Now in its ninth year, Heavy Montréal festival took place on Saturday, July 28th and 29th, 2018, at Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal. After a one-year break, Heavy Montréal (presented by Black Label) returned in fine form. Renovations on the Parc Jean Drapeau islands had the festival located in another portion of the site this year, occupying space adjacent to the Grand Prix racetrack.
Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, and Marilyn Manson topped the bill, with Limp Bizkit stepping in at the last minute for the initially announced headliner Avenged Sevenfold, whose lead singer M. Shadows fell ill. Limp Bizkit vocalist Fred Durst quipped his apologies for being the only band Heavy Montreal could afford to fill in for Avenged Sevenfold before delivering an amazing live performance filled with Bizkit classics and some epic cover versions. Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of” was incredible.
The rest of the lineup was rounded out by acts like Gojira, Emperor, Underoath, Hollywood Undead, Trivium, Sleep, Asking Alexandria, Alestorm, Power Trip, Lee Aaron, I Prevail, Baroness, Voivod, Between the Buried and Me, Born Of Osiris, Nile, Witchcraft, Pallbearer, Voivod, Red Fang, Jinjer, Tech N9ne, Napalm Death, Black Dahlia Murder, Eyehategod, Igorrr, Gloryhammer, Helix, Perturbator, Blind Witness, the Agonist, Havok, Ultra Vomit, Bad Omens, Intervals, Get the Shot, Khemmis, amongst others. Over 50 bands were spread out over the two-day festivities, drawing in more than 27,000 fans.
Black band t-shirts, denim, and long hair were abundant as fans exited the subway and made their way towards Parc Jean-Drapeau on both days. Fans were at the gates before noon awaiting entry - many even brought their children along with the festival promoters offering a Kids Zone to hang out in. PureGrainAudio was in attendance at Heavy Montreal once again. We came, we saw, we photographed and here are ten things we learned this year.
Check out this HEAVY MONTRÉAL recap video from 2016.
01.Nobody does it like Rob Zombie.
- No stranger to the Heavy Montreal line-up, Rob Zombie once again demonstrated what a rock show is all about. Zombie, John 5, Piggy D. and Ginger Fish blew eardrums and minds for a ninety-minute performance that all but erased the microburst thunderstorm that washed over the festival less than an hour beforehand. Highlights from Zombie’s performance featured “Meet The Creeper,” “Superbeast,” “More Human Than Human,” “Thunder Kiss ‘65,” “School’s Out,” “God of Thunder” and “Helter Skelter” which was performed with Marilyn Manson. Inflatable Martians, dancing 20-foot-high robots and freakshow make-up go hand in hand with a Zombie performance, and he brought it all along for the ride at Heavy Montreal.
02.Women ruled at 2018 Heavy Montreal.
- Lee Aaron and Jinjer totally kicked ass on Saturday, and The Agonist did precisely the same thing on Sunday, showcasing some utterly dynamite female-fronted metal at various stages in their respective careers. Lee Aaron, the undisputed queen of metal, has just released a new album of blues-infused rock anthems entitled Diamond Baby Blues. Aaron is decades into her career now - and she is aging like a fine wine. Currently touring with Sean Kelly on guitars, Dave Reimer on bass and John Cody on drums, Aaron has never sounded better, a fact she easily proved on Saturday.
Going on at the same time as Marilyn Manson, Jinjer pulled out all the stops for their 8pm performance. Tatiana Shmailyuk, Roman Ibramkhalilov, Eugene Abdiukhanov, Vladislav Ulasevich blew everyone’s minds as the band worked their way through some of the ultra-heavy material on King of Everything and the recently re-issued Cloud Factory album. Even with the rain cutting her set short, Tatiana Shmailyuk dominated the audience with the allotment of time the band had to deliver their aural payload.
