By Christine Leonard
November 13, 2015
CALGARY — The thick line-up waiting on the chance to enter the much anticipated homecoming performance by Calgary’s Chron Goblin was a good indication that Friday the 13th was going to be a lucky night. Things kicked off in good order with MANcub looking casual in front of a sea of friendly faces. Frustratingly, this time out their rawhide bravado took a backseat to a swampy backwash of distortion. Regardless of position within the venue, the muggy feedback addled the listening experience.
Next up, black matter riff riders Witchstone took to the stage and cranked up the volume in an effort to shake the profusion of uncollected glassware from the tabletops. Alas, they were far too sticky for that. The surfaces, floor included, that is. “Look what Chron Goblin did for all of us,” remarked Witchstone’s percussionist Marcello Castronuavo, gesturing to the capacity crowd. Ice broken, levels established, hoods lowered and earplugs dutifully inserted, Witchstone proved to be slicker than snot; iridescent, glo-in-the-fuckin-dark, not-of-this-world unctuousness with a toxic Dio aftertaste. A ribald rendition of Iron Claw’s “Skullcrusher” saved us all from having to fake an orgasm in order to hurry the evening’s main event onto the stage.
Returning from a tour that took them out to Quebec and back, Calgary’s own Chron Goblin couldn’t have been more stoked to be celebrating the release of their new album, Backwater, before a hometown crowd. A mutually appreciative audience whooped with anticipation as guitarist Devin Purdy assumed the position, hat turned right ‘round backwater-wise, ginger curls flapping on either side of his head like an affable Irish Setter. Familiar territory, be damned, the almost overwhelming power and precision of singer Josh Sandulak’s voice marked a notable shift in the band’s full-throttle stoner rock style. Flexing his increasingly impressive pipes, a gunned-up Sandulak’s instrument shone loud and proud as they treated attendees to a crisp yet authentic unveiling of their studio-polished tracks. My only criticism would be the lyrical sameness of their newer material. Perhaps their highly literate percussionist Brett Whittingham (who barely broke a sweat while delivering the goods) should try his hand at songwriting, he just might prove to be the band’s Neil Peart in waiting.AB, Alberta, Chron Goblin, MANCub, Nite Owl, Witchstone