It was a Friday night in the midst of Melbourne’s Chinatown and a line-up waited to get into 170 Russell for Thy Art Is Murder‘s Dear Desolation tour, supported by Emmure, Fit For An Autopsy, and Justice For The Damned. Entertained by a passing parade of drums and a dragon celebrating Chinese New Year, we soon moved deep into the dimly lit core of the multi-leveled venue, finding familiar faces and staking out spots for the night ahead.
Sydney five piece Justice For The Damned opened the night, with “It Will Always Be My Fault”. Hectic and tight, the band hit the stage with high energy, especially from frontman Bobak Rafiee, and were exciting to watch because of this. The sound quality was noticeably great, as the band pummeled us with tracks from their Dragged Through The Dirt album. Vibes were high, with the crowd loving the Sydney band who were here to entertain. On behalf of the band, Bobak acknowledged the love we Melbournians have for the scene, saying that ‘Hardcore lives in Melbourne’ and dedicated a song to this fact. They also dedicated a song to Thy Art Is Murder, expressing immense gratitude for the band. With Bobak finding his way into the crowd, Justice pulled off a big finish, hitting us with “Please Don’t Leave Me”. They gave everything they had.
New Jersey based Fit For An Autopsy took the stage next with a strong start. Where Justice were infectious high energy, Fit For An Autopsy felt like a controlled burn, pouring out a precise brand of metal in strength. Featuring songs like “Heads Will Hang”, the band had the crowd in the palm of their hand, singing along. Bathed in red fog, their set was a punishing blend of soundscapes and breakdowns, where hands raised in fists or horns captured the uniting force of this music.
I got the impression that a lot of people were staking out the cavern of 170 Russell specifically for Emmure. The ever-growing crowd were sweating out so much hype for the New York band. I don’t blame them, with such a tight sound and the spotlight shining on huge rhythms in their responsive and aggressive set. There was a lot of love exchanged here, with singing and crowd-surfing during this relentless ‘wow’ experience. Mirrors‘ Tyson Taifer was beside me at the time and described the set as “Punchy as fuck”.
Thy Art Is Murder‘s presence on stage seemed to kick the temperature of 170 Russell up significantly. With blistering sound sparking a wild pit, all eyes were captivated by frontman CJ McMahon who seemed to be owning the persona of a hooded messiah. The entire front/pit area radiating heat, this electric set with dark riffs and wild drumming seemed to become something of a connective experience; CJ lost himself in the music and leaned into the crowd as support who gratefully stepped up, leading to some goosebumping moments of unison in movement and voice. Ridiculously impressive vocal capabilities streamed out over a sweaty sea of people, with the band members making it all look too easy. Thy Art Is Murder put on a relentless and instrumentally huge set with gorgeous breakdowns.
The photos that accompany this review are courtesy of Rowan Donohue, who captured the four bands in action at their Brisbane show, at The Triffid.