I wasn’t actually sure this gig would happen. I saw no posters, and found no listing in last week’s Georgia Straight. I had a ticket and some faith, but even the latter deserted me just before I left the house. A call to the club confirmed that The Gates of Slumber (who were to be second on the bill) were crossing the border and the gig was still on.
Mrs. Mule and I met up with Scum at the club, where the doors were closed. The doorman said that they’d be open at 8 (an hour later than scheduled), so rather than loiter around in the rain we went down to Steamworks for a pint.
Returning to the club, the doors were open and some sort of metal show looked to be imminent. The crowd was sparse, but any concerns over the lack of atmosphere went out the window once Funeral Circle took the stage. It took only a minute for me to realize that this band is something special. In fact I’ll say they’re the best local metal band I’ve seen in some time. It’s rare to see a young band—most of the quintet looks barely out of their teens—that has such a strong idea of what they’re all about. Funeral Circle are doom personified! We’re talking pure doom in the Reverend Bizarre, Candlemass and Witchfinder General vein. In fact, they closed with a Witchfinder General cover, before coming back for one final song (as there was additional time available) and dedicating their set to Ronnie James Dio. Performance-wise, they gained confidence as they went. New singer Revenant especially came out of his shell during the last few numbers, with his gestures becoming more dramatic as he hit the high notes with aplomb. I picked up their Sinister Sacrilege EP (released by no less than ultra-doom stronghold The Miskatonic Foundation) for further contemplation.
During their set, they announced between songs that The Gates of Slumber wouldn’t be playing. (According to the promoter after the event, their touring drummer didn’t have a passport, which got them denied at the border.)
Having been blown away by Slough Feg at Noctis III in Calgary last autumn, I expected a good time. I wasn’t disappointed. Mike Scalzi and co. performed with sheer style, skill, and energy. There’s no po-faced posturing, no menace in what they do. Slough Feg simply rock. It’s seamless too, with only the briefest of stage patter (“Thanks for coming out to the Red... What’s this place called? Red Room!”) to interrupt a rapid-fire set list that didn’t favour any one album, as far as I could tell. I know for sure they played a couple tracks from Atavism and Ape Uprising (“Simian Manifesto” and household favourite “Shakedown at the Six”), as well as a new song. They have their material DOWN. There’s no time for uncertain glances and head-nodding cues when they’re busy scurrying across the stage, engaging the crowd, putting on an effing clinic in twin-lead guitar mastery. It was overkill, but that’s what metal’s about, and we loved it.