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Unearthing the Metal Underground: The Toronto, Canada Metal Scene

Toronto is located in the South Eastern part of the province of Ontario, five hours east of Montreal, Quebec and three hours away from Ottawa, Ontario. A fair comparison to use to describe Toronto would be as the poor man’s New York City: it is large, expansive and industrial (and emotionally cold) in feel, but extremely culturally diverse, and while there are great opportunities for people to spark their individual creativity, the pressure to conform is palatable. Toronto seems to primarily be an “indie rock” town, but in the past few years, hardcore bands such as Fucked Up and Cancer Bats have been making waves, and Protest The Hero started off in Whitby, a suburb outside of the city. There are a plethora of new metal bands in the GTA, and while they get little (if any) love by Toronto press – metal or otherwise, they are around, getting opening slots for the American and European metal and hardcore bands that come into town.

Sons of Otis

In terms of style, Toronto metal acts seem to prefer to emulate the NWBHM feel, while Quebec metal bands seem to be more technical and favor Black metal and /or grindcore styles. Toronto’s Sons of Otis stands out as being a trio of extremely proficient musicians who stand out from the pack with their unique take on metal. Their sound, which is categorized as psychedelic stoner/doom, is infused with American blues music, which adds a deep-in-your-belly groove and a soulfulness to their sound.

While the band has been kicking around since 1992 and has toured with bands like Electric Wizard and YOB and performed at the renowned Roadburn Festival in Holland in 2010, they have been lauded with critical acclaim, but for some reason commercial acclaim has been stymied by horrible record deals, lineup changes and in my opinion, a musically immature city where their uniqueness isn’t appreciated. While I’d heard of the band for a number of years, their opening set for Dark Castle and YOB this past July blew me away, and if I were in one of the bands performing that night, I would have been intimidated. Sheer power and heartfelt passion for their craft cannot be faked simply to win an audience over. These guys are the real deal.


Some bands get together because they all share the same vision: let’s be famous and make lots of money! For the Toronto-based quartet, their band seems to be together to simply create music that they are passionate about, as there is no agenda leading them along the way. Anyone who has seen their live show and witnessed singer Christopher Gramlich suddenly turn from a bespectacled introvert into a raging lunatic, will understand that he, as well as his bandmates use the music to exorcise some pretty big demons. A solid mix of post-hardcore, technical and progressive metal, the members, some of whom work in other areas of the music industry, have a very realistic view on what it takes to create music that both satisfies their own individual creativity, but is also technically proficient. Having opened for Dillinger Escape Plan and KEN Mode and more recently for Tombs, Mares of Thrace and Today is the Day, Vilipend is currently working on the follow-up to 2010’s Plague Bearer.

The Murdersquad T.O.

The crust/hardcore/metal quartet recently opened for Napalm Death in Toronto, but just like Sons of Otis, they seemed to have come out of nowhere. The Toronto punk scene is relatively hidden – those in "the know" know where to go and who to see, and this band, which first emerged in 2000 and recently released a split with Darkmill, is definitely one to look out for.

If you know of more quality underground metal bands from the Toronto area, please feel free to mention them in the comments below.

Check back every Monday as we continue to unearth more underground metal bands from different scenes around the world.

Lainad's avatar

Laina Dawes is a metal music journalist and critic from Toronto, Canada who writes for Exclaim! Canada and Hellbound.ca. Her book, "What Are You Doing Here?" will be published by Bazillion Points in May 2012.

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1 Comment on "Unearthing the Metal Underground In Toronto"

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1. Mikolicious writes:

great bands highlighted above, and there are plenty more!


cheers! \m/

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