Villainizer / Black Pestilence / Vile Insignia / Arsenal / Hellborn Death Engines
 Dickens Pub, Calgary AB, May 30

Villainizer / Black Pestilence / Vile Insignia / Arsenal / Hellborn Death Engines
 Dickens Pub, Calgary AB, May 30
Photo: Sarah Kitteringham
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Metal is at an interesting crossroads in our hyper socio-politically aware and correct era. While the recent Inquisition controversy resulted in numerous debates and articles on social media and blogs, drawing many lines in the sand, it was pointed out by many that metal IS supposed to be dangerous, while many more rejected that outright and were outraged. This duality is played with and lambasted to great extent by Edmonton thrash metal act Villainizer, who performed in Calgary at Dickens Pub for their split release party with extreme metal act Black Pestilence. The release was the 12-inch Dunerunner/Cyber Disarray split, a four-track release featuring covers.



 A self-proclaimed "terrorist metal" band that performs with black balaclavas, belly dancers, and bomb props wrapped around their front man's microphone, Villainizer know how to piss you off. This is a band that proudly proclaims they are under a "no fly" restriction from the Government of Canada, playing tracks like "I Bomb New York," "Twin Tower Two-step," and "Jewish Necromancer." Simultaneously, they proclaim their love for '80s thrash, the genre from which they borrow heavily and to which they musically pay homage. Their t-shirts are emblazoned with "Speak Arab or Die," borrowed from Stormtroopers of Death's hugely controversial Speak English or Die (1985); their Reign in Terror record conjures Slayer's Reign in Blood (1986).

Opening the evening were Calgary acts Hellborn Death Engines, a thrash metal amalgamation that worships video games, along with the similarly thrash-y Arsenal. The event became blurry, as beer was free flowing and the show was packed; once extreme metallers Vile Insignia hit the stage, it was a free-for-all. Eight guys and gals stood front row center, whipping their necks in furious unison as the band played their intense blackened death metal. Guttural screams accompanied the set, which ended with the welcome news that the band will release their upcoming album Bestial Invocation via Xnihilo Records.

The evening's highlight was black punk trio Black Pestilence, who've made the rounds in Calgary since 2008. Ferocious and tight, their act is anchored by vocalist and instrumentalist Valax. They delivered a characteristically tight performance, clad in black, mouth covering masks, triggering a violent mosh pit.

Belly dancers and balaclavas made an appearance for the opening track of Villainizer's set. Eventually, they were released from duty and the band got down to what they do best: playing thrash. Shtick aside, the band is incredibly hard working and unbelievably tight. It seems the gimmick is unnecessary, given their talents and work ethic. They were clearly baiting the crowd to great effect, though some attendees became violent. Front row centre was not the ideal place to be last night, as the burns on my elbows and bruises on my knees and stomach can attest. As the venue emptied post set, one thing was clear: the thrash metal scene is alive and well in Alberta.