By Will Oakeshott
Pix by Samuel Phillips Photography
The exact design of “shift-work” does not have an official beginning date; the notion can be traced back centuries to when “lookouts” were required to work throughout the night for the safety of the people within a diverse range of confines.
However, the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison and modern industrialisation in late 1800s has brought to this modern era, work schedules that are at their highest progressive position. For this writer, this is a situation that affects the daily routine, and therefore it was not possible to witness Impetus, Vapours AUS, 100 Years War and Descend To Acheron at The New Dead Metalfest 2022 – the sincerest
apologies are not quite adequate, but HEAVY implores readers to please check out these outstanding outfits.
Arriving to a wave of beer scented air ripened with the distinct essence of sweat, an ocean of black t-shirts, windmilling hair and a delightful darkness felt overwhelmingly sacred – an atmosphere so absent since the pandemic invaded our shores that this felt similar to a honeymoon, a “heavymoon” perhaps?
Nevertheless, this scribe was privileged to witness Brisbane’s blackened thrash trio Idle Ruin upon entry and their performance was akin to the opening scenes of Raiders Of The Lost Ark – surprising attributes, or traps, which captivated the audience; for example Ben Jarvis lending his unholy howls throughout the set. Dislocating necks from the band and crowd inspired by the cavernous wall of metallic noise just three men were capable of emitting and finally the “ruin” of the smaller stage with the song Gods Of Glass.
Almost instantaneously, it was forgotten it was still daylight outside.
Brisbane’s metallic deathcore quintet Descent took to the main stage immediately after and showcased their admiration for acts such as All Shall Perish, Suicide Silence, Carnifex and the progressive side of The Acacia Strain (see the D.E.C.A.Y EP series) with a threatening performance of stature. Tempest was
undoubtedly the highlight which had nods of respect to the Swedish death metal movement and front-man Anthony Oliver undoubtedly performed some vocal gymnastics that Ed Butcher would have admired.
To be frank, an emanation of New York’s Emmure somehow crept into the performance which altered the vibe of what the festival had presented, this was by no means a negative impact, more-so unexpected.
The Furor might just be the most unique metal outfit in Australia; a drummer by the name DIZAZTER takes to the stage with just his drum-kit, to the side of him is his laptop and technology, where he has recorded and self-produced six albums of material and then the Western Australian simply unleashes hell. This baffled many onlookers, double takes were as common as the actual process of head-banging occurring within the sold out venue and most impressively, this was executed with an amiable outlook and approach. Everyone seemed to be more friendly after each track; this sound was inspirited by second wave black metal: Satyricon, Marduk and Emperor are notable but not definitive. Destination Damnation and Slayer’s Show No Mercy were the victors of the exhibition, but it cannot be denied the individuality was the undeniable incredibility.
Queensland’s Minus Life galloped onto the main stage to deliver their blended metal formula, some parts Sevendust then oddly God Forbid and it was perplexing yet admirably ambiguous. Contorted Reality demonstrated some adventurous passages with its melody versus heavy moments; however, the show left many feeling disorientated but certainly determined, so the energy was infectious.
Adelaide’s Sundowner dirtied whatever Minus Life may have cleaned with a blasphemous, or BlastFamous, sludge. Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Pallbearer only begins to encompass this quintet’s musical pathway. Gutter Man had an obscene excellence that radiated throughout the venue as the five-piece somehow fit onto the smaller stage; their transmission though, was unquantifiable. Please make their album Guns, Knives And Tyre Irons part of the listening rituals that help with existence for the readers out there, especially if you enjoy bands along the lines of Oathbreaker also, as Olivia Burton’s snarl is one to marvel at.
Melbourne’s Frankenbok entered the big stage with The Power Process (not that song, but that presence) and it was an instant blast of brilliance – there is decades of experience within this quartet and they made this (franken)SHINE without missing a beat. Confidence Man emulated Lamb Of God, Our Last Breath blended Frenzal Rhomb with flirtations of Exodus and Lady Nicotine told Norma Jean they are still Wrongdoers.
Everyone Overdose on this four-piece immediately or if you are long-serving fans, continue to Dig them as the world should. In Malice’s Wake continued the Victorian and “Fun-Times” theme from the previous act with a big injection of Anthrax inspired thrash. The outfit certainly know what it takes to motivate their onlookers as their merriment onstage is contagious, not too dissimilar to Metal Punks A Wilhelm
Scream. Endless Possession instilled an uppercut of vitality into their spectators who were ecstatic to shout along to “Violence, Terror, Endless Fury! Violence, Mayhem, Endless Death!” with vocalist/guitarist Shaun Farrugia – in all honesty, there was an aura of Max Cavalera included impressively.
Credit must be given to bassist Karl Watterson who utilised the smaller stage as a personal playground with climbing apparatus.
It was time to get a little weird, wonderful and wicked and that combination was put in the trustworthy hands of tech death metal adventurers Hadal Maw. In the bat of an eye, the hell- raisers conjured up a nightmarish theatrical ambience with an unhallowed exhibition of brutality. Oblique Order was not of this
Earth in the best way possible and front-man Sam Dillon was of another being with his presence, landing somewhere between Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker and a Pterodactyl stalking his prey. Boasting a musical recipe that intertwines Anaal Nathrakh and The Red Chord, there is no denying that Hadal Maw will be requested to journey overseas again in the not too distant future, now that these restrictions have eased.
