"I have yet to see a city with such a diverse and---more importantly---cooperative loud music scene," says Hellacaust's Graham Ferguson. "It's good to have a reminder of that."
That reminder is Thrashfest, two days of extreme music featuring over a dozen bands from Canada and the US. Posters with indecipherable band-name fonts; black sleeveless tees; bullet belts; spikes; long hair and high-tops: these are all signs that Thrashfest has returned to the north end. In the past the fest has featured Montreal's Abyssed, Fredericton's Iron Fist, locals like Thy Flesh Consumed and a reunion of Canadian thrash legends Dead Brain Cells.
"They absolutely destroyed Halifax," says festival co-organizer Myron Cottreau, of DBC's performance. "Their energy was absolutely amazing!"
The first Thrashfest started unceremoniously in a basement. Montreal's Hands of Death lost their Halifax venue, so the festival's other co-organizer, Matt Francis, offered up his basement, hosting Hands of Death and a slew of local bands.
"Matt and I talked the following year about holding a two-day festival at Gus' Pub," says Cottreau. "All we could do is hope that Gus' would take a chance on [extreme music] and give us a full weekend. We got the green light and decided to call it Thrashfest again in hopes it would be as successful as the basement show." The festival is now in its fifth year.
Another Thrashfest tradition that will be continued is the Metal Brunch. Four dollars gets you in to see a set by Halifax's female- fronted black-metal band Ignightor and a set of '80s metal covers by Ottawa's Aggressor. The brunch itself consists of Suicide Scrambled Eggs, Hellish Hash Blacks and Satan's Sausage--- available, fittingly enough, either "regular" or demonic."
"Festivals like Thrashfest are important," says Mike Parks of Halifax's Burnt Church. "Because it's a bit more of an 'event' than your average show. I think it's a good way to introduce people to the Halifax extreme music scene."
Burnt Church plays its first 'fest on Saturday alongside Baltimore's Misery Index and Ottawa's Fuck the Facts, both of whom record for Relapse Records.
Fuck the Facts has been together for 10 years and touring regularly for the last eight. For the band, touring is about keeping in touch with the friends they've met on tour, as well as keeping realistic expectations.
"It's not realistic to think that you're ever going to make a reasonable living doing what we do, so you have to enjoy the job part," says Topon Das of Fuck the Facts. "We still play shows to 10 or 15 people. Sometimes one of those shows is awesome---I'd much rather play a show to 15 people who are excited than to 150 people who just couldn't give a shit."
"These are bands that are dear to the Haligonian metalheads," says Ferguson of the Relapse labelmates. "They have always made it a point to tour out east. That means a lot to us."
According to Cottreau, "Thrashfest is here to try and expose [bands] the best we can. I doubt Thrashfest could be stopped. Thrashfest will be here 'til metal dies and that is obviously never going to happen."