H. O. L. Y. Crap! Just when you thought Ocean Grove couldn’t evolve more than they …
STICK TO YOUR GUNS & TERROR w/ Crave Death & Deathbed
Friday 25th January, 2019
The Brightside, Brisbane
As we pop a lean on The Brightside’s terrace railing with a rapidly condensating tinnie in hand, local mosh-fiends Deathbed kick off the Friday night matinee with some stupid heavy, late 90s metalcore worship. Vocalist Githain Gunasekera is already on the floor, screaming caustically while everyone hangs out on the fringes of the space, nervously waiting in the wings.
Although we haven’t seen these guys play here since 2017, we didn’t really think their sound could possibly get any heavier. But new tracks like The Black and YDLLWD (You Don’t Love Like We Do) from their 2018 two-track release sure do prove us wrong. Guitarists Dan and Mike lay down grimy, angular riffs in the vein of Nails and Xibalba, with a stage presence that could best be described as ‘intensity as immobility’.
Meanwhile drummer Al Gakuru remains an absolute weapon, smashing snare hits and double-kick like a fusillade of cannon fire. The breakdowns (of which there are many) pop the floor like landmines, spilling limbs and flailing bodies left and right. Also, one bloke in a sleeveless Nails tee has cut his garment all the way down to the bottom hem which gives him the slightly ridiculous appearance of wearing an over-sized bib. The Brissy quintet wrap up a short but direct set and do their part to thank everyone involved with tonight’s show, lending credit where credit is due.
We leave the venue and venture out to the beer garden to get a slight reprieve from the oppressive heat, only to find out that (surprise!) it’s still fucking hot there too. Suitably hydrated, we cruise inside once more as support act CRAVE DEATH take to the stage. The band’s take on heavy hardcore is simplistic yet effective, reminding us of interstate contemporaries like Cursed Earth and FALCIFIER: brutal, direct and wholly uncompromising. Before launching into the blistering Suffocate, frontwoman Candice Bankovacki reveals that the track is about domestic violence before declaring “death to all abusers.” And from the way she stalks around the stage, growling and screaming with visible fury over lyrical gems like “Death is here/Remember this face as I watch you die,” you know she fucking means it too.
As a collective, the band appear to have gone all out this evening on what I’m calling ‘Band Shirt Bingo,’ as a cursory glance at their chosen stage wear highlights a diverse yet calculated selection: Cannibal Corpse, Power Trip, Casey Jones XXX, AFI and face tatties. Before leading in to Burden, Bankovacki mentions how honoured the band is to play with tonight’s tour ensemble, explaining that it’s a “massive deal” to her and that both acts are “still killing it” after many, many years on the road. Word.
It’s an All-American affair this evening, as the first tour feature takes the form of hardcore elder statesmen, Terror. Despite not really needing any form of introduction, the band walk out to a sample of Pharoahe Monch’s banging club anthem Simon Says, which—to be honest—is a huge power move, complete with booming bass and chants of “Get the fuck up!”. So, when they rip straight into a double header of OG classic cuts like One With the Underdogs and Overcome, that’s exactly what people do. The stage becomes a frenzied heap of pile-on bodies and fleeting mic-grabs, as frontman Scott Vogel grins and sings along enthusiastically. There’s always a sense of manic energy at a Terror show and tonight is no exception. During This World Never Wanted Me, a dude climbs the terrace railing and leaps straight out into the pit, straight over our head, and onto the heads of blissfully unaware patrons below. Thankfully, no one is hurt (or butthurt) and the good vibes continue on unabated. As the walls begin to perspire from the radiating heat of the sweaty masses, the band unfurl tracks from 2010’s stellar Keepers of the Faith. Stick Tight becomes a shout-out to friends and the hardcore community, as we spy members from Aussie acts Break Even and Against on side stage pumping fists and shouting along. The thrashy riffs and charging chorus of Return To Strength activate the pit, with the occasional slam dance and two-step in sight.
Now, it wouldn’t be a Terror without a little sermonising stage-banter from Vogel. If we’re being completely honest, we’re here for the stagedives and the ‘Vogelisms,’ so when Vogel points into the crowd and demands “More stagedives! More fucking stagedives!” we’re nothing but stoked. Other highlights in this reamplification of hardcore ethos include: “This is your city, your scene,” “No phones,” “This isn’t about being cool or being popular,” and the staple: “Hardcore lives.” Filling the middle of their set with title tracks from previous records, the band brings the set to a close with more deep-cuts from fan-favourite albums. Vogel announces that You’re Caught is “the most fun Terror song to play” and he’s absolutely right, as it’s a mid-tempo jam about scene celebrity that still bangs nearly a decade later. Spit My Rage still acts like a pressure-valve for bottled-up aggression, and anthemic closer Keepers of the Faith might just be one of the band’s best tracks. After sixteen years in the game, the LA natives have still got it. Hardcore lives indeed.
Moving on to the main event, there’s a slightly noticeable thinning of the old heads and what our mate Geoff colloquially refers to as “the cools.” As Stick To Your Guns get sound checked, we see a mix of younger, fresher faces ready for an injection of hardcore punk anthems. They may have come a long way from the gutturals and “Move!” pit-call of This Is More, but there’s simply no denying the impact of melodic bangers and set openers What Choice Did You Give Us? and We Still Believe. Vocalist Jesse Barnett does an admirable job of pairing his hardcore bark with impassioned sung vocals, while still finding time to fling the mic out to rapturous fans. At times, lead guitarist Josh James (of Evergreen Terrace fame) holds his axe up to front row like the barrel of a deadly weapon, before proceeding to fire off round after round of sizzling melodic licks. The sing-along call to arms in Married to the Noise from 2017’s True View is near-deafening, setting everyone off with maximum stomp and raised fists, as Barnett and James trade harmonies on the lofty chorus.
Turning back to 2012’s fan-favourite Diamond, the crowd reacts instantly to the beatdown sections and millennial “woah-oh-ohs” of the turbocharged Against Them All. Barnett dedicates Empty Heads to those “who carry their teenage angst into the real world” and clog up the world with toxic ideologies. In a rare moment of between-song silence, Barnett croons a soft rendition of Etta James’ Georgia On My Mind, cheekily replacing “Georgia” with “Brisbane,” to some bemused expressions up front and light chuckles at the back of the room.
Cuts like the moody Through The Chain Link and the volatile Doomed By You help to keep the energy up, as Barnett dangles the mic through the front row encouraging maximum participation. Wrapping up with a few old numbers like the emotional Amber and the bass-rumbling Nobody, Stick To Your Guns bring the hardcore matinee to a close as the sweaty masses exit with full hearts and no regrets.
Catch Stick To Your Guns & Terror at the remaining dates:
Tuesday 29 January // The Basement // Canberra (18+)
Thursday 31 January // Pelly Bar // Frankston (18+)
Friday 1 February // Stay Gold // Melbourne (18+) – SOLD OUT
Saturday 2 February // Enigma Bar // Adelaide (18+) – SOLD OUT
Sunday 3 February // Civic Hotel // Perth (18+)