Alpha Wolf: ‘Fault’ Australian Tour @ Stay Gold, Melbourne

Freshly back from their first European tour, Alpha Wolf took to select Australian venues, celebrating the release of their Fault EP. I caught them at the Stay Gold show, keen to take in all of the bands on this bill.

It seemed like everyone else felt the same way, because the long line to get into the venue meant that I only caught the tail end of the show’s opener, Starve. Apparently in doing so I also missed a vocal feature in Starve’s set from The Gloom In The Corner‘s vocalist Mikey Arthur. 🙁 The Melbourne heavy band are relatively new, but they’ve released Mantis in late March and are already easily impressing with their energetic stage presence, full of low lows and ripping highs. I loved what I saw, Starve!

Even after Starve had left the stage, a buzz remained, with everyone hyped for more to come. Mirrors soon came on stage, and felt strong and united as a band, even when there were technical issues with a microphone. Mirrors’ set was a feast of heaviness, technicality, and atmosphere, and the Melbourne/Gippsland band made songs like “Can You Hear The Silence” seem effortless.

Fresh from the release of their Cold Sanctuary EP, Mirrors shared “Damien” which is a very personal song that’s exceptionally meaningful to the guys. I was impressed at how vocalist Patty Goodman was nailing sky high notes of the chorus (“Nothing haunts us like the words we never said”) alongside gritty screams and lows. The band felt at home in the thoughtful instrumental moments, including a beautiful vocal ending and soft melodic guitar. It was seriously stunning in contrast to hectic heaviness we’d already heard in the set.

Having seen Mirrors quite a few times, it was great to hear them playing their new songs, with their setlist expanded and fresh. I don’t know if it was because of this factor, but to me, it felt like the best I’d seen Mirrors play! The guys seem to get stronger with every show, including drummer Robert Brens, who is incredible, to put it simply.

The crowd around me loved it too, joining in loudly in singing, shouting, and moshing hard. Afterwards, in the line for the ladies’ bathroom, I overheard a conversation about the set which went something like “Oh my god, that was so good!”. Yep, I’d agree with that assessment! Mirrors are on the up and up!

Daybreak have just recently put out their three-track EP Godfather, so any chance to see the Perth band live was obviously a must-do. As expected, they tore up the stage from the word go, and energetic vocalist Shaun Cox stalked from side to side with intense eye contact, creating a vibe of “Are you fucking listening?” or maybe it was more like “Are you fucking moshing?”. It was a yes to both, and song after song was satisfying and huge, including a favourite of mine, “Acid Green”.

Hype and energy were high and contagious, with punters soaking up the set and working hard to keep up with Daybreak’s ever shifting pace and rhythms. Though you probably won’t find me in a pit, I’m a big fan of filthy breakdowns that grind to a fucking halt, and this set served them on a platter. Slow building scenes were also well-crafted for circle pit frenzying, before falling into Daybreak’s bouncier lyrical rhythms or taking in their fierce riffs. Daybreak definitely keep their fans on their toes; either with heavy and dark atmospheres or grooving danceable rhythms. Daybreak are one of a kind!

I was wowed by the incredible effort on vocals shared across the band, in particular from bassist Liam Webster. That guy has an amazing set of pipes on him! Also lending a hand on vocals were; a blackened feature from Jerry Chard (of Honest Crooks), wildness assisted by James Killian (of Vacant Home), and lastly Patty Goodman joined in at the end of the set. With one last chance for people to throw down in the pit to Daybreak, they did just that!

And then it was time for the main event! It seemed like Alpha Wolf have been head down and working hard lately – either making music or touring – so I was looking forward to seeing what the band’s show was sounding like since I’d seen them last. Needless to say, the sold out Stay Gold band room was packed and full, as an ominous start to the set met us in the dark. Starting with “Sub-Zero”, I was immediately loving the riffs, the lighting, and the huge crowd involvement. It was indeed a killer start to their set.

Flowing straight into “#104” (a favourite of mine) and then “Russian Roulette”, energy was high, bouncy, and fiery, and it was an instant good time. John Arnold’s raw vocals added a grittiness to Lochie Keogh’s steady stream of syllabic fire, and crowd voices joined fiercely into the mix. Drummer Mitchell Fogarty never missed a beat as the song led to its sparse ending.

“You were my everything and you KNEW IT!”. Too busy bouncing and singing along to take notes, this set was chock full of favourites, and I think if you weren’t compelled to bang your head or move to these tunes, you might want to check your pulse.  Mono is one of my favourite albums, so it was great to have its songs spliced in between Fault tunes. All killer, no filler.

This was a fluid set, running from one song to the other without any pauses for banter. “No Name” featured sweet guitar work, and the mosh obediently turned into a circle pit at Lochie’s request. Crazy drumming drew my attention during this song, as did the collective roar of “That’s the sound of me not giving a fuck”… before wild scenes ensued.

Pace was kept high with “Spirit Breaker”, and the roaring flames of “No. 2”. Sabian Lynch hoisted his guitar in the air at times during this punishing set, and crowd surfers vyed for their chance to scream along with their band. Connection and energy never waned, and the slithering strength of “Nailbiter” formed something of an opportunity for joining in with the band, or for getting lost in the tempo changes.

If you can trust my sketchy notes, “Black Mamba” is where the set finished. It was fittingly huge and easy to join in with. Its erratic and awesome “You abandoned me” ending caused wild scenes, and led this whirlwind set (and stacked musical evening) to a close. If there is any doubt at all, about the capability of Australian heavy bands, shows like these are the remedy.

[Photos courtesy of Rowan ‘Awesome’ Donohue]
Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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