Its no secret that Montreal is Canada’s cultural epicenter. From clubs to cuisine to cat cafés, Quebec’s capital is world-renowned for being one of the most diverse cities on the planet. Such a citation is the reasoning behind its flourishing vinyl community which becomes evident when exploring the city’s many record shops. Here’s a list of Montreal’s top vinyl stores for building up your collection of heavy music and proto-metal.
Aux 33 Tours (1373 Mont-Royal Avenue East):
Located on the bustling Mont-Royal Avenue, Aux 33 Tours has been around for just over ten years now. While some stores on this list have pushed through the Compact Disc (CD) era and the subsequent vinyl murder patiently awaiting its revival, Aux 33 Tours is one of the ones that opened as a result of the rising LP sales as of recent.
New is a common theme with this shop, as they have the best selection of new releases I have seen in a brick-and-mortar. When I first got into vinyl, I presumed that I’d be able to find older and classic records in shops nearby but would have to suffer a hefty shipping and handling fee every time I wanted a newly-released record. However, it looks like Aux 33 Tours has got me covered. While rummaging through the “new releases” bin, I came across Torture Rack’s Malefic Humiliation (released four months ago), Innumerable Forms’ Punishment in Flesh (released just under a month ago), and Dee Snider’s For The Love Of Metal (also released just under a month ago). I was surprised enough to see Torture Rack’s recent release in there, and even more astonished to find some stuff that was practically hot off the press.
It goes further. The store had a massive dedicated section for metal music and featured LPs from pretty much every large to mid-range band. I’m talking Pestilence, Metallica, Bathory, Entombed, Pentagram, the list goes on… Furthermore, in the miscellaneous alphabetical sections, there had to be at least thirty records for every letter, most of which I didn’t recognize. They do also have a used section but it isn’t that extensive. As the prices were also fair, Aux 33 Tours is the best place to go for your metal vinyl needs, especially for newly-released records.. Good luck spending less than an hour in there on your first visit.
Death of Vinyl (6442 Boulevard Saint-Laurent):
While we just covered the best in terms of new releases, Death of Vinyl is practically the opposite of Aux 33 Tours in terms of stock. Run by a middle-aged gentleman who’s clearly passionate about the world of music, Death of Vinyl has been around for over twenty years. The store focuses solely on used vinyl, which makes the place the epitome of locations for crate diggers looking for decently-priced older records.
While they have great collections of Francophone, House, and other genres, they also offer a great selection of metal and proto-metal material. Thankfully, the store also doesn’t suffer from the common used record store syndrome whereby all of the known releases are absent and the location is filled with nothing but super underground and unpopular music. Well-known albums from groups like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and many more can be found here, among some rarer stuff like Metallica’s 1984 Creeping Death EP (sorry, I snagged that one). The store also features a great selection of proto-metal to the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and many more. Death of Vinyl is a great place to kill an afternoon without thinning out your wallet too much; and you’ll most likely end up walking out with a handful of records.
Cheap Thrills (2044 Rue Metcalf):
Downtown’s Cheap Thrills has also been in the business for a fairly long time now. Although a smaller shop than the above two, Cheap Thrills seems to almost solely focus on metal and rock music. Their used bins are stocked with underground releases, and they have a large section focusing the on large to mid-sized names in the industry. They have most of the Death reissues, nearly every Sleep release (including The Sciences), a great black metal collection, and so much more. They’ve even got smaller up-and-coming bands like Power Trip in their collection, which shows that they keep in touch with the scene and it’s a worthwhile location to revisit every-now-and-then.
They’ve also got an awesome selection of used books on the other half of their store which makes for a great coupling with a listening session. I recently picked up Machiavelli’s The Prince there when I was rummaging through their extensive used book collection. All they’re missing is coffee grounds for sale and that’s all you’d need to bring home for an amazing Sunday afternoon.
Freeson Rock (1477 Mont-Royal Avenue East):
Conveniently, Freeson Rock is located a block down from Aux 33 Tours, mentioned earlier in the article. Unfortunately, they are somewhat shadowed by the monolith beside them, even though they have a decent collection. While releases from many known bands within the community can be found here, you can’t help but feel disappointed when you look through their collection, as they self-proclaim themselves to be the experts on rock and metal (hence the name). The shop only carries these two genres, so you’d think they’d have a better handle on their stock. I guess this shortcoming comes as a result of their nearby competitor more than anything, but the claim is nonetheless significant. The location is still worth taking a peek at for new records at decent prices, but check out Aux 33 Tours first as its only a block away.
Beatnick Records (3770 Rue Saint-Denis):
Finally, we come to one of Le Plateau’s best record shops, Beatnick Records. The location is located in the basement along the busy Rue Saint-Denis and features a broad selection of genres with a decent split of new and used records. In terms of metal, they had a fairly sizeable collection featuring anything ranging from AC/DC to Necrotic Mutation (they had both of their reissues, perfect for those French-fanatic record collectors out there). Their rock and proto-metal selections were also well-stocked with multiple Beatles, Doors, and Deep Purple units. While not the #1 location in Montreal, Beatnick is a great middle-of-the-road record store to lose yourself in.