Sunday, 24 January 2016

Magic Circle, Cauchemar & Starlight Ritual @Katacombes in Montréal, January 22nd 2016

For my first gig of 2016, I couldn't ask for a better opportunity to go out in the harsh coldness of Québec's winter. We were served the cream of Montréal's up and coming trad metal scene and the best doom the American east coast has produced in ages.

*All shitty pictures by yours truly*

Poster by Annick Giroux
Starlight Ritual is a newcomer to Québec's metal scene and this was I believe their third gig ever (I saw their first one as part of the Grimposium festival when they opened for California's Cardinal Wyrm) and they were once again impressive. The quarter composed of inexperienced but super impressive guys except for J-F Bertrand widely known for being a member of black metallers Forteresse are bringing metal back to its roots. Fronted by Damian, heavily inspired by Dio is a force to be reckoned with on stage and managed to impress the jam-packed crowd (gigs on Fridays are always awesome) and also the dudes of Magic Circle. Their songs are mostly long numbers with rich and loud guitars, thick bass lines and a bunch of influences ranging from Rainbow to epic doom metal and it's marvelous. Their debut EP was all kind of cool (check my review : HERE) and they're currently working on a new one, the track they played they played from it was superb and I'm excited to hear their new stuff. It's quite a travesty that they're still an independant/unsigned band, they're the real deal, a real metal band for real fans of the genre. They made the stage their bitch and make you feel like you're seeing a band in a really small stadium since their music is so ballsy and timeless.

Starlight Ritual on Facebook

Cauchemar is perhaps my favorite local band, the occult doom quartet is so entertaining and I was surprised that even if I saw them so many times (including their first gig ever when they opened for Vulcain), I've never actually wrote a live review for one of their gigs Well, here it is! It was their first gig with their new drummer Xavier Berthiaume (who's usually playing black metal) and he rocked the drumset like a bald madman. Cauchemar are very freaking tight live, the Gibson of Francois Patry is heavy and never misses a note, this dude's rhythm skills are impressive and Andrés Arango's bass playing is simply technically great. Annick Giroux is always super charismatic on stage and her presence overshadows her lack of range compared to the two other singers showcased tonight. I always liked the spooky fun feel Cauchemar, their French lyrics are intelligent and well written, it's cool to have your favorite style of metal sung in your mother tongue.

They played a strong set composed of many old tracks from their debut EP “La Vierge Noire” like the bloody “Magie rouge” or “Les ailes de la mort” or the sombre “Le voile d'Isis” but also some tracks from their excellent debut full length (review of Tenebrario: HERE) like “Le fantôme” or “L'appel”. The main appeal of their gig for me was the new songs from their upcoming yet untitled full length due for later this year. Songs like “La vallée des rois” or “Sepolta Viva” were great numbers and I'm excited for their new album. Their doom metal is fast paced and keeps things short and precise like Pentagram often do, their riffs are solid and their short leads awesome. It's just groovy, well played traditional metal and it's a joy to see live, I've seen them more than six times and I'm looking forward to their future performances. They're about to leave for a short Mexican tour/trip with Metalian (local heavy metal heroes, they share their bassist with 'em) and Voltax (who played Wings of Metal III this summer), Cauchemar would go well with tacos and cold Dos Equis!

Magic Circle is no less than the best doom metal in America right now. Their debut self titled album was a masterpiece and my discovery of 2013. When they were announced as part of the first Wings of Metal festival already 3 years ago (also at the Katacombes), I was astonished and ecstatic. Their set didn't disappoint and they were even better tonight.

I'm quite grateful that the band actually that the band who doesn't play a lot of gigs picked Montréal, I know Brendan Radigan (vocals) really like the city so this might have something with this. I'm selflessly happy since they're one of my favorite bands right now. Strong from the release of their second album, the excellent
Journey Blind released on 20 Buck Spin, Magic Circle absolutely crushed with a tight and superb set encompassing their two full lengths. We were served 5 of the 7 tracks from the new one, they opened with “The Damned Man”, played “Ghosts of the Southern Front”, the title track (my pick for “best moment of the night”) and they finished the set with the speedy “Lightning Cage”. The 3 tracks from the debut were also most welcomed, “Scream Evil”, “Magic Circle” and my personal favorite “Rapture” were all very good. While all playing in many different bands (including death metal like Innumerable Forms or hardcore like Mind Eraser, the musicians are truly compelling and really know their shit concerning traditional heavy/doom metal. They're not trendhoppers!

The quintet from Massachusetts is one of those “complete” bands who does everything right. From the twin guitars of Corry and Ducas trading thundering riffs and juicy leads to the punk fueled drumming of Q (James Bond fan?), it's pure bliss from start to finish. Heavily inspired by the heydays of NWOBHM (huge Witchfinder General and Pagan Altar influences) but also the pure energy of traditional doom of the faster and crunchier kind, Magic Circle is exactly the kind of band I want in my life. Watching Radigan on stage is simply amazing, this dude rips and he's one of the best clean singer around. There's no reasons to waste your time and money to see Black Sabbath when you can see these guys for the price of a beer at one of those big arenas while Ozzy destroys his legacy on stage. If only Radigan and the boys could play some Stone Dagger live, I'd probably die... I've heard that they're working on a full length for this heavy metal project and I can't wait to hear this.

Even if their set was a bit on the short side (I don't mind since this allowed me to see all of it and take the metro to go back home), their set was excellent, the musicianship was top notch and the crowd was really into 'em. Great evening.
Magic Circle's official website

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