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Live Reviews : Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hybrid Nightmares, Blackhelm, Freedom of Fear @ Max Watts, Melbourne, 1/11/2019

By on November 2, 2019

It’s fantastic to hear a young, newer band do something a little different with extreme metal. Freedom of Fear hail from Adelaide and have only been around for a few years, but they are making a big statement with their sound and presentation. For starters, female-fronted extreme bands are still fairly few and far between, and Jade Monserrat has an insane black metal screech and the stage presence to help this band stand out from the crowd. She handles the low-end growls with aplomb too. The fact that there’s two young women in this band is even more cause for celebration, and Georgina Kittel is solid and creative on her five string bass.

The overall sound of the band is quite distinctive as well. They deftly borrow from black, death, thrash and progressive metal, as well as other extreme styles, and somehow channel it into something cohesive and coherent. Their musicianship is absolutely top notch, especially the twin lead guitar assault. It’s great to hear blistering trade-off leads making a comeback via this band too, and not only are both the seven-stringers in Freedom of Fear extremely accomplished individually, they lock in together sweetly too. Rhythmically, this band is relatively simple, however this is to allow the guitars and the vocals to breath and to shine. They even throw some atmospherics and slightly off-kilter jazzy moments into the mix as well.

Freedom of Fear are a fabulous and unexpected way to kick off this monumental night of local and international metal.

In stark contrast, Melbourne’s Blackhelm are up next. They are as raw and primal as Freedom of Fear are advanced, Aussie yobbo metal in its purest and most enjoyable form. That’s not to say this five-piece can’t play. Far from it, they are superb at what they do, they just present it in a more visceral manner. What they lack in finesse they more than make up for with unbridled aggression and sheer exuberance in the delivery of their blackened thrash metal, and their bruising 30 minute set is ridiculously entertaining, the huge, imposing figure of frontman Rob Widowmaker being the focal point. Their stomping closing track is particularly impactful, and the steadily building crowd certainly appreciate their efforts.

Melbourne five-piece Hybrid Nightmares throw another curveball into the mix. Coming out in corpse paint and with scary screechy unison vocals, this band puts a twist on the melodic black metal sound. They lend it a real theatrical bent, musically and visually, and their set is a real whirlwind of huge riffs, bludgeoning grooves and subtly different styles of extreme music. Hearing Happy Birthday sung black metal style is a real trip too. And speaking of frontman Loki, his vocals are truly bloodcurdling and his between song banter, mockingly inciting violence and stage diving, is heaps of fun. This band is becoming a real pillar of the local extreme scene.

Italy’s masters of symphonic extreme metal come on with all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect of this band, and then proceed to classily smash the packed Max Watts crowd in the face relentlessly with their piledriving orchestral extremities for one hour and fifteen minutes. Realistically, there aren’t the words in the English language to satisfactorily describe what the Fleshgod Apocalypse live experience is like. Suffice it is to say that they sound like Satan’s orchestra, like a symphonic Armageddon that has been dredged up from the deepest demonpits of hell and unleashed upon the planet. The sound is enveloping and overwhelming and the visual performance stunning.

The band’s music and performance alone are beyond devastating, a carefully controlled an constructed symphonic insanity, however, when you add the soaring soprano vocals of the magnificent Veronica Bordacchini into the mix, the Fleshgod live presentation becomes an otherworldly thing, an experience that gets seared into your memory for ever. Every song in the set is a ten ton sledgehammer draped in the finest, most expensive Italian satin. Every moment is savoured by the crowd like a luscious Italian wine, and when the final strains of their single encore trail away, we shuffle out, disbelieving of what we’ve just witnessed.

This band has truly taken over as the world’s premier symphonic black/death metal band, and may their reign be long, dark and glorious.


Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine,, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.