Sounds of the Underground Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton AB July 28

Seamless and speedy transitions between sets marked a smoothly run festival that because of the nearly uninterrupted nine-hour run-time required steadfast attention. This year’s circus began with lacklustre and forgettable performances from 2 Cents, Goatwhore, and the Devil Wears Prada. They were received by a sparse gathering, as the rest of the crowd probably hadn’t expected to miss three bands in 50 minutes. True to the nature of their emotionally driven cacophony, the Number Twelve Looks Like You played exceptionally sloppy but it’s about the expression anyway, right? Somewhat more precise, the touring meathead mosh spectacle known as the Acacia Strain brought some energy to the stage with their hate-fuelled provocations, spewing winning lines such as "treat everyone in this room like shit.” Though Amon Amarth were a phenomenal relief to the obviously anxious and warmly receptive metal crowd, the swift transitions seemed to take their toll, as it was approximately a song and a half before the sound technician was able to mix their Viking onslaught properly. Darkest Hour followed with an often off-tempo but high voltage rendition of material from the latter half of their career. Job For a Cowboy came and went just as quickly, leaving more than a few new fans in the wake of their mind-numbing fret board annihilation. The teenage angst was revived in full force when Chimaira hit the stage and unsurprisingly, the most impressive part of their set was the light show. Every Time I Die played into their amusingly cocky stage act and gave a decent performance worthy of their capricious drunken creep personas. The mall crowd was brought back to life with Shadows Fall and granted, while their tunes were annoying, their set was tight. Gwar closed the night with what they do best: playing mediocre rock tunes in gigantic costumes, bringing out various obscene puppets and spraying people with coloured liquid. While the bill was definitely sub-par, the road crew’s masterful manoeuvring at least made sure the pain wasn’t prolonged.