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HEAVYfest 2014 @ The Hi Fi Bar, Melbourne

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The streets of Melbourne were stained last night, stained with the festering assertion that the Greek titans of metal were set to celebrate HEAVY Magazine’s second birthday with its second annual Heavyfest, complete with local renegades Terra Australis, Rise Of Avernus and Denouncement Pyre. Not to forget, of course, The Amenta’s last show, possibly ever, making for one memorable night of both joyous and sad tears.

Many black metal and death metal t-shirts marched forth unto Melbourne’s The Hi Fi Bar for a night of unholy sanctimony. It was Sydney’s Rise Of Avernus, though, that gave Melbourne its first whiff of doom metal righteousness. They shook the stage with an immenseness that only proved Rise Of Avernus demand Australia’s attention. The heavy guitar tones found on their debut album, L’appel Du Vide, were well replicated live and their stage presence is all the more prevalent with the magnificent looking Catherine Guirguis at the helm.

The first taste of mid 90’s zaniness came from local veterans Denouncement Pyre. Their brand of traditional styled black metal has left its mark on Australia and their stage getup makes it clear to the audience what their intended game is. Spikes, corpse paint and high pitched vocals, the essential ingredients for any true to (blackened) heart extreme black metal barer.

Terra Australis continued this trend of corpse painted induced nostalgia, and took it all a step further. In addition to the essential ingredients of black metal, Terra Australis included images of upside down crosses, even crazier corpse paint and ominous looking guitars to match their presence. The singers face was nowhere to be seen as his Chris Barnes lookalike persona prevented any facial expressions from being shown in place of a massive mop of hair. Despite their band name, no Aussie accents could be heard here as every bit of banter from the front-man was done using the frightening screech of his wilfully tainted voice.

Next up, looking as if they’d just broken free of shackles at the bottom of a squalid swamp, The Amenta took to the stage for what was, sadly, their final show.  Singer, Cain Cressall, both enigmatic and charismatic, is undoubtedly one of the best front-men in the country and he and the band really pulled out all the stops for their last show, in what was probably one of their finest performances.  Playing a few of their older tracks, ‘Vermin’, ‘Erebus’ and ‘V01D’, plus ‘Ego Ergo Sum’, ‘Teeth’ and ‘Flesh is Heir’ from last year’s release Flesh is Heir, the band gave the enthusiastic  audience what they wanted – a visually and aurally powerful show that was a fitting send off for one of Australia’s greatest extreme metal bands.

In a bitter sweet night of first and lasts, The Amenta’s last show was followed by Greece’s extreme metal pioneers, Rotting Christ, on their first headline tour of Australia and, my oh my, were they phenomenal.  It’s abundantly clear that Rotting Christ have a good 25 or so years of experience under their belts because their fervent performance was impeccable, the magnitude of their live sound somehow managed to exceed that of their recordings and even the guitar and bass players’ hair twirling was perfectly in sync.  Although they favoured their two latest releases, 2010’s Aealo and 2013’s Kata Ton Diamona Eaytoy, with almost half their set comprising of songs from those albums, Rotting Christ managed to cover their massive back catalogue with the inclusion of songs off their older and more intense albums The Mighty Contract, Sanctus Diavolos, Triarchy of the Lost Lovers and Non Serviam, along with a cover of Thou Art Lord’s ‘Societas Satanas’ resulting in a really solid mix of old and new that the crowd embraced with ardent enthusiasm.

It was a great way to celebrate HEAVY’s second birthday and Rotting Christ’s stellar performance was definitely the cherry atop the HEAVY birthday cake.

– Review by Josh Voce and Amanda Mason

– Photos by Matt Allen and John Raptis

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