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Live Reviews : Cattle Decapitation, Psycroptic, Hollow World & Ætherial @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne 14/02/2018

By on February 15, 2018

Images: Clinton Hatfield
Words: Mitch Alexander

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Whether Cattle Decapitation should’ve headlined is now, five years later, finally irrelevant. They have headlined. And for the record; Cattle should’ve headlined twice by now.

I thoroughly enjoy watching bands warm into their set. Genuinely. While I’d obviously rather a band start at 100%, that’s just not usually the case for bands that aren’t headliners or fulltime. But nonetheless, I think there’s something enjoyable about watching a band find their feet and blossoming over a set; it’s like puberty in fast forward. Aetherial (and no I’m not looking up the exotic keys to mash the A and E together) did that tonight, starting strong but getting much stronger by the end of their set, with the highlight being the ear-worm hook laden Insignificance Of Us, which I’m still humming hours after the gig. For an opening band they were also delightfully tight and cohesive, which is especially noteworthy considering they had Chris Themelco from Eye Oftheus Omegeny on guitar, who’s notorious for sucking and being bad and I’m not just saying that cause I’m recording with the cunt at the moment. These guys were good, and I hope they find some permanent members and start hitting the scene harder very soon. My only gripe is that if you do super quiet screams, moderate your speaking voice so it doesn’t blow my fucking ear holes apart when you say thanks after a song. Cheers.

Hollow World were second up, and boy were they Hollow World. Full disclosure; I personally like the guys in the band. So now it’s fine for me to say I’m good to never see them play live again. They gig three times a week, 76 weeks a year and I swear to fuck one time I opened my fridge and the cunts were headlining in there.

Admittedly, they are super tight, and if you’re into BDM-style death with the occasional concession to a groove, you’ll fucking dig them. I hate guitar and love nu-metal so I’ll pass, and while Ben on vocals puts on a solid performance it’d be swell if everyone could do more than just headbang when they’ve been politely asked to. I brought a normie friend of mine to the gig to hopefully mine some gold from his hilariously ignorant comments but after seeing Hollow World he just asked me if thrash was still a thing and that they remind him of Manowar so fuck him, what does he know?

I’m not sure what I could write about Psycroptic anymore. You know how good they are. I know how good they are. Your fucking mum knows how good they are. Instead of telling you that they were tighter than a fish’s arsehole and twice as boisterous and okker as that proverb, I’ll just desolately ruminate on the fact that Psycroptic are Australian metal’s most tragic heroes. They are, almost unarguably, the best death metal band in the country. Potentially one of the best metal bands, period. And they’ve nearly always been that – they are reliably, consistently, near-perfect. And everyone knows it.

But that also means they’ve peaked, doesn’t it? They’ll never play ETIHAD, but fuck knows they should. They’ll never have that UNFD YouTube hit. They’ll never convert entire swathes of a young population. They will languish forever as the most influential, most enjoyable, tightest and rightly revered death metal band this country has ever produced, holding accolades awarded by those who know. Maybe we should start a Patreon to just swing them a few bucks every month as a tangible “thumbs up” to them; they’ve had at least as much creative impact on our scene as Parkway Drive, so where’s there Byron Bay villa (that I’m assuming Winston chills in)? Lochlan Watt, who filled in on vocals for some tours last year and who joined them for a song tonight, said that almost half a lifetime ago he heard his first ever Psychroptic song, and it was the most bitter-sweet, beautifully tragic thing I’d heard this week and I spend a lot of time on porn star’s Twitter accounts (they’re gold mines, seriously).

Cattle Decapitation, coming back to rightfully headline a tour (according to every insufferable cunt over 35 at tonight’s gig) were the epitome of “extreme” death. Their music is a cacophonic exercise in endurance and tolerance; considering I was flagging at the hour mark and all I had to do was “stand” and “listen”, I have no fucking clue how these dudes played for 80 something minutes, and will do so every night for the next week, let alone the foreseeable future. They are quick, abrasive, tight and grotesque – a fun mix of jazz and a Tough Mudder obstacle course the whole family can enjoy.

No matter how many times I heard it tonight, a fucking Cattle Decapitation singalong is something I don’t want to get used to, it was gorgeous and horrifying. Beautiful too was witnessing people try, and fail, at matching the vocal virtuosity of Travis Ryan (the best singer in death, hands down), but that wasn’t the point. The point was that this garbage truck mulch music was bringing people together emotionally, not just analytically. You could stand with arms folded and be impressed by their technical performance, but CD bring a lot of heart to their music as well, so it was nice to see that reflected so powerfully in the crowd.

It also would’ve been nice if the sound wasn’t so dense and kick focused. I might have rose-tinted glasses on, but I remember their first show here being the best sound the Corner Hotel had ever managed. Tonight the sound was just “very good”, not revelatory like last time. And another thing that would’ve been nice would be if they just slowed down – I didn’t think it was humanly possible to play drums that fast and consistently, and it turns out it isn’t and I was fucking right. It’s very strange to watch a band so blisteringly quick to start with manage to get “live-excited” and up the tempo of each track, and while it adds a certain type of monstrous insanity to the performance – watching musicians somehow keep it all together – it’d also be nice to listen to some songs I enjoy.

All that said, let me be clear – every band was on the exceptional side of Very Good tonight, and in order from opener to headline, they got progressively tighter, louder, heavier and more performative. It was the perfect Darwinian hierarchy of band career progressions. It could’ve just been a tad better overall, but given this is the first night and they’re all professionals, I dare say their next set of shows are safe bets.

Catch the remaining Cattle Decapitation tour dates in Australia with Psycroptic. Tickets on sale now via Destroy All Lines.


Mitch is a 26 year old vegan, socialist, atheist, utilitarian, reductionist metalhead, stand up comedian and philosophy major that hates labels. When he isn't being politely ignored at dinner parties he's being politely ignored on comedy nights around the country.