Devilskin have spent years building a profile around the world through a strong campaign of …
The once regional Blaze Festival is a constellation of Melbourne metal stars, brightening up the Tote over two riff-filled nights over the 17th and 18th of January.
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A name that seems more unfortunate now amid the bushfire crisis, Blaze Festival is a project aimed at bringing metal to riff-starved regions. Originating as an indoor fest at the revered and now resting in power Karova Lounge in Ballarat, organisers have relocated Melbourne’s home of sweaty, loud, and mosh filled action.
Headlining the Saturday, local melodic death merchants Orpheus Omega have made a name for themselves at home and abroad. Releasing fifth album Wear Your Sins to much praise, punters eager to hear their newer and beefier material can help themselves to a a cut or two at Blaze.
“We’ll be playing a bit of a mix,” says founding guitarist Joao Goncalves from his home in Melbourne. “We’ll be playing from our back catalogue and also from the new album. The big thing for us is the new line-up, having Leon join us on bass and Theo from Hollow World join us as a third guitarist. Will be a bit of a change for us live, as well as when it comes to recording and writing and how we perform older songs, now having an additional instrument. It’s shaping up to be a fairly good year I think and I think Blaze is probably a really good way to start it off for us.”
It hasn’t been the best start for much of Australia, still battling flames and haze. Everyone in the nation has been touched by the bushfires in some way, with Scaphis donating proceeds from merch sales directly to relief efforts. Joao believes those playing the Blaze will do the same.
“But I wouldn’t be surprised if every band on the night even mentions it, suggests some of the great organisations that are helping with all the fires that are going on and whatnot. They might even be taking a collection as part of the profits or all of their profits or whatever it is they work out. I think it’s important that whatever bands are doing, it’s that we support the people that need the support right now, which is those regional communities in Victoria and New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland. It’s happening everywhere at the moment, so it’s really important that people come together and really do their bit.”
The bands playing the festival are a killer mix of stalwarts (Frankenbok) new blood (Scaphis, Blunt Shovel, etc.) and bands like Demonhead and Orpheus Omega resting somewhere in between.
“It’s a very stacked line-up,” Joao says. “We’ve had the pleasure of playing with some of the bands on the bill already, whatever, 11, 12 years together now and it’s always really exciting to play a show with people of bands you know. Because you’ve already got that rapport, that you know certain things are just going to go according to plan.
I think it’s important that whatever bands are doing, it’s that we support the people that need the support right now, which is those regional communities in Victoria and New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland. It’s happening everywhere at the moment, so it’s really important that people come together and really do their bit.
“It’s a great opportunity for people [to hear] what’s coming up and who else is making waves at the moment. So these sorts of two day festivals are always good in that respect because obviously there’s always some mainstays and you go, ‘Yep, cool. Well that band, it’d be good to see them again.’ But then there’s some other bands that you may not have heard of or have heard a little bit about and you can go, “Oh, this is a great opportunity for me to check them out.”
With Orpheus Omega now well and truly established here and even overseas with solid name checking and festival headline slots, does the band feel that they’ve reached their goals?
“I think if you enjoy what you’re doing as a band, there’s always more to do,” Joao says.” We always set set goals that are realistic. No one writes their first song and goes, ‘We’re playing a stadium show next week,’ he laughs. “I think it’s about keeping things in check. I mean, it’s good to have big goals and wanting to achieve as much as humanly possible. But it’s also good to be realistic. I think initially when we started, it was all about just having a good time, writing the music that we liked to listen to, which is why I think early on our influences were really, really obvious.”
With maturity comes hindsight and in a festival setting, the opportunity to mentor other up-and-comers to make sure they’re taking the right path.
“When we think about it and you see new bands and they’ve all got their own way of doing things and they’re all very polite and the rest of it and that’s great, because that’s what you want. But when you look back on your own journey, you kind of go, ‘Fuck, I hope I was really polite. I hope I wasn’t a dick.’ All that sort of stuff and I’d like to think that we have been and that we’ve done the right things by people, because I don’t think you can succeed without that and I do think we have, I guess succeeded to a degree.”
Success is dependent on fans. Despite a downturn in venues, the health of the metal scene is always measured by how enthusiastic crowds are.
“The scene can not continue or grow without fans really. I mean, bands come and go, venues come and go, but the thing is, if you don’t get people to shows, that’s it. And in the end you have way smaller than you are actually closing, there’s less and less these days. It’s really, really important for people to turn up to gigs and support the local scene. Everyone’s equal in these kinds of shows, bands, fans, everyone. Maybe people are spoiled for choice, but it’s really a matter of people getting together and actually showing up to gigs and supporting the bands that are playing.”