Killing it in Saskatomb for WACKEN METAL BATTLE! (A Metallic Review)

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

To begin in case you've been living under a rock, WACKEN METAL BATTLE comes from the German monster, an annual metal festival, called WACKEN OPEN AIR! It's the metal festival that all others look to. WMB is a "battle of the bands" held in competing countries like Canada (and for the first time last year in USA). The winners from each country come to Wacken, Germany to battle each other and see who can call themselves the best metal band in the world!

Since 2013 Canada has won the international crown 3x with Toronto, ON's - CRIMSON SHADOWS (2013), Montreal QC's - MUTANK (2014), Oshawa, ON's - VESPERIA (2015), and runner-up in 2016 Hamilton, ON's - PROFANER . Canada was asked to take a year off so we could introduce WACKEN METAL BATTLE USA in 2017 (Won in USA by by CORPSE HOARDER), but we are back in the great white north with a vengeance in 2018 and expect to blow away the competition!

What an AMAZING night Friday night (Feb. 9th, 2018) at the newly renamed BLACK CAT TAVERN (formerly Vangelis Tavern) for WACKEN METAL BATTLE SASKATOON! I had such a fun time as EMCEE and asone of the guest judges! Saskatoon's metal community has grown amazingly in all these years since the days I was in a hard rock/metal band called CALM, in the stone ages of the late 90's (stop chuckling). There were little or no other metal bands in Saskatoon back in 1998 (20 years ago this year) when we put our album called "Fueled" out (Rockin' Rod Records). We've come a LONG way as a city baby!

It was so much fun, and so great meeting all the metalheads, bands and fellow judges! Guest Judges for the night were: MATT CUTHBERTSON (Untimely Demise, DARREL "JD" WHEELS (MetalBite Magazine), DJ TINY (Pure Rock Radio), and of course myself RICH EMBURY (Pure Rock Radio). All the bands were amazeballs as advertised! I haven't been out in a long, long time for health reasons. I hope this was a springboard to many more great nights ahead in my future!!! Sorry if I wasn't able to touch base with everyone. First steps for sure.

UPDATE (02-16-2018) - See some insane live pictures from this event taken by AARON BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY through out the night! Great collections of each band and lots more to see. Click Here



Starting off the battle were young guns REBIRTH, who promise they'll be handing me some new music very soon. They brought the energy of youth, but a shortage of original material by adding a cover song into the set list. But, If the set was any indication of things to come, we can expect big things from REBIRTH in the very near future.


Second to take the stage were relative newcomers themselves WASTED HERETICS. Clean, clear vocals and tight musicianship and a truly entertaining performance. One thing that was noted is that they drew a quick crowd of regular metalheads, but also the musicians who were there to battle. That says a lot in itself! Congrats guys on a stellar performance!! I will definitely count myself a new fan of this band which can only get better from here.

WASTED HERETICS (Live at Vagelis Tavern/Black Cat Tavern) 11/2017:


WASTED HERETICS were followed by probably the most unique metal band of the night and a lot of fun to watch... MAELSTROM VALE. Vocalist KURT BERGSMA is such a big and friendly guy and commands the stage very well. When you think of heavy metal, you think of anger and rage in most cases. Not with MAELSTROM VALE, these guys come across with a lot of humour that resonates into the crowd. I enjoyed it a lot. If you get a chance to see these guys, don't miss it!

MAELSTROM VALE "Hedonic Treadmill" (Live) from Saskatoon Screamfest II (2016):


Closing out the night was another of my favorites from Saskatchatoon, and definitely one of my top two of the night, IN RUIN. To be honest, I was actually expecting something different than what I saw and I was pleasantly surprised! I especially liked the incorporation of the keyboards from DAN BROWN ( It's not just for "The Final Countdown" anymore LOL). It could have been mixed better IMO (also the guitar was non existent in the mix so I couldn't judge them on it), but I really enjoyed the strong vocals of the band as well. It's quite evident IN RUIN isn't going anywhere and set to be a Saskatoon Metal staple for quite some time.

IN RUIN "Knuckles Deep In Your Uncle's Catfish" (Lyric Video):

On this night though, it would be WASTED HERETICS that would reign supreme. Both the crowd and the bands that were there to compete could see that they were there to battle and to take the night. Originally WROUGHT was set to compete as well, but had to back out at the last minute. We had a great night of metal none the less! WASTED HERETICS didn't have much in the way of stage presence or banter between songs, so I hope they step it up a lot when they compete at the Western Canadian Finals in Calgary, AB. on April 6th, 2018 which might help secure a win. They did however, bring the heavy metal which it's all about that is for sure! Proof positive that the bridge city metal game is strong!

Next step for these young uns is Cowtown on April 6th, as we eagerly await their competition from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. The winner of the Western Final will go on to battle in Toronto, ON. on June 9th, 2018 at the National Final for WACKEN METAL BATTLE CANADA before they tear a hole in the international competition in Germany at the WACKEN OPEN AIR stage!! I feel very confident that if WASTED HERETICS step up their stage presence and keep their musicianship tight like Friday night in Saskatoon, there is nothing stopping them from winning Canada and then winning us another international Competition once again!

SUBMISSIONS WANTED: SASKMETAL RADIO is returning! Like I said on the stage at the Saskatoon Battle, get your music in Saskatchewan Metal bands! I need more LOCAL music so I can start-up the weekly SaskMetal Radio show again! Right now we have a SERIOUS shortage of local metal content!!!

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