Taking place just about a week after the much anticipated Osheaga Festival, Heavy MTL turned Parc Jean-Drapeau into haven for Metal fans from all over the country. Reaching a peak audience of a little over 40 000 people, the festival offered music fans of all metal subgenres – from Death Metal to Metalcore to Doom Metal—a little treat and lots of loud sound. The A-list line-up this year will be hard top off: with headliners System Of A Down, Slipknot and Marilyn Manson making a comeback after a long hiatus, and Heavy Metal veterans Cannibal Corpse, In Flames, and Killswitch Engage included in the bill, we knew we were in for an unforgettable weekend of headbanging under the sun showers.
On Saturday the 11th , Quebec’s own Kataklysm took the Jägermeister Stage by storm with their classic use of blast beats and growls, while pleasing the crowd by speaking to us in French (lots of use of the words “crisse” and “osti”, our favorite Quebec swear words). Cannibal Corpse then followed with one of the most brutal performances of the festival. If you haven’t heard any of their songs yet, we suggest you YouTube “Hammer Smashed Face” –the crowd’s favorite—and brace yourself. With lyrics such as “Crushing, cranial contents, draining the snot, I rip out the eyes squeezing them in my hands, nerves are incised”, no wonder all their albums up to (and including) Tomb of the Mutilated were banned upon release from being sold or displayed in Germany. To add to the sinister sounds, the skies quickly turned dark grey and opened up and we are convinced that George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s deep demonic growls summoned the winds to spawn this graveyard weather.
Sunday evening was graced with the presence of the controversial shock-rocker turned celebrity Marilyn Manson. Face paint? Check. Multiple costume changes? Check. Tearing up a Bible and stuffing pages in his mouth? Why the hell not. There was nothing Manson did that wasn’t already expected. Although he delivered the hits "Sweet Dreams", "The Beautiful People", and "Personal Jesus" with the intensity we were waiting for, the performance still lacked the “heaviness” and raw quality that other bands offered throughout the festival. The highlight of his performance could have possibly been his comment about the fire hose looking like semen being sprayed on everyone’s faces. Oh so very typical of Manson, but the crowd loved it.
Speaking of the crowd, Sunday was particularly interesting because of the amount of costumed fans that attended. From zombie pirates, to evil clowns, to the full Slipknot gear, it made we wonder if I had somehow died on my way to Jean-Drapeau metro and woke up in hell, but in a good way. However, it was to be expected, as Slipknot is known to have some of the most die-hard fans in the Metal scene, and they aren’t afraid to show it. Showing up in their signature orange jumpsuit and terrifying masks, the 8-man band (originally 9) stole the show with classics such as "Wait and Bleed", "Before I Forge"t, "People=Shit", and (sic). Frontman Corey Taylor’s mastery of the crowd was impressive; everything he would tell the maggots (fans) to do, they would comply. The fans’ devotion was apparent, and it made for an emotionally intense show especially when Taylor dedicated "Duality" the to the late Paul Grey –aka number 2, the bass player-- , and commanded the crowd to sing it in unison “for our family”. Family was definitely the best word to describe this crowd, who not only looked out for each other but who shared this sense of nostalgia every time a song the Iowa or Self-Titled album was played. The highlight of the show was hands down when the crowd was told to sit down during Spit It Out and jump up at Corey’s command to “Jump the F*** Up!” Overall, Slipknot delivered what the fans wanted: incredible riffs, amazing stage-presence (DJ Sid Wilson crowd-surfing, the Clown smashing trash cans with a baseball bat), pyrotechnics, an incredible drum solo on a 90-degree-angle-turning drum kit by the legendary Joey Jordison and so much more.
All in all, Heavy MTL was an experience like no other, that continued on until Berri-Uqam metro station where all the festival-goers were still chanting and smiling, and scaring off the rest of the metro passengers that clearly didn’t understand what was going on during their Sunday night commute. Until next year!