***This is a guest piece written by Axis Of Metal’s photographer extraordinaire, Anthony Abbantangelo***
On Sunday September 16th the Annex Wreckroom played host to a stacked line-up of progressive-metal. The Wreckroom has never been my favorite venue for metal, it’s got a weird layout that makes a bottle-neck around the stage, and the combination of heavy security and forced coat-checks makes it one of the more unfriendly venues in town. Nevertheless I was glad to find the venue packed, an impressive feat considering that even the mighty Kylesa and Weedeater have both struggled to fill the place in the past. I was also impressed by the turn-out of young people for what is becoming increasingly rare in this city, an all-ages metal show.
The night kicked off with Pyramid Theorem, a four piece who played a brand of prog-metal much more traditional than the bands that would follow. This meant the Dream Theatre template of jazzy drumming, soaring synthesizers andclean, operatic lead vocals (the only singing to be heard that night). Great players all around, but nothing you haven’t heard before. 6/10
Up next was Intervals, the first band to kick off the line-up of all-instrumental prog metal. The band play with an interesting fusion of spacey ambient passages that contrasted the chunky, djent-like riffing and rapid double-bass drumming that made up the bulk of their songs. While their intricate playing was impressive, the songs lacked focus and structure, and seemed to end as abruptly as they started. The songs felt far too short, like they simply couldn’t figure out an ending. 6/10
Next up was my highlight of the night, Trioscapes. The band is a three-piece consisting of drums, saxaphone and bass. While it looks like an odd combination on paper, the sound of screaming, free-jazz sax over Dan Brigg‘s effects-pedal fuckery and nimble, overdriven bass playing was an amazing combination (Brigg’s main gig, Between the Buried and Me, was probably a big factor in the excellent turnout that night). The band used loop stations, pedal boards and samplers to pull off jarring changes in tempo and texture, with the results sounding like something between the hyperactive big-band arrangements of Frank Zappa and the moody, trudging riffs of Red-era King Crimson. Fans of jazz-fusion, prog-rock and all stripes of experimental music should give these guys a serious listen. 8/10
Finally Scale the Summit hit the stage. I was first introduced to their music when they opened for Dream Theatre at the Molson Amphitheatre a few years back. Hearing their music in such a huge, impersonal venue didn’t have much impact one me, but catching them up close revealed a lot more depth and personality. While instrumental metal is becoming less and less of a novelty these days, Scale the Summit have managed to stand out with tasteful arrangements and touches of desert-rock grooves that gives the music an almost pastoral feel. Like their Toronto counterpoints the Isosceles Project, they have a sound that often backs away from metal with clean guitar leads and funky, muscular bass playing. While their songs tend to blur together in a way common to instrumental jam-bands, the set as a whole was exhilarating, and a perfect end to the night. 7.5/10
Scale The Summit