Hell On The Bay, Melbourne
(Barbarion, Desecrator, Claim The Throne, Hybrid Nightmares)
5 September 2015
Review by Daniel Tucceri
It was the one boat Tony Abbott couldn’t stop.
A few tonnes of metal, torrents of beer and a tsunami of sound travelled through Port Phillip Bay in an unforgettable night of boozin’ and crusin’.
After the captain politely reminded them of the value of lifejackets (despite being heckled mercilessly), the metal hordes embarked upon their odyssey through the rancid waters of Melbourne’s biggest toilet bowl. It was a bitterly cold night and perhaps the event would have been served better by waiting for summer. Nonetheless, that didn’t prevent numbers from swelling to a sell out.
Once aboard, things got perilously crowded at the bar whilst the DJs, which included Dave ‘Higgo’ Higgins, kept the atmosphere distinctly metal. It looked as though getting a beer or a slice of complimentary Dominos pizza looked set to be an ordeal, but numbers thinned as the hordes got a feel for the vessel and wandered thereabouts.
Such a setting leads to a unique gig experience. To get the best view of the band, one needed to get up front as quickly as possible. However, the lure of liquor and the freedom to smoke aboard the vessel ensured the devoted few had room to move. As for anyone stuck at the back, they either had to use their imaginations or simply admire the view outside to get bang for their buck.
Even if you didn’t see so much as a raised horn from the stage, the sight of the bay and city’s night panorama made the trip worth the price of admission alone. The opportunity to drift away from work and life’s other obligations for a few hours, especially whilst banging one’s head and swilling beer, was quite appealing in itself. Occasionally, a bemused worker on the docks would wave from afar or bare the upturned horns. A few shrinking violets chose to bare their arses, which were promptly returned with a similar gesture by the most appreciative passengers.
Beginning Brimstone Bookings’ third sojourn from the shores was Hybrid Nightmares. They walked on the cramped stage to the stains of My Heart Will Go On, prompting some fans to screech and bellow along with their own metal-ised versions. A band that didn’t take themselves too seriously, Hybrid Nightmares were just as content with exhibiting their guitar skills as their formidable thumb war skills. Presentation was the key for these guys, with fluorescent body paint akin to that worn by Italian black metal band Aborym.
Exhorting the audience to ‘lay down to Satan and play that funky music tonight’, Hybrid Nightmares passed the torch to Claim the Throne. Featuring metal stalwart Dysie on guitar, the band were an Arcturus fan’s wet dream come true. While these guys could seriously play, they didn’t shy from imploring those slamming bodies from ‘sucking each other off in the pit’. There were plenty of blast beats to keep the most hardened of metal heads satisfied and when there weren’t, Claim The Throne made us clap along to the accordion driven metal-shanties perfectly suited to a night at sea.
Riley Strong and his band of merry maniacs hit the stage and the Desecrator frontman proved again why he is one of the best frontmen in the business. Kicking off with Down to Hell, one can’t help but think their next recording needs to better capture their explosive live show. With the mix sounding perfect, Desecrator didn’t put a foot wrong with Scottie Pacino’s blistering lead breaks beefed up by Paulie Tipping’s mean as mustard bass tone.
Capping off the night as we made our perilous journey back toward the darkest recesses of the docks, Barbarion put forth a performance to make their Viking forbears weep with pride. Playing all of the crowd’s favourites, such as Matilda (My Favourite Wife), there was no stopping these guys as they blasted the bay into oblivion. Well, that was until the Victoria Star reached its destination and the encore number was forcibly cut short. A bit of a bummer to end on, but it certainly wasn’t a disappointing night.
Here’s to another Hell On the Bay in future. Other promoters need take note, since the good ol’ fashioned Metal Cruise is long overdue for a comeback in Melbourne. It would be great for the scene to see other styles represented in equal measure.