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Live Review: The Mark Of Cain, Messthetics, feedtime

21 October 2019 | 2:47 pm | Mick Radojkovic

"[O]ver 50s were climbing onto the stage to stage-dive."

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The distinctive bass of feedtime commenced an evening which would see us bombarded with heavy noise from every angle. The Sydney trio stormed through their two-minute noise-rock songs in a flurry of guitar and frantic drums. Despite their age, the songs were tight and a good warm-up to the evening. Don't Tell Me, their “ attempt at punk”, as declared by singer Rick Johnson, rounded out a quick set of alt-noise from a legendary group of innovators.

Messthetics, in effect two-thirds of Fugazi, are as you would expect: heavy, punky and tight with a touch of jazz and a whole heap of musicality. In juxtaposition to the previous act, their songs lasted up to ten minutes and explored a range of emotions. The rhythm section of bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty drove the unrelenting power of the trio to extraordinary pinnacles of sound before experimental guitarist Anthony Pirog let rip into a myriad of improvised guitar solos that left us shaking our heads in bewilderment. This was instrumental post-hardcore music that explored the depths of sound like nothing we'd seen. 

Messthetics @ Factory Theatre. Photo by Josh Groom.

“We didn’t come up this way much back then,” admitted frontman and guitarist John Scott as The Mark Of Cain began the 30th anniversary run-through of their seminal Battlesick album. The Adelaide band may not have travelled all that much in the late ‘80s, but their subsequent success translated to a packed crowd in Factory Theatre.

It took a few songs for the trio to get into it. The crowd, perhaps a little unsure of the early tracks, took their time as well. Call In Anger saw the group starting to warm into it but the title track, with its unrelenting bass line, set the tone for the rest of the night. The remainder of the album was tight and powerful, showcasing their pioneering sound – one that still stands as inspiration for alt-metal groups.

Scott slayed with his trademark Rickenbacker guitar, while brother Kim stood menacingly with his low-slung bass and Eli Green put on an exceptional drumming display.

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The Mark Of Cain @ Factory Theatre. Photo by Josh Groom.

Following a short break, the group returned for their encore set. Interloper, The Contender and First Time brought everything up a notch and all of a sudden over 50s were climbing onto the stage to stage-dive. These shenanigans didn’t last long but the music kept pumping as the clock ticked past midnight. Final track Point Man bristled with ferocity as John Scott yelled, “I got a gun, I got the bullets!” The audience were right there with him, but things were not as hectic in the pit as they might have been 30 years ago. The raw power and brutal heaviness of The Mark Of Cain can’t be overstated. Even now, their music stands as some of the most powerful ever produced in Australia.