Full metal racket

Thrashfest, the two-day metal festival, descends on Halifax with a loud fury. We talk with local fave, Thy Flesh Consumed.

Thrashing it out Thrashfest's friendly headliners Thy Flesh Consumed. photo Scott Blackburn

"Well what do you Thrash?"
"What do you got?"
--Corey Webster
(From the skater-gang film, Thrashin')

Described as two days of insanity, Thrashfest moves from a Halifax basement to the confines of Gus' Pub on August 29 and 30. With the move comes an expansion of the lineup, with over 13 bands playing this year.

The brainchild of members of Halifax's Fistfight, Thrashfest features a varied lineup---from long-time death metal locals Hellacaust to the grind- and punk-influenced thrash of Fredericton's Iron Fist. Montreal's Black Ships, about to embark on a three-month tour taking them from Truro to Victoria and all in between, will be playing Halifax for the first time, after an aborted attempt in May with Louisville's Lords. Knifehammer, from Peterborough, Ontario, have played here before---at an impromptu guerilla show outside The Pavilion.

Headlining Saturday night's show is Halifax's Thy Flesh Consumed. Made up of Peter Mestre (vocals), Gerald Smith (drums), Dan Jamieson (guitar), Dave Burns (guitar) and Ross Vickers (bass), Thy Flesh Consumed counts members of Existench, Burning Moon, Sloth, Gorbage, Terratomb and Wohedness among its members. Smith is well-known for diligently trading tapes with European grindcore fans, promoting his projects like Existench and Sloth. Tales of Burning Moon's live shows are still told. Mestre has been an enthusiastic scene fixture since the mid-'90s---it's as close to an all-star metal lineup as you're going to find in this city.

The generosity and kindness of Thy Flesh Consumed is well-known. Burns served as the now-defunct Speakeasy's soundman for a spell, earning a reputation as one of the nicest and hardest working soundmen in the city. When you're constantly doing sound for disorganized punk and hardcore bands, it's hard to maintain an affable front: It's a testament to Burns' nature that anyone who ever played the Speakeasy has nothing but good words for him.

It's Burns who took the lead on re-shaping the band's almost legendary jam space at the Rock Garden. Described by Mestre as "a place we can call home and a home made to look like hell," the red-walled spot is equipped with Halloween ornaments, a healthy complement of metal posters and flags and, of course, a beer fridge. The track lighting and couch put the spot a step above the mildewed, leaky ceiling jam spaces previously inhabited by the band.

With only two lineup changes since 2001, Thy Flesh has been remarkably consistent and with three full-length releases (a fourth is due out near the end of 2008), they've also been prolific. According to Mestre, that consistency is due in part to the band's chemistry. "The mix of personalities in the band has always worked very well. It is what all of us want to do, and so we have worked in our schedules to practice three times a week for seven years this fall, and the energy and excitement of writing and grinding extreme metal is always there, every jam. We know what a Thy Flesh Consumed riff sounds like, and know how to write one!"

The new album, Unrepentant, deals with the themes of faith, murder, warfare and religion. In the band's own words, "Unrepentant's theme is of detestation towards belief systems void of fact or evidence to support them, worldly sanctimonious warfare, the hollow power known as faith and how the world adheres to archaic concepts and upholds tyrants (past and present) who ravage the earth in the names of their gods."

Set to record in September, Mestre sums up his expectations for the release: "With seven years of musical evolution under our belts, we are very much in sync with one another when it comes to writing the new material. Unrepentant is going to be our darkest, fastest and strongest album thus far. It's gonna be fucking wicked."

The excitement Mestre maintains for Thy Flesh Consumed is obvious: Nothing is more important than the band. On Thrashfest and its meaning for Thy Flesh Consumed, it's: "The exposure of a lot of local talent, headbanging, beer and people who live to make, listen and support metal."

Thrashfest, Friday, August 29 to Saturday, August 30 at Gus' Pub, 2605 Agricola, 6:30pm, $8 per night/$12 weekend. myspace.com/thrashfest2008

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