Hell on the Bay is a new killer local festival which is definitely what it sounds like: The whole night takes place out on the Victoria Star, a ferry/party boat that cruises around Port Phillip in Melbourne. Complete with awesome Australian talent, a metal DJ downstairs, free pizza, and a very cramped space to try to cram a few hundred people into, the whole gig was very in your face and personal, even despite the barrier, and I loved it.
First things first, for the most part, the sound was fantastic, the only problem being the serious feedback from the main mic throughout the night. It was definitely worst while Demolition set up. The instruments themselves, however, were mixed so close to perfection that I don’t really care. The lighting was as showy as the tiny stage allowed, and while a little blinding at times, was pretty great.
Bane of Winterstorm, a relatively new and brilliant power metal band that remind me of Dragonland and Gloryhammer, were up first. Their sound was fantastic, and good god their singer is a beast behind the mic. Thundering through their woefully short set with ease, I very quickly remembered why I like them so much. Ah, cheesy power metal, you have been good to me. Also, from what I saw between the heads of the crowd, Bane of Winterstorm’s stage performance looked fun and energetic, and the whole experience definitely got me stoked for the rest of the night, and to be at the front early so I could actually see. A brilliant start to an equally brilliant night, though.
Slayer-esque (but way better) band Demolition had reformed in time for Hell on the Bay, and I was excited to see them back in action. Trust me, they did not disappoint. I’m not a huge fan of thrash, but goddamn if I didn’t like what they were doing. After the deafening mic feedback was dealt with, their sound was crystal clear, and they really let loose some sweet shredding thrash goodness. Combined with a crowd-engaging live performance, Demolition lived up to their name and destroyed the crowd, but once again, the set was cut short all too soon.
Local black metal favourites Hybrid Nightmares were up next. It’s no secret that I love what these guys do, and they definitely lived up to what I had come to expect from their performances. With their signature blacklit fluorescent streaks in their corpse paint, and donning their white robes, they had a majestic and regal stage presence, all while belting out a fitting tribute to the mighty Obelisk (the subject of a lot of their material). Their live show is always engaging and fun, and that night was no exception. Armed with music that fits a live setting perfectly, and the mysterious power of the Obelisk, their set was impeccable, even throwing in two brand new songs. The sound was amazing, the playing was spot-on as always. I ended up smacking my head on the cruelly low ceiling from headbanging so hard.
Ruins, a black metal band you may know by their drummer, Dave Haley (who also drums for Blood Duster and Psycroptic), hit the stage next. I had seen them a few times, but this time was really something else. Brutally heavy from start to finish, you could really hear Dave’s death metal roots come through in the drumming, and while their performance never really engaged with the audience, it was energetic as hell and damn fun to watch. Instrumentally and vocally, everyone was as expected, nothing other than masterful. It was brilliant to see them so close, too, even with the barrier to keep the crowd from careening through the stage while moshing. The sound was perfect, album quality save for a few squeaks from the centre mic, which was still feeding back. Ruins’ set was a little longer, going for about 45-50 minutes, and left just one band to round out the night.
The almighty Sydney power metal band Lord themselves had come down to headline the night. I hadn’t seen them since they opened for Iced Earth in 2012, but oh man, they definitely didn’t disappoint. Sounding like the bastard child of solo Dio and early Helloween, they clicked with me again immediately. The majestic greying members of Lord forged through the previous iteration of the band’s (Dungeon) material, which was great to see since it’s not played all that often, plus some of the material from their most recent album, Digital Lies. Engaging the crowd at every opportunity, their fun and energetic stage performance was backed by stellar musicianship both vocally and instrumentally, and fantastic stage production in both light and sound.
Sadly, even though the crowd cried out for an encore, a noise curfew prevented Lord from playing past 11:20. 10 minutes later, the Victoria Star arrived back at the Docklands, and the show was over. All the guests received a show bag with two compilation CDs of local bands’ material, and a copy of the latest Heavy Mag. Brimstone Bookings really go all out on this festival, and they have my highest praises for it.
You know the drill; go check out the bands mentioned. They’re all worth your time and ears, I promise. As for me, I know I’ve been a bit absent lately, but more and more gigs are popping up, so expect more reviews. In fact, I saw Cannibal Corpse and Hour of Penance on Friday, so stay tuned for that, too.
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