Hypocrisy / Scar Symmetry / Blackguard Wreck Room, Toronto ON May 29

Hypocrisy / Scar Symmetry / Blackguard Wreck Room, Toronto ON May 29
Wandering inside Toronto's Wreck Room, you couldn't quite escape the bright sun streaming in around the windows and doors of the dark club. Starting shows at 5 p.m. is typical for the venue, but it still seemed too early to be hunkered down inside for an extreme metal show.

The audience was sparse and laid back for Blackguard's opening set, but the Montreal-based band did their best to rile people up. Live, they came off as even more energetic and fast-paced than on their recordings, and they pulled the material off well, putting in probably more effort than the room deserved.

A longish sound check filled the time before Scar Symmetry came onstage, and it took the Swedes a little while to turn a tight performance into something that really clicked. Despite the group's vocal harmonies and melodic hooks, their first few songs lacked conviction. But by the end of their set, their catchy riffs and singalong choruses (growled and sung clean) had turned things around, and they ended on a much more exultant note.

From the get-go, though, this night was all about Hypocrisy, and it was their appearance (after too much between-bands AC/DC) that made it all worthwhile. The sound was a little muddy near the stage, but the performance wasn't. The Swedish outfit played a range of songs, from classics like "Apocalypse" to tracks off last year's A Taste of Extreme Divinity, leaning more towards the fast and brutal with just a little of their doomier material for contrast.

Front-man Peter Tägtgren was his usual humorous self — recommending "Let the Knife Do the Talking" as date music, for example — so the music was heavier than the atmosphere. And it all came to a glorious close with encore "Roswell 47," still feeling like not enough but at least enough to tide us over till next time.