As I walked into the Rickshaw Theatre, nothing but a blistering guitar solo and cowbell was heard. Did I step into a time portal? No. It was time for Battlefest! Organized by Canadian epic metal band, Scythia, they put on a killer show packed with a diverse, yet stylistically focussed night of some of the hardest working bands in Western Canada.
This wild guitar solo was coming from the fingers of Iron Kingdom’s frontman. While clearly paying tribute to the classic NWOBHM sound, they definitely up the ante by being over the top, pushing the big hair, huge drums, and screeching high falsettos to a whole new level. Their anthemic, blood pumping songs like Voodoo Queen and Legions of Metal got the crowd head banging and chanting along.
Vancouver’s aggressive progressive power metal band, Omega Crom ran a tight, but explosive ship. With crystal sharp, pulverizing guitar tone, and cutting vocals, frontman, Johnny Ketlo commanded the stage while an old, ultra dramatic, yet hilarious kung fu movie was being projected on either sides of the stage. Scythia’s drummer, Celine Derval provided backing vocals. Not only did she give the set a dynamic range and edge by singing harmonies with Johnny, she also traded off parts with him, bringing a new element of soaring, female vocals to the mix. However, what made their set really work was the drummer who played in the pocket the whole time, filling in that backbeat and grooving out like a real drummer, which is refreshing to hear especially in this day and age of micro edited, processed drums.
What made this event noticeably cheery and positive was Scythia interaction with the crowd, bands and their fans throughout the night. Exchanging high fives and laughs the whole time, it was evident they were nothing but organized and professional. Their presentation of Battlefest was spectacular. When it was time to step on stage, the overall vibe, positive energy and tone got turned up and bursted out of the ceiling. Cracking jokes, giving life to their folklore on stage and letting it seep out into the audience, it was no mystery how they have conjured such a dedicated fanbase coming out to support with full on battle gear.
It was pretty clear that almost half of the crowd was there for one thing, and that was Unleash the Archers. As soon as they ripped into the first song, the crowd somehow doubled in size and flying hair. Sonically, their sound was enormous, the attack of their presence was so sharp and powerful it could go through any body armour. With their banners on both sides of the stage, it felt like we had arrived at the frontier, the final battle scene of Battlefest. They had to headline for this night to work. Whether it was the back and forth onslaught of blackened vocals from the guitarists, their furious solos, the low end camaraderie of kick and bass, or Brittney’s charismatic performance with dense, overpowering vocals, they had undeniable chemistry.
Check All The Bands From Battlefest 2013
– Review by Bag