How apt that Canadian metal veterans Anvil should be standing at the back of the room at Hard Luck Bar, while on stage a big-dreaming young metal band called Slyde were entertaining the crowd, playing a show that could be seen as the next step of their own Anvil-like journey towards that eternal quest of all musicians: To make it.
Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and Robb Reiner’s lifetime struggle to pursue their own rockstar dreams was captured wonderfully in the documentary Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. The success of that film, that had metalheads more watery eyed than Metallica & Lou Reed’s Lulu (but for altogether different reasons), has led to Anvil being forever immortalised in Canadian music folklore, while the band has toured extensively since and recorded their last album This Is Thirteen at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606. A poster story for determination, if ever there was one.
Anvil’s story drew lots of comparisons to the infamous metal mockumentary Spinal Tap, and the fun side to Anvil’s character added to the charm. Slyde have a comparable charm factor; a burly, Pantera-mold of metal band, they are not. They play a metal show that is actually enjoyable to watch, and in the moment it’s hard not to nudge the cute blonde nearby and inquire, “Are Slyde not the greatest band ever?!” With big hair windmills, deft keyboard arpeggios, a six-string bass, guitar tapping, face-twisting passion… it’s all ridiculous. Frontman Nathan Da Silva’s guitar case for his Flying V is even cut to the shape of the Flying V itself. Brilliant. Throw some socially and environmentally conscious lyrics into the mix, and you have an unusual – and more than just a tad geeky – metal band. Slyde are a heck of a lot of fun to watch. Yet while they are fun, none of what they do is a joke – being fun and resembling something of a caricature of a metal band is just part of what Slyde are about. With their presentation and performance, the band make a real effort to entertain their crowd. And with half the group already having moved recently to Toronto from Ottawa, they are serious with their ambitions. What really matters is the music…
At Hard Luck, the level of musicianship of this band was damn impressive. Slyde are so articulate. The classically trained Sarah Westbrook is frequently the extra dimension as she links and sets-up the guitar and bass players for all their fluctuations as the music goes from melodic metal to high-octane metal, with a distinctly European feel. The reception in Toronto was warm but if a little standoffish. If this was a rock club in Scandinavia it may easily have been a different story. The fun, cheesy factor of their driving upbeat metal has a distinct Euro tang to it that would export well… Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, are you reading?
Without getting too carried away with poetic license, there is a bit of a sad irony seeing a band pack up their gear to the stage backdrop emblazoned with the giant letters ‘Hard Luck’. It’s still early days for this group, with just one full-length recording under their belts. At the moment they lack the one or two A songs they need to really pull a following. Yet 48 hours after seeing this show, I was still enthusiastically regaling to friends about Slyde: With some bigger hooks, Slyde could have their fans singing their tunes after the show too.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice
Watch out for an interview with Slyde, coming soon to Music Vice.
Internet links: Slyde
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