Evil Invaders IV
10-Jun-2012 Manning Bar, Sydney
June 9, 2012
Reviewed by Brian Giffin
Pix by Albert Gestal
There's nothing like a festival to bring together all the threads of Australia's far-flung metal community, and Evil Invaders had drawn both bands and fans from places as far away as Perth, Townsville, Darwin and New Zealand for its three day duration. By all accounts, the show the previous night at the Bald Faced Stag was bursting at the seams and by the end of this evening there wasn't a lot of elbow room here at the Manning Bar either.
Early in the day saw sets by Mongrel's Cross, Rituals of the Oak, Demonreich and Denouncement Pyre; I arrived in time for Destruktor who hit the stage at the same time as I hit the bar. With a buzzing guitar tone, the Melbourne three-piece unleashed a half-hour set of primitive black thrash and raw growling vocals. Destruktor's primeval, punkish thrash doesn't have a lot of variation and the single guitar sounded rather thin, but their fans, of whom they seem to have quite a good many, responded with nods of the head.
If ever there was a square peg in the round hole of Evil Invaders, it was LORD. Energetic, melodic, thrash-laced power shredfests really didn't seem to be in the diet of the majority of the crowd here today. Not only that but they had some sound problems early that made the mix really uneven. Nevertheless they delivered an entertaining set of fast heavy metal and by the end of the set as they rolled out a cover of "Creeping Death" a few bodies had dared to stray onto the floor in front of the stage. The band didn't seem to care of course - they looked like they were having a great time.
In contrast, the room was almost full for the next band. Impetuous Ritual threw up a crushing, impenetrable wall of relentless noise with a density that was astounding. The Queensland band's grinding death metal was a monstrous assault with a huge rhythmic pulse that was almost hypnotic, without a trace of melody or a sideways glance at any form of subtlety. Musical enormity, any more than half an hour may well have caused the gates of hell to come open.
Astriaal brought the glories of the night sky to the Manning Bar stage next. After a self-induced absence of more than a year, the Brisbane unit's scathing melodies and bitter riffs sounded no worse for the break, nor did Arzarkhel's harsh, appropriately wintery howling, leading the band from under a hooded cowl. Near the end of their too-short set, they introduced a new song that showed a heavier, death-metal influenced direction with tempo changes and a massively hooky riff while retaining their malevolent atmosphere, that bodes well for future instalments.
Following them came Assaulter, a band that plays so rarely it's close to not at all but this proved not to be much of a setback as they stepped out with a bristling set of dark, sinister thrash. There were a couple of moments where they could have been tighter, but they were pretty lively, especially bassist Zoran who enjoys a good headbang while wielding his bass like a weapon and the soloing occasionally bordered on shred territory. Theirs was a pretty decent set overall with some cool snarly vocals and lots of barbed, catchy riffs scattering throughout the crowd.
The virtual antithesis of Assaulter's upbeat and blazing thrash was the glacial rumble of Adelaide doom veterans Mournful Congregation. Only continental drift is slower than the pace set by this band and quite probably the only thing more immense than the huge riffs they brought down like the forlorn tolling of a colossal bell foretelling the doom of all. Vocals were spare; epic songs rolled languidly on as Stuart Prickett's occasional leads traded off with Justin Hartwig's harmonic squeals and Adrian Bickle's drums boomed like thunder from the back of the stage. It was a majestic, trance-inducing performance - although some were rather bored by it all.
Evil Invaders then took yet another sharp change in direction when Hobbs Angel of Death came on with a fury of tight-wound, classic THRASH. With more riffs in one song than Mournful had played in their entire set, metal pioneer Peter Hobbs led his band through a set of incendiary Aussie metal classics with a look of gleeful mischief in his eyes. Hobbs had some problems with his guitar now and then which seemd to dampen his enthusiasm for a moment, but then he got right back into yelling exhortations at the crowd and ramping them up into action when they finally exploded into a full-on mosh as "Marie Antoniette" was unleashed. Hobbs and his band ripped through a bunch of killer thrash that left blue smoke and a trail of bodies in its wake.
It probably doesn't get more minimalist than Inquisition, a band featuring just two musicians: drummer Incubus and frontman Dagon. There's no bass player, but bass is the least important instrument to this style of music. Dagon plays a vast array of riffs and tempo changes through a single, absurdly distorted guitar. The band has a jarring, slightly off-kilter style thanks to Incubus' technical BDM-style drumming and for a genre of music that is reknown for being primal and urgent, Inquisition has a somewhat innovative take on things. It's actually pretty interestng to hear, but visually rather unspectacular. After a few minutes of seeing Dagon growl into the mic and then wander around the stage a bit by himself, it became strangely voyueristic, like watching a dude jamming alone in his room. Still, the crowd stayed right to the end, with most only pumped for more the following afternoon, when day three of Evil Invaders brings down the house at the Stag once again. This has now become a pretty big deal, and going off the vibe of tonight's show, one can only hope that this festival has a long-term future.
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