"Largely business as usual for the death metal bruisers; precisely what their following craved."
A pair of Kiwi acts afforded a suitably heavy beginning to proceedings. Xile's rather stock-standard brand of hardcore was fitting enough for an opening act, their half-hour on stage eliciting a healthy crop of headbanging and the occasional pit ninja.
Antagonist AD exuded an inclusive message, not to mention a likeable energy that endeared their metalcore fare to both the already converted and uninitiated. The end result was a passionate audience, shoutalongs and circle pits filling the modest-sized venue.
Boasting a crushing single in the form of the recently issued Black Mamba - which was greeted like an old favourite by their rabid fans - Melbourne crew Alpha Wolf's nu-metal influenced, beatdown-laden deathcore was able to get the crowd moving in earnest. Limbs flailed in the pit to the likes of Failvre and Nail Biter, and the band also road-tested new material. New vocalist Lochie Keogh's deeper growls boosted their sonic attack, and he enthusiastically led punters through their paces. By set's end it felt like they'd used up all the tricks at their disposal, but for the majority in attendance, this was a success.
Thy Art Is Murder frontman CJ McMahon has never been short on confidence, nor a spot of expletive-filled stage banter. But there was a more modest feel to his delivery when he noted that although the band plays to large crowds in Europe and the US, it was the regional shows in their native Australia that laid the platform for the quintet being able to launch an assault on overseas markets.
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Another point of difference was Aversions Crown drummer Jayden Mason ably filling in, reportedly on just a few days notice. Aside from that, it was largely business as usual for the death metal bruisers; precisely what their following craved. Judging by the fervent response Puppet Master appeared destined for fan favourite status, The Purest Strain Of Hate remained a timeless pit anthem, and Dead Sun's seismic breakdown was another sure-fire party-starter. Elsewhere, after repeated audience requests for the song, McMahon explained in detail why they don't perform misogynistic early track Whore To A Chainsaw live these days. As inevitable closer Reign Of Darkness wrapped up their hour-long set, satisfied devotees no doubt hoped that the group's penchant for regional jaunts continues, even as their foreign profile is on an upward trajectory.