Canadian Metal Assault: Hellborn Death Engines

Calgary plays host to our latest stop off on our whistlestop tour of the Canadian underground...

Welcome to Metal as Fuck! For the benefit of our readers, tell us a bit about yourself and your band. "My name is Scott Onofrychuk and I play lead guitar for Hellborn Death Engines. We're a thrash metal band that's a little different than most, our lyrical focus is mainly on pop culture and video games".

Interesting! And with that information in mind, who or what are the bands main inspirations and/or influences? What drove you to take up the cudgels in the name of metal? "We all listen to vastly different stuff, but I think the main influences that we agree on would be newer bands like Revocation and Havok. Of course, we love the old stuff too, as Megadeth, Exodus and Death Angel are also big influences for us".

What’s the metal scene like in Calgary? And what do you think of the scene in Canada generally? "Calgary's metal scene is much bigger than a lot of people think. It's packed with so much variety that there's something for everyone that likes heavy music here. Most people get along great, and mixed bills are quite common which I think is a little unique. As far as Canada goes, I don't think we get enough credit for the quality of music we produce. The problem is it's harder to tour and get noticed because the drives are much longer and the population density of USA or Europe just isn't there". 

Yep - that's a problem we encounter here in Australia too. Moving on, we asked another band in this series, Valyria, where they thought the future of their chosen genre, death metal, lies in years to come – what do you think about thrash? Where can it go to stay relevant? Or are notions of relevance unimportant as long as the music remains as powerful as ever? "I think thrash has been coming back in a big way for a while now. For a lot of bands I think it's heading in a more technical direction, a lot of them are really pushing it as far as they can go while still sounding thrashy. It's great, the musicianship in many bands is frickin astounding these days. And then there's still bands that are keeping the 80's sound alive and it's just as much fun to listen and rock out to".

We decided to take this look at the Canadian underground scene when we were sent a sampler of all the bands trying to fight it out in the Canadian leg of the Wacken Battle competition. Tell us a bit about your involvement in the Canadian Wacken Battle comp – how did it come about? "Quite simple really, we heard about it last year but we didn't manage to get in on any of the shows. So, we kept an eye on registration for this year and signed up the first day it was available. We managed to win the first round and get to the Calgary finals. Unfortunately, we didn't play our greatest set at the finals and got outplayed by two great bands - After Earth and Dethgod".

Better luck next time! We thought you were one of the best bands we heard! Moving on to more general matters, Who would you say, was the greatest Canadian metal band of all time? "Annihilator, hands down. It's a damn shame they really only made it big in Europe though, I would love to see them here in Calgary". 

Ah yes, I remember drunkenly standing on the bridge in my home town in England shouting 'I am human insecticide!" at the top of my voice a long, long time ago! So it wasn't all bad they became big in Europe! Annihilator aside, what about a lost metallic gem from Canada that the wider world might have missed out on? "There’s lots of names that can be thrown out here. Any of those old Canadian thrash and speed groups (Exciter, Sacrifice, Razor, etc.) would be worthy of worldwide fame on a larger scale than they got. Quo Vadis, a tech death band from Quebec, is another one that should have gone way further than they did. Same with Disciples of Power from Edmonton. The list is too large to cover everyone that deserves it". 

Too true - but there are some new names for us there to go away and investigate - cheers! And apart from HDE, are there any other up and coming Canadian bands we should be keeping an eye on? "There's too many to name, but a couple of my personal favourites would be Riot City from Calgary and Villainizer from Edmonton".

Now, here’s your one and only chance to plug your shit – what can we buy from you, and where can we find out more about you? Any gigs/tours coming up?  "We've got an album, several shirts, and patches all available through our online store, which you can find on our Facebook page at - Unfortunately, with the economy going the way it is, we've had to scrap any plans we had to hit the road this spring. The only gig we have that I can say anything about is tomorrow (April 18th) with Calgary's Divinity at Overtime Sports Bar".

And finally - Anything else our readers need to know about Hellborn Death Engines? "If you like thrash metal, video games, or pop culture, then there might just be something you can find to enjoy about us!"

Thanks for taking part!