The final weekend in October is always packed with Halloween shows in Ottawa, and what better way to celebrate the season than with some occult-loving heavy metal.

Tourmates Witch Mountain and Castle provided an appropriate sonic background for the greasepainted hordes who climbed the narrow stairs to Cafe DeKcuf to see them perform with a trio of local heavyweights.

Monobrow won over many fans with a deadly set at All That Is Heavy II, a local minifest of metal featuring Iron Man and Blood Ceremony. Unfortunately the crowd was still sparse for their equally capable but quite early opening set. That didn’t stop the trio from cranking out some of the best heavy instrumental rock going, in town or out.

Thought Process is a new duo featuring a pair of experienced rock veterans trying their hands at the drum-and-bass set up. Decked out in black coveralls and skull paint (“We normally look like this,” averred bassist Ian Vance). The lyrics may stick largely to rock conventions, but the performance was energetic and loud, getting much applause from the swelling audience.

Muffler Crunch are a one-of-a-kind outfit, with energetic guitarist Luc Lavigne running about in the crowd while his acoustic guitar emits ungodly feedback through an array of pedals while drummer Angie The Barbarian (made up as a Killer Klown crossed with a suburban housewife, as far as this reviewer could tell) sings while hammering away at her extensive drumkit. A commanding live act (in part thanks to Luc’s tendency to jump on anything he can), the duo took a pass on their usual drum kit-demolishing finale.

San Francisco’s Castle now has two punchy records under its belt, and thanks to lead singer and bassist Elizabeth Blackwell has got a slight push from a sudden fascination with “female-fronted metal.” But what really sells the band is Mat Davis’ tough, stripped-down ruffs. There dDoomy debut has gotten a bit of a Motorhead injection on their latest album, ‘Blacklands’, and it’s reflected in their headbanging live show and its rawer, gutsier sound.

Portland’s Witch Mountain also has a lot going for it, with its sound reaching back to acts such as Led Zeppelin and Jim Hendrix, in addition to Black Sabbath and more current acts like Candlemass. The steady plod of its true doom, however, seemed in a bit of a torpor, even with singer Uta Plotkin’s Joplinesque wail to lift it above the ordinary. At one point things got laidback enough to inspire some lighter-waving from the one person in the crowd who apparently still has a lighter. The quartet played a satisfying set, but cut things off at the right point - about 45 minutes - before things started to drag.

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Commenting On: Cafe Dekcuf, Ottawa, 27/10/2012 - Halloween is Doomed!

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