Heavy MTL Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal QC June 21 to 22

Heavy MTL Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal QC June 21 to 22
Kicking off with local favourites Unexpect (pictured) as openers is a smart move by festival organisers, ensuring a large crowd from the start. The septet have come along way in the past year since releasing In A Flesh Aquarium, becoming a terrific live band through constant touring. Lauren Harris was only on this bill because of her association with the headliners (Maiden’s Steve Harris is her father). She started great with a cover of UFO’s "Natural Thing,” but her own songs were far less spectacular. Thankfully, New Jersey thrash veterans Overkill brought their A-game; vocalist Bobby Ellsworth owned the stage and led the troops through killer versions of "Elimination” and "Wrecking Crew.” In comparison, 3 Inches of Blood, Symphony X and Hatebreed were merely okay. Hammerfall spent half of their set bitching about getting their time cut from 45 to 30 minutes, which left them with only 15 minutes to actually play. Mastodon never took the time to even say hello, instead using every second to whip off riff after riff and go down as one of day one’s big winners. Type O Negative’s Peter Steele could learn a few things from them: his self-deprecating humour had fans lining up by the droves at the concession stands. His group also had the worst sound of the day. Dethklok followed with the biggest crowd response outside of the headliners, demonstrating they’re clearly most popular with the under-20 crowd. The day however clearly belonged to Iron Maiden, who had the 25,000 strong in attendance singing and dancing along to every song in a way that could only happen in Quebec (bless those French metal heads!). Day two was much more hard rock than metal but a few bands stood out. Priestess were Sunday’s first great band, as their stoner-friendly rock came across much better live than on disc. They mad crap like Warrant and Drowning Pool even worse than expected. Shadows Fall turned in a decent enough performance but seemed lost on stage — probably because they knew they were right before the weekend’s most anticipated set. Voivod’s first show in five years was a moving moment for all. With fallen guitarist Piggy’s signature axe centre stage, they played songs from all albums up to and including Angel Rat and absolutely killed. Martyr guitarist Dan Mongrain is one of a few that could actually fills Piggy’s shoes and did so with style and class, honouring his mentor, while vocalist Snake held Piggy’s guitar up high during the set closing "Astronomy Domine.” Anthrax made a valiant effort to try and follow the highlight of the weekend, but their first Canadian show with new vocalist Dan Nelson missed the mark. As I traveled back westward after it finished, I couldn’t help but think that this was exactly the kind of metal fest Canada needs.