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Wake the World: Calgary Grindcore act continue to spread the noise with their latest Thought Form Descent

They couldn’t be musically more dissimilar.

But they are, in fact, kindred spirits, with the one blazing the trail for the other, decades before, and lighting the way for where they now find themselves.

Legendary Calgary instro-rock act Huevos Rancheros.

And soon-to-be legendary Calgary grindcore band Wake.

Huh?

The veteran metal crew’s guitarist Rob LaChance draws that straight line, reaching all the way back to 1993 when he was but a wee, impressionable lad immersing himself in the thriving local indie-rock and all-ages scene and Huevos bassist Graham Evans — when he wasn’t touring the world with the trio — was working at Music World in Westbrook Mall.

“He helped me get me my first bass, he taught me God Save the Queen on the bass in the back of Music World,” LaChance says, noting that, as well as Evans’ globetrotting with Huevos, left a lasting impression.

“It just showed me what was possible with music, that anybody could do it if you want to.

“He was actually a big inspiration of mine.”

Again, musically, that would be all but impossible to ascertain from the sonic assault, the beautifully belligerent and brutal sounds Wake have been mastering since forming in the city 10 years and five full-length albums ago.

The quintet, which is rounded out by vocalist Kyle Ball, guitarist Arjun Gill, drummer Josh Bueckert and bassist Ryan Kennedy, have stamped a name for themselves in the metal scene earning accolades and an increasingly largeer following with each successive year.

“You do something long enough, you tend to get OK,” LaChance says with a laugh

Oh, they are. More than.

Their recently released sixth outing on Metal Blade Records, Thought Form Descent, shows how far they’ve come, and how much further they can take things. A natural progression rather than a departure, Wake’s latest builds off of those previous records, honing it, refining it and focussing it into a way that, LaChance says, “emphasizes the parts we found really hit people.”

The eight-song Descent, recorded in Colorado with longtime producer and unofficial sixth band member Dave Otero, is akin to the growth shown by fellow noise peddlers Deafheaven, with both finding new ways to do the damage they do so well.

“We like to try new stuff,” says LaChance, explaining the five are music fans first and foremost. “When you’ve been a band for this long, if we stuck to playing the same style of music over and over again, we wouldn’t last, and it wouldn’t be interesting …

“We do it to keep ourselves interested and keep the music interesting as well.”

In the case of Thought Form Descent that also meant, lyrically, making it something of a concept record based on a “loose fictional story” from the mind of singer Ball. It comes from the idea of creating “a sort of labyrinth within the mind and manifesting it into physical reality, and descending into it.”

Pretty heady shit.

And, not surprisingly, as a result, the thoroughly immersive record is meant to be consumed in one sitting, as a whole.

“We all feel that when we’re going to sit down and listen to a record we want to listen to the entire thing. With us and a lot of bands — at least a lot of bands that I listen to — they write songs as an album, with a purpose, it’s like a full piece of music,” he says.

“And I feel that (2020’s) Devouring Ruin and Thought Form Descent need to be digested as one whole unit.”

Sadly, fans weren’t given the dinner and a show that would have been the tour surrounding  Devouring, due, of course, to COVID. Nor, for the same reasons, would the aWakened have been offered the sample platter that was the EP Confluence, which was recorded immediately after Ruin’s release and released the same year.

“We’re a band that’s always looking forward, not behind us, so when we have new music, we want to get it out there,” the guitarist says.

They’re now, with Thought Form Descent, ready to get back at it, champing at the bit to spread the good, ungodly word across North America and beyond.

Which takes us back to the beginning, the lessons LaChance and the rest of the members learned from Huevos and other bands of that era such as Chixdiggit whose mantra always seemed to be: Be local, think global; define yourself, don’t let the city and scene define you.

“I do feel that we are, in ways, a Calgary band,” LaChance says. “But at the same time, we’ve never just focussed on being (that), we’ve always had our minds open to something bigger and just taking over the world, I guess.

“As soon we started, as soon we had the first 7 inch out … the thing that we were driven to do was tour. We didn’t want to be just weekend warriors in Calgary and just play the same venues all the time, we wanted to get out there, so when we had enough songs for a solid set, we hit the road and we never really looked back.

He continues. “We never really were a local band, we didn’t really play too many Calgary shows and we never really have, but I think that over time Calgary has really supported us …

“We love Calgary, Calgary is a special place for us, we’re all from here, we love the scene here,  we have lots of good friends, there’s lots of good bands and we have lots of good friends in those bands, but we just like touring and we like playing everywhere.”

Well, before heading to the midwest and then the West Coast, they will be local long enough for a release show at The Palomino on Aug. 6 with yyc contemporaries The Weir opening up. That band, too, has made it their raucous business to spread the metal far and wide, plant a Calgary flag wherever they grind.

Like his early encounters with Master Evans, LaChance is hoping what Wake and The Weir are doing inspires wee ones in this city who are or may soon be on their way up.

“I think that what we’re doing can shine some light on some bands here and hopefully also give them, the younger bands, just the chance to see that it is possible to be a nobody band, and go tour the U.S., and get out there and do their thing,” says LaChance. “It is possible to do what you want.”

“I think Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Vancouver have always had a thriving metal scene, and I think in Calgary it never really was that. 

“I’d like to see that change, and more bands start up, and we’d like to be a part of that.”

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