When Home-town heroes The Agonist took the stage at 4pm, there were so many people in front of the stage it was hard to find a decent vantage point. Danny Marino, Chris Kells, Pascal Jobin, Simon McKay and Vicky Psarakis pummelled the audience with an intense set of their finest material as a sea of crowd surfers spilled atop of the crowd and swam their way towards the stage. A was a beautiful thing to behold.
Check out Mike Bax’s full photo gallery of Day 1 of Heavy Montreal 2018.
03.Power Trip is insanely good.
- I have been itching to see this Dallas TX quintet for a while now, and Sunday at 2:45 proved to finally be my moment. Taking the Stage du Forêt at 2:40pm, Riley Gale, Blake “Rossover” Ibanez, Chris Ulsh, Nick Stewart and Chris Whetzel dominated the ears and minds of everyone in attendance with their insanely tight material. Power Trip’s sound is nestled somewhere in between what is widely regarded as the finest Slayer material along with a healthy dose of Cro-Mags. It was a perfect 45-minutes live set, and I found it hard to tell who was enjoying it more, the band or their fans.
04.Alestorm knows how to throw a party.
- Late Saturday afternoon it was a melange of musicians in kilts; A giant rubber ducky (adjacent to the drummer); Keytars and sing along songs filled with profanity and humorous lyrics as the attendees in front of the stage flailed themselves atop of the audience and over the security rail. Many Alestorm fans dressed up for their performance, adorned in pirate hats, pantaloons and puffy shirts.
Christopher Bowes, Gareth Murdock, Peter Alcorn, Elliot Vernon and Máté Bodor were laughing out loud as they performed as they watched the enraptured audience spill some of the festivals most colourful attendees into the security pit separating the stage from the audience. People dressed up as stuffed animals, and Deadpool crowd surfed their way to the band repeatedly. Somebody brought in a giant plush parrot and launched it into the crowd - so it could be tossed about like a balloon as the band performed. I doubt I’d listen to the band’s albums on repeat, but I thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment value of their set - it was a blast.
05.Emperor (and their fans) rule.
- In the minutes leading up to Emperor‘s performance, a microburst thunderstorm opened up and dumped all over the fans at Heavy Montreal. It‘s been 19 years since Emperor have performed over here, and their performance was a draw for numerous fans, many of whom flew great distances specifically to see Emperor perform. A true testament to their stamina, hardly any of the fans left from the audience in front of the stage as all of the gear was quickly covered with plastic sheeting. Instead, the band‘s name could be heard chanted overtop of the din of the storm for its entirety.
The rain stopped, the stage was cleared off, and Ihsahn, Samoth, and Trym took the stage to a hail of cheering from the crowd. Ihsahn joked that the rain was appropriate given how long it had taken them to come back to Montreal, told them they might have to play a slightly shorter set and got right to business, performing their 1997 album Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk in entirety to an enraptured crowd of fans.
06.Gojira raged at Heavy MTL like a 50-foot monster.
- Christian Andreu, Joe Duplantier, Mario Duplantier and Jean-Michel Labadie left it all on stage as they performed their lengthy set of material. For many attendees, Gojira was the headlining performance of the final day of Heavy Montreal, the late addition of Limp Bizkit not sitting well on their tongues. And with that vibe in the air, Gojira brought a full-on stage performance to the Stage De L’Apocalypse, complete with concussions, Pyro and compressed blasts of hissing air that flew up and over the audience at the front of the stage.
Early into the performance, the band worked their way through “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe,” “Love,” “Stranded,” “Flying Whales,” and “The Cell” building the energy in front of the stage to a fever pitch. High fives to the security crew - they worked it pretty hard for that entire set - the crowd surfing during Gojira was utterly insane. Gojira was one of the showpiece performances of the whole weekend.
Check out Mike Bax’s full photo gallery of Day 2 of Heavy Montreal 2018.
07.Witchcraft cast a magical spell.
