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ARTILLERY, VAPOR, POTENTIAL THREAT, INFRARED In Ottawa, Canada

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Wednesday, May 15, 2024 @ 7:41 AM


Danish Thrashers Dominate The Dominion Tavern April 19th

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Calling all tortured poets! Who's afraid of a little ol' bit of metal?

Indeed, while there was lots of swift media hype over the release of some sort of pop album that's mostly tailor-made towards the mainstream, there was another gathering of music fandom happening at the Dominion Tavern in my hometown that same day.

And poised to shake it off like it's 1989 on this quadruple bill would be local recently groomed thrashers INFRARED, who open their set with the crushing opus "Lockdown". His signature brown locks trimmed off and now sporting the late '90's Hetfield look, frontman/guitarist Armin Kamalriles up the modest-sized pit before the rest of the band - guitarist Kirk Gidley, bassist Mike Forbes and drummer Al Groulx - fire up the riffs and blast beats for "Social Science" and "Thoughts Caught (In Between)" and get the crowd motivated. Moreso, with the debut of two new songs - "Demon's Blood" and "Concuss" - being tested for the band's upcoming and unnamed fourth studio album, the crowd are even more animated than usual even as the crowd-closing favorite "All In Favor" finally blows out a couple of chanting voices. Don't hedge any bets on the upcoming album being inspired by the dreamy dulcet tones of Michael Buble anytime soon though.

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The first of two surprise California-based bands on the bill that night afterwards - moreso for some folks who'd never even heard of either band until that night, including myself - are well-rehearsed, clad in denim and patches and appear to be somewhat potentially threatening. They would be the San Francisco-based quartet POTENTIAL THREAT, whose own history appears to be similar to INFRARED's. Formed in 1986 by brothers Mike (vocalist/guitarist) and Kenny (drums) Noble and having spent much of their early career honing their live thrashy chops touring with the likes of TESTAMENT, SLAYER, CRO-MAGS, NUCLEAR ASSAULT and DEATH ANGEL, they eventually came to the realization that outside of the couple of demos they'd released throughout their decades-long career, they didn't really have their own long-standing full-length studio discography as their peers did. That, and both Mike and Kenny were also heavily active in their two other bands such as SHOCK FACTOR and THE STAND in between as well. For a while, it appeared that the biggest potential threat to POTENTIAL THREAT was overcommitment to other musical projects. That eventually changed when their first official full-length studio debut A New Threat Level was finally released in 2009, its apocalyptic-sounding thrash playing well in the circle pit with many of their contemporaries about a decade their junior at the time. Their follow-up albums such as 2013's Civilization Under Threat and 2019's Threat To Society kept their heavy momentum going but had also prompted some fans to ponder if there was some sort of obvious underlying message being conveyed in the album titles using a specific key word, but otherwise, the overall take from their growing discography was that POTENTIAL THREAT have actual potential. And that would be the same potential being displayed upon the stage as both Noble brothers along with bassist Damien Sisson and guitarist Daniel Sheridan made their potential Ottawa debut with hard-hitting thrash numbers such as the opener "Root Of All Evil" and similar forthcoming doomsday drills including the punishing-sounding "Path Of The War Machine", "Pre-Emptive Strike", "Raise Your Fist" and a blistering yet pleasant surprise cover of MINISTRY's "Just One Fix". Overall, a great first try some 38 years in the making for one of the Bay Area's most promising go-getters in the scene.

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Turns out that the second Cali band on the bill actually has a previous history dating back about two decades before they'd spontaneously evaporated from the scene. Formerly known as VX36 (which is actually the model name of an optical lens measuring machine) and having released two full-length albums before they stopped in 2022, the Geyserville, California-based quartet resurfaced as VAPOR and appear to have all but severed their previous affiliation with their former name. It would explain why VX36's 2012 album A Violent Existence was recorded and released in 2022 under the VAPOR name; at one point, it had been rumored that the band had even considered naming themselves VAPOUR using the Queen's English except that a Finnish death metal band had copyrighted the name first. And now you know why I never spell ARMORED SAINT's name with a "U". But getting back to VAPOR's return to the scene, their brand of thrashy groove metal is still very much identifiable to the hordes of fans anticipating the first circle pit to start as the opening chords to "Fire And Death" are plucked - moreso as the band under their previous moniker had played at Mavericks about nine years earlier when they were touring North America with tonight's headliners. Founding members Nate Klug (vocals/guitar) and Nick Altenburg (bass/vocals) continue to be the band's *ahem* visionary members with guitarist Tom Barrett and drummer Edgar Canaan, who both do the name proud that night. From both "Fire And Death" leading into "The Executioner" from last year's sophomore platter Mass Mortality, VAPOR create and emit both old and new memories as they pillage through their back catalogue and deliver classic cuts such as "Satan's Fury" and "Looking Through The Eyes Of A Dead Man" with fine groove metal aplomb. Their closing number "Times In Turmoil" may thrash like CELTIC FROST if Joe Strummer were their songwriter but the delivery and conviction is all 100% VAPOR in its name. An exhausting yet invigorating set, all I would want for VAPOR would be to name their next studio album Condemnation Through Condensation just to keep the momentum of the name to matter.

https://www.facebook.com/vaporthrashofficial/
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https://twitter.com/vaporthrash

Lock, stock, two smoking barrels, three studio albums and a few lineup changes in between since their last visit to O-town in 2015, Taastrup thrashers ARTILLERY are what's rockin' in the state of Denmark as they open their set with "The Devil's Symphony" from their most recent (okay, 2021) album X. And, yes, the legendary thrash metal outfit have rotated their ranks a bit not just since their previous 2015 visit with ONSLAUGHT but even a bit later onwards. It would perhaps explain why their current Johnny Winter-looking lead singer Martin Steene had otherwise thanked me for having reviewed their last album after revealing that he hadn't sang on it as he'd joined the band two years after its release. Awkward, but that's on me here. Still, he marked every proverbial box of the band's 40-year career when he took the stage with veteran founders Michael Stutzer (guitar) and Peter Thorslund (bass) alongside recent newcomers Frederik Kjelstrup Hansen (drums) and Rene Loua (guitar). And yet, while the current lineup may have looked new and foreign to much of the audience, they sounded exactly like the old school lineup full of awestruck fresh-faced teens who'd taken that chance visit to MERCYFUL FATE's recording studio and decided to form a band afterwards. Steene even introduced "Turn Up The Rage" with such passion alone that he may as well have scribed the entire song as a ghost writer; with his performance on earlier classic ARTILLERY numbers such as "The Almighty", "Deeds Of Darkness", "By Inheritance", "Bombfood" and "Khomaniac", he was channeling his predecessors while bringing his own shoes to walk in. By the time the show had climaxed with their signature song "Terror Squad", the 40-year history of ARTILLERY was brought to its full circle and helped wear the old school thrash punters down for the rest of the evening.

And the crowd knew they would be thrashin' the moment they walked in.

https://www.facebook.com/ARTILLERY.DK
https://www.artillery.dk/
https://twitter.com/ArtilleryMetal

Setlist:

  • "The Devil's Symphony"
  • "The Almighty"
  • "Turn Up The Rage"
  • "By Inheritance"
  • "The Face Of Fear"
  • "Bombfood"
  • "Legions"
  • "10,000 Devils"
  • "Khomaniac"
  • "Deeds Of Darkness"
  • "Terror Squad"


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