What started as a series DIY laptop recording sessions in a busy London share house …
ALPHA WOLF & JUSTICE FOR THE DAMNED w/ She Cries Wolf, Diamond Construct & Vitals
Thursday 20th December, 2018
The Brightside, Brisbane
It’s a merry end-of-year mates fest this evening at The Brightside as the Greyscale Records showcase rolls into town for the Brisbane instalment of the Survival Of The Riffest tour.
First up are Caloundra boys Vitals, delivering an impassioned and intricate set of melodic hardcore numbers. While tracks like Inculcate and Paranoia are mostly engaging instrumentally with plenty of twinkly lead passages, the band is severely let down by an overall lack of energy and stage presence. Guitarists Nick H. and Jesse H. spend the majority of the set with their back to the crowd, while vocalist Corey A. squints his way through each song, staring off into the roof and doing something approaching ‘T-Rex hands’ with his awkward limbs, not to mention cupping the mic throughout, which renders every lyric and vague utterance completely unintelligible. Still, one bloke in the pit gets his mosh on roughly mid-way through their set, so at least someone is catching a feeling.
Sydney-via-Taree-siders Diamond Construct hit the stage next, as the main support for this particular tour run and freshly minted with a shiny Greyscale Records signing. New single Submerged runs the gamut of what this four-piece have to offer: thick, down-tuned riffs that would make the most dedicated Architects fan blush (certainly not the riffest—riffiest?—but it’s a start), crushing china-driven percussion from skinsman Adam Kilpatrick and frontman Kynan Groundwater’s imposing vocal performance. At numerous points in the set, Groundwater employs the time-honoured tradition of telling the crowd to “get the fuck up,” which they do rather gleefully as the band rolls through older cuts like Oculus from their Event Horizon EP. All in all, it’s a heavy showing from Diamond Construct and the vibe tonight almost matches the hype.
Speaking of vibe though, lets talk about the set tonight from Goldy crew She Cries Wolf. The chaotic metalcore quartet are regulars here at The Brightside and known for putting on a quality show. However, tonight they set up on the floor and break it down old school, with vocalist Luke Harriss stalking around like a rabid dog as guitarist and newfound father Daniel Belic charges fret-first into punters with full-blown crazy eyes. There’s a lightning-in-a-bottle quality to their energy tonight and the Brissy crowd is definitely about it. We take a quick look around and see that the room has suddenly filled with people, which probably explains the wet walls and the cloying smell of sweat and beer lingering in the air. Old favourites like Ba’al and Chapter II get the crew vocal chants happening, with Harriss barely retrieving the mic before it’s ripped out of his hands once more, carried away by some pile-on action at the front and a devout slew of mosh fiends up the back. Somewhere in the middle of the proceedings, a wild Brock Conry of Stepson fame appears and whips the crowd into a frenzy with a cheeky impromptu guest spot. Closing out with the stupid heavy Cultist, the group leave the room salivating for more, suitably pumped up and ready for the headliner double-act to follow.
It’s clear from the outset tonight that Justice For The Damned are not here to fuck spiders. There’s a reason this tour has ‘survival’ in the name, because when Justice really get going, standing still in the pit suddenly becomes a matter of life and death. Frontman Bobak Raifee is clearly having a time, smiling from ear to ear between demonic growls during Please Don’t Leave Me, thrusting the mic into the screaming faces of the sweaty front row. The Sydney metallers whirl through the deep cuts from their stellar album debut Dragged Through The Dirt, including the volatile title track, and we’re also stoked to hear Bearing The Crown of Lies get a look in, especially with that pneumatic mid-section breakdown. Guitarist Nick Adams brings his riff A-game to new track No Brother, No Friend and the heaving crowd reciprocates by losing their collective shit. Adding to the well-established mates fest vibe, during a quick beer-run to the bar we spy members of The Brave and Thy Art Is Murder in attendance this evening, copping the sights and headbanging along in appreciation of the Justice riff machine. As the band reaches the end of their set, Raifee keeps the energy flowing, demanding more pit-action and involvement from the crowd. 2018 was a huge year for the New South Welshmen, so it’s only fitting that tonight’s show lets them cap off the year in style.
Arriving as the final act, Alpha Wolf blast on to the stage in a manner fitting for their noticeable absence over the last few months. With line-up shuffles now (hopefully) a thing of the past, and a new frontman in the form of Lochie Keogh, the Melbourne downtempo unit seem hungry and eager to prove that they’re back, stronger and bouncier than ever. In response to this, new single No Name is certainly strong evidence for the affirmative, complete with huge chugs, rumbling bass tones and plenty of nu-metalcore swagger from Keogh (somewhat belied by his choice of Coles trolley boy aesthetic). Brissy punters seem stoked to hear tracks like the bludgeoning Failvre and the melodic Golden Fate; Gut Ache from last year’s Mono record, and Keogh certainly does an admirable job of lending his own personal flair to each cut. New recruit Mitch Fogarty hits the tubs like a buff cyborg, while bassist John Arnold thoroughly pummels the groups bottom end into submission. Also, we’re not sure how or why exactly, but guitarist Sabian Lynch seems bound and determined to asphyxiate himself on stage every time we see the band, and tonight is no exception, with Lynch wearing the obligatory ‘Hey, I do bands’ face-mask and a white polyester trenchcoat-jacket hybrid in this utterly oppressive and sticky Queensland heat. Dude looks like he fell out of an episode of Tokyo Ghoul and landed on stage, ready to sweat to death for the nu-nu-metal cause. That being said, and choice of stage attire aside, Alpha Wolf bring the riffs to a close this evening and the survivors soon pile out into the street, ready to do battle once more in the new year.