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Live Reviews : Soilwork, Naberus & Damnation’s Day @ Billboard The Venue, Melbourne 02/10/2013

By on October 10, 2013

Words: Gary Carson
Images: Len Panecki

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They may be broken. Or they may be bruised. Either way, my ribs fucking hurt. Every chance I get to see Sweden’s purveyors of melo-death, thrash, or whatever-the-hell-they-play I take it. The problem in reviewing such a show is that I spend most of my time in the stench and sweat of what is front of stage. That testosterone fuelled region that is full of mostly young men that is either fully embraced or pretty much avoided. And the problem is I’m not young. But at least I wasn’t the oldest.

And whilst it’s not a lonely place to witness these Swedish metal titans, it’s not exactly the place if you wish to deconstruct their live show.

Damnations Day

Damnations Day

The crowd was welcomed by opening band Damnation’s Day (is there or isn’t there an apostrophe in your name?) which, whilst having seen them a number of times over the years, I’ve come to the realisation that Mark Kennedy has one of the best screams in this country.

Still, getting an Aussie crowd worked up is like pushing the proverbial so their mixture of power and melodic metal was thoroughly enjoyed by me but perhaps not for everybody (and I hope I’m wrong there because this band is as strong as they come). And greetings to your mum, Mark and Dean, who is apparently cooking dinner for everybody at your next local gig! Next up was Naberus whose energy had those up the front salivating whilst the rest of the audience accepted that Soilwork would be on in an hour. That said, Naberus put on a fantastic live show and clearly they’re good at what they do. My circle of friends weren’t as inspired as some of their eager fans but supports will never please everybody.


The stage cleared.

The chants began.

The lights went dim.

…and they emerged from the shadows.

To rapturous cheers (more visual cheers as it was fucking loud and you couldn’t hear shit) as they bled themselves into This Momentary Bliss, track three of their double-disc release The Living Infinite. What was instantly apparent was that Soilwork’s nude-nutted, monster vocalist Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid was going to dominate the audience. I mean, you don’t get to Soilwork’s level without having something and Speed has it: vocals that alternate between guttural growls to the clean and modern style that, as old people say, the kids love. I was in awe and with fist in the air I wanted a microphone in my hand to sing, sorry, scream along with him.



The band stamped their setlist intention when Like The Average Stalker (from A Predator’s Portrait) was followed up by Overload (from Figure Number Five). It was at this stage when an unintentional steel encased elbow found its way into my upper ribs (Note: OK, it wasn’t steel encased but it felt like it). This rendered me useless but I soldiered on for a crowd favourite Weapon Of Vanity (from Stabbing the Drama), the melody and aggression and adrenaline of the song not helping out the creeping pain encasing my upper body. I knew I was done for but when they hit up The Living Infinite’s opening number Spectrum of Eternity, it was only a matter of time before I bid a hasty retreat into the safety of Billboard’s upper realms.



What I got from watching the middle of the show was that the sound wasn’t perfect. A mix that had more drums (Dirk Verbeuren) and bass (Ola Fink) than guitars (Sylvain Coudret and David Anderson) and whilst I could see keyboardist Sven Karlsson, hearing him was next to impossible. Still, Dirk is a monster to watch – lots of fills and beats. Hard, heavy, and heard. The middle set featured more tracks from The Living Infinite (Parasite Blues, Long Live The Misanthrope, and Tongue and Rise Above the Sentiment) plus The Chainheart Machine but what was missing was the crowd. Excluding festival appearances, I’ve seen Soilwork every time they’ve thrashed their way through Australia and this was by far their most disappointing in terms of crowd numbers. We were trying to deconstruct this. Their new album is incredible, their live show is intense, and they’re popular. The only things we could factor in was.

  1. Are we becoming lazy
  2. Have they toured here too often, or
  3. Are we financially poor with the number of international tours? Soilwork, Amorphis, Stratovarius, Devin Townsend, Korpiklaani, Steel Panther, Sirenia, Bring Me The Horizon, Albatross, Behemoth, Enslaved, Firewind, Nile, Moonsorrow, Kataklysm…. And that’s just the rest of 2013.

In the meantime, Soilwork closed with an encore featuring As We Speak (Natural Born Choas), Sadistic Lullabye (Steelbath Suicide), and Stabbing the Drama’s title track. It was intense finish to what I consider one of most consistent live acts I’ve seen.

As for my ribs. They don’t hurt when I sit up or lie down. The problem is everything in between. Thank you Soilwork. And thank you to the random metalhead who connected their elbow with my ribs. I appreciate the reminder, a few days later, of how awesome the show was. 🙂

And let me just throw out a random rant. It costs about $60 for me to see six Swedish men and possibly a small entourage of tech and sound gurus for a 90 minute show YET it costs me $45 for a piece of Soilwork clothing which was probably manufactured here in Australia. I bought a Soilwork t-shirt at Metal Days in Slovenia not 3 months ago for 20 Euros ($28).

Please explain?


Since 1999, Gary Carson has co-hosted Australia's longest running prog/power metal radio show on Screaming Symphony. Gary has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology/Sociology and enjoys horrifically violent games, horrifically violent books, and horrifically violent movies. And gay power metal. Check out Screaming Symphony every Thursday night from 10pm (Melbourne time) on PBS.FM