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Live Review: The New Dead IV MetalFest

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Anybody organising a metal festival in Australia at the moment has what they always call “a coach’s favourite problem”. Exactly who do you leave out? Australian metal seems to be in a purple patch at the moment, and this was thoroughly demonstrated at New Dead IV.

Hidden Intent, Alkira, In the Burial, Arcadia, Closed Casket, and Infiltraitor all performed various genres of metal with levels of tightness and energy that were genuinely impressive.

The Schoenberg Automaton were staggering; as labyrinthine as the best in the field, and sharper than a cut-throat razor. Black Like Vengeance delivered a vigorous set of melodic death metal that was equally heavy and melodic.

Ouroboros were another in the long list of super-tight bands on the bill. They obviously prefer to let their music do the talking, with Evgeny Linnik being the main focal point of any on-stage action. Well-played, with minimum fuss, this was serious metal played to an appreciative audience.

Frankenbok slammed onto the stage meaning business. Their ‘there’s a metal party on my stage and everybody’s gone f**king nuts’ set was a super-groovy, super-thrashy display of metal performed with unrelenting purpose and precision. One of the angriest, most fun metal shows you could ever see.

Epic and overwhelming, Ne Obliviscaris is an ethereal experience best appreciated live. Hypnotic, majestic builds, walls of sound, broken with canonic sections, only to build again to a blast-beating maelstrom; this was not so much a live rendition of recorded songs, but more a well-honed piece of art being realised in a live setting.

The Amenta put on a flawless display. Totally professional, this was not merely a band playing riffs, but an entirely realised concept that was utterly engaging. Non-stop energy mixed with bleak, unrelenting music and subtle use of background noises, this was a living, breathing religious experience in musical form. Simply stunning.

Psycroptic had a tough task headlining the amazing array of local talent that preceded them. A combination of technical brutality and plain straight-out groove, this is music that dares you not to bang your head. The sheer forcefulness coming off-stage as Psycroptic pounded through their set guaranteed there was nary a head not moving. Psycroptic were on fire; absolute precision and excellent energy. When you have songs this good, if you play them well, everything else is going to take care of itself.

Photos courtesy Kevin James.

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