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Live Reviews : The New Dead Metalfest @ Fowlers Live, Adelaide 14/03/2015

By on March 21, 2015

When it comes to live music, Adelaide has always copped a lot of criticism about its low crowd numbers. For years, many of the world’s greatest metal and rock acts have neglected visiting the state altogether and the ones that do come are often met with poor ticket sales. Still, as little as three years ago, festivals like Soundwave were selling well, as were tours with multiple international bands on the bill. Back then the problem was more to do with the local scene: you could be fooled into thinking metal was dying in Adelaide after attending a local Saturday night gig, but at the same time, when Lamb Of God and Meshuggah came to town metal heads no one had ever seen before came crawling out of the woodwork. Now, however, it seems that unless you are in the Foo Fighters or the Rolling Stones, no band or event, not even Soundwave can make the grade in S.A.. Fortunately, in these troubled times there is one shining beacon of hope for metal in Adelaide, and that is the New Dead Metalfest. Where other tours and festivals are decreasing, it is massively increasing, both in size and in reputation as an amazing day of metal. It truly is a standout in a depleting crowd.

Last Saturday (March 14), the festival returned for the sixth time with its biggest line up to-date and from early on the anticipation was high. Seventeen heavy as hell bands, including headliners Psycroptic and the event’s first ever international act Goatwhore, were set to take to the stage, ensuring twelve hours of pure carnage. Young deathcore act Storm The Asylum opened the day in good form, impressing the building crowd with the amount of talent they have for such young band. Witmotr then took things up another notch with a blistering set that was noted by many as the surprise of the day. Somehow, they have managed to create a nu-metal sound that leaves out the corniness that saw the movement die an undignified death and adds in the timeless brutality of true metal. Huge energy and a huge sound, keep an ear out for this band.

After being warmed up by Storm The Asylum and Witmotr and witnessing a typically heavy and enthralling From Birth To Burial set, the crowd was more than ready to accommodate one of Adelaide’s most underrated bands, Blood Covered Shovel with the first circle pits of the day. These guys always put on a hell of set, with frontman Korno leading the way at every turn, backed amply by the searing wails of guitarists Joel and Derek and the brutal rhythms of bassist Craig and drummer Andy. Mammoth followed, showing that you don’t have to be fast to be heavy in what was one of the standout performances of the early bands.

Next came the first interstate band of the day, Metalstorm, who seem to just keep getting heavier and heavier and local heathens, Oath Of Damnation, who destroyed the crowd with their sludgy doom riffs and satanic sermon-like stage theatrics.

By now it was four o’clock and things were in full swing. Outside, as the beers and sausages were consumed in monstrous proportions the vibe was electric. Punters traded stories of past and future antics as well as thoughts on the day so far while inside, Earth Rot and Colossvs showed the crowd exactly why they are two of the country’s fastest rising bands.

Alkira and In Malice’s Wake then proceeded to melt faces with an hour of pure, unadulterated thrash, warming the crowd perfectly for local kings Truth Corroded, who ran through all their fan-favs before welcoming former guitarist Mark Lennard onstage to help them totally level the place. There isn’t much that Truth Corroded hasn’t done in their 15+ year career and it shows, they’re a well-polished machine, with a killer live performance. Any Truth Corroded show is a guaranteed a good time.

A slight delay in proceedings only added to the crowds thirst for more as they eagerly waited for Alarum to take to the stage. A short time later and the crowd were back in full-swing as the Aussie metal veterans powered through a set, which included brand new and typically tasty, yet ridiculously complicated tunes. These guys have long been the benchmark when it comes to fusion metal and it isn’t hard to see why.

A lot of the younger members of the audience hadn’t even heard of fellow veterans Dreadnaught before they hit the stage, but the band was all too happy to show them why they have long been one of the country’s premier metal bands with a master class of straight out heavy metal. Everyone went home knowing exactly who Dreadnaught are.

As the business end of the night approached, Brisbane juggernauts, Aversions Crown sent the mosh-pit, which was now filled with mostly young ‘core’ fans into a state of sheer chaos as they banged their head through a set of epic breakdowns and pummelling blasts. New vocalist Mark Poida has fit seamlessly into the band and held the young-tackers in the palm of his hand as he nailed every note in a performance none in attendance will soon forget. There are a few better examples of why Aussie metal is starting to takeoff internationally then Aversions Crown.

Then came Goatwhore. WOW. When it came to putting a tight and completely brutal performance no other band, with the exception of Psycroptic, came close. They were simply freaking awesome and everyone was infected by it. Vocalist Ben Falgoust has an amazing set of pipes and was flawless in his delivery. However, someone really needs to hand that dude a guitar as his non-stop display of air-guitaring was, to begin with funny, then distracting, the down-right annoying. Still, the rest of the band’s incredible stage presence more than made up for it and the sound they produced was so good that Falgoust could have spent the whole night pretending to play guitarist Sammy Duet’s arse hairs and it still would have been enjoyable.

Finishing up what truly was an incredible day was Psycroptic and there truly couldn’t have been a better band to do it. As good as their studio recordings are, to see them live is something to behold. Performing a set that spanned their entire career, the band treated the crowd to 50 minutes of extreme speed, amazing melody, insane riffs and supreme grooves. How such a technical and energetic band can be so tight is almost unfathomable. Vocalist Jason Peppiatt is arguably the best frontman in Australia, while guitarist Joe Haley and drummer Dave Haley are the kings of technical supremacy.  Unfortunately, bassist Cameron Grant didn’t play, but his fill in (excuse my ignorance, I don’t know his name) did a stellar job. Moreover, as well as being insanely talented, the guys in the band are also a bunch of stand-up dudes, each taking the time to talk to and have pictures with fans and even loaded-in out the front of the venue for all to see. Few bands, either in Australia or internationally can match Psycroptic. They are masters at what they do and what they do is kick some serious ass.

As good as all the bands were, there is no doubt the real winner of the day was Adelaide metal. The New Dead has shown, without a flicker of a doubt that it is alive and well in South Australia. In fact, it could be argued that the New Dead is one of the keys to saving metal in Adelaide and in helping it to grow to become bigger than ever before. Not only does it showcase all the genres of metal, it gives up and coming bands a chance to play alongside and mingle with more established bands, while giving them a taste of what it’s like to play in front of a decent crowd. Moreover, it shows  fans who only rock up to see the bigger, more established bands play that there is a whole lot more talent out there then what they might have thought and encourages them to go check out local bands at local shows. Plus, perhaps most important of all, the New Dead is all ages, so young metal heads, who spend their money on merch (instead of beer) are actually able to come out and be inspired. Forget Soundwave, it’s the grass roots levels of metal in Adelaide that are most important to save. Without them there is no scene at all and with no scene, there are no bands. Thankfully, the New Dead is showing the way.