Canada: Northern Bastion of Heavy Metal

As AMG writes in their review of Riot City’s new disc, “The 80s were the Golden Age of metal. A Pax Romana if you will, and Riot City aim to bring that glorious era back.”

Proof of those glory days, and of their continued existence among the heavy metal Rebel Alliance, is contained in every track of Riot City’s astonishing creation, Burn the Night. So, you better nab it, pronto.

But what AMG fails to note in their otherwise excellent review is that Riot City is from Canada. Location? The mighty West: Calgary, Alberta. And as the band proudly states up-front on Bandcamp: “Screaming Heavy Metal from Canada, recommended for fans of Judas Priest, steel, spikes and leather!

The only flaw I can detect as a critical reviewer lies not in the music, but only in the missing Oxford comma. Oh well, I guess it got burned up in the night.

Indeed, Canada remains a northern bastion of heavy metal. There is no need for me to point out the origin and locale of Rush, is there? In any case, the ongoing ferment yields its riotous rewards, and abundant proof is around for those willing to look for it.

Enjoy Riot City, yes, but be sure not to miss Smoulder’s album, Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring, also out this year. It’s an epic combo of doom metal and power metal. Highly recommended, as AMG also affirms. The album art alone should draw you in, never to return for days.

Smoulder began in Calgary back in 2013, and is now based in Toronto. Their sword-and-sorcery narratives are perfectly paired with their chosen musical style. Mark my words, these two bands are headed for my 2019 Top Ten list.

Of course, Canada has no monopoly on the classic heavy metal sound. Also out this year are the truly superb releases from Black Sites (Exile)* and Spirit Adrift (Divided by Darkness)* and Battle Beast (No More Hollywood Endings) and Soen (Lotus).

But that’s why I am content to simply identify Canada as the northern bastion of a classic metal Night’s Watch. Everyone else has their own indispensable international contributions to make. Keep it up, y’all.

Nonetheless I am happy to report that Canada is more than pulling its weight, thanks to the two great bands I have named above. And if you want a third band, how about Unleash the Archers? If you haven’t got Apex yet, add it to your shopping list. Can’t wait to see what they release next.

In the meantime, I have just given you a solid half-dozen of recommendations. So, keep on rockin’ in the free world. Scandinavia is indisputably a northern bastion. But Canada also has your northern flank secure.

*Note for prog lovers: Don’t miss the exceptional musicality on the tracks “Feral Child” and “Cold City” by Black Sites on Exile, and on “Angel and Abyss” by Spirit Adrift on Divided by Darkness. The entire albums are excellent, but these just may be the right introductory tracks for pulling you all the way in.


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