A return back to gleeful from gloom was triggered by the New South Welshmen Black Rheno and they reignited the party undoubtedly. A massive wave of stoner sludge metallic punk with sprinklings of Southern riffing with hardcore eminence at times added immensely to the celebration. Collision was simply colossal and Battery Ready was beyond charged – this was going to be hard to top. For the unknown, imagine Corrosion Of Conformity having a child with Santa Cruz’s Drain and then this offspring was educated by Tom Morello the child became obsessed with King Parrot and this is almost what Black Rheno surmise to. The trio were animated and agitated without missing a beat and ultimately succeeded in reinvigorating the New Dead Metalfest – not that is was in need of this by any means; regardless it was electrifying.
Queensland’s Lagerstein broke booze barriers further with their brand of pirate metal which was very welcomed by Lion Arts Factory as the seven-piece spiced up the heaviness with a shipload of happy. Part Týr, part Flogging Molly and a lot of Swashbuckler Pirate films obsession encapsulates this septet which is a little tacky at times although very tactical, and it works. Drink The Rum and Down The Hatch were delightful, especially with the port versus starboard mosh battle and then subsequent rowing moshpit.
Lagerstein might want to attempt contact with director Taika Waititi if season two of Our Flag Means Death begins production, as not only is their music suiting, they could be invited to guest star just as Mastodon did with Game Of Thrones.
Following delightful to now dimmed, Adelaide’s long serving avant-garde blackened death metal trio StarGazer transported their hometown into another realm of enchantment and all who witnessed their showcase were left in awe. There is a spirituality with their concoction of metal that is extremely difficult to describe, it is of another universe and unquestionably hypnotic.
Lash Of The Tytans, Evil Olde Sol, Old Tea, Red Antlered Radiant, Hooves, Ye Olde Magicks and Black Gammon were performed exquisitely, in retrospect however, this became a hazy journey into another galaxy were the only gravity that kept onlookers somewhat grounded were the vocals of Denny Blake
and thunderous drumming of Khronomancer. The power the three-piece emitted from the smaller stage defied size and it was in a word “mystifying”.
Melbourne’s death metal supergroup Abramelin launched their loved live antics upon a very willing and capacity crowd as the event was approaching the headlining acts. An attitude that can be likened to how Unearth and The Black Dahlia Murder convey their roguery, it is all-in-all very enticing. Featuring tracks from their latest full-length Never Enough Snuff as a focal point but throwing in some classics from their earlier recordings spanning back decades for good measure; this was a diverting euphoria that led superbly into the acts that would close this festival. A noteworthy mention must be placed on vocalist Simon Downer who did not fade at all energy-wise throughout his manic presentation, it was not human.
Sydney’s LO! have become a force in Australian metal, and for the most part thanks to their acclaimed third LP Vestigial – a record that saw the band become one of the premier acts at the Dark Mofo festival, where they played the release in full. The quartet has also supported Baroness, High On Fire, Amenra, Cult Leader and Trivium as well as doing their own international tours supporting The Ocean, Cult Of Luna and their own headline shows; after too many years, it was a blessing to have the four-piece headline to smaller stage at New Dead Metalfest. Opening with the devastatingly compelling A Tiger Moth’s Shadow, a sonic boom shook the venue and a magnificent madness overtook all enclosed within. Sam Dillon (yes of Hadal Maw also) portrayed his pterodactyl predatory antics even more remarkably than he had earlier that evening and an emanation of Converge integrated with Old Ma Gloom and Black Breath deafened those in the band’s radius.
Bewitching would be an accurate synopsis of LO! as their engagement is almost an entrapment, remarkably; the venom of new song Cannibal Culture was fantastically fierce and this was exemplified by Butcher Birds and Glutton. The closing chapter Orca was heroically harrowing for the curtain of the production; however this isn’t the end, it is an introduction to the four-piece’s next chapter as their new full-length has completed the recording element. Beware planet Earth, LO! are about to embark on their Bestial Beginnings.
If “too many years” was the best description of the absence of LO!, then it had been an eternity since Tasmania’s premier progressive tech death metal quartet Psycroptic had destroyed Adelaide. Amazingly after over two decades as a band, these four Taswegians still have a youthful and forceful presence once they attack the stage and this event was of no exception. The assault of The Watcher Of All was devilish and prestigious, especially in technicality. Carriers Of The Plague was perfectly puzzling as Psycroptic do best in the metal realm and tremendously vocalist Jason Peppiatt channeled Mike Patton in his onslaught.
Frozen Gaze seemed to come from another alien dimension transmitted by Joe Haley’s guitar prowess strengthened by Todd Stern’s bass vivacity and drummer Dave Haley’s inspirited mathematical rhythm. It seemed to come to a conclusion far too soon, thankfully Australia’s tech death metal finest returned for an encore of Ob(servant) which was a Molotov cocktail of metal, a flawless closure of New Dead Metalfest 2022.
As English poet Thomas Haynes Bayly famously said: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”; COVID-19 caused live music to become absent for an intolerable amount of time, but the love for this art, did not falter and it is now inflamed. New Dead Metalfest’s success in 2022 is testament to this quotation, and infinite thanks and appreciation must be sent to organiser Jason North for his tireless efforts. As the seventh track on the Bloodlands album of Jason North’s band Truth Corroded reads: Of Open Eyes And Willing Hands – this is the immaculate theme to what Australia is for the next New Dead Metalfest.