rock and heavy metal bands across the province. What began as a means for booking shows in Halifax has become a hub of the metal community with lots of potential.
"It started off in frustration because we weren't getting gigs," says Arsenault, vocalist-bassist of Doom Machine. "Now people are contacting me, I listen to what they got and if it sounds anywhere near decent, we book them a show. Part of what we're about is helping break out new talent," also offered regularly online.
Arsenault runs monthly features of bands on the website, interviewing and profiling well-known and up-and-coming artists because he can tell there's a demand for it. "The heavy metal community here is really healthy and pretty tight knit. It's kind of like a big family," he says.
Proof: Arsenault and Nickerson are stoked for the return of Sanktuary. Just off a cross-Canada tour after living in the Yukon, Sanktuary plays for the first time in Halifax in over a year. Likewise, Cole Harbour's Black Moor, touring its recently released second full-length, Lethal Waters, gets continual props from fans.
"Bands are always great about supporting each other," Nickerson says. "Shows like this are a great chance for the more established bands and the relative newcomers to get together and play some music. Always lots of familiar faces. And a lot of the old guard of Halifax metal is still around, like Hellacaust," who headlines the opening show on Friday night.
"It's funny that when you stick the word 'fest' on something, it generates interest," says Arsenault. "People seem to be really excited about Mettalfest." And for pretty good reason.
An undying bastion of the late 1980s, metal of all kinds---speed, hardcore, melodic, thrash---continues to attract people. Arsenault says new bands turn up all the time.
"I think it's the energy of it. People identify with the aggression. I'd like to say that nobody who listens to metal is normal and well-adjusted, if anyone is," he says, laughing. "But, personally, we identify with the sound, with what metal is talking about. Some of it is extreme, but I think it's this simple: as soon as you hear it, you know you love it. It connects."
But metal is also something you can get into, Arsenault says, adding that when he met his wife, she wasn't a fan. Now, she co-runs Mettalworx and moshes with the best of them.
"People are attracted to metal because of something they've gone through, but maybe it's just the music, you know?" he says. "Really heavy guitars and fast drumming makes for a pretty exciting atmosphere." So celebrate Mettalworx's first year with two nights of whiplash. --Adria Young
Friday, November 16:
Hellacaust, Burnt Church, Cottus, Select and Dismember
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