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Words by Sam Wolstenholme {Sam Wolstenholme – Singer/Songwriter + Seraphic}

Photos by Dalton CollisFULL GALLERY HERE

It’s the final show of Brisbane’s hardcore heavyweights Deadlights’ “The Ego’s Valley” co-headlining national tour with Mirrors tonight, and they’re celebrating with a heartfelt hometown throwdown within the exquisite heritage-listed walls of The Princess Theatre. Both bands released albums during peak COVID restriction times, and have been unable to tour these releases – until now. Add to that the prestige of the venue, and there’s a real sense of occasion for Deadlights’ hometown appearance tonight. The full lineup promises hours upon hours of almost constant moshing for dedicated hardcore fans, with all five bands on the bill offering flavours of the heavies to varying extents. It’s going to be a great night for Australian hardcore.

Barely minutes after doors open, local pop rockers Sunbleached take the stage to begin warming up the crowd with their soothing shoegaze tones and 90s rock vocals. There’s an excellent live mix right off the bat, with clear, rich guitar tones that resound through the room. Their music has a dreamlike quality to it with its abundant spacey guitar delay effects, and I find myself feeling like I’m drifting away on a cloud – that is, until sudden harsh vocals pierce through at intervals, tinting the watercolour wall of sound with an edge of aggression. Think Oasis, Birds of Tokyo and Silverchair with occasional Bring Me The Horizon screams. The band play through a seamless set that flies by, and before we know it, they’re ripping through their last song, giving an unexpectedly hardcore send-off with some ferocious harshes. A highly enjoyable opening set from these guys.

Sunbleached | Photo by Dalton Collis

In stark contrast to the band that preceded them, nu-metalcore miscreants DEADNERVE crash into their set with all the attitude and antagonism of a band who are here to bring out everyone’s inner beast. They begin their sonic assault with single Spit to unleash anarchy, and the feral, aggressive, Kublai Khan-esque deathcore instantly gets a fight dancing mosh going. Initially it’s quite a vocal-heavy mix, which serves to enhance the raw power of the frontman’s screams – you really could tear through the fabric of hell with that voice. However, the guitars kick up in the mix in the second song, bringing those groovy, gritty breakdowns to the fore, and a rip-roaring riff in the track Mortal Coil combined with guttural pig squeals sends the mosh even crazier. DEADNERVE punch through a shamelessly rebellious set that leaves quite the impression and readies us for more heavies to come.

DEADNERVE | Photo by Dalton Collis

Soon it’s time for Sydney’s Inertia, who have been a promising heavy act since their release earlier this year of their equally explosive and emotional EP ‘Memoria’. The crowd has filled out much more now, and they’re already cheering as the band launch into their unique brand of heartfelt pop punk with moments of metalcore heaviness that slap you in the face. They deliver a strikingly punchy live sound for a band with only one guitar, as well as some fantastic groovy, jazzy drum fills to add complexity to the musical soundscape, echoing bands like Thornhill and Northlane. I’m particularly impressed with the range and versatility of the vocalist, whose piercing cleans soar like an eagle above us, contrasting with gritty passages and furious harsh vocals, all of which are executed with precision. The strobey light show really accentuates the driving guitar riffs, ramping up the mosh towards the end of the set as the band closes with their ridiculously catchy, proggy single Parallels. A great set from a band I’m sure we’ll hear much more from soon enough.

Inertia | Photo by Dalton Collis

The curtains are drawn, and then it’s time for Act One of the co-headlining deadly duo as a theatrical light display announces the arrival of Mirrors. The band emerge like dark spectres against a backdrop of white light, then rip into a tight, groovy set that reignites the mosh. Again there is only one guitar here, but between the guitarist and bassist they’ve got it covered in terms of impressive rhythm and lead work, delivering crushing breakdowns as well as proggy lead passages. The mosh grows and expands until it hits the tipping point during Beneath the Sand, where a circle pit breaks out even before the actual breakdown kicks in. This track surges like thunder and lightning through the room with frenetic blast beats and downtuned grooves.

Tracks like Hereditary and Rebirth from the band’s latest album have a powerful message and are powerfully delivered, instigating a wall of death and yet more circle pits. But it’s the heart-wrenching performance of Damien, Mirrors’ single in tribute to their guitarist’s late brother who died in a tragic accident, that really hits different. The band request “lights up for Damien” to play this memorable track, which has a complex depth to it that stays with you. They even feature a cameo from Inertia’s frontman, though his vocals don’t cut through very well, which is a shame. However, the band ends their set on a high with Can You Hear the Silence, inspiring half the crowd in the mosh to drop down into an unexpected row pit. It’s a polished and impressive set from Mirrors tonight.

Mirrors | Photos by Dalton Collis

The stage is bathed in red light, and Deadlights appear one by one, trickling onto the stage with their hypnotic opener The Uncanny Valley that builds the tension to its climax. Tynan Reibelt’s silky, pitch-perfect clean vocals contrast magnificently with Dylan Davidson’s agonised harshes, and a crushing rhythm section balanced by an impeccable live mix maximises the impact of the band’s polished post-hardcore sound. It’s a fairly tame mosh to begin with, but as soon as the band launches into Sudden Life / Sudden Death, the bodies in the mosh really get moving. Between the flawless vocal delivery, crisp and complex drumming and lightning guitar shreds, Deadlights’ technical prowess is very much on display tonight. Davidson announces that we’re being treated to the live debut of two songs from the album that haven’t been performed prior to this tour, one of which is Electrodrome, which sends the mosh into a frenzy.

After disappearing off stage for a brief atmospheric interlude, the band bursts back on with anthemic banger Echo Chamber, then launches into Pythia, the second of the debuted live tracks tonight. This song is absolute dynamite live – starting off at a slow creep, then building in rage and intensity with bullet-like precision. Davidson tells us that this is the one safe space in the world where we can go crazy and lose our minds, and sure enough, powerful favourites like Born of a Lie and Invisible Hands raise the roof and get the crowd singing along to every word. The King of Nowhere, one of the band’s catchiest numbers for sure, crashes through the room like a meteorite, leaving a metaphorical crater wide enough to accommodate the ever-growing mosh, until the pit swallows the entire floor for closing banger Bathed in Venom. The four-piece maintain amazing energy throughout the set and deliver a mesmerising performance from start to finish, and it’s the perfect way to round out a lively night of hardcore and a successful tour overall.

Deadlights | Photos by Dalton Collis

Thanks to Greyscale Records and Good Intent

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