The altar of Metal is not one that this writer regularly worships, as my listening ear is more geared toward a little less intensity. However, when Heavy Metal royalty comes to town, you pop in your earplugs and go pay your respects. Megadeth’s most recent visit to the Maritimes capped off their 13-date cross-Canada trek, with the final show taking place this past Monday night in Halifax.
It has been well over a decade since Megadeth last took to a stage in Halifax, back in 2010 the band was accompanied by another metal giant in Slayer. Once it was announced that the Mustaine-fronted act was headed back to the Maritimes, the legion of Heavy Metal enthusiasts circled the date on the calendar and fastidiously prepared their best black denim and tee ensembles. The last time the band was in town, the lineup was markedly different as Kiko Louriero (guitar) and Dirk VerBueren (drums) were years away from joining.
Knowing full well that this was one of the hottest tickets in town for quite some time, it’s not a surprise that upon arriving at the venue fans had eagerly flocked here well in advance of the door time, chomping at the bit to get inside to pay respects at the alter of Heavy Metal. With a stacked lineup that included ONI and Bullet For My Valentine (BFMV), an earlier start time was needed. Once doors opened, fans hurriedly headed for their seats to prepare for what was to be one of the heaviest shows the city has hosted in years.
Kicking things off…..ONI
At the top of the bill were Ontario-based ONI, a progressive-metal band that was formed by front-man Jake Oni in an effort to create the music that they wanted to hear. In researching the band, I stumbled down a rabbit hole of Japanese folklore. During this time I learned that the word Oni is associated with a supernatural entity bestowed with extraordinary strength and the power of thunder and lightning, which fit the band to a tee. From the imposing stature and guttural vocals of Jake Oni which sound like they are being drawn from the depths of his soul, to the technical proficiency of the band’s touring guitarist, to the unrelenting bombast of the drums, ONI is aptly named.
Like having a second Headliner on the bill
Welsh metalcore quartet Bullet For My Valentine was second on the bill, but that didn’t deter Matthew Tuck and his bandmates from putting on a show-stealing headlining-calibre performance. It was clear that there was a large contingent of folks in attendance who were there for BFMV more so than Megadeth from the ovation the band received when they took the stage. The frenetic pace of this set was otherworldly, as the band battered eardrums for more than half of their set, before proclaiming, “We are going to start playing the heavy shit!”.
Considering the band was already amped up to 11, they managed to crank their performance to a bone-shaking 13. Their 60-minute set encompassed the band’s nearly two-decade-long career, including 2018’s “Over It”, and “Piece of Me”, but also reached all the way back to their early material with deep cuts “Tears Don’t Fall” and “Scream Aim Fire”. Those deeper cuts transported more than a few in attendance back to their adolescence and had them singing their hearts out along with front-man Matthew Tuck.
As the stage crew worked their magic, folks caught their breath following BFMV. The anticipation in the room was palpable, as the stage was set for Dave Mustaine, Kiko Loureiro, Dirk Verbeuren, and James LoMenzo, otherwise known as Megadeth.
Over 40 years, Dave Mustaine has been a fixture of the American metal scene, first as part of Metallica (from which he was booted due to his issues with bandmates and the bottle) and then the then-lead guitarist went on to establish Megadeth in 1985. After auditioning several vocalists, Dave opted to take his spot behind the mic, and the rest is history. The polarizing front-man has played alongside a myriad of band members over the years, but his name alone has been synonymous with the band for nearly 40 years.
On the band’s most recent visit, they showcased not only the prowess that a 40+ year career affords, but also demonstrated the experience earned during that time. The sparse stage setup consisted of little more than a massive LED backdrop/drum riser and 3 mic stands. This allowed Dave, Kiko and James the room to freely move about the massive stage in a Total Football formation that even Ted Lasso would be proud of. Instead of the standard frontman flanked by bassist and guitarist setup, the trio fluidly rotated through the three stations like the seasoned pros they are. This allowed their adoring fans to catch a glimpse of not only Mustaine and his flowing locks, but his talented bandmates as well.
After a seemingly insurmountable set by openers BFMV, Megadeth managed to exceed that fiery bombast, proving exactly why they are still one the best metal acts on the planet. It was a set loaded with classics such as “Symphony of Destruction”, “Tornado of Souls”, “Peace Sells” and “Sweating Bullets”. Not only did Mustaine’s distinct growl sound great in person, but the band also managed to crank things up further to a rafter-rattling volume. Seeing firsthand the passion and excitement of the fans who also flocked to the former Halifax Metro Centre to worship Megadeth was a definite privilege, even if it wasn’t my usual altar of worship.
Bullet For My Valentine