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Live Reviews : Feast of Metal II @ Revolt Artspace, Melbourne 08/02/2014

By on February 13, 2014

Writing the review for Feast of Metal II was no small task. With the wealth of things going on around the venue during the day, and the incredible performances of its many contributing bands, it’s impossible to fit in all the amazing stuff I witnessed during the day into one review. But I’ll do my best to summarise it in the most satisfying way possible, and include as much as I can. Because believe me when I say, this year’s Feast of Metal was an experience unto itself and something I feel lucky enough to have been a part of.

Feast of Metal II

Taking place at the Revolt Melbourne Artspace, the venue filled quite a large open space with plenty of standing room, and by all means was betrayed by its simple, small façade. As soon as you walk in, there’s a large open area with a bar just over to the far corner and the front desk, which then lead to an even larger room adjacent to itself that housed the Soundchaser stage. Stalls were already being set up at this point and the one that immediately caught my eye (by no less for the fact that its eye-grabbing content and positioning was directly in your line of sight when you walk in) was that of the Vlachernai Branch of the New Varangian Guard, one of thirteen branches I’m told.

A Viking era themed recreation society, they had their many impressive and laboured-over wares on full display. A couple of the guys I spoke with even made their own mail armour, by piecing it together, ring by ring (which is about 250,000+ individual pieces). With a large array of weaponry, clothing, pendants and other trinkets out on show, it made for an eye-catching and impressionable stall. That’s not even to mention the great assortment of other stuff they had: drinking horns and old Scandinavian games like the board game, Tafl, and this one where you and another person each hold one end of a wooden pole and you can do whatever seems fitting to get them to let go (turning into a mini wrestling match, of which they demonstrated amusingly). However, that was only the tip of the iceberg from these Nordic attired veterans. One of the main highlights for me though was being given the opportunity to do archery out the back of the venue, where for two bucks, I was able to fire five shots from either a long bow (about the size of me) or a standard issue at a guy fully clad in helm and armour (one of the few places where it’s actually legal to fire at a moving, human target) who, in the spirit of things, would give you crap if you missed. It was great fun, and the Vlachernai guys – and gal – were welcoming throughout the entire day, always sparking up conversation and trying to get others interested.

There were many other great stalls situated throughout the Artspace, including the likes of both Nightshade FX (who specialised in odd anatomical and skeletal items; like cat skeletons, crow skulls, and moulds cast from hands and actual human hearts) and Elorhan who focused on jewellery, accessories, paintings, etc., based around Nordic themes (such as rune-engraved luck charms). And others like Heartland Records (of which had a copy of Morbid Angel’s Gateways to Annihilation for $10 that I’d been after for ages!) selling both CDs and vinyls, alongside the usual merch booths and a couple of stalls selling alternative clothing and props like masks, weapons and gear for LARPing, cosplay, or whatever else.

Opening the day were Stormtide (on the Soundchaser stage) and Maniaxe on the Distorted stage out the back area of the Artspace which was accessed via a ramp to the far left corner of the room. Catching Maniaxe, they hit the stage around 3:30pm. Recalling an almost 90s style, their lead vocalist wore an army helmet, with the band playing with the power and balls of Bolt Thrower. With solo’s akin in style to that of Trey Azagthoth, Maniaxe built a decent row of headbangers up the front and garnered a great response on their second last track, “Let Slip the Dogs of War”. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed the last song with the whole crowd filled with unified headbanging during the mid-section. It was a great way to start the day.

Following in their stead was Obsidieth. Putting on a solid set, their particular brand of symphonic melodeath was simply amazing. The combination of Luke Graham and Chris Tyler on vocals and guitar respectively, matched by Bethany Tyler on bass and Jennae Dibben on keyboards helped form a formidable rhythm section with Dibben’s keys a highlight, and Luke and Chris’ growls coursing through the venue with utmost force.

Next on the bill was Damnations Day. With an almost Oriental melody to them at times, the melodic speed metal that soared through their set was met by engaging solo’s and powerful vocals from the bands charismatic frontman, Mark. Like a combination of Maiden and Priest, they showed off their considerable talent and clear mastery in creating melodic riffs and excellent, soulful solo’s. In a time where it seems progressively harder to find heavy bands with clean vocals, Damnations Day shine a torch in the dark.

Desecrator. I’m just going to say it right now. These guys can’t put on a bad show. Just as great as the night before when I saw them open for Havok, these guys just don’t let up. Met by a strong response, the breakdowns near the end of their songs were greeted by two front rows of windmilling and headbanging and something that was simply fantastic to watch from a couple of rows back. Uproarious applause filled the area around the Distorted stage as Desecrator’s set came to a close. Another great show by them.

