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Deathstars Live @ The Corner, Melbourne, Australia

The self proclaimed masters of Death-Glam, Sweden’s Deathstars have been quiet lately. It’s been 4 years since their last full studio release ‘Night Electric Night’, but they’ve recently announced they will be heading back to the studios to lay down album number four. That leaves just enough time for an Australian tour!

Opening the night and back before a home town crowd are The Mercy Kills. Their brand of infectious dirty rock/pop/punk kicks things into gear straight away and gets plenty of support from the crowd. The quickfire set is delivered with the energy and attitude that is a key of every TMK gig, and the final number “Waiting On You” crowned their performance in classic style – drummer Josh breathing fire, vocalist/guitarist Mark hanging from the ceiling, bass player Jen prostrate on the floor hammering at the strings, and guitarist Nathalie wisely staying a safe distance back as Mark drops from the roof onto the drumkit, spreading cymbals and stands across the stage. Another great show from a band that plays to win.

Next up are Sydney-siders Graveyard Rockstars. A great choice as a support for this tour with visuals and sound that complimented but in no way mimick the headline act. A few minor sound issues do nothing to derail a solid show, and the set is well structured and the builds nicely. With each track the band seems to get better and the closing number “Dead on Arrival” is a ripper, drawing a great response.

Finally it’s time for the new, slimmer – they are a 4 piece now following the recent departure of guitarist Cat Casino – Deathstars to take the stage and blast into ‘Mark of the Gun’. A great opening track, made even better by the sound system miraculously gaining levels of volume and quality that were somehow absent during the warm up acts. The venue is not sold out, but the crowd is still primed and enthusiastic, and roaring their approval from the start.

It’s a simple equation for this band really, a healthy dose of guitar based riffage from the school of Rammstein, plenty of (backing tape) atmospheric keys to add a layer of Addams Family, and a liberal dose of Scandinavian sex appeal to make sure the fairly large compliment of women (and the occasional male, presumably) in the audience can soak up some A-grade Swedish testosterone. There’s none of the blunt and crass sexual sleaze you get from American bands like Motley Crue or Steel Panther; instead it’s mostly some sort of implied androgynous flirtation between band and fans. Suggested but not revealed, for the most part through the lyrics and delivery of vocalist Whiplasher Bernodotte. He strides the stage, military style, in total command and defiance, continually ordering the crowd to silence between songs (a novel approach to crowd interaction, to be sure), then urging the crowd to scream at the key moment each new track begins. It’s a simple enough stage ploy, but oh so effective and a refreshing change from the endless ‘Oi Oi Oi’ chants that dominate gigs.

Rolling through crowd favourites like Cyanide, Night Electric Night and Blitzkrieg, it’s easy to just let the vibe wash over you and enjoy the music – a pure rock/metal amalgam that fits the term Death-Glam perfectly. Bassist Skinny Disco flails his dreadlocks in windmills at key moments, guitarist Nightmare Industries punches each riff out as if he’s nearing a personal high score on Rock Band, and drummer Vice keeps it all together from the drum riser. Whiplasher remains the focus throughout though, and in a nice touch he give both the support bands a good wrap at one point.

The end comes quickly, the encore features two of their best tracks, Death Dies hard and Revolution Exodus, and a little over an hour after hitting the stage, they are gone and the house lights come up. They came, they played, we cheered… lets hope they come again.

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