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Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to Metal Obsession. Happy birthday to you. Now let’s rock out with some metal! The Tote in Collingwood plays host to Metal Obsession’s eighth birthday bash where the upstairs and downstairs stages will host various metal bands. Black clothes, long hair and epic beards will certainly feature heavily tonight.

Aquilus have been around for a while now. Ten plus years actually. They describe themselves as “atmospheric metal” inspired by classical and folk music but their music definitely sounds a lot like black metal and the early small crowd soak them up.

After a short break, riff heavy, melodic death metal five-piece Annihilist take to the stage and automatically demand attention. Frontman Harry Pendock strolls the stage with confidence and guitarists Miki Simankevicius and Josh Voce guitar work is great. Annihilist is an early contender for the band of the night.

The first band upstairs is death metallers Cryptic Abyss. Their songs are short, fast, brutal and in your face and they get the first mosh of the night. Vocalist Calvin Cobby is very appreciative of people “coming up the stairs” to see them.

Back downstairs sees Terry Vainoras’ new solo project Subterranean Disposition take to the stage for the first time since 2013. Vainoras has been in the heavy music scene for a couple of decades now and his new project sees him play death/doom metal complete with saxophone from the man himself. A bunch of his friends help him bring the music to life. Some hauntingly beautiful vocals by Catherine Guirguis of Ritual of Shadows a highlight.

Upstairs, mysterious post-metal band Order of the Oblique are shrouded in smoke. So much so that you can barely make them out at times. The decent crowd is soaking it up but unfortunately, my asthma forces me back downstairs where Hybrid Nightmares are setting up. Clad in white face paint, slight glow in the dark paint and frontman Loki in a white robe Hybrid Nightmares demand all of your attention and you can tell very quickly this is the band that most people are here to see. Their forty minute extreme metal set shows their experience as a band. After six EP’s Hybrid Nightmares are finally recording their debut album so definitely keep an eye out for that. A band that must be experienced live for sure.

It’s hard to believe that Dark Earth has been around for almost twenty years. But, finally, they’re recording their debut album. Musically, the melodic death metallers are great and they end their set with a song dedicated to the upstairs stage at The Tote: The Disease.

Made up of current and former members of bands like Fuck I’m Dead, Blood Duster and Psycroptic, melodic black/death metal band King actually headline the night. Even if they’re not the last band up. King very recently released their debut album Reclaim The Darkness and it’s clear they already have some die hard fans with a bunch of people singing along to every word. A highlight of their set is definitely frontman Tony Forde throwing a scrunched up bit of paper and then an empty water bottle at a couple on their phone who weren’t paying attention.

Brutal death metal band Iconic Vivisect are the final band upstairs. Unfortunately, there’s only a crowd of about fifteen people but that doesn’t stop them from putting on one of, if not the set of the night. Jay Cargill‘s absolutely brutal, guttural death metal growls just make me wonder how anyone can make that noise with their mouth but I love it! Songs from their 2014 album Monument of Depravity feature heavily and they end their set with Flesh Puppet.

After five plus hours of music across the two stages, melodic death metallers Catacombs bring it all to an end. The first thing I notice is frontman Matt Askeland has one hell of an epic beard, the second is their dedicated fans headband and sing along with every word. In fact, the band are having so much fun that even though they’re already running twenty plus minutes over they, at the end of their set, ask if they can play one more and, of course, they do. One thing is for sure after tonight, Metal Obsession know how to put on of hell of a birthday party and there are a plethora of great local metal bands if you know where to look.

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