Grave touring is an instant “yes” in my book. After seeing them destroy some crappy bar in Chinatown a year ago, I knew that they were one of the most prominent Swedeath bands for a reason. It kindled a love affair that — when I read they were touring with Wehrmacht and Primate in Australia — suddenly lit up again. I honestly had no idea who Wehrmacht were, but the addition of Primate to the lineup made it a sure-fire thing.
I was going to this; nothing was stopping me.
First things first: The crowd sucked. There couldn’t have been more than 200 people, which is absolutely ridiculous. An absolutely tiny crowd for international bands always shits me. How have people not heard about Grave, for fuck’s sake? Or do they just not care enough about them to fork out the cash?
Admittedly, I did see them on a Tuesday night, after they had played another show on the Saturday previously.
The stage production was awful at best, which was surprising for the HiFi. Probably one of my favourite venues in Melbourne, they really dropped the ball on this one. The light show was boring and Eric Helzer [vocalist for Wehrmacht] actually had to signal to turn the overhead lights down, they were so bright.
The sound was iffy, jumping from great to utter shite from band to band. I was really disappointed by how bad it was.
Eternal Rest had come down from Brisbane to open. They were cool, I guess. Basically a Nile rip-off style of tech death, they sounded cool but suffered from the same shitty sound production that most local openers do. There wasn’t much in the way of stage presence, which I also expected. Vocals-wise, it sounded a bit weak and airy, kind of like blowing down a really long pipe and hearing the noise on the other side. The same style vocals put me off a lot of bands, which is a shame because otherwise I enjoy them. The instrumentals were cool, though. The bassist’s 6-string (I think it was Ibanez but I can’t really remember) was sexy, and he was all over the thing. Shame I could barely hear him because the sound sucked a giant dick.
Hobbs’ Angels of Death took a while to set up, but their performance was great. I had seen them perform with Grave about a year previously, and they didn’t disappoint then or now. They’re not really a band I listen to at home but I thoroughly enjoy them live. Poor Hobbs was complaining about the lack of beer for half the set, until he was given a cooled 6-pack, to the crowd’s delight. Instrumentally, they were brilliant as always; solid, thrashy riffs with a lot of groove, and some wild solos. Hobbs writes very Slayer-esque songs, and has a great stage presence. Great live band, but again, not something I’d listen to at home.
Primate, on the other hand, were phenomenal. Featuring Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth and Bill Kelliher of Mastodon, the punky grindcore band tore up the stage. Kevin is an absolute beast live, and brought the raspy harshness I love in harsh vocals — something I hoped Eternal Rest would deliver. Bill Kelliher was right on point, unleashing some fantastic solos and the riffing was spot on, keeping their style of grindcore fun and enjoyable to listen to. The drums were also amazing, but suffered from a slight lack of bass, probably due to the mix more than anything. Nonetheless, they put on a hell of a show, and, until Obscene Extreme Australia this year tells me otherwise, they’re one of the best grindcore bands I’ve seen live, sitting alongside Rotten Sound, Blood Duster and Nasum.
After a very delayed setup, Wehrmacht took the stage. At the start, I wasn’t impressed. Crossover thrash has never been my thing, and I knew from the start they wouldn’t be to my taste. Nevertheless, apart from the lighting qualms, they were fun to watch. They suffered a lot from poor mixing, and all solos sounded terrible from where I was at the barrier. They seemed to be having fun, despite the tame crowd, which was great to see. The best part of their set was far and away their cover of “Wrathchild” (Iron Maiden), which was fantastic. I immediately switched from “OK this is kinda cool” to “Oh my fucking God yes” in all of two seconds. They also seemed to like the crowd more during the cover, as they were really getting into it, myself included. Not really what I go for in music but goddamn that cover was awesome.
Grave took the stage not long after Wehrmacht finished, already way off schedule. Unleashing classic songs like “In Love,” “Hating Life,” and You’ll Never See…,” Grave tore it up like I knew they would. They even played a song I hadn’t heard before, “Morbid Ascent,” off their latest EP, which was cool.
Obviously I’ll have to get that somehow. Maybe a way that rhymes with schmownload. Mika Lagren recognized me, which was both good and bad. I’ll explain why after this review, though. Anyway, both instrumentally and vocally, they were outstanding. The only way it could have been better was to drag Kevin Sharp back on stage and let him feature in a song. Song after song was flawless, sheer Boss HM-2 goodness every step of the way. The lighting sucked but that was it, really. Even the sound was perfect. A brilliant end to a gig full of ups and downs, and honestly, I’m glad I got another of Mika’s picks. The dude’s a legend in my eyes. Such a cool guy.
You know the deal. Check out Hobbs’ Angel of Death, Primate, Wehrmacht and Grave. To be honest, if you didn’t know Grave already, you should be damn ashamed of yourself. Now, I can’t find the setlists for the gig anywhere and can’t remember all the bloody songs all the bloody bands played, so I’m sorry for that.
Stay tuned, I’m seeing Rotting Christ tomorrow night, so expect that review soon.
Ok, I’m going to tell you how Mika came to recognize me the other night. About a year previously, I had seen Grave play at some shitty bar called Ding Ding Lounge in Chinatown. The stage was small enough to comfortably step on top, and the front stage monitors weren’t fixed to the floor. Mika had set up his pedalboard underneath one of said monitors. Being European, he had one of those international plug converters to cinvert his European plug to our Australian one, and god knows those things fall out all the goddamn time.
So, during the very first song, which was “In Love,” if I remember correctly, I’m holding onto the monitor in front of Mika’s plug to his pedalboard. I start headbanging and lose my balance, pushing the monitor right into the plug, knocking it out and taking out Mika’s power with it. Mid-song, he has to plug it back in because I can’t reach it, and continue. I felt horrible until he gave me a brofist later, and after the gig, he shook my hand and gave me the pick he used. So yeah, that’s how he knows me. Not the most glorious of introductions.
Until next time.
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