Five local Metal bands will be given the opportunity of a lifetime this March, as the city will host its first-ever preliminary round for the Canadian portion of the Wacken Metal Battle competition.
The Wacken Battle offers an opportunity for unsigned bands of any metal subgenre to battle their way to an international stage in Germany against some of their country's best metal groups, and compete for the world title at Wacken Open Air music festival.
Those who make it that far not only get to perform in front of over 50,000 potential new fans, but the chance to meet industry professionals, win cash and kick start their career.
Kelowna isn’t the only city in British Columbia to offer its talent a shot at the international stage, with Victoria and Vancouver also hosting preliminary rounds. The band representing B.C. will have to contend with the victors from 10 other cities around our country, including Montreal, Saskatoon and Toronto.
According to Jesse Valstar, the coordinator of the Kelowna event, it is about time Kelowna received the opportunity to host a battle.
“It is a big deal because it is basically proving that Kelowna has a scene strong enough to be recognized. It is a testament to how hard we work in this area,” said Valstar.
Valstar—co-founder of the Armstrong Metal Festival and bass guitar for veteran heavy metal group, OdinFist—has also been selected as a judge for the Kelowna battle and BC Final.
“Just to have the opportunity is a big deal, because we work hard every year, so the fact I was able to sneak in and snag a spot is pretty cool.”
The preliminary final is scheduled to take place at Muninn’s Post on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The event will invite local bands, Apollyon, ArkenFire, EdenEcho and Death Machine to conquer the stage, along with Prince George group, Northern Steel.
For power metal band, ArkenFire, having the opportunity to potentially attend W.O.A is a dream come true, as Germany is hailed as the birthplace for their specific subgenre.
“The prospect of us having the chance to represent not only Canadian metal, but Canadian power metal on the 30th anniversary of Wacken is very exciting,” said Randy Peterson, guitarist for ArkenFire.
“We're really looking forward to taking part, and also seeing a lot of other up and coming bands come out of the woodwork across the entire country. The battle has been going for a few years now, and to finally have one in Kelowna shows that our local metal scene is prospering.”
“We're looking forward to sharing the stage with our local comrades and showing off what the Okanagan has to bring to the metal table,” added Peterson.
For the group of young lads who make up the heavy metal outfit EdenEcho, the opportunity to represent their city is something they thank their supportive community for.
“I guess it seems vindicating somewhat, there seems to be a lot of infrastructure in place for metal bands to test their potential. The metal community around here has been so welcoming to us, and we've seen no shortage of great opportunities,” said Matt Lazare, the band’s front man.
Heavy hitters, Death Machine, may be up for a chance at the title, however, the death metal quartet seems equally as excited to share the challenge with their comrades in the scene.
“It means a great deal to us. Being able to participate in this metal battle is an amazing opportunity for whoever ends up winning,” said Spencer Budworth, singer and bass player for Death Machine.
“Winning this would be incredible. However, we know that whoever the judges should choose will have earned it 100%.”
For most of the Kelowna bands involved, the Wacken Battle presents a new and exciting opportunity, but for blackened-death metal troop, Apollyon, it is another go at making a huge turning point in their career.
“Making it all the way to the Western Canadian finals last year was an exciting experience to say the least and we're hoping this year will be equally as exciting,” said Braden Farr, guitarist for Apollyon.
“[It] is an exciting opportunity for us. It should go without saying that it's huge, and could easily be a turning point in the winning band’s career.”
“Finally having a qualifying round in Kelowna gives us a chance to showcase the growing metal scene in the Okanagan. We've got great bands around here!” added Farr.
After the gauntlets have been thrown and the merciless battle draws to a close, the bands will be judged based on their 25-minute sets by a panel of five industry professionals.
The band who reigns superior will be announced and venture forward to the BC Finals in Vancouver on April 28, where they will go up against the three winners from the previous Vancouver and Victoria battles.
From there, the winner will earn themselves a slot at the National Finals in Calgary on May 25 before potentially making their way to Germany.
Promising incredible talent, fierce competition and mind-blowing music, the Wacken Battle is a one-of-a-kind event that you will not want to miss.
Advance tickets are available for $10 through the venue and bands, or entry at the door will be an option for $15.