Category Archives: Reviews

Blades of Steel to release “Frontal Full Nelson & the Boxcar Bolsheviks” EP

When Johnathan Stoddart moved to Calgary in 1999, the hip-hop scene was virtually non-existent in the city. In the fifteen years since he first set foot in the city, the scene has grown, and he has been front and centre for the ride. Stoddart made a name for himself as Ricca Razor Sharp, building a reputation as one of Calgary’s “go to” MC’s.

After building a solo career, Ricca has put his concentration solely on a collaboration between friends he has met along the way. Ricca is now part of a five piece crew, Blades of Steel, that continues to make their marks in a scene they helped cultivate.

Flanked by bassist Pastrami, Ricca Razor Sharp sits inside a bar in McKenzie Towne, crediting his band mates with his individual growth as an artist, and the production of a record every single individual in the band is happy with. With the help of the second MC Soleo, Shoez at drums, Roop at keyboards, guitarist Ru, and bassist Pastrami, Blades of Steel have created a 5-track EP that shows a progression of sound, without a regression in a music that has earned them a loyal following of folks who hit the clubs to have the time of their lives.

Their first EP released last year Like A Calf in a Tube Sock, was according to their new bassist, “a little more rock,” while their new release Frontal Full Nelson and the Boxcar Bolsheviks is defined by Pastrami as ,”a big shift towards the funk.” The minor change in genre is not something Blades of Steel fear, what matters is not the maintenance of a signature sound, it is what the songs do for their loyal fans.

“The energy within the band is why we have our fans; I don’t think our fans are here because we maintain a sound,” claimed Pastrami, whose MC agreed with the sentiment by adding, “I don’t think we are sitting down writing some style we don’t want to play just in order to fit in some niche.”

The stage is a different world; you come to this place of tranquility… as soon as you stare in the crowd, nothing else matters.

What carries the strictest of importance within the group is the fun they have on stage. No matter what personal problems they have in their private lives, or how much they drank the night before, once they hit the stage they express love and an energy that seeps into the soul of the crowd. In return, the audience leaves the show knowing they experienced a performance they will never forget. They went to a show and had the type of fun they often take for granted.

“The stage is a different world; you come to this place of tranquility… as soon as you stare in the crowd, nothing else matters,” said a reflective Pastrami a former fan who has had a front row seat in both worlds. He knows what Blades of Steel creates, and how they create it.

The group has created a diverse collection of songs that draws different personalities and tastes into their group. Blades of Steel favourites like H.E.M.P, and Do You In the 80s have become staples of their shows, but with the release of Frontal Full Nelson, fans will be drawn to new tracks that sound like music created by the love child of George Clinton, and Grandmaster Flash. Tracks like the opener So Fast, and the party track The Mexico Song will soon act as signature Blades of Steel tracks.

On May 31st, fans of Blades of Steel will know what to expect, and those expectations will be matched with a bone shaking energy that has created, and maintain a legend within the local hip-hop scene.

Blades of Steel “Frontal Full Nelson & the Boxcar Bolsheviks” EP Release
May 31 @ Local 522 – Show Details

Open Air – Extended Play

During the 1:06 instrumental introduction of Open Air’s newly released EP, I swear that I had a flashback to 1977. Suddenly I was 15 again, (long-hair, bad attitude and all), hanging at a friend’s house, doing bong hits and listening to tunes.

“Pulling from their musical influences, which include Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Jet and The Answer, Open Air brings back everything that was wonderful about 1970’s Brit Rock, but with an updated, modern taste.” So states the band’s website and clearly they have achieved their goal if my opening statement is anything to go by.

One of the interesting things about getting older is that one sees things go round and come back again, often repeating in cycles over a span of decades. Open Air is treading ground that has been trod before – in some cases with excellent results. When I first cranked Open Air through the Behringers the band that came to mind was Black Crowes, a band who had success in the early nineties – the singles from “Shake Your Money Maker” are staples on classic rock radio today.

Open Air’s newly released EP brings that same energy back with superb production that rocks hard with plenty of sparkle and enough bottom end to kick you squarely in your tender parts. After setting the tone with the introduction the band kicks it into gear with “Snake Charmer” the tune that brought to mind the Black Crowes reference. From this point it is clear that the riff is the thing which is hardly surprising considering the band’s list of influences.

The EPs next track, “New Design” rocks hard, bordering on metal, and is sure to get your head banging. The tune features some of the hottest wah-tinged lead work you’ll hear anywhere in any era. The frenetic pacing of this track really sets up a dramatic and effective mood swing as the EP moved to its next track, “Preacher Man”, a slower paced epic tribute to mid-70’s guitar greatness. The final track is the EPs lead single, “Golden Times”, a frolic in more hard-rocking, groove-riffing goodness.

If there is a seminary of 70’s hard rock then Open Air graduates with an M.Div. – they are masters of divination of all that made hard rock and the birth of metal in the 70’s great. Superb melody, songwriting, fretwork and production make this a release well worth your time and energy. 5/5.

Open Air - Extended Play

It is with great pleasure that Open Air and Indie403 present the official track listing for the Extended Play EP.

  1. Introduction
  2. Snake Charmer
  3. New Design
  4. Preacher Man
  5. Golden Times

Check out Open Air as Indie403‘s Artist Of The Month for April and for additional information on their CD Release Show.

Indie403 Featured Artist of the Month – Nickelback

After years of hard work, drudging through the indie scene, playing for peanuts and relating to their fans, Indie403 is pleased to present Nickelback as our Featured Artists of the Month for the month of April!

Just kidding! Sorry, we couldn’t possibly do that… APRIL FOOLS! 

Click here to find out who’s REALLY our April Featured Artist of the Month!

Fumigation – “Integrated Pest Management”

I had the great fortune recently of receiving an email out of the blue from Fumigation‘s Chris Humeniuk with a request to review his band’s soon to be released CD, Integrated Pest Management. Intrigued, I proceeded to download the tunes from the provided Dropbox link and fire up the band’s website, which, brilliantly, has a lyrics page.

Before we get into the release I think it’s only fair to warn you that I have little to no expertise regarding all of metal’s sub-genres, including death metal. Quite frankly I don’t really care if your band is stoner metal, doom metal, melodic death metal or whatever. The only thing I care about is this: when I annoy my neighbours listening to your album is it going to kick my ass?

In the case of Ottawa‘s death metal quintet Fumigation, the answer is a definite yes. The band’s website refers to its sound as “groove-laden death metal” and I would add elements of technical DM as well. What sets them apart, however, is their choice of theme over and above the typical negativity associated with the genre. When I asked him how a death metal band with a pest control theme evolved he replied, “Our theme came about by me getting a job as an exterminator, and one of my friends thought it would be really funny to have a band about my job. I had a bunch of songs ready to go for a band anyways, so I figured I’d try and write lyrics and come up with ideas to turn everything into a pest control themed band…basically the life of an exterminator. I then found people that thought the idea was pretty funny and off we went, and 5 years later here we are with our first full-length album ready to drop.”

Highlights include the outrageous “Fleshlight Castration“, “Pediculosis, (Mommy I Have Lice)“, the crushingly heavy opening track, “Cranofacial Duplication” and the terrifying, “Lick of the Carnivorous Caterpillars“. Who knew that fuzzy little multi-footed critters could evoke such terror?

Overall Fumigation‘s Integrated Pest Management scores a solid 4/5.

Excellent production qualities and well-crafted songs should take this release a long way. Plus, those pesky lice are likely to abandon ship once you start head banging, an unforeseen bonus for sure.Fumigation - Integrated Pest Management