Armstrong Metalfest 2013 Day 2 July 20th, 2013

AMF – Day 2 (click for full gallery)

West of Hell!

I woke up around 7:30am as the sun started to shine through my drivers side window, warming me to uncomfortable levels at a rapid rate.  I crawled out of my seat, grabbed a change of clothes and toiletries and headed towards the warzone for a shower.  The mens room was filled with hungover men attempting to clean themselves up for the days’ events.  Some were still drunk, some violently ill, and some were missing car keys and other items among the tent city party zone that was a hotbed of activity in the darkened hours before sunrise.  After what felt like an eternity, I managed to snag a shower stall.  Hoping for a somewhat warm shower, I was denied and instead was treated to one of the coldest shower experiences of my life, causing me to almost hyperventilate.  Working quickly, I managed a half-assed cleaning session and then hopped in the car for Vernon to get another memory card.

On the 20 minute trip there the only significant event I had come across was a young buck that had been struck overnight laying in the ditch dead.  No crazy Vancouver drivers, just the relaxed lives common to many folk from the interior.  I grabbed a coffee from $tarbucks and hit up the London Drugs on the main drag in Vernon for my card.  After viewing the selection of pro cards that I usually buy and being horrified by the local prices, I settled for a cheaper alternative and gave it a quick test in the parking lot to make sure it was in working order and headed back to camp.

Arriving back to my spot about a half hour before the first band, I managed to catch the award ceremony for the Pilsener box hat competition; a decent array of well crafted medieval and modern hats crafted purely from Pilsener boxes and flattened cans.  The judge wore what was, in my opinion, the best of the bunch…a Boba Fett helmet that pleased the Star Wars nerd within me.  Then into the arena I ventured to partake in the 17 bands that would be hitting up the stage.

Up first was a band from Prince George that I had heard a bit about from other bands local to Vancouver: Deveined.  Keeping the party rolling came Dissimillis and Drop Dead Fred.  Next up were my peeps in Dead Asylum (they would probably agree I should never call them peeps ever again) who late in the set brought out Alxs Ness (Abriosis) for an Amon Amarth cover.  Next up was Scythia, who (clad in their leather armor and medieval costumes) brought their form of story telling folk metal to the masses.  Then came the deeper, darker evils of Vancouver’s Auroch, followed by the energetic death metal band Atrous Leviathan.  The parents of the two brothers in the band stood proudly amongst the audience with band t-shirts that had “Band Mom” and “Band Dad” on their backs.

Proud Parents

Meatcutter was the next band up, followed by Kyoktys; whose bass player was a massive farmer (Quaker?) looking dude full of energy and character.  Then came one of Vancouver’s premier metal acts, West of Hell, who were originally formed in Australia and later added Zimmer’s Hole frontman Chris “The Heathen” Valagao.  They brought a ton of their show stopping props including snow blowing machines, smoke, an ice cannon and the ever popular grinder solo shredder.  These guys really like to put on a show, and must’ve been a bit tired having arrived to the grounds from their previous tour stop only moments before their set.  I hope it wasn’t too much of a pain for the staff and volunteers to clean up the pesky glitter that was everywhere after their set.

Mortillery had a tough act to follow, but follow they did, taking the crowd on an altogether different musical journey setting us up for another wild turn in another direction with Unleash the Archers who had shared their guitar player Grant Truesdell with West of Hell for reasons unbeknownst to me (did I really just use that word?).  Brittney Slayes and crew played their well rehearsed and powerful fantasy metal set ending with their popular song “General of the Dark Army” (music video).

Then came a band with a pair of vocalists sang in a style that was very metal but almost felt like rap in the way they played off each other – Divinity.  It was refreshingly different and you could tell that the second vocalist was the comedian of the group with his funny expressions that matched the big ape-faced shirt that he wore.


The madness did not stop there as the stage was graced by thrash artists Striker (Edmonton) and Holy Grail (L.A.) brought their high energy 80s style thrash to the visibly tired crowd.  Striker played on even though their lead guitar players’ amp had some kind of meltdown for over half their set and was replaced by a tech in time for the last couple songs.  As Holy Grail finished up their set, the crowd poured out to the parking lot to catch the action of Thrash Wrestling.

The wrestling match was a classic 80s style WWE type of match which pitted a pair of would-be enemies in a brutal no-holds-barred fight in and out of the ring.  There were ladders, chairs, doors, fluorescent tubes and various other props that had the crowd gasping, booing, and cheering by the end.

I headed inside immediately after the match to grab some prime real estate in front of the stage for the first headliner of the night:  Vancouver’s Archspire!  Once the sound tech got the steady thump of the kickdrum just right, Spencer let loose testing out his pedals and whipped the crowd into a frenzy.  Some of the most insane double kick I’ve ever heard pounded me in the chest at a ridiculous rate.

Oli of Archspire

Is this guy even human?  Their set was fast and furious tech/death with romantic interludes where frontman Oli shared life stories (and apparently at one point, his balls) with the crowd.

Finally the moment everyone had been waiting for…some little band from New York called Suffocation was up and the crowd went wild!  Frank “the tank” Mullen looked visibly affected by the “Canadian Hospitality” he had received from the other bands in their camp area until he raised the mic to his mouth.  The words took control as he spewed forth the lyrics familiar to so many in the crowd.  Derek Boyer would occasionally drop his BC Rich Warlock bass to the ground and pluck at it like its upright cousin

Suffocation’s Derek Boyer

while Terrrance Hobbs shredded solo after solo, braided hair flying around like snakes on medusa’s head.  Frank also told a great number of life stories in between songs and professed his hatred for beer and love for Jack Daniels.  Playing well past the midnight curfew, the people got what they wanted…a somewhat intimate show with a very experienced long time death metal band.

What will Armstrong come up with for next year?


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