- The brainchild of Magnus Pelander, Witchcraft is a Swedish psychedelic-doom band that very seldom tours over here in North America. Finally getting the chance to see them perform live was one of the bigger draws of Heavy Montreal 2018 for me. With their last two albums on Nuclear Blast (Legend 2012 and Nucleus 2016) interest in the band is slowly growing on this side of the pond.
I’m going to assume Tobias Anger (bass) and Rage Widerberg (drums) were in attendance, but I’m honestly not sure, Pelander seems to have no time for social feeds or putting any line-up information out there. The guys he performed with were tight - the material from Legend and Nucleus sounded insanely good live, and I count my blessings I was able to see the performance as I honestly have no idea if Witchcraft will ever be back here. “Deconstruction,” “It’s Not Because of You,” “The Alchemist,” and “Democracy” were some of the highlights from Witchcraft’s Montreal performance.
08.The smallest stage can have the biggest draw.
- The “small” stage this weekend was the Stage du Jardin, but it was by no means the stage to ignore over the weekend. The Agonist, Havok, and Jinjer all performed on the Stage du Jardin, and not only were they were three of the best performances of the weekend, but they were also three of the best attended. As I was walking to see The Agonist, I thought there was a massive line-up to view the merchandise adjacent to the stage. It turned out to be a spillover of fans trying to get close to the Stage du Jardin to see The Agonist perform. It felt like a good majority of the festival audience had walked over to watch The Agonist.
Jinjer was up against Marilyn Manson and Between the Buried and Me when they played, and they still managed to pull a sizeable crowd. Havok went on against Sleep and Asking Alexandria, and drew a good chunk of the audience over to their set, many of them lured over as one of the guitarists flawlessly sound-checked the riff to “Cowboys From Hell” shortly before they started playing. Anything can happen on any stage at Heavy Montreal, a festival known mainly for booking great talent and spreading them out over all stages.
Fan footage of Limp Bizkit performing “Break Stuff” at Heavy MTL 2018.
09.Sweet dreams are made of Sleep.
- The 4:50pm Sunday return of Sleep to Montreal was a thing of lumbering beauty to behold. Earlier this year Al Cisneros, Matt Pike, and Jason Roeder released their first new Sleep music in 19 years on Third Man Records. As of right now, The Sciences is on top of my list for album of the year, and hearing these three gods of stonery bliss-music delve into some of these new songs along with some older nuggets was a dream come true.
Matt Pike stood shirtless in front of a stack of amplifiers that towered higher than Jason Roeder’s drum kit. Al Cisneros deadly bass riffs are a complete contrast when compared to the gentle giant of a man plucking out the notes. Cisneros moved about his side of the stage very slowly as he picked out the backbone to everything the band performed this afternoon. While the look on his face hardly altered during the band's performance, if you were up close enough you could see the hint of a smile grace his face a couple of times.
10.It’s more than just a music festival.
- In addition to the diverse line-up of musicians offered at Heavy Montreal, fans could partake in the YUL EAT Gardens: four iconic Montreal restaurants (Kampai Garden, Lavanderia, Foodchain and Grumman ‘78) each adorned with their own décor and a large terrace, offering their most popular dishes from their regular menu. Good food options made for a great way to refuel before leaping back into the pit again!
This 9th Heavy Montreal edition also brought back Heavy Mania for the 5th consecutive year! Set up adjacent to the Stage du Forêt, Heavy Mania’s two days of wrestling matches featured Quebec professional wrestlers who faced each other during epic fights. New this year: a simple elimination tournament during the whole festival, which had eight men competing to become the very first Heavy Mania champion! To allow festivalgoers to safely enjoy the event, the Hirondelles once again flew over the festival site this year.
As a reminder, the Hirondelles are intervention teams with the mission of increasing the safety of women and vulnerable persons. To be as eco-friendly as possible, festival organizers made sure to provide many water taps throughout the site where fans could refill their water canisters. With the weather being as hot is it was over the weekend, water cannons regularly sprayed down the audience close to the stages.