Chaosfest Day 1 featuring Last Scattering, Wretchedpain and Life Before Last The Underground, Hamilton ON, April 5

Chaosfest Day 1 featuring Last Scattering, Wretchedpain and Life Before Last The Underground, Hamilton ON, April 5
Photo: Adam Wills
It's rarely good news when you're planning a music fest and some of your biggest name acts pull out mere days before they're scheduled to perform. With the trouble-plagued Best of Brutality tour (featuring Broken Hope and friends) cancelled, this was the reality facing Hamilton's Chaosfest earlier this week. But instead of succumbing to tragedy, the organizers adapted, turning day one of Chaosfest into a local metal showcase.

When Fall Breaks, a metalcore band from Burlington, were the first to perform. Their short set featured lots of groove, heavily laced with melody, all delivered with already extreme levels of intensity and passion. Up next, Hamilton's Life Before Last turned up the power (much of it thundering out from the bass drum). At times they seemed to be delivering straight-up metalcore but some unexpected tempo shifts and high-pitched melodic leads added a little intriguing complexity to their performance, becoming increasingly more persuasive throughout their set.

Niagara's Wretchedpain were third on stage, offering a solid onslaught of death metal. Before they even started to play it was clear the audience was in for a change of pace — the long hair and beards and wider pant legs were a sure sign they embraced a slightly different metal approach. The riffs were suitably brutal (aside from one nearly catchy track!), the leads suitably dissonant and the vocals suitably guttural. And they maintained the energy already established by the previous bands, not just in their performance but in their good-humoured interaction with the sparse but engaged crowd.

Headliners Last Scattering appeared to be the biggest draw of the night, luring in a small core of enthusiastic followers. With a set of material off their upcoming album, they demonstrated the most musical diversity, ranging from a circus music-styled opening to an extreme metal interpretation of prog. Their songs were long and busy, frequently changing direction, and at times there seemed to be too much going on — for the venue, the sound system, and maybe even the performers — but judging by the broiling action in front of the stage, no one really seemed to notice. If anything, the energy and intensity vibrating in the room reached even higher levels, as much from the spectacle of the performance as from those losing themselves in their physical response to the sound.