I love discovering new bands at concerts. For me, it’s the perfect do or die situation. You either become a fan for life or you move on to the next contestant. When I received the opportunity to cover the ‘Deadly Ripping’ Tour (as part of Heavy En Ville) featuring Bewitcher, Striker and Holy Grail I couldn’t have been happier. Three bands I was not familiar with but that all fell into one my favourite kind of music: old school metal. I even had the chance to meet up with Striker’s drummer Adam Brown to discuss the tour, the fact that they released three albums in three years and what is coming next for them. So how was the concert you ask? Intense, expertly performed and extremely fun. Let’s dive in into it.
Bewitcher had the task to open the night and prepare the crowd for what would be almost four hours of shredding, high energy metal. They played to a smaller crowd, but one that greeted them with great enthusiasm. Heads were banging and metal horns were pointed towards the sky. Their blend of speed and black metal is quite unique and frontman Mateo Von Bewitcher delivered the lyrics with an energy that is quite spectacular. You could have sworn they were the headlining band. Make sure to check them out.
Up next was Edmonton based Striker. If you never had the chance to listen to them, I would highly recommend their latest album ‘Play to Live’. The album is packed with metal anthems that bring back memories of Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Judas Priest at their peak. The Turbo Haus was quite packed and you could feel the tension in the air. They opened up with ‘Heart of Lies’ and the crowd went nuts. You could see that everybody was impressed with their performance. A particular thing about Striker is the fact that they now have four vocalists in the band, something that became quite apparent during the choruses. It’s quite refreshing to hear real voices instead of the usual playback tracks. The guitar solos were also quite amazing, my favourite one being the solo to a track called ‘Front’. This song was a true highlight of the night for me: it has a great sing along chorus but the minute-long solo is also masterfully performed by both guitarists. Vocally, lead singer Dan Cleary was simply perfect. He didn’t lose breath a single time and he hit all the high notes. New bassist Pete Klassen is also great. In fact, you can see that the whole band is having a lot of fun and their relationship with the crowd got better because of it. It was quite a surprise to hear Cleary announce that this would be Adam Brown’s last tour with Striker. You could see that the band would dearly be missing their friend. In the end, their performance was memorable and epic. You simply need to see them live.
It was finally time for headliner Holy Grail to take the stage. While their look differed greatly from Striker, you could hear why the two bands had been paired together. Crazy shredding, high pitch vocals and unstoppable melodies that just beg to be performed live. They played songs from their entire catalog with a strong bias towards their latest album ‘Times of Pride and Peril’. Sadly, the sound quality was not perfect. Vocalist James Paul Luna was too low in the mix and you could barely hear him at some point. However, this was not due to the band performance at all. They played every song perfectly and with an incredible energy. During a particular high pitch scream, you could hear Luna over the speakers showing just how strong his voice really is. During their encore, they played a cover of Pantera’s ‘Hard Ride’ that was welcomed with a big reaction from the crowd. But it’s the song “My Last Attack’ that got the biggest reaction from everyone. This one has classic written all over it. By the time that they completed their set, everybody present was now a fan and were literally chanting for more. This was truly an amazing night.
Interview with Adam Brown of Striker
How has the tour been going?
The tour has been good, it has been busy. We’ve been on the road for a long time. It almost been like 3 months right now. It’s kind of all blurring in together and, where am I? We take one day at a time. Phoenix was really good for us. We started there and it was our first show with Holy Grail. Brooklyn, that was also a super awesome show. We were just on tour with Steel Panther too. All these shows were highlights of our career.
Were you friends with Holy Grail before?
We’ve known each other for a long time. We played a festival called Arm Strong Open Air in like 2014, and it was one of the last time we’ve seen each other. We were all a little younger and wilder back then. I’ve also seen them when they came to town.
You released three albums in three years! How do you make sure that each album stands on its own?
It’s an accomplishment and I think each one got better so that’s a great sign. We are already kind of talking about the next one. I don’t think 2019 will see one but definitely possible in 2020. We always got to do something. If we are not on the road, it’s like why not. Dan does a lot of the writing and Tim does a lot as well. There’s a lot of creative energy and we love making new music. We also take try to take different approach to write music. Maybe we’ll find the name of the song first or start with the vocal. You know, not trying to do the same thing every time.
You now have a new bassist in Pete Klassen. How did the search for a new bassist go and what is he bringing to the band?
Pete is amazing. He was living in Japan for seven years as professional vocalist. He is also a great musician and he used to play bass in a band in Calgary. It’s kind of where we met, not far from our hometown of Edmonton. When he came back from Japan, we were transitioning right at the time and he was just “I want to be on the road”. So, we have four vocalists now and every soundman is like: “Wow. You are not using any backing track? That’s amazing”.
You are a self-produced band. Is it fun to have all that freedom or can it sometime be scary?
Well I wouldn’t say scary but the nice thing about a producer is that they’ll let you know if you are doing something stupid. “Don’t do this or do something like that”. They’re experienced and that’s what you are paying them for. You do have a lot more freedom to explore new direction and you also got more time to do it. Studio time can be very expensive. We are mostly set up at the jam space and we can pretty much achieve a very high-quality recording on our own. The records are still mixed overseas so it’s not like we are doing everything by ourselves completely but 80% is.
Any words for our readers at Diary of a Music Addict and Montreal Rampage?
Come see the shows! We love to see the fans and just interact. We are always happy to have a beer and chat. Don’t be shy or anything! I really love Montreal and I know we all do. Hopefully we’ll see each other at Heavy Montreal. Cheers!