CORE CHRONICLES: Coming Down with The Amity Affliction In a Converted Cathedral

Jake is our resident aficionado of all music under the diverse umbrella of –core: from deathcore to Nintendocore, metalcore to mathcore. Born and bred in the moshpits of New England, he has to ventured north to document the metal underbelly of MTL.

It was a typical blisteringly cold February night when The Amity Affliction came to Montreal, and the howling gales were relentless during the journey out west of Verdun to the Paradox Theatre. While the weather was brutal, it was only half as brutal as the show to come—I looked forward to getting toasty in the human furnace of the moshpit.

Two out of five bands on the show’s bill hailed from the land down under: The Amity Affliction and In Heart’s Wake. Aussie bands just keep popping up in the metalcore scene, such as Northlane, Parkway Drive, House Vs. Hurricane and countless more. Just like Finland is correlated with black metal and Boston with straight edge hardcore, it seems Australia is becoming the new hub for metalcore and post-hardcore.

Hurrying down Monk Boulevard with my breath smoking the air, I saw the bands’ jumbo idling tour buses and I kept my eyes peeled for what I was sure would be a dank, hole-in-the-wall venue. Not finding it, my eyes roamed over a massive stone church, similar in design to the revered Notre Dame Basilica—and that’s when I heard the muffled music coming from within.

To my surprise, the Paradox Theatre is not just another packed, sweaty club, but a modern reimagining of the historical church Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel-Secours. Any inconvenience caused by its out-of-the-way location is immediately neutralized when you see its stone façade, ornate stained glass and magnificent open space within.

I caught the end of Being As An Ocean’s set as I walked through the towering wooden doors. They brought the full emotional power of their melodic hardcore anthems to bear: their finisher was “This Loneliness Won’t Be the Death of Me,” which began with a mesmerizing, reverberating post-rock guitar riff as vocalist Joel Quartuccio addressed the crowd. The song crescendoed when Quartuccio waded into the crowd for the inspirational spoken word section of the song, a circle 100-people deep surrounding him.

Before Amity came on, the venue’s DJ made some interesting filler song choices: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “Party In the USA,” “Tik Tok” and more sugary-sweet pop hits stirred the crowd into a few goofy sing-alongs. It also highlighted how many girls were at the show—at least half the crowd.

Amity came on like a storm with one of their heavy new hits: “Pittsburgh,” off their latest album Let the Ocean Take Me. “Pittsburgh” has a rousing chorus that’s engineered to be screamed until hoarse alongside hundreds of other people: “It’s like there’s cancer in my blood, it’s like there’s water in my lungs,” we yelled with fury. Other noteworthy songs of the night were the triplet chug-fest “Death’s Hand,” the poignant anthems “The Weigh Down” and “Never Alone,” and songs off their previous record like “Chasing Ghosts” and “Greens Avenue.”

Singer/bassist Ahren Stringer, who I was lucky enough to interview prior to the show, had his vocals on point the whole night, falling into the coveted category of singers whose pipes are as good live as they are in the studio with electronic handicaps. His ultra-catchy choruses are one of the major draws of The Amity Affliction—in fact, he’s the only reason my acoustic/pop-loving girlfriend agreed to come to her first hardcore show (and she ended up loving it!).

Screamer Joel Birch was totally invested in connecting with the crowd, constantly sharing the mic with all those pressed into the meat grinder of the front lines at the stage. At one point he extended his arm out to his side for a whole verse, and a dozen sweaty hands grabbed at it and perched on him like a row of metalhead pigeons. Birch also surprised me by yelling for a “circle pit” during one of the songs, a type of old school whirlwind mosh pit that I haven’t seen since the late 2000s.

Squashed between the pit and the front lines, under the squirming and kicking legs of the waves of crowdsurfers, I saw some classic hardcore show marvels. A showgoer inexplicably bleeding from the mouth, only to plug it with his shirt and take another stagedive, a crowdsurfer being tossed into an involuntary backflip to the ground and out of sight, and security motioning someone to dismount off their roost on someone else’s shoulders, only to have Birch demand to see more shoulder-surfers for the next song and see a dozen heads pop up like a whack-a-moles instantly.

Amity finished off their set with “Don’t Lean On Me,” another powerful ballad off their new record. As they left the stage, I cried out for “one more song,” but alas, my vocal cords were shot. Soaked in sweat and effectively a mute at that point, my body made it clear that the show was a massive success. I admired the Paradox Theatre once more as I made my way to the merch table—I’ll be looking forward to worshipping the gods of hardcore at that venue again real soon.

Find more hardcore shows in the Montreal area by Extensive Enterprise here.

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