Heavy Metal is as fractured as any genre of music can be, with “metal” often being preceded by a parade of adjectives: Black, death, doom, power,New Wave of British Heavy thrash and speed are just some of the most popular.

Montreal’s Priestess hearken back to an earlier time, when heavy metal was just heavy metal and a good dose of melody was expected among the down-tuned riffs and sludgy pentatonics.

Having finally finished and released their second album – after kicking out their debut ‘Hello Master’ in three separate versions – they set off on yet another tour. The band is a frequent visitor to Ottawa, and has long enjoyed a solid fanbase in the city, so a gig at Mavericks, a frequent stopping point for bands who favour volume as a creative element was only natural.

They brought along another Montreal combo, Trigger Effect, for company, and the quintet set the evening off with a sound which owed far more to Black Flag than Black Sabbath. After baiting the audience with some amusing banter singer Nick Barbeau jumped into the crowd for some impromptu moshing. On their record, they manage 12 songs in 24 minutes, live they’re a shade faster.

Early Man was a big contributor to the evening’s full house. The L.A. based metal duo released their first and only full-length back in 2005 (on Matador, strangely enough) and have only released a single EP to keep it company since. Nonetheless they’ve acquired a good reputation through incessant touring, and bolstered with a bouncy touring bassist and a second axeman they put on a ripping set of West Coast thrash. The band owes a lot to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden as well as California combos like Megadeth, and showed they can pull off the wheedly leads like nobody’s business. Frontman Mike Conte’s reedy rasp adds an appropriately sinister edge to the band’s already menacing tunes. The audience didn’t need any encouragement to start moshing this time around, eschewing the traditional headbanging for a large circle pit in front of the stage.

As for Priestess, all that time spent touring instead of recording a new album showed up in their usually fine set. The band also came equipped with a new projection light show which sprayed the entire stage in coruscating images and likely made the band’s members wish they had brought sunglasses. Songs from their new album got some love from the audience, but it was the material from ‘Hello Master’ that got the most devil horns. With that kind of reception it may be now wonder they put four years between albums ...

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