Honest Crooks have become a real force to be reckoned and this Melbourne headline set was proof of that fact.
It’s been around 6 months or so since I’ve seen the New South Wales-based Honest Crooks for the first time supporting Justice For The Damned on their 2017 headline run. If you read my review of that tour's Melbourne show, you’ll know I was very impressed and likened it to the first time that I saw Melbourne natives and fellow death metal purveyors I, Valiance. Since then, Honest Crooks have not been slowing down at all, even playing a goddamn monumental set at Invasion Fest 2017, which despite being the fourth band of the day, pulled one of the biggest and best crowd responses of the entire day.
"Hellworth's Heaviest" were back in Melbourne recently on their ‘Suffer Across Australia’ EP tour with a number of great bands in tow, so I headed down to Footscray's Reverence Hotel - a venue I happen to like quite a lot and one that Honest Crooks bassist, Lewy Glass likened to the Northcote Social Club - to see these guys really tear shit up. (Also, take note local promoters, this venue rules!)
Opening up the evening were Melbourne locals Overpower. I’ve seen this band in various guises over the last three or so years, and they’ve no doubt improved markedly in that time. Their thrash metal influenced hardcore sound has a really old school tinge to it which I really enjoyed, and from what I saw, a good few punters did too. The band have an EP out soon and they played some of the new material live which definitely seemed to go over well. And I’ll definitely be sure to check it out. You should too.
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[caption id="attachment_1101851" align="alignnone" width="760"] Overpower.[/caption]
Up next was Sydney's Underminer, who I actually saw with Overpower not too long ago at Dregg’s EP release show. Right off the bat, I noticed that the mix for these guys' set was definitely much quieter than every other band on the bill so I’m not sure what happened there, but that’s not necessarily down to the band's fault.
Their heavily down-tuned breakdown based metalcore is something you don’t really hear much of in the local scene anymore, but that’s not to say that they don’t do it well. Just like the last time I saw them, the most fun part of the set had to be their solid cover of Shinto Katana’s ‘Ghost’, which came out six years ago so thank you Underminer for reminding me that I’m getting old now. It was another dependable live showing from this band in Melbourne, though I just feel like they needed a stronger mix to give their sound that extra kick.
[caption id="attachment_1101849" align="alignnone" width="760"] Underminer.[/caption]
Apate hit the Rev's stage a little late after one of their guitarists broke a string, but despite that small hiccup, the Brisbane outfit played well.
The set consisted of tracks from their latest EP ‘Spit You Out’, which you may recall I quite enjoyed, and their forte is absolutely their heavier tracks. The title track, while being one of my favourites from that aforementioned EP, it sadly doesn’t have the same impact live and it felt weaker compared to songs like ‘Sp/lit’ and set closer, ‘Bitter Pill’. The band were short a bassist and I’m assuming that they simply ran those tracks through the PA, but honestly, it’s quite hard to tell with bands that tune down this low, then again it also depends on the technicality and presence of the bass player as well.
[caption id="attachment_1101846" align="alignnone" width="760"] Apate.[/caption]
Cast Down are very quickly becoming one of my favourite hardcore bands in the scene - they even scored a well-deserved local opening spot for Download Festival Melbourne too. From the few times that I’ve managed to see them play live, they continually make leaps and bounds forward as a live band. Despite starting late due to some issues with the samples (and being cut short as a result, which was a shame), the band played a bunch of their new material and elicited a great response from the crowd. The comparisons to a band like Code Orange are definitely warranted but I feel as if that comes down to a shared batch of influences because Cast Down definitely have their own take on the sample-heavy, Converge influenced '90s metalcore style. The new tracks are proving to be an absolute treat live, and vocalist Jack McDonald is definitely a very strong point of energy for this band.
It looks like it’s going to be a really big year for these Melbourne guys based on tonight’s showing!
[caption id="attachment_1101844" align="alignnone" width="760"] Cast Down.[/caption]
While I’m a big fan of straight-up metallic hardcore bands like Crowned Kings, and while they’re no doubt very good at what they do as I’ve seen them a few times in the past, their placement on the bill tonight is a little bit weird. Notwithstanding that they had one of the longer sets of the night - with new material from their recent LP 'Sea Of Misery' - they still played well and went over quite well despite playing to a heavier audience that I initially wouldn't think would suit them at all.
So, in that regard, a job well done here, lads.
[caption id="attachment_1101842" align="alignnone" width="760"] Crowned Kings.[/caption]
And now, finally, we have Honest Crooks. Much to literally nobody's surprise, the pit action ramped up about twelve notches as soon as the NSW heavies started their set. The band had to rely on not using their samples, but they managed to pull it all off well regardless. The first three tracks were the first three songs off their solid 2017 EP ‘Suffer’, and can we just appreciate how good of a song ‘Imminent Threat’ is? Despite someone jumping the gun with a mic-grab on ‘False Gods’, the ending breakdown still proves to be one of the more fun moments in the set. And yes, they did indeed play ‘Welcome To Slam City’ much to the delight of the punters, and myself.
Honest Crooks once again proved that they are very good at what they do and that they definitely know how to bring the violence out (but in a good way).
[caption id="attachment_1101853" align="alignnone" width="760"] Honest Crooks, baby. [/caption]
All in all, I think this was a bloody great way to spend a Friday evening, and the local crowd turnout was especially nice to see as well.
If you’re going to take anything away from this gig review, here are my two main takeaways from this show. Firstly, Cast Down are set to have a huge year should all go well, and secondly, Honest Crooks have truly become a force to be reckoned with in the Australian heavy music scene. It's only onwards and upwards for them from here!
All photo credit here goes out to Dylan Martin - follow his work here.
Read our latest interview with Honest Crooks here & catch the band on these following tour dates:
Wed April 11 – Hamilton Station, Newcastle
Tickets – Free Show
Thurs April 12 – ECP Studios, Berkely Vale
Tickets – http://bit.ly/sufferECP
Fri April 13 – The Basement, Canberra
Tickets – http://bit.ly/sufferCBR
Sun April 15 – Factory Floor, Sydney
Tickets – http://bit.ly/sufferSYDNEY
Mon April 16 – Rad Bar, Wollongong
Tickets – http://bit.ly/sufferRAD
Sat April 21 – The Brightside, Brisbane
Tickets – http://bit.ly/sufferBRIS