Thorny Bleeder Records Holds Vancouver Showcase With Quartered, Special Ops and Black Hat Villain
Band Photo: Quartered (?)
This definitely goes down as being one of the most interesting and unique heavy shows that Vancouver has seen in quite a long time. The venue for this event was not your typical metal venue. It was barely a venue at all. The Shark Club, as its known, turns out to be a trendy upscale version of a sports bar. Complete with soft plush booths for dining, cute but high maintenance waitresses running around in every possible direction, a DJ that seems to only own European techno records and last but not least a bathroom complete with interactive video screens plugging products while you wait. A metal show was taking place here? Really? Everything seemed a bit odd and out of place, the setting just didn't seem right for a heavy label’s showcase. Especially compared to the usual dingy clubs that metal shows take place within this city. But this is where Thorny Bleeder Records chose to hold their talent showcase so there is nothing that can be done, or said.
Despite the poor choice of venue, the guys over at Thorny Bleeder Records are some hard working people. Not only do they operate a full functioning modern label but they also dip their hands into distribution, artist development and management, merchandise management, advertising and concert promoting. Any band would be well off and lucky to have these guys backing them up. In a day when most smaller labels take the cheaper - less is more route, Thorny Bleeder goes big and they have no problem in doing so. Where the choice of venue didn't quite fit the mold for a metal show it did make some amount of sense. They are not a full on metal label. They do bring the heavy with Over the Coals, Special Ops and Quartered but they also refuse to limit themselves to just one genre. Rock, Southern, Metal, Punk and Progressive are all just a handful of the thing these guys get into and that takes alot of work and earns alot of respect.
The first band of the night, a semi-local band from Victoria British Columbia, went by the name of Black Hat Villain and they hit the stage a full two hours after the advertised time. Though the blame may not be on them it did start the night off on a negative note. Black Hat Villain opened the show with “All My Friends Are Dead”, a song that could fit right in the middle of any Nickelback record. Though that probably doesn’t bother them much since they were plugging singles and talking about music videos all night. The songs that followed did not vary much either, following the same radio rock formulas tested and proven to make mainstream hits. Simple yet straight to the point without any thrills. There is no denying that Black Hat Villain are a tight and cohesive band and they are good musicians, for what they do, but between the awkward intermission speeches and the sparse moments of heaviness they just seemed to get lost in the shuffle of what modern rock represents these days. Although they did have quite a large following in attendance and one man especially was singing along to each and every word. Not alot of bands, even major label mega stars, can say that easily. So it seems like Black Hat Villain are already half way there. To achieving their goal of radio rock stardom.
Next up was Montreal’s Special Ops fresh off the release of their new album “Through the Heart of the Infidel”. While much heavier than the first band it seemed quite apparent that Special Ops were never sent the file telling them that Nu-Metal had died years ago, but evidently, they don't care. From start to finish they brought their brand of grooved Nu-Metal and it never let up. Their style was unique though compared to similar acts from the 90s. Imagine Static X infused with some mid-career Machine Head. The riffs were chunky and the bass was thick and the switches between the tough guy, in your face, vocals to the more mellow moments came in waves. There was enough going on musically to keep the attention span rolling but only for a few songs as they tended to all start sounding the same. The crowd was not into Special Ops as much as they were for Black Hat Villain no matter how much heart they put into their performance. Even calling the crowd cowards did nothing to stir up a reaction. If they took their show to an all ages venue they would certainly obtain the response they were begging for all night long. But hey, at least the drunk 40 year old man break-dancing in the middle of the floor seemed to be into them and really, you can only go up from there right?
The third and final band of the night were Vancouver’s own Quartered and it was obvious from the start who the crowd had come to see. Even the bartenders were wearing Quartered t-shirts. It was hard to tell if it was all just over exaggerated hype or if these guys were the real deal, but that changed quickly. Thorny Bleeder Records has struck gold with Quartered. First off, it takes alot of courage and confidence to come out to your first hometown gig in a year and play a set comprised entirely of all new material, which the crowd had never heard before. But Quartered came out on fire and they never looked back. The perfect blend of brutality, melody and catchy hooks made for the perfect metal storm. Self described as progressive, Quartered never let the energy fall below maximum during their entire set. Through the constant tempo changes, occasional time signature madness and swift vocal style change ups they were proving that hype means nothing when all you’ve got is talent and the ability of writing a great and memorable metal song. So many bands, even seasoned veterans, lack stage presence but Quartered could write a how-to book on the subject. Engaging and attention grabbing, these guys know how to put on a show. Its not very often you see a band live, hearing them for the first time, and there is not a single thing to complain about. There is just something so intriguing with their hybrid sound of “Alive or Just Breathing” era Killswitch Engage and the progressive flair of Tool. With the peaks and valleys woven into their sound it keeps all eyes on stage at all times and all ears forever open, and that is something the night had been missing. Now all that's left is to wait for the new album, “Walks Like A Ghost” then things will surely take off for this young Vancouver five piece.
Its without a doubt that Quartered’s large fan base left the Shark Club late Saturday night re-living every moment of the band’s spectacular performance, most likely while humming the brand new songs in their heads.
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