by Ben Paul
Kitchener Metalfest returned this past weekend with a jam-packed night of local heavy metal maestros in support of the Grand River Hospital. This iteration, taking place on Saturday, May 26th, was hosted at Maxwell’s and featured six talented bands from around Ontario.
Opener Atria started off the night, a band with roots in London, Hamilton, and “all over the place,” according to vocalist Tom Emmans. Their set culminated in him jumping off the stage and striding into the centre of the floor while singing their last song.
Next was hometown favourites Raider, whose thrash intensity made the crowd go wild. There were quite a few Raider shirts among the audience, illustrating their rising clout in the local scene.
Their set was followed up by Maitreya from Whitby. Their first show in the region, they played some interesting progressive metal with instrumental wizardry and expressive vocals.
Next up came Lutharö, their second year playing Kitchener Metalfest. Hailing from Hamilton, they put on a rousing show that stood out with female vocals and intricate melodies.
The penultimate band was Cambridge’s Æpoch. Despite the crowd beginning to tire out from constant moshing, with some prodding from the band and some fantastic guitar solos the level of excitement never waned.
Finally, Toronto’s headlining Vesperia took the stage. Known for winning the 2015 Wacken Metal Battle, a competition for up-and-coming bands to be featured at the world’s largest heavy metal festival in Germany, their death metal displayed the potential of Canadian music and lived up to the international recognition. The audience somehow maintained their energy despite the late hour and finished off the night with a bang.
This year’s concert raised over $1700 for the Grand River Hospital’s Regional Cancer Centre, up from last year’s $1500 contribution. With a raffle, trivia, and a variety of donated prizes from local businesses such as Long & McQuade and Different Strokes, it was great to see the community come together to assist with such a great cause.
Kitchener Metalfest started five years ago when a local promoter cancelled a concert at the last minute and organizer Adam Schlitt stepped in to provide an alternative for all the bands that had been affected.
He says that cancer is a great cause to fundraise for because “it can affect anyone”. This year also supplemented the main fundraiser with a canned food drive as well in support of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region.
One community group that came out in force was the University of Waterloo Metal Klub. Like Schlitt, club president Adrian Dunlop noted that there was a “real feeling of comradery” within the community and that many people come out to every local show. “There are people coming from all sorts of backgrounds to appreciate the music,” he added.