Where heavy metal lives
by Kalen Baker
For fans of: Bewitcher, Nifelheim, Anti Cimex, Midnight, Inepsy, Deathhammer
You’re walking through a thick, dark forest, lit only by the full moon and stars in the sky. A grey fog lingers ominously in the air. Boiling sweat is dripping down your face and into your eyes. Your skin crawls as you hear a crow’s harsh caw echoing through the woods. You tremble with fear when you see three corpses stumbling before you. They’re long haired, leather-clad ghouls that go by the name of Blackrat…
...And they want your flesh!
Blackrat is an amalgamation of Black Metal, Speed Metal, Hard Rock and Crust Punk. Their Bandcamp page aptly refers to them as “Witching Metal Punk”, which I think is a very accurate way to describe the kind of vibe they give off. The trio consists of Ian Lemke on vocals and guitar, Stu Loughlin on bass and Russell Shanahan on drums. Blackrat’s sound channels a lot of the same energy as Nifelheim and Early Bathory. The fast riffs are pushed to almost sounding rushed giving everything a frantic and chaotic feeling. If you like raw old school Extreme Metal, D-Beat, Rock N Roll and gory 80s horror, you’d dig Blackrat. They’ve been featured on Scoped Exposure, a video platform that showcases a lot of underground heavy music in Western Canada. I’d highly recommend watching their live footage of Blackrat at Dickens Pub in 2019. I attended that show and it was a wicked night, even after getting flying-kicked in the face by a stagediver!
Blackrat’s sound sits mostly in Blackened Thrash territory but there’s a lot of nods to D-Beat Punk and good old Rock N Roll (or in this case, I’d call it Rotten Roll!). “Coffin Rock” is one of those Black N’ Roll tunes that makes me draw a comparison to bands like Midnight. Blackrat occasionally slows things down to provide a bit of a palette cleanser but when they play at lower tempos, the band has a lot of bite and power. For example, “Thrall To The Gallows'' is slow in comparison to the tracks preceding it. Despite this, it’s dark, menacing, and each chord and drum hit is so forceful and heavy. The lead guitar has a weird, wobbly effect that helps hammer in that spooky vibe. It almost reminds me of some of the keyboards in Acid Witch’s music. “Thrall To The Gallows'' is really a great example of how Blackrat uses atmosphere to create a unique sound. Everything from their sound to their image really captures the old school horror vibe I mentioned earlier.
Blackrat is energetic, chaotic and addictive. With their exciting mix of sounds and ideas, they’re a band I often find myself listening to when I’m in the mood for heavy music. They clearly have a strong appreciation for the morbid and underground. Blackrat is high on my list of local bands to see again when shows can happen again. Crack a beer, throw on an old 80s gore b-movie and check out their latest full length, Dread Reverence. Follow them on Facebook to keep up to date on upcoming shows and releases!
by Kalen Baker
For fans of: Raven, Exciter, Budgie, Anvil, Triumph
LunAttack is a hard-rocking speed metal band from Calgary. Frontwoman Faith Shadlich (A-Bomb), drummer Carly Brown (Augurium) and bassist Kamen Proudfoot. They’re really all in on bringing the 80s back in Calgary in a similar fashion to the Toronto hesher scene with bands like Skull Fist and Axxion. They’re a very fresh band, only being formed in 2019 . But in that short amount of time they’ve been very hard at work forging their name in steel. They’ve played a solid amount of shows in Calgary, Edmonton and a few appearances in our neighboring province of B.C.They’ve already had the opportunity to open for big names like Ross the Boss, Riot City, Traveler, Spirit Adrift None of the members of LunAttack are new to the music scene. Each of them have their fair share of experience playing in other projects. They bring their shared enthusiasm for old school rock n’ roll together with a variety of different sounds such as speed, thrash, blues, hard rock and prog rock.
The music is very high energy and riff focused. There’s a level of progressiveness inspired by their 70s rock sensibility that contrasts the speed metal sound that’s prevalent in most of their tunes. Faith really shows her strong attachment to her instrument of choice throughout all their music. You can tell how much she believes in the power of rock guitar. Whether it’s tight, aggressive heavy metal riffing or groovy blues played with a hard rock attitude. The bass parts played by Kamen Proudfoot compliment the riffs by both accentuating the rhythm and adding passing tones that fill out some of the space between chord changes. He plays strong and tight with the drums in a very NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) fashion. Drummer Carly Brown does a great job catching up with the speeds played by the guitars. The drums also feel really fleshed out with lots of different grooves and fills that compliment the multitude of different riffs and sections. There’s a lot of movement in their songs so it’s not just constant thrashing.
The two singles they have out sound rad and are a solid start to their career. The band’s good sense of “having-a-good-time” is really apparent on Canadian Corruption. With lyrics referencing Canadian jargon like “Timmies”,. “Toonies”, and the Montreal record label “Banzai”. Canadian Corruption is jam packed with edgy, aggressive and sometimes dissonant riffs that sometimes remind me of 80s Canadian thrash legends Voivod. Their other single Metal Power is the riff sandwich that showcases a lot of the variety i mentioned earlier. From fast tremolo picked verses, to anthemic sing-along choruses the song worships metal in a similar style to Raven and Exciter. Then, the band takes a turn into more groovy territory, building to a climax that rockets back into the fast verse. The track still has room for more surprises with a bluesy jam that ends the track.
Lunattack is even more powerful and energetic at live shows. I got the chance to see them play and they pack a solid punch. When shows can happen again, you have to go catch a Lunattack show. They have one scheduled in March 2021 opening for Flotsam and Jetsam at Dickens Pub. For now, go find a live video floating around on Youtube and crack a beer! Find their music on your favorite streaming platform or support them directly on Bandcamp!