An unsuspecting pack of bandits are walking the shadows at night; like shadows among the shadows. . .Paul Balanchuk, Greg Stefishen, Fernando Llanes and Ryan Two - Stix are at peace with the night time sky. These men collectively form the latest greatest unified offering from the long standing Edmonton, AB music scene. Edmonton, AB the last honest pioneering music hotspot swimming between musical production giants like Toronto and Vancouver; Edmonton ensures its successful acts are raised on the harshest of temperature extremes and similar audience accolade. Notorious for a very selective music following, Edmonton has earned this reputation not just from longevity in the marketplace but rather promoting such acts over time like Belvedere, Choke, Jr. Gone Wild, the Smalls and SNFU. Among these iconic bands who have cut their teeth on the Edmonton scene is found the Preying Saints and their current offering "Salvation Is Gone". The sound of the Saints is nothing short of exceptional, as their website clearly states; two fisted, double barrelled, road worn, a bastard child of a menage a trois between country, punk, and rock and roll, The Preying Saints emerged from a world of back alleys, fast cars, and faster women. There's no act here, four souls showing their scars and giving the middle finger to the watered down rock and roll being fed to the masses.
The Preying Saints are by far the "New Kid on the Block" they are in fact a pedigree spanning almost 30 years of Canadian Music History which has blended the talents of all it's members. Clearly dissatisfied with the local music scene, and the rules of engagement for the chosen genre, they chose to push to the front of the line and lay the money on the table, in an all or nothing venture to lay sole claim to the Edmonton scene and rise from ashes like a true phoenix.
Fronted by Paul Balanchuk, Edmonton original and veteran of The Rabid Drunks, The Krazy 8s, and The Igniters, bringing a vocal style that is as much Johnny Cash as it is Johnny Rotten. Balanchuk himself is certainly not without longstanding accolade for his involvement in the local Edmonton music and culture scene. For Balanchuk, the season is of no consequence on fashion; his frame adorned in his traditional sleeveless homemade Saints vest. The vest like the Saints has made it's rounds so to speak and is homemade, the talent here is what music used to be - an honest effort from the home and heart about what you wanted to see filling the void.
Balanchuk's arms a tattooed orgy of demons, hotrods, microphones, cobwebs, pinup gals and XXX booze bottles is what fuels the furnace on this beast - you won't find any anchor or unicorn tattoos here, he's the real deal. A well formed beard and long oily hair hang deep over Balanchuk's eyes giving him a rich Charles Manson like appearance; his fingers adorned each with a large rings some with skulls, others with engine blocks and still others yet just a big chunk of metal. Leaning heavily onto his mic stand, 1950's mic in one hand he pounds through the lyrics; his Tom Waits gravel drawl filling the room, his old leather boots pounding the stage floor. Greg Stefishen on guitar, teeth cut in Winnipeg punk rock, and finding a different path in Edmonton rockabilly act The Igniters, mixing equal parts rock, punk, and honky tonk, twisting power chords, western twang, and feedback through a Les Paul and Marshall stack. Stefishen is the piston head of this power packed four piece; his guitar playing is highly identifiable and not easily duplicated. From the opening chord of any show Greg is "switched on" with an old school stance reminiscent of days with Joe Strummer and the Clash. His Les Paul Standard slung deep and low on his side, his playing thundering through his Marshall JCM2000 and 1960 4x12 cab. If you listening closely to Stefishen's playing, you'll notice it is particularly clean and void of effects and filters.
Aside from his old standard kirk Hammet Cry Baby pedal, Greg is old school and in your face like an overhand punch to the back of the head and leaving you dizzy seeing stars. Rounding out the rhythm section on bass is the Kingpin unforgettable Fernando Llanes. His signature King double bass slap king and tiger king providing the solid backbone to the four piece through his 750 mesa boogie head and drilling out that slap sound through his 1 x 15 mesa cab + 4 x10 mesa cab; with this recipe of sound Fernando is the reason for much cracked paint on the walls of the venues the Saints have played. Fernando's distinct primal animalistic playing style is a sight to behold; his hair flying intensely back and forth his eyes rolled back deep in his head, the body of the bassman contorted and twisted in a flurry of pleasure and pain. Between intermittent bouts of bass surfing and overhead bass throws, Llanes brings back all the finesse of the greats like Lee Rocker back to any local stage the Saints lay claim. Drummers are often interchangeable without much notice, they tend to be the least noticed on a review or a live event - Ryan Two - Stix is the exception to this rule. Ryan's playing is what most career drummers aspire to over several years of playing; Ryan has in a very short time situated himself as one of the foremost iconic Edmonton drummers with an accompanying fuel tank that rarely drops below the "Full" line.
His flat top jet black hair, sunglasses and tattoo sleeved powerhouse arms are traditionally the only signs of life behind his Pearl Masters Drums, his Zildjian cymbals cresting high on each side framing himself at the rear of the band and ultimately the healm.
The latest offering from the Saints in the way of the 2013 release “Salvation Is Gone” is a jammed full action packed chronicle of what it means to be a Preying Saint. The lifestyle of these men literally drips from the album; you can feel the long exhaustive trips up and down Canadian highways from one venue to the next, eating in the most reasonably priced least appealing truck stop and devouring what you can of a large plate of greasy sunny side up eggs between regulated feedings of Jack and Coke.