Spectrum @ Exchange Hotel, Darlinghurst NSW
July 27, 2013
Review and pix by Brendan Delavere
Sydney's semi-regular death, doom and grind festival, Slaughterfest, was back for its sixth year, with a new venue, a new lineup and for the first time, an international headline. With the closure of the Sando Hotel, Slaughterfest was forced to move to Spectrum, perhaps a bit out of the way, but that didn't deter punters who had shown up at midday for openers 100 Years Of Solitude. In what I was informed was to be their first and only ever show, the four piece kicked things off with a long, slow intro of feedback and loops before a low gutteral roar shifted gears in a brutal fashion. Crashing drums, high crescendos and low end growls over loops of feedback left this reviewer wanting more, but alas.
Up next were the first grind band of the day, Nursing Home Stalkers, and what followed was thirty minutes of blast beats, thrash riffs, grinding guitars and a howling vocalist who was never in one place more than a few seconds. These guys played a fast paced set of thrashy grind that got the small crowd going. At the other end of the musical spectrum, post rock epicness in the form of Islands, pounding drums compliment mellow yet droning guitar rhythms. A calculated feedback soaked wall of epic soundscapes ensnare audiences, taking us on mellow trip of sounds.
Snapping things back to reality were Western Sydney power violence monsters Frank Rizzo, fast as shit and straight to your face with a fistful of violent grindcore anthems. 'Screw the Screws', 'Quit Ridin' Me' and an S.O.D cover smashed audiences like a hammer to the face. Once more in stark contrast, Mish transcends genres, flowing from heavy to mellow in a matter of seconds. Other-worldly drum patterns, solid rhythms, driving bass and guitar riffs and vocals that could command a legion, there were numerous punters who arrived purely for Mish and left straight after.
Ether Rag brought that discordant, rabid grind sound back with vengeance and a banshee scream to match. Vocalist Simon is a man on a mission, taking up the front half of the floor, he paced back and forth, tearing down the walls with his inhuman scream, taking some time out to scream down the floor too, all to short, rabid bursts of blast beats and screeching guitars.
At Dark were next on stage, treading a fine line between epic multilayered metal and pure dissonance. Beautiful is one word you could use to describe their sound, jarring cacophony of noise is one other way also. Either way, At Dark tore up the Spectrum.
Roadside Burial locked heads with punters and tore through a blasting set of face melting grind. Ridiculous song names - 'Steelcap Abortion', 'BBQ Implement' and 'Packed, Sealed and Dumpstere'd' - littered their set, each song harder, faster and blastier than the previous. Unfortunately, stoner rockers Arrowhead suffered technical difficulties, starting 30 minutes later than listed, they played a shorter set including the rifftastic 'Mayflower', with riffs so thick you needn't have touched weed to get whacked. They pounded out three solid tracks of stoner rock before handing the stage over to sludge lords Yanomamo. With their set pushed back also due to the technical difficulties, the four piece ripped out a series of Eyehategod-inspired slabs of sludge. Front man Tony Von Grimm leaped off of anything he could, onto anything he could, including myself and one punter who didn't take kindly to the in your face approach and attempted to throw a few punches the vocalist's way.
The hardest hitting band in Australia, Broozer, pounded the audience into submission with their no holds barred heavy metal. This was one heavy fucking band, and this is on a bill with Clagg and Monarch to follow. The drummer was a flurry of movement and crazy face contortions, it was hard to look away. Once my almost perforated ear drums returned to normal, Sydney hardcore stalwarts Throwdown hit the stage. Another fast, ball tearing straight up hardcore set in the vein of Toe To Toe, bass heavy, soul crushing hardcore. They even had one stage invader who decided to get his kit off and parade his mangina about.
One of the best doom bands this country has produced, the almighty Clagg brought about the apocalypse in a slow, molten river of sludge. Insanely heavy, super slow and downright dirty doom riffs, the kind of noise that crushes your soul and probably wiped out the dinosaurs. The air was thick with the sound of your destruction, so very keen for their soon to be completed record.
As the night moved on, those pesky technical difficulties reared their head, causing French peddlers of funeral doom, Monarch, to start much later than anticipated. After twelve hours of doom and grind, much of the audience had dissipated, but those who remained were treated to one thick, brutal tar-pit-esque wall of noise and drone. Steeped in feedback and reverb, their sound is akin to a deep black, humongous monster rising from the deep, afraid to look away, It is a wonder the Spectrum was still standing after this onslaught. And with that, another Slaughterfest was done and dusted, sure to be back next year in a more disturbing, grinding fashion.
Brendan is a contributing photographer and reviewer from Kiama. Check out his Facebook page.