Heading out on their first regional tour in a while, deathcore giants Thy Art Is Murder made a stop at Pelly Bar in Frankston. I was extremely keen to go, especially as I was curious to watch Alpha Wolf with their new vocalist, as well as fellow support bands Antagonist A.D and Xile.
After making the trek out to Frankston, involving trains and multiple replacement buses, I was frankly just keen to see some music! Walking in, the venue was bigger than I expected, and with that came a substantial crowd. Waves of people were amped up and looking like they were ready to bring the heavy along with their favourite purveyors of sound.
First up was Xile, coming all the way from New Zealand and greeting the crowd with “come party with your boys!”. Unfortunately they weren’t to my taste at all. I felt like the vocalist lacked punch, although he was very active on stage. As it was my first time hearing and watching them, I may have experienced it differently to someone who already knew the band, but their instrumentals also felt lacking to me. I felt they were heavy but simplistic.
The rest of the crowd clearly enjoyed them, and several times people got overwhelmed and broke out in a mad mosh frenzy. Applause was loud, and appreciation rolled forward. A stand out part of the set was when someone performed a really aggressive chicken dance in the middle of the pit. Metal.
Fellow New Zealanders Antagonist A.D took the stage next. Unlike Kel, I had found it hard to gel with the four piece via their recorded music (such as recently released “No Justice” and “A.P.M.D.”). I was thoroughly impressed by their performance though and was impressed by vocalist Sam Crocker’s control of the crowd; effortlessly kicking off a mosh with set-opening screams rippling through the room like a battlecry. With arms and legs flailing everywhere, an enthusiastic crowd opened up the room and threw themselves around like they were getting paid to do it. Huge riffs and PHAT breakdowns had me suddenly very enthused about this band.
There may have been a lot of sore necks after this set, as everyone up the front was banging their heads back and forth in perfect unison. There was a lot going on, including our photographer Rowan getting knocked into multiple times. Towards the end of the set Sam dished out a quite relevant quote, saying “Everyone says Frankston is a sketchy place, get sketchy with us”. Multiple circle pits followed on from this, including one bloke in the pit who kept bizarrely lifting people up. People started moshing while they were on the shoulders of other people, and as they closed the set with “No Justice” the room nearly broke with everyone moshing going off their chops.
Before Antagonist A.D left the stage, Sam made an important statement which laid out the views of the band in terms of who they welcome at their shows, and who they don’t. “If you’re a racist motherfucker.. if you’re a sexist motherfucker.. fuck off”. Referring to anyone that treats women like objects or was just a shit human in general, Sam made it clear that they weren’t wanted at the show, and that they should leave immediately.
Alpha Wolf were next; undeniably the band I was most keen for. Getting into them after Aidan had left the band and never having seen them live, I was curious about how new vocalist Lochie would go in comparison to the streams I’d been getting stuck into. Opening the set with “Ward of the State” and being greeted with a huge hit of energy from the crowd, the show was instantly taken to another level. Huge shredding riffs are what drew me into their music, and it was a treat to hear them ripping through the room in a live setting. Like warning sirens, screeching echoing guitars got everyone moving even more.
Lochie’s stage presence was strong, especially considering he has only played a handful of shows with the band. His vocals were great, delivering impressive deep screams as well as everything else that the songs of Mono pulled him through. “Black Mamba” went off in a big way, as did both “Golden Fate; Gut Ache” and “Golden Fate; Water Break”. People were singing along whilst they were moshing, jumping, and just straight up dancing. Clearly everyone there were huge fans of Alpha Wolf. Fair enough too, these guys can play the shit out of some music.
Finally the big dogs were here. Thy Art Is Murder were heavily anticipated and were ready to make Frankston their bitch. People were yelling their appreciations before the Sydney band even started playing. “There’s Jesus, and then there’s CJ!” was one of many quotes thrown around before even a single note was played.
They kicked off with “Dear Desolation”, shaking the room straight away, with CJ already showing off his ridiculous vocal range. His highs were insane, ripping through the room and penetrating our ears, producing an audible “ooft” from everyone. Every breakdown did the same thing; filthy heavy and felt them everywhere. As the guitars combined with the drums and bass to unleash this huge sound, it practically shook the entire suburb, and it ached at my ears despite my earplugs; an impressive achievement in of itself. The push pit was fully active here, as there wasn’t as much moshing as there was just aggressive shoving, with the vibrations driving everyone crazy.
I’m convinced at this stage that CJ McMahon doesn’t even try to pronounce words when he performs, he just screams sounds that sound roughly like the lyrics, and that’s perfectly fine because it works a treat. “Holy War” was massive, with everyone singing back in what was a huge demonic singalong. Unfortunately the band members didn’t seem all that into the performance, offering up very little stage movement nor connection with the crowd. Lee Stanton, drummer, played almost the whole set with his eyes closed it seemed, and everyone else just seemed to be going through the motions.
Regardless, they still sounded unreal. Fan favourite “The Purest Strain of Hate” produced one of the filthiest breakdowns of the evening: “Spineless followersssss!”. People were going down left right and centre. Thy Art closed with “Reign of Darkness”, a straight up fucking belter. “You will know pain, you will see the true face of panic, devastation, now and forever, reign of darkness”. With its hearty mix of singing and moshing, the set ended in a huge way.