In our annual festive Naughty and Nice feature, AUX compiles the best and worst of the year in music.
As far as Canadian metal scenes go, its sounds have gone in cycles. It started out pretty positive. In the late ’80s, the Ontario thrash scene defined itself with a death metal inspired edge. Twenty years later, its impact is still felt on a global scale. About a decade after the death-thrash boom, the French Canadians followed up Florida’s technical bent with a brutal edge, but the demise (in one form or another) of bands like Cryptopsy and Gorguts led to Canadian metal’s impending downfall. Like the heights that came before, the fall started in Quebec. As the Quebecois tech-death scene stagnated, a new legion of cargo-pant wearing bounce-happy and allegedly hardcore infused bands ripened. And for that, we Canadians apologize.
But we could finally be poised for a return atop the heavy metal pyramid—a phrase that’s surely got Karl Sanders wetter than sponge in a downpour.
Obviously two albums can’t define a movement, but they can sure as hell start one. Look at any integral scene and you’ll immediately be aware of its key cogs. New York’s early ’90s death metal scene is defined by equal parts brutality and dissonance, and names like Suffocation and Immolation are immediately recognized as its pioneers. Though it’s doing it on a larger scale—geographically, at least—Canada’s sound has the potential to build off that. Two decades later and Mitochondrion and Antediluvian could be the catalysts to the Canadian death metal sound, one that’s equal parts atmospheric and angular; technical but not for the sake of it with just the right amount of filth.
These two albums are far from carbon copies, though. Parasignosis relies a lot more on technicality while Through the Cervix of Hawaah is far more rhythmic, but like Suffocation to Immolation in New York, they meet somewhere in the middle. Not only are both albums riddled with titles gleamed from keyboard explosions (Pestilentiam Intus Vocamus, Voluntatem Absolvimus? What the fuck?), but each is loaded with an almost unnatural amount of atmosphere, a term which has always widely been applied to horribly produced, razor-thin black metal but in this case encompasses two albums defined by their suffocating sound, one which fills itself with more bass than treble and somehow captures a sense of distance while also sounding dangerously claustrophobic.
This is the sound Canadian metal deserves, and with these two bands, from British Columbia and Ontario respectfully, it’s a sound we can embrace. Like the country from which it spawns, its a sound that’s equal parts diverse and depressing, because as innovative as it is, it’s always going to be burdened by its southern neighbours. But you know what? I’ll take an off-shoot of one of death metal’s best sounds than a straight up carbon copy, and in the ongoing wave of regurgitated old school death metal nostalgists, these two Canadian bands have a head start with sounds of their own.
Return to the Naughty and Nice master list.