Ashes Divide / The Monarchy Le National, Montreal QC July 13

The show opened with Montreal's the Monarchy, a local rock'n'roll act featuring ex-members of Slaves on Dope. Maybe not re-inventing the genre, the Monarchy had a solid '90s alternative vibe that translated well with the audience. Looking like Mick Jagger but with a set of pipes like Jim Morrison, lead vocalist Denton kept his audience connected.

Unfortunately, being associated with heavyweights like Tool and A Perfect Circle did not do much for the turnout at Ashes Divide's first Montreal show. A cryptic message on their MySpace page prior to the show read that the band felt the Quebec gig was not being properly promoted and urged fans to do their best to help bring people to the show. Touring basically on the strength of one massive modern rock radio hit, Ashes Divide were a hard sell. This is unfortunate because Ashes Divide are actually much better than one might assume by their spot on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution Tour this year.

Dark and heavy, Ashes Divide avoid clichés and create melody driven goth rock. Heavy at the same time as it is pretty sounding, comparisons to darker Smashing Pumpkins or poppier Nine Inch Nails are obvious. Front-man and creative conductor Billy Howerdel is ironically very Maynard James Keenan-esque, with his bald head, slim silhouette and soaring vocals drenched in echo. He evidently picked the best of the best to form his live band, the four musicians were fun to watch and very versatile.

The stage was jam packed with gear, with a horde of synths and guitars vast enough to captivate any music geek. Since the band had only one album's worth of material, they threw in a creative cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" to fill out their short set.