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Gig Review: Angelus Apatrida + Supports, Melbourne, 28 May 2016

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Angelus Apatrida + In Malice’s Wake + Harlott + Mason
28 May 2016
The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne
Review by Joshua Bulleid
Photos by Jess Miller

It doesn’t take much more than a decent line-up to get Melbourne’s thrashers out to the Bendigo Hotel and given that this night’s roster pretty much read as a ‘who’s who’ of local thrash acts along with cult Spanish act Angelus Apatrida, making their first appearance on Australian soil tonight, the local scene was out in full force.

Mason got heads banging early on with a thundering set drawn from their 2013 debut, Warhead, and the recently-dropped Unmerciful EP, before closing things out with the live debut of Burn, from their upcoming, sophomore effort, which if that colossal track is anything to go by promises to be one of the most exciting genre releases in a year already populated by outstanding thrash records. The whole band were in fine form, particularly recently added guitarist Grant Burns (ex-Vespers Descent), and each member delivered their set with a welcome enthusiasm, perfectly summed up in drummer Nonda Tsatsoulis’s infectious grin.

It was not long after that Harlott made the transition form the front row to the stage to a welcoming audience, who packed the Bendigo’s limited floor space to throw down to the Melbourne favorite’s brand of Kreator-drenched, ‘blink and you’ll miss it’, thrash metal. Frontman, Andrew Hudson might not have been taking himself too seriously, but that didn’t mean his band didn’t lay down a seriously punishing set, full of neck-snapping riffs and sing-along choruses that would have been tough to follow under any circumstance.

Rising to the task, however, were Aussie thrash kings In Malice’s Wake, who have more or less taken up a residency at The Bendigo at this point. Just like every other night, the band took the opportunity to prove, once again, why they’re the pinnacle of Australia’s current thrash and wider heavy metal scene, even if it took a while for many of the punters to trickle back in after the impressive, preceding set. I’m fast coming to believe that this band can do no wrong, and other than once-again closing their set with a rendition of Sepultura’s exhaustedly-covered Arise, when such phenomenal as No Escape have been dropped from proceedings, once again there wasn’t a single thing that they could be faulted for on this occasion.

After three outstanding thrash sets from three of Australia’s most-outstanding thrash bands; it was time for Angelus Apatrida to take the stage and, somehow, almost unbelievably, the international act came out on top. The Spanish quintet pounded the crowed with choice cuts from each of their five albums, playing every riff as though it were the best thrash metal riff ever written, which to be fair they all might just have been. Each member of the band was on point, however, it was drummer Victor Valera who impressed the most. The man is an absolute beast behind the kit, pushing through the band’s already striking groves with a force akin to a stampede, and keeping things fresh with numerous, refined tempo changes that left behind no doubt that him and his band deserve to be mentioned alongside thrash’s best.

The night was the final stop on Angelus Apatrida’s epic Pacific Assault Tour, which previously saw the Spaniards plough through Japan, China and Taiwan; and, was nothing short of a true celebration of everything that’s great about one of heavy music’s finest forms. A special mention must be given to the sound engineers for the night who, besides a few minor technical difficulties, got the sound absolutely spot on for each band, and kept things running in a tight and timely manner. This night has set a lofty bar for gigs, past and present, to live up to.

This is what live music should be like.

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