What Terrorizer Saw At Soundwave

By on 7 March 2012

Robyn Doreian checks in from Australia’s mega-fest Soundwave and here’s how shit went down…under!

“Much like the Hand of God appeared to a footballer in 1986, such lofty intervention occurred on today at the Melbourne Showgrounds [home to a yearly agricultural knees-up], when relentless rain ceased for the ninth Soundwave Festival.

Consequently, it’s a joyous day to weave among the 20,000-strong crowd to view up to 100 acts like Unearth, Hellyeah, The Devin Townsend Project, Paradise Lost, Underoath, Gojira, Mastodon, Chimaira, Marilyn Manson, Lamb of God, In Flames, Cro-Mags and System of a Down amongst others.

The (just) over-15s who had wagged school to see Black Veil Brides are swamped by “maggots” who had clustered to see top billers, Slipknot. Meanwhile, a few rockers remain non-committal and arrive dressed in all-in-one animal outfits [think a cow and giraffe]. Capitalising on the success of Smurfing USA, one fan arrived in a blue morph suit.

Pre-lunch on the second main stage [11 stages in total], Steel Panther’s Vegas metal garner hoots with their tradesmen-directed quips, for example: “How many guys like to get their dick sucked… by another guy?” Amid scarves, shimmering trousers, lip-gloss and leopard print, Van Halen was routed via ‘Death To All But Metal’ and ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’.  Several ladies offered Tommy Lee aloft the shoulder-hoisted breast displays, as reward for their ’90s glam metal.

Several hours later in a door-less metal shed, Cathedral play their last-ever Melbourne show. While a fan fluffs drummer Brian “Fabio” Dixon’s hair, Lee Dorrian evokes occult imaginings via a stellar set-list that included ‘Utopian Blaster’ and ‘Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)’. Early on Dorrian apologised for his hoarse vocals, the product of playing shows additional to a festival. 40 minutes of machine smoke could not conceal the melancholic air, the tight set being their last.

Around 6pm in a shed resembling a large container (ordinarily these venues are used to house livestock), a cloud of sweat slapped like a steaming flannel. On stage were six equally clammy men: Norway’s Kvelertek. Despite incomprehension of their native lyrics their power was a blinding, reminiscence of the wallop of Sweden’s Entombed. Three guitarists = genius, with shirtless frontman Erlend Hjelvik whirling and thrashing his torso in sync with the riffs. For 30 minutes that included “Ulvetid” and “Blodtorst”, Kvelertek scorched like a firewall.

Heading towards night, Slipknot’s “maggots” controlled the grass and spectator stands. Immediately noticeable onstage was the absence of bassist Paul Gray. Equally noticeable however, was the booze-free clarity of Corey Taylor’s voice, plus the hooks of songs like ‘The Heretic Anthem’ and ‘Duality’. While DJ Sid Wilson scaled the scaffolding and performed a backward stage dive, Clown, assaulted kegs. Mid-set homage was paid to Gray, who would have delighted at the evolution of his band, birthed from a near 20-year-old abscess of pain.

Under a near-starless sky, Watain’s burning inverted crucifixes and assorted incandescence stunned. Swedish frontman Erik Danielsson appeared like the composer of a demented opera, as his lean limbs struck poses of authority. Although they sung in their native dialect, for Aussies it was about the spectacle. Dreaming of “wild hearts” and dark incarnations, it was a forbidden world that 30 minutes of shrieks and speed guitar could merely suggest.

Final band Machine Head arrived under a robe of red light. Uniformed in black, Robb Flynn commanded his band through a mix of old (‘Old’) and new (‘Locust’). Muscular and musically proficient, Flynn worked hard to engage fans by tossing alcoholic shots and inciting a circle pit. Complementing Phil Demmel’s effortless guitar, Dave McClain thunders on drums. Unlike the rabid Machine Head of yore, this hour-long set was a considered dose of brutality.

At 10pm it’s all over. Splintered plastic cups covered the grass. Of course the best thing about Soundwave is the bands: where else can you see Coal Chamber (not that you’d want to) and Watain on the same bill? The worst thing? Queuing up for beer tokens and then queuing again for beer. Time wasted by this practice cut at least one band from the day’s viewing schedule. As Steel Panther might have said: “Balls out to that!” Bureaucracy aside, it’s a top rocking Friday.”

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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