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HEATHEN, WARSENAL, INFRARED, BONDED BY STRENGTH In Ottawa, CA

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Wednesday, June 19, 2024 @ 8:46 AM


Bay Area Titans Celebrate Four Decades Of Reading From The Bible Black At The Rainbow Bistro

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And that was just choosing in between this milestone concert and a similar milestone birthday run with the OH3 which was taking place just steps away from the Brass Monkey on the other side of town that day. Usually, I'm missing runs because I'm reviewing a show out at the Brass Monkey on the same day. And suddenly the script is flipped, up is down, black is white, and dogs and cats are living together. Yet, with the Rainbow Bistro being in closer proximity and hosting another hard and heavy event, this was definitely the choice event to attend for any diehard thrash fan as the genre relishes life in its mid-40's.

Starting off the events would be Gatineau's BONDED BY STRENGTH who describe themselves as an all-thrash band but appear to have more hardcore-sounding influences in their music throughout their modestly-timed performance. They also appear to be a fairly new band on the local metal scene - 2019 appears to be when they formed with two EP's to their credit - as a quick online search of their history doesn't really yield much other than their FB profile. Still, the quintet's blend of old school thrash and modern groove metal drew a good reception from the crowd, so clearly their music and attitude both have the right amount of muscle. Now, if they can just build some of their strength on their exposure with more opening slots such as this one, BBS will be flexing their way into the big time soon.

https://www.facebook.com/bonded.by.strength

On the other hand, local thrashers INFRARED, in the past decade or so since they've made their bold return to the metal scene, currently have the type of mainstream exposure that most bands in their infancy desperately need. Yes, including the aforementioned BONDED BY STRENGTH. This is the third big headlining show that the quartet - Armin Kamal (vocals/guitar), Mike Forbes (bass), Alain Groulx (drums) and Kirk Gidley (guitars) - have warmed up a stage for within the past 12 months. Their last show was just over a month ago opening for ARTILLERY. By now, is there anything about INFRARED's history that hasn't been covered by now on any music news outlet or platform? With that said, the band switched the setlist up a bit since that last show. The opening track "Lockdown" still continues to be both a band and fan fave at live shows before "Social Science" and "Genocide Convention" further slap down the masses with their powerful full frontal heavy assault. With their two newest tracks, "Demon's Blood" and "Concuss", INFRARED are at their most musically and sonically darkest that they've ever sounded. And when they're at their most animated (not that they were ever any less than before), they deliver hundredfold on the closing number "All In Favor" with the audience participation's chanting on the last note always giving the number that extra boost. It'll be that same boost that will be just what they need to complete their follow-up to 2021's From The Black Swamp.

http://infraredmetal.ca/
https://www.facebook.com/infraredmetal
https://twitter.com/infraredmetal

Opening their set with the raw ferocity of "Doomed From Birth", Joliette, Quebec-based power thrashing trio WARSENAL stake their territory on the stage with their brand of prototype speed metal. They definitely sound the part of their references such as RAZOR and Killing Is My Business-era MEGADETH when they let loose on short and direct bangers such as "You Better Run" and "Dying On Stage". Yet when it comes to more broad-minded and slightly longer tracks such as "I Am The Blade" and "Forever Lost", the trio are sonically transcending beyond the regular perimeters of the current thrash/speed revival of the past two decades. Soft-spoken frontman/guitarist Mathieu Rondeau may be doing the work of two axemen, but he's ensuring that both his solos and rhythm work are co-habiting with each other on the tracks. The rhythm section comprised of bassist Jeffery Millaire and drummer Zack Osiris carry their fair share of the slack with their respected deep thick bass grooves and well-timed tubthumping. And overall and most importantly, WARSENAL keep things interesting and vibrant throughout their 45-minute set while challenging the audience as well as themselves. That's what's been keeping them active in the battlefield some 12 years and two studio albums into their career so far but with the drive to stockpile more ideas over time.

https://www.facebook.com/WarsenalOfficial
https://warsenal.bandcamp.com/album/feast-your-eyes
https://www.facebook.com/WarsenalOfficial/
https://x.com/warsenalband
https://www.instagram.com/warsenalband/

Four decades since their inception upon the burgeoning Bay Area thrash scene even while some of their more slightly successful contemporaries were about two albums into their own career just as their own debut EP was trading in and around the scene, HEATHEN remain to be a powerful force of a band to be reckoned with. Even with their best-known anthem being a thrashier cover of the lesser-known fast-paced SWEET classic "Set Me Free", which even some thrash metal historians will swear had single-handedly birthed the entire genre overnight in the mid-70's, HEATHEN's own place in the Bay Area scene alongside the likes of TESTAMENT, DARK ANGEL and VIO-LENCE is well-earned. But are they only well-known for that specific cover dating back to 1987's debut album Breaking The Silence even some 40 years onward? The endless rotation of band members throughout the pinnacle of their career certainly didn't help especially when 1991's Victims Of Deception was released. A crucial time when their contemporaries in METALLICA were getting big with The Black Album and grunge was getting even bigger, HEATHEN were delivering 7 and 8-minute long prog/thrash numbers such as "Opiate For The Masses" and "Hypnotized" from that same album. It even had a cover of RAINBOW's "Kill The King" as a closing number which was otherwise seen as unfashionable back when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was reigning over the airwaves. A bold endeavor nevertheless, but once Seattle reigned supreme in the music industry, HEATHEN were seen as just another unfortunate casualty of a paradigm shift in hard rock.

Thankfully, in 2024, even after a long hiatus (and some lineup changes), HEATHEN return to the stage as they celebrate their legacy with a brief segue from their other current co-headlining tour slot with SYMPHONY X to play some tour dates up north, including this headlining spot at the Rainbow. Opening with "Dying Season" from their comeback album The Evolution Of Chaos, the current incarnation of HEATHEN, comprised of its two core members Lee Altus (guitar) and David White (vocals), along with Kragen Lum (guitar), Jason Mirza (bass) and Ryan Idris (drums), take the audience on a good 90-minute trip through 40 years and four studio albums. Follow-up tracks "Opiate For The Masses" and "Breaking The Silence", despite clocking in at 7.5 and 5 minutes respectively, but the sheer velocity of the band bring these songs to faster breakneck levels. Their most recent album Empire Of The Blind was also well represented amongst the setlist that night as HEATHEN tore through such numbers as "Blood To Be Let", "Sun In My Hand" and the totally-sure-it's-about-COVID-19 thrashing rager "The Blight"; for sure, the impact of White chanting the "Angel of disease/We're dead inside/Infect us, feed on our appetite" lyrics were not lost at all on the crowd that night as the 5th anniversary of the discovery of the coronavirus is also looming, which made for Empire Of The Blind overall as the grim yet appropriate soundtrack of our time upon its release. Yet the crowd were far from dead inside or even anywhere close to being dormant as White prompts them for more older material - and does not disappoint as "Goblin's Blade" and "Hypnotized" close out HEATHEN's set with tales of mythical gatekeepers and corrupt polarizing religious leaders resonating throughout the gathering of punters.

Fast, 40 and back!

https://www.facebook.com/heathen.official/
https://www.instagram.com/heathenthrash/
https://x.com/heathenmetal
https://heathenthrash.bandcamp.com/

Setlist:

  • "Dying Season"
  • "Opiate Of The Masses"
  • "Breaking The Silence"
  • "Blood To Be Let"
  • "Controlled By Chaos"
  • "Mercy Is No Virtue"
  • "Sun In My Hand"
  • "Death By Hanging"
  • "The Blight"
  • "Goblin's Blade"
  • "Hypnotized"


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