H. O. L. Y. Crap! Just when you thought Ocean Grove couldn’t evolve more than they …
THY ART IS MURDER with Justice For The Damned, Dealer, and Wither
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
13th July, 2019
Footy descends upon Richmond like rain does winter. Seeing colourfully-scarfed fans and metalheads shuffling up the Corner Hotel steps together is always a bizarre sight.
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Before, I saw a bloke sitting in a burger cafe—with its own DJ, natch—who looked the clone of Phil Anselmo with a bit of Fred Durst mixed in. Backwards cap, chin covered in beard, sullen demeanour. Later, we realised he was wearing shorts. That’s dedication to the bit. “I kept this set list from when they played the Pelly Bar,” he said, grabbing a piece of paper and unfolding it. That was a year ago, or more. Egyptian artefacts would only dream of being this well preserved. “I hope I can get them to sign it.” Looking past rusted on frowns, we’re all just 17 year old metal fans with stars in our eyes. Right?
Though I only caught the dying gasp of Wither thanks to a line, Dealer was dominated by a big dude with bigger dreadlocks on guitar. The vocalist floated on synth strings, even rousing up a clapalong breakdown. The kind breakdown you can drive a car through, do a u-turn in, and drive back out again. When they finished, there were more than a few broken dance moves to The Vengabus. Though if you asked anyone there they’d straight up deny it.
Justice For The Damned wanted to bring it from note one, and they well and truly brought it. That “it” was bloodthirsty riffage, red mist clouding them until only their outlines remained. Clobbering riffs spawned a monster by the set’s second salvo; if we were bitten, it was only a matter of time until we turned. Old mate ciggie roller kept himself transfixed on the stage during a savage breakdown; the cig may have suffered but his eyes and ears would thank him for it later. I didn’t catch its name, but it sounded like Static X strained through black metal—so strange, but so compelling. (Relative) newie No Brother, No Friend summoned its might from the Florida death metal scene, as insane as all those Florida men doing weird Florida shit to make Florida headlines. A band-room wide circle pit rewarded them for their service.
Thy Art Is Murder greeted a furious stage with air-raid sirens, prime minister of deathcore CJ McMahon presiding. Coming in like a reaper, the unrelenting force of Death Squad Anthem tearing apart brain cells. Dropping new single Make America Hate Again, bodies slammed together like atomic fusion. They were beaten senseless by Jesse Beahler’s punishing double kicks. The Purest Strain of Hate followed, in case we didn’t get enough Hate in the first cop. It was a licence to jump into the mosh and thrash—or get the fuck out while the going was good.
Shadow of Eternal Sin and The Son of Misery had CJ assume control like a demented General, flanked by his sonic stormtroopers vanquishing all resistance. Given the order, lead guitarist Andy Marsh shot flames from his frets during Holy War, where not a single soul stood still. CJ dedicated Dear Desolation to his five-week old son; the band bought back old school deathcore in Slaves Beyond Death.
Nick from JFTD joined the band for a searing turn of Coffin Dragger, dodging lances of red piercing the mosh. Puppet Master lived up to its name, spawning a flurry of mini-CJs screaming along every word, throwing elbows, stomping the house down. Taking time out before unveiling their second single, Human Target (part of the reason we’re all here), CJ makes a promise – “The best is yet to come” on the album, imploring us to “read the lyrics.” With a mechanical, Fear Factory like vibe, Human Target is a delicious taste of what the album has to offer. The hype train left years ago, but Thy Art remains a pillar of deathcore. Good luck unseating them from their iron breakdown throne, kids. These guys sold out every show on the tour for more than a few good god damn reasons.
Disclaimer: CJ McMahon was the host of the Hard Noise podcast, produced by Hysteria Media.