Beneath the Massacre / Nephelium / Starring Janet Leigh / Senate The Casbah, Hamilton ON January 9

A Wednesday night in early January is not exactly ideal timing for a metal show in the Hammer, but this proved to be much better than anticipated. Having impressed many with their Great Northern Scenekill debut, locals Senate have become an even more formidable live unit since the addition of ace bassist Colin Lernell. Despite not practicing together for nearly three months, the quintet definitely won over the crowd with their Swedish death metal style. Toronto tech-core quintet Starring Janet Leigh had a tougher time. While their MySpace page shows an abundance of great ideas, the translation to the stage isn't quite there yet, though vocalist Matt Nimmo’s vocal range was definitely impressive. Toronto’s Nephelium made their Hamilton debut next, but unfortunately due to an incredibly long set-up and an overzealous sound guy, they played to about half the audience they should have. About four songs in, vocalist Boyan Guerdjikov asked where everybody went, and had he been standing in the crowd, he’d have realised they were all outside trying to save their hearing for the headliners. It was an unfortunate oversight since the band did a smashing job playing primal death metal reminiscent of both Suffocation and Decapitated. It is amazing what a year has done for the musical maturation of Montreal’s Beneath the Massacre. In 2006, they were an admirable, if somewhat tepid band that didn't have the chops to pull off their studio material onstage, but fast-forward 14 months and that same band have turned into a ferocious beast, able to hold their own with the most technical metal bands around. Concentrating on their Mechanics of Dysfunction full-length, the quartet ripped through a blistering set that proved they are on their way up. Vocalist Elliot Desgagnes has turned into an excellent front-man and the band were razor-sharp throughout. The last year on the road has served them well; don’t miss them live if you have the chance.