Heavy metal show roaring into Prince Albert

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Local metal fans have another reason to bang their heads this summer when the Metal Heatwave concert hits the Arts Centre on Aug. 1.

Matt Gardner

Daily Herald

The brainchild of organizer Jesse Haugen — also drummer for the band Smiles in Sickness — Metal Heatwave brings together four local acts for an ear-splitting evening of heavy metal madness.

The diverse lineup ranges from the metalcore-influenced Smiles in Sickness to the hard rock of Softbox, from the blackened death metal of Druidus to experimental Saskatoon vets EchoSerenity.

“You know how most shows they try to keep it within one sound? There are completely (four) different genres in this show,” Haugen said. “I thought that’d be interesting, because people would stay ‘til the end to see what they all sound like instead of leaving thinking they all sound the same.”

Said He With A Heavy Sigh were also slated to appear but recently cancelled.

Prince Albert’s metal scene has dwindled somewhat in recent years following the successive departure of individuals who formerly organized shows. A decade ago the main organizer was Justin Bender, now guitarist for Into Eternity. The torch then passed to Celestial Machine keyboard player Darius Simonot, until his declining interest in promoting left a void in the scene.

Now Haugen, 16, appears ready to take on that mantle. He first organized a show last February with the successful Metal From The Grave concert, which featured some of the musicians playing this Wednesday.

“Last time he did a show it was a pretty good turnout. People had fun,” Druidus drummer Cody Futerko said. “I just talked to Jesse a while ago and I was asking if he was putting on a show anytime soon because we wanted to play P.A. — we enjoy playing P.A. He can usually bring out all the kids.”

The demographics at Metal From The Grave were more varied than expected, indicating the diversity of metal fandom in Prince Albert.

“I thought there would be just a bunch of young teens,” Haugen said. “But there were grown men, middle-aged women, there were little kids … more people than we thought liked metal.”

If you don’t come, the scene will die and then you won’t have any more metal. Devin Archer

Bassist Kurt Johns, who first played in cover bands before forming Softbox as a vehicle for original material, characterized the local metal scene as “fickle”.

“I think the problem is that it’s still an underground kind of music,” Johns said. “People my age, if they listen to it, they don’t like to admit to it … It’s funny because at the same time, the music that we listened to in the ’80s that was frowned upon is on the radio now. You hear Run to the Hills (by Iron Maiden) and you hear — well, maybe not Slayer, but you’ll hear Metallica on the radio.”

Johns designed the ubiquitous posters promoting the event, which literalize the event title and the common description of metal as music to “melt your face off” with the grotesque image of a Nazi officer’s face melting at the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As Haugen recounts, not all city residents were amused.

“When we went and put it up by 2nd Avenue, I remember that one guy was like, ‘You guys are a bunch of sick bastards, you know that?’ And I was like, ‘Sweet.’ ”

The young members of Smiles in Sickness spent $365 of their own money to book the Arts Centre, but regard it as a necessary price to pay for offering a much-needed boost to the local metal scene.

“In the western part of Canada, it’s so hard to find metal bands that will actually come here,” guitarist Fabian Villeneuve, 18, said. “So when it comes down to us putting on a show, we’re just kind of doing it for the metal fans.”

Vocalist Devin Archer, 20, put the situation in starker terms.

“If you don’t come, the scene will die and then you won’t have any more metal,” Archer said. “Support local bands.”

Doors open at the Arts Centre on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Drugs and alcohol are expressly prohibited.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Arts Centre, Hills

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Lost Ark, 2nd Avenue Canada

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