Wacken Metal Battle Canada back for round 2
For those who aren’t familiar with this competition, it’s in conjunction with Germany’s Wacken Open Air battle which boasts metal bands of all shapes, styles, and sizes from across the world to compete for the ultimate prize of pride. Many Canadian legends (Anvil, 3 Inches of Blood, Devin Townsend) have graced the stage over the years since it’s inception in 1990, although before 1998 it was only German bands that competed. It shows a long standing record of growth and expansion, both in size and expanse. The Canadian branch is now following in the same footsteps.
How successful was last year’s competition? The end result says it all. The Canadian champions, out of Toronto, Ont., Crimson Shadows, not only swept Canada’s competition away, they also blew Germany out of the water and all the other fish in the pond along with it, winning the entire Wacken Open Air battle.
Martyr had the opportunity to sit down with the man behind the Canadian leg of the battle, J.J. Tartaglia. We discussed the successes and failures of last year’s competition, the incredible support and feedback the contest garnered last year, and the huge expansion this year that came as a result of it all.
“We could not have asked for a better result for the first year coming into Canada,” said Tartaglia. “To be honest I was surprised. I like to keep a modest mind state, I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and it’s easy to do that. We went through some challenges, but yeah, Crimson Shadows, they pulled it off, and then in Germany… Couldn’t ask for a better result.”
Now before even beginning this year’s competition, they’ve already seen new light. Last year’s battle was unfortunately restricted to only two Canadian metropolitan cities, Toronto and Montreal, which left the east and west of Canada in dismay. Although they weren’t able to expand further east this year, they were able to branch out to the west coast, bringing on board other major Canadian cities including Edmonton and Calgary in Alberta, and Vancouver, B.C.
“That was the initial idea from the start, to have a nationwide competition where bands from coast to coast could apply,” said Tartaglia. “It still hasn’t gotten there yet, but we’re a lot closer to that dream this year.”
The crew from WMBC received many criticisms last year due to the segregation of the competition to only those two eastern Canadian cities, and although Tartaglia and the rest involved understand that there are many bands hailing from every nook and cranny, he also understood from the get-go that building this competition up would be a slow and steady process.
“We know there are a lot of bands out there, but it was only the first year so we had to build it up from this small, until it keeps getting bigger and better every year. I got to go to Calgary and meet the people that deal with the scene there, and we made it happen out west this year.”
The amount of applications are entering in floods, to the point where they’ve had to shut down applications. This was the case in Calgary solely, all other cities are still wide open until the application deadline of January 31. Calgary had so many applications in fact, that they decided to hold a preliminary battle of the bands there to eliminate some contenders preemptively.
“It was amazing to see the talent out west, because geographically we’re so far apart, that we didn’t even know that the scene out there was happening, but it’s huge!”
As one of the founders of the Canadian feeder pool battle of the bands, and the drummer of reggae-metal band Zeroscape, Tartaglia above everyone else knows how much this success means to not only himself, but to the Canadian metal scene in general. Although last year’s was the first official year, this plan has been in the making since 2011 according to Tartaglia.
“In 2011 I was in Finland attending the Finnish Metal Expo. I was speaking on a panel talking about metal, when another guy on the panel was actually one of the heads of the Wacken Open Air metal battle.”
After they sat down and discussed the possibilities of expansion into Canada, it took a good two years before they were able to get everything underway. By that time it was too late to be able to do it for 2012, so they had more time for planning and organization to bring it in 2013.
After seeing the success of last year’s festival, the turnout of fan support, and the victory of Crimson Shadows, one can only anticipate what’s to come in this year’s competition. Details of shows and bands will be updated once released after the application deadline closes.