Beasts of the East

By Jay Rollins

Canada’s east cost is a breeding ground for quality heavy tunes and not just the power metal you find everywhere. The further you travel, past Montreal, Quebec City, Moncton, Saint John, Halifax, and Sydney, the deeper into the essence of metal you go. A scene unaffected by trends of the underground or mainstream, where artists are pissed off regarding the state of the world and use music to express their contempt. People are passionate about what they play and are unwavering as to where they stand musically. That’s not to say they will not evolve or change, it is just on their terms when, and how they do. In Newfoundland that music has thrived through folk traditions for generations, embedding musical proficiency into their DNA. Various subgenres of metal have been infecting St. John’s streets for decades but the current batch of artists are just too loud to contain:

Winterhearth

The ever popular relentless three-piece that will leave your neck sore and aching for more. With a gust of fury and unexpected time signatures Winterhearth demands your immediate attention. Raspy gutturals tell tales of seventeenth century women burned alive due to their own kin, hauntings by tormented souls, and other warnings of the occult. Andrew’s menacing snarl underpins his disgust with society, as the music entices its victims into the pit. Straight off the heels of their popular debut Curse the Summer (2015), Winterhearth are now back in the studio finishing up the musical leviathan that Resettlement promises to be. Check out the album’s first release “Cultural Genocide” and observe as the beast is birthed.

The Combine

The Combine are carrying on the tradition of storytelling through music in a way reminiscent of old Newfoundland songs melded with progressive metal. Their debut album, Witness, kept me fervent for more. Each song is a journey, the music sets the scene and Taylor’s vocals guide through peaks while Chris’s violate through the valleys of this new realm. If Pink Floyd and In Flames had a bastard child, what would crawl through the psychedelic birth canal is The Combine. Every show captivates the crowd, taking them on a journey as if they were strangers on a vessel traveling treacherous water. The band aims to “fulfill both your basic human needs and the secret dark fantasies you don't want anyone to know about.” They soon plan to release their sophomore album and fans anticipate an upcoming tour.

Devastator

Often cited as Newfoundland’s longest running metal act, Devastator set an early tone of tantalizing thrash before plunging toward even heavier styles. 2008’s Strange Wasteland attained repute particularly for their dedication to the late Dimebag Darrel titled “Cowboy”. Their second release, Fragile Messiah (2013), gained international attention with their cover of Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry”. Constant crowd favourites, home and away, who somehow always manage to deliver something fresh but indisputably their own brand of metal. After being forced to take a short break due to illness, the scene is once again buzzing about Devastator and the potential of a new album. Horns up and fingers crossed!

Deadgaard

A pioneer in taking heavy metal to the level of intensity that is now beloved in St. John’s. From vocals to the music Deadgaard turned everything up and destroyed the notion that local music for some reason had to have limits. These local legends rocked the metal scene for six years as Weapon, releasing The Forging, before changing over to the moniker Deadgaard. Then Sanctity of Death was dropped on fans who were delighted to indulge in new tracks like “Within the Storm” and “Dead Society”. Meaty riffs and a driving rhythm section solidified the reputation that they unconditionally deliver the goods fans expect every time.

Jay Rollins