Metal was on the bill at the CIVL Stage 5 in downtown Abby on November 27, brought to you by CIVL Radio 101.7 and the UFV Student Union Society. The Air Fare Lounge, at 33790 Essendene Avenue, is the home of future CIVL Stage shows, and it’s a wonderful intimate venue to promote and showcase Abbotsford’s thriving local music scene. The Lounge was full all night, with approximately 70 tickets sold, proving that metal shows can be a success in Abby. From my seat at the bar I had the perfect view of both the stage and the perpetual lineup for booze. Host Seth Bell took to the stage at 9:30 to welcome the crowd and announce “heavy metal at its fuckin’ finest!”
Carnivitriol started off the mayhem. The three-member band all had requisite metal hair: guitarist and lead singer Tyson Carek, bass player Ryan Townsend, and skilled drummer Matt Bell. This local death metal band – influenced by “the good classic brutal shit” according to their Myspace page – played a musically tight set with ample shrieking and guttural growls. After the first number, a few heads in the crowd were nodding along to the drum breakdowns and guitar riffs. The small dance floor at the Airfare was a sea of black clothing. A core group of headbangers was present at the front for Carnivitriol’s last song, and Carek ended the set by full-on metal-voice growling “We have t-shirts on sale … they are 100% cotton.” And if you didn’t get one, you can go fist yourself.
Local favourites First Reign played next, drawing a huge crowd with their progressive metal sounds. Lead vocalist Dallas Erickson sang with intense emotion that moved the packed crowd on the dance floor, and drummer Sean Lang absolutely killed. First Reign was definitely a crowd favourite and had a small mosh pit forming by the end. With five members (Lang, Erickson and guitarist and vocalists Ryan MacDonald and Chris Holtz and bassist Russ O’Shea) being a few too many to fit on the tiny stage at the Airfare Lounge, most band members played right on the floor in front of the stage, adding to the intimate feel at the small venue. First Reign’s music is multi-dimensional and enjoyed even by non-metal fans, and the drums and vocals were superb stand-out performances.
If music is a drug that takes you on a journey then metal as a genre epitomizes the chaotic journey within. You don’t even have to understand the vocals to get the underlying emotional meaning that is thrust upon you from the always energetic performances.
Nylithia, the headliner hailing from Vancouver, delivered on that front. Vocalist Kyle Scott was on the move, pacing and singing to the attentive crowd, feeding off the high-powered vibe from First Reign’s earlier performance. The charismatic Scott communicated with the crowd between thrash metal numbers, dedicating a song to Abbotsford metal band of yore, Chainsaws and Machine Guns. The band consisted of Scott, Royce Costa on guitars, Nathan Rothstein on bass, and Dan Yakimow on drums, who all worked together to deliver extreme brutality to the Air Fare Lounge. The crowd had thinned out a bit by the end, but a dedicated core group stuck it out to experience Nylithia’s cover of Bowser’s castle theme from Super Mario, which is always a crowd pleaser.
“Abby is always an awesome time,” lead singer Scott after the show. “We hope to come back here again after our new CD is released in the spring. Metal is clearly coming back strong to the Fraser Valley!” If the full room and positive atmosphere at CIVL Stage 5 is any indicator, we should be seeing more metal come out of the event series in the future.