Taking up place on the Soundchaser stage, death/thrash metaller’s Internal Nightmare brought a rapturous, if not at times slightly unnerving, performance to the fore. The brutal, frantic nature of their set left nothing to the imagination. It was a visceral and aural assault to the senses, forging a vicious, mental energy. The rhythm section of Paul “Doomsday” Hammond and Christian “Dirtbag” Doherty was simply a joy to watch. Hammond would constantly charge around stage, while pretty much without ever not headbanging. The growls were fearsome and Internal Nightmare looked downright evil at times bathed in the green strobes of light from behind.

With Ian Mather of Catacombs filling in for Josh Spivak on guitars, Myridian blew me away. Entranced by their amazing stage presence and their beautifully haunting melodies, they were a force unto themselves. Saturated in crimson light, the gorgeous melancholic and sorrowful passages that fell across their songs only served to heighten the bleak but awesome power of Felix Lane’s incredible vocal range. The doom blended remarkably well with the undertones of death and forged a listening experience quite unlike any other band I saw on the night. Myridian was mesmerising and captured the full attention of the audience. They were one of the definite highlights of Feast of Metal for me (even picked up a shirt of theirs at the end of the night).

Coming to dominate the Soundchaser stage was New South Wale’s own Troldhaugen, a band who feel like the culmination of a night spent drinking, blaring Finntroll before mellowing out to ABBA, only to rise the next day sobered up, with a headache on your mind and a smile on your face. These guys are one of the best and equally craziest lives acts I’ve seen. They certainly would give Alestorm a run for their money. Drawing a fairly substantial crowd, in no time, the ‘troll metaller’s’ had pretty everyone gathered before them jumping around, laughing, headbanging, and just having a great time. The good thing about folk metal, you ask? It brings people together. I mean, how can you not get caught up in a folk metal cover of ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” with the lyric a man after midnight amusingly changed to a troll after midnight? Troldhaugen was in top form, constantly engaging the crowd and coaxing out chanting, to which was always returned. Reventüsk’s pure stage presence alone was irresistible and I’ve got to give him kudos. The man knew how to work a crowd.

The atmospheric symphony of doom-laden melodic death metal swept in under a blanket of gothic symphony, slicing through the crowd as New South Wales’ Rise of Avernus took to the stage. The riffs and melody of their set bled through with harsh clarity, with the rhythm section of Ben Vanvollenhoven (vox/guitar), Cat Guirguis (vox/keyboard), Matthew Bell (guitar), and Daniel Warrington (bass/vox) only being further emblazoned by the cold touch of doom, and multilayered beneath symphonious gothic themes and progressive interludes. Poetic indulgence aside though, Rise of Avernus put on an amazing set. Like Myridian before them, they were simply magical to watch and bewitched you into their dark and bleeding realm.

With a youthful energy to their set, Witchgrinder tore it up on stage, and alongside Myridian and Rise of Avernus, were one of the best bands I witnessed on the night. With the lighting only serving to heighten the atmosphere, the reds and greens that saturated frontman, Travis Everett, looking awesome and the sheer impact of their music roused the crowd into loud bouts of chanting, headbanging, and jumping around. I’ve got to hand it to Witchgrinder. They gave the performance their all and were by no means static; whether on stage or engaging with the crowd, they were simply one of those bands you couldn’t help but get sucked in by. And their relentless assault of industrial death-thrash was something to be marvelled, and that’s not even to mention the killer solo’s from Ryan Potts that, if you weren’t careful, would flay the skin from your eyes watching them live. With Everett calling out stuff like, “Feast of Metal, give us a call if you’re still with us!” to which was followed by a rapturous cry, and his response, “Fucking A! That’s a fucking beautiful thing”, the man sure knew how to get a crowd going. And after seeing them live and how great they were, I can safely say it’s certainly put them further on my radar of bands to keep an eye on. As Everett said himself, “Let’s wake up the dead with this mother fucker!”

Vanishing Point. What can I say? This band is just a joy to watch, and their music is dazzling; really pulling you into their melodic and symphonious world, and daring you to want to leave. With a powerful and engaging rhythm section, and the added oomph of Silvio Massaro’s almost-Matt Barlow like vocals (a big recommendation in my book), the lighting – that would at times silhouette the band in black and white – only added to an already enchanting set. With a healthy mix of power and speed metal, their immersive performance was only succeeded by such things as the interesting variance between solo styles of guitarists James Maier and Chris Porcianko – with Maier seeming more ‘freestyle’ and Porcianko more on the technical side. It made for an eclectic but great sound. Vanishing Point just fed off the crowd, constantly encouraging fist pumping and getting the audience to sing along with them. They were as great live as Massaro is charismatic.

While sadly I wasn’t able to stay for Hobbs’ Angel of Death or Barbarion (the closing acts of the night), I nevertheless had an absolute ball at this year’s Feast of Metal. There was such a rich and magnetic atmosphere throughout the whole day, and I was lucky enough to have been a part of the magic.

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.