Aug. 29, 2012 - Issue #880: LP
West of Hell
Sat, Sep 1 (8 pm)
With Terrorfist and guests
The Studio (10940 - 166A St)
Trading in life in Auckland, NZ for a cross-continent move to Vancouver, BC turned out to be just what West of Hell needed. A band is really the sum of its parts, and for West of Hell one integral part had yet to be found.
The heavy metal outfit made the trek to Canada in 2009 in search of the final missing piece to its lineup—a lead singer. Founding members Ivan Vrdoljak and Andrew Hulme started the band in 2002, quickly recruiting Sean Parkinson on guitar and eventually finding bassist Jordan Kemp after two years of monitoring the grapevine. West of Hell was in search of a lead singer who not only screamed and growled, but could actually sing, drawing on the styles of Megadeth and Iron Maiden.
Enter Zimmers Hole frontman Chris "The Heathen" Valagao, or Val as he's known to his band mates. Valagao had caught wind of the group while they were playing shows throughout the city as an instrumental metal act. After only a few jam sessions with Valagao, West of Hell knew they'd struck gold.
"A lot of the metal bands we saw back home, and even here and everywhere these days, have settled for someone who just does the throat vocal styles, kind of more like death metal," says, Kemp, who's a self-described half-Kiwi half-Canadian, having lived in Victoria, BC until he was 14. "It's almost like people can't find a really good singer anymore, so just any guy will get up there and scream. We really wanted to relate to some of our older influences and have someone who could really sing and really add something to the music."
Since those initial jam sessions, West of Hell has worked to bring back metal in its truest form, rather than the onslaught of diluted material the band feels has been flooding in during recent years.
"True metal to me, you know, is not being afraid to wear your influences on your sleeve, but also trying to find something new and exciting in your own music," Kemp says. "To me it's about drinking and partying and having a good time and playing music that sounds bad ass, but it really makes you feel good. That's what I listen to and that's what I try to write."
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