“Thank you for coming out on a rainy Sunday night in Montreal,” said Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta to the jam packed crowd towards the end of the night. It may have been cold outside, but inside it was hot and sweaty as three excellent bands played tight sets of hardcore metal that kept the mosh pit going all night long.
The evening started off vigorously with Act of Defiance, the band featuring former Megadeth members Shawn Drover on drums and Chris Broderick on guitar, alongside Shadows Fall’s Matt Bachand on bass and former Scar the Martyr Henry Derek on vocals. The band seemed unfamiliar to many, but by the second song they had the mosh pit going strong and the crowd converted. Broderick’s lead playing looked frustratingly effortless as his fingers went up and down the guitar neck playing amazing solos or crunching riffs. The songs have a strong thrash undercurrent and probably could have been Megadeth songs at some point, if history had taken a different course. Derek’s a great frontman and his powerful vocals add a layer of aggression to the songs. The band played a blistering version of Pantera’s “I’m Broken” that won everyone over with its surgical precision. Their 30 minute set flew by in a flash, and I’m sure they made many new fans in Montreal.
To the strains of Hank Williams III’s “Satan Is Real”, the members of DevilDriver took their place on stage before ripping into “End of the Line”. Their charismatic singer Dez Fafara roamed the stage while spitting out his lyrics with gusto. It’s hard to imagine a 45 minute set more tightly packed than this as the band barely took a second to catch its breath in between songs, lining up song after song, each more intense than the last. By then the floor was packed tight, and security had its hands full taking crowd surfers out of the crowd. Fafara exhorted the crowd to “spin that motherfucker, spin!” and they happily complied. The singer also reminded moshers to “take care of each other” and they did.
Fafara stated to the crowd that the band is from California and thanked Montreal for always welcoming them, just before launching into “Clouds Over California”. “Ruthless” and “Meet the Wretched” concluded the show with bang. After such an intense set, would the crowd still have energy for the headliners?
One did not need to worry. The floor was a moving, writhing mass of metalhead as Hatebreed pumped out riff after riff in an unrelenting fashion. With such an energetic crowd, it became quickly obvious why they sell shirts that say “I survived the Hatebreed pit in Montreal”, although shame on the people who bought one but didn’t actually go in the pit…
The band’s connection is strong with their fans, and Jasta drove home the point: “We made you a promise last time,” he said, “that we’d be back with a new album. And tonight we’ll play a song from every Hatebreed album.” They covered their entire discography to the delight of the fans in attendance. Songs from their latest album like “Looking Down the Barrel of Today” or “A.D.” (“Can we get one last circle pit?” spit out Jasta) were welcomed like old friends despite the album being out for only a few weeks.
“Do you want some more?” yelled out Jasta before launching into “Doomsayer” as the crowd loudly reacted. Faithful to their habit, the band called out one last song, reminding people there would be no encore. It was like stopping a speeding train by running it into the station; one moment you’re going at full speed, the next you’re still, slightly dazed, trying to figure out what just happened, but Hatebreed packed more metal in 70 minutes than most bands do in two hours. No one left feeling short changed after these three bands.