Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – M is for Much More Metal

CamThe last place I imagined being in last Thursday night was at the Kool Haus along with about 2,500 guys who looked like they were at a casting call for Sons of Anarchy Season 7. The event was a Slayer concert.

A have a few out of town friends and we have a rule that if they are coming to Toronto, or if you are visiting their town, an email or text must be sent advising of said visit. It is by no means mandatory to spend time together but more of a “heads up going to be in your town, would love to have a pint but no obligation, and, didn’t want you to hear I was in town and didn’t reach out”. More often than not you find time in your schedule for said pint and a wee bit of a catch-up.

Mike CampbellEvery November I receive a text from Mike Campbell (Halifax) and Stephane Drolet (Montreal) saying they are incoming. Many years ago I was the chairman of the Juno Rock Committee. Every year a jury is put together from known rockers from coast-to-coast to go over the nominations in the category for that year. The meeting takes place at the CARAS office in downtown Toronto and out of town members of the committee are flown-in and put up for the night. When I was chair I revised the jury and added Mike and Stephane. Mike is the owner of one of the greatest musical rooms in this country The Carleton in Halifax and a well-known rock’n’roll aficionado. For years he was the co-host of “Mike & Mike’s Excellent The CarletonX-Canada Adventures” on MuchMusic and then hosted “Going Costal” on MuchMusic which showcased the music of the east coast. After leaving Much, Mike opened The Carleton. A music lover’s room it is best described as more of a Hugh’s Room but with more of a bar vibe (although the kitchen is most excellent). Stephane is a rocker from Montreal who I worked with for years at BMG Records. He now is with Sony in Quebec and the best promo guy that province has ever seen. I last saw Steph in September when he asked if I wanted to go and see Black Sabbath with him as he had hooked-up great seats and backstage passes and knew that I was a fan. The last time I saw Mr. Campbell was when I helped out with his annual Delta Hotels Music Nova Scotia party Foos Musique Plusat the Rivoli back in March during Canadian Music Week. Our plan was to meet at The Horseshoe at 6 PM for pints and to see where the evening would take us. Around 4 PM I received a text from Stephane (Front row, right, with the Foo Fighters) asking if I wanted to go and see Slayer with him as he had arranged passes from his pal who was road managing the French opening act Gojira. I said sure as I had never seen them and knew that he was a fan. I gave Mike a head’s up that Steph and I were heading to the show but that we still had time for pints.

I had no worries about Mike filling his dance card for the rest of the night as he lived in Toronto for many a year and he knows pretty well everyone in the music and bar industry. We had a quick catch-up and were joined by my son Kyle who lives around the corner from The Shoe and has known Mike and Steph for most of his life. After a few it was over to the Kool Haus.

I really don’t know that much about Slayer. I know they are heavy, I have “Reign of Blood” on my iPod and I know that Tom Araya is their main dude. I know that fans are excited about this show as they are sticking to their first four albums and were billed as “Old School Slayer Night Tour”. It would also be the first time for folks in Toronto to see the band since the passing of original guitarist Jeff Hanneman.

GojiraWe arrived to the packed venue just as Gojira stepped on stage. I knew nothing about the band but was impressed by their aggressive attack and their early Metallica sound. The crowd seemed to know both them and their material and they went over quite well. We popped backstage after their set and had a beer with the boys as we discussed everything from France winning their World Cup playoff game to Jean-Michel Labadie’s use of a Fender bass which you don’t often see at a thrash metal show. Very nice guys and one to keep an eye on in the metal world.

SlayerBack out in the hall it was all about Slayer and they played their classics and horns were raised. Most of the stuff I didn’t recognize but it was pretty apparent these guys were total pros and ultimate road warriors. It was interesting to see how much merch both bands had and it was pretty obvious this is where a good chunk of their touring revenue was coming from. On top of the tees, hoodies and hats Slayer had a good collection of signed drum heads that were going for a pretty penny. It was an interesting night and I’m glad I got the chance to catch both bands.

Metal on IceSpeaking of metal hats off to local guitarist Sean Kelly on his new book “Metal on Ice – Tales From Canada’s Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Heroes”. The book checks in with members of Helix, Anvil, Coney Hatch, Lee Aaron,  Killer Dwarves, Harem Scarem and Honeymoon Suite (pretty much the clientele of the late great “Rock’n’Roll Heaven” in Toronto. I am looking forward to reading the book and listening to the 7 song CD which was just recorded and is now available on iTunes. Although he is currently playing guitar with Nelly Furtado, Sean has shredded with almost everyone in the business.

Good luck to my buddy Alex this weekend as he will be getting some new heavy metal in his knee. His matching scars will be much more balanced next season on the lawn bowling greens.

Here’s some classic Canadian metal for your weekend

Triumph – “Lay It On The Line”

Goddo – “Tough Times/Cock On!”

Rush – “Bastille Day”

Voivod – “Target Earth”

Max Webster & Rush – “Battlescar”

Annihilator – “Alison Hell”

Helix – “Rock You”

Coney Hatch – “Monkey Bars”

Lee Aaron – “Metal Queen”

The Heelwalkers – “El Camino”


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Cam’s column appears every Thursday

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar and Bovine. Time is running out to hit the patio so the sooner the better. If it is cold or rainy plant yourself at The Rock Lobster Food Co. in the former home of the late great Shanghai Cowgirl. 

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DBAWIS_ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

One Response to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – M is for Much More Metal”

  1. EditButler Says:

    Not sure I’d include Triumph and Max W in metal genre; more hard rock. Then again, guess I’m comfy w/Coney Hatch there, so who am I to argue?

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