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Live Reviews : Emperor & Ruins @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 03/04/2019

By on April 10, 2019

Images: Clinton Hatfield
Words: Mitch Alexander

Ruins are the Reece’s Pieces of metal, getting death metal peanut butter in my black metal chocolate; I dare say your enjoyment of them will be dictated by how much of a purist you are towards either genre. And just as it would be weird if someone self-identified as a peanut butter purist, it would be weird if you got hung up on the minutia of genre delineation instead of simply enjoying what was a fairly… “expected” set. How in the fuck do you open for Emperor normally, let alone on one of these “legacy, first time, whole classic album, maybe never again, we defined your childhood” type tour?

After the apparent shenanigans of the Sydney show (google it), Ruins put on a super tight and somewhat restrained, if not demure, show. While all credit should be given to any vocalist who insists on trying to get an Emperor crowd to fist pump to a band that isn’t Emperor, there was something a little rote to tonight’s performance. Again, I totally get. It’s Emperor, you know?

Which is apparently all you need to say to get out of conversations you don’t want to have with some of the fucking nerds in the crowd tonight. No, I’ve never properly listened to them before tonight and no, my childhood wasn’t deprived because of it. The Venn diagram of Black metal, Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars fans is a big pimply circle that spouts facts at your face from a distance measured atomically, and I can smell the authentic breakfast ramen on your breath, Gavin, so you need to ease the fuck up.

One thing I did genuinely love, half-jokes aside, is how powerful this night was for people. I legit heard a number of “this band got me into metal,” “this is my favourite album ever,” and “my life would be different without Emperor” type comments, just yelled with joyous passion at strangers. It was a mood, and it didn’t let up the entire night. If anything, it was only amplified by the band’s earnest love for the crowd and the unabashed fun they were having on stage.

The biggest and best takeaway, as someone who has no stakes in the game, was how good they were as a “band,” but also how not evil or theatrical they were as a “black metal band.” While it might seem unsurprising and condescending to say of a band that’s been performing for 73 years or whatever it is, but Emperor is just “good:” perfect sound, on point stagecraft, nifty lighting, personable and rock-star. They were just a dang good band, but I’d be lying if I said there’s no part of me that wants the corpse paint and allusions to pure evil, instead of just having a music nerd rock out with his mates under some green and blue lighting.

Emperor is so good at what they do that they don’t need anything else, and neither does the crowd. But with our needs satiated, surely they could throw us a corpse paint covered bone and satisfy our wants? And by “our wants” I mean “my wants” which are those of the only person in the entire venue not having a religious experience born of nostalgia and elation. If you already got a ticket to this, you know what you want and I’m pretty sure you’re gonna get it.


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.