The top 10 metal, punk and hardcore shows in Toronto
The top upcoming heavy music shows in Toronto range from black metal to hardcore and beyond. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the food trucks are (cautiously) revving their engines; all the signs of summer are finally here, which means that prime concert season is officially in full swing.Tons of feel-good summer festivals and concerts are on the way, but what about those of us who prefer our music a little more... evil?
Don't worry, headbangers - this season's concert schedule has been kind to us, too. Over the next few months, plenty of great metal, punk, noise and hardcore acts will flock to the city to instigate circle pits and blow out eardrums.
Here's the top 10 spring and summer concert picks for heavy mayhem in Toronto.
Young Widows / May 17 / Hard Luck Bar / $10.50
After the surprisingly mellow aura of 2011's In and Out of Youth and Lightness, Young Widows seem ready to make a punishing racket again on the just-released Easy Pain. The Kentucky three-piece chose a unique way to "leak" their new LP, playing Easy Pain in its entirety at an NYC club show then allowing the whole thing to be filmed and posted on YouTube. It was a brilliant strategy to generate buzz while showing off Young Widows' greatest assets; as massive as their recorded tunes sound, they straight-up knock the wind out of you in live format. Catch them Saturday with the equally powerful Helms Alee and Toronto post-rock outfit Black Walls.
Enabler / May 17 / The Central / $10
There's already a Sophie's choice to make on May 17 between Young Widows and Milwaukee hardcore heroes Enabler. Though their constantly fluctuating lineup has previously included members of Misery Signals, Mouth of the Architect and even Fall Out Boy, Enabler is now down to a lean three-piece and tearing through the northeast to stoke excitement for their next album, La Fin Absolue Du Monde. Witness their vicious take on metallic hardcore at The Central, where they'll be joined by a trio of loud locals: Teethmarks, Dead Mouth and Homolka.
Bane / May 23 / Hard Luck Bar / $16.50
If you've never heard of Bane (well, outside of the DC Comic universe), this may be your last chance to find out - these straight-edge veterans have declared that their latest album, Don't Wait Up, is their last. With their thoughtful, positive musical message endearing them to many fans, it's sure to be a bit of an emotional night as they kick off their final tour right here in Toronto. Expect extra intensity in the band's energy and the crowd's mosh pit pile-ons.
BriefcaseFest 2014 / June 6 & 7 / Silver Dollar & Comfort Zone / $10 for day one, $12 for day two, $20 for both
After the success of last year's inaugural event, the organizers of BriefcaseFest have resurrected this two-day shindig for 2014 to properly celebrate the inventive, inspiring and often underrated landscape of extreme music in Southern Ontario. Once again, the madness begins at the Silver Dollar on day one - here, you can revel in the sludge-rock innovation of Godstopper, the deafening plod of Demonic Possessor and the harmonically adept prog styling's of Ayathuasca, among others. Day two sinks down to the Comfort Zone for a more out-of-province mix, such as Rochester grindcore Sulaco and Quebec black metal Ordoxe.
DevilDriver & Whitechapel / June 10 / Opera House / $30
Ex-Coal Chamber vocalist Dez Fafara has found a much better (read: no nu metal) life in DevilDriver, a Californian quintet that keeps it simple: unfiltered, no-nonsense metal that combines crushing rhythms with melodic riffs-upon-riffs. They're currently co-headlining a tour with deathcore behemoths Whitechapel and making a stop at Toronto's metal institution, the Opera House, to placate their swells of fans here.
Meshuggah & Between the Buried and Me / June 19 / Sound Academy / $31
They've been in the business for nearly three decades, but Swedish metal experimentalists Meshuggah still somehow manage to stay at the top of their game, putting most of their peers to shame with genre-fusing creativity and time signatures that practically require calculators. They'll co-headline at the Sound Academy with Between the Buried and Me, who are kindred spirits in the sport of genre-jumping. And hey, if the Wolf of Wall Street approves, so should we.
Black Flag / June 19 / CODA / $26
Well, this should be... interesting? Since their reformation last year, punk icons Black Flag have been mired in drama, attempting to sue their former bandmates in FLAG, firing their lead singer on stage and releasing an album (What The...) panned by both critics and fans. Let's see if new singer Mike Vallely can save this reunion from utter catastrophe at CODA on June 19 - he's already vowed to never perform any of the material off of What The..., so that's a step in the right direction. They'll be joined by Greg Ginn's experimental electronic project Hor and Brooklyn punks Cinema Cinema.
Harm's Way with Backtrack / June 26 / Hard Luck Bar / $18 advance, $20 at the door
One of the best stamps of approval for American hardcore bands today is music released under the Deathwish Inc. label; Harm's Way have managed to do just that, signing with the Jacob Bannon-owned imprint in 2013. Their devastating blend of down-tempo, industrial-tinged metallic hardcore, coupled with singer James Pligge's hulking build, make them an intimidating presence on stage. Although Backtrack's "Life & Death" tour on June 26 sandwiches a horde of eight bands onto one bill at the Hard Luck, Harm's Way are sure to be one of the standouts that night.
Anciients / July 11 / Hard Luck Bar / $16
This Vancouver crew of progressive metal fiends has only been around for a few years, though they don't sound it; as their name might imply, Anciients already exude songwriting mastery that sounds like it's been honed for decades, weaving folk and black metal influence with a technical skill that immediately draws comparison to the likes of Baroness and Mastodon. Get yourself to - you guessed it - the Hard Luck Bar to witness this burgeoning talent that clearly has staying power. They'll be joined by fellow west-coasters Black Cobra and Black Wizard.
Boris / August 7 / Lee's Palace / $20
Is there a more perfect band to cap a solid heavy music summer with than Boris? This Japanese trio is pretty much impossible to categorize, with a career catalogue that's attempted everything from drone-y doom to dream pop, but if you had to describe them with one adjective, "LOUD" would probably be safe. The new album, appropriately titled Noise, won't be out until June, but if the teaser track is any indication it will blow away the crowd at Lee's Palace. Bring earplugs.
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Writing by Shazia Khan. Photo of Boris via Facebook.