If ever there was a musical genre that is primed for making bold, confronting statements and a whole lot of noise about issues that shouldn’t be ignored, it’s deathcore. And with their recent release of their grotesque, punishing new album ‘Director’s Cuts’, To The Grave, Sydney’s goriest and possibly most fearless rising stars in extreme metal, are harnessing the full and ferocious power of deathcore to bring the truth of animal cruelty for human consumption to light. Now, off the back of an extensive Australian regional tour supporting the legendary Thy Art Is Murder, the five-piece are back in our capital cities for their own headlining tour to deliver their full horror-soaked live spectacle. Tonight’s sold-out show at The Brightside represents the final leg of To The Grave’s ‘Director’s Cuts’ East Coast tour, and with a lineup consisting of some of Australia’s most brutal deathcore acts, it’s going to be one very intense, claustrophobic, compelling experience.
As soon as doors open, punters file in en masse, and the room is already more than half packed out for the opening act, local up-and-comers Diesect. These lads jumped on the bill at the last minute after scoring a slew of other impressive support slots. Tonight, they waste no time in delivering a healthy serving of filthy, ridiculously down-tuned breakdowns that easily stir up a mosh almost straight away. The live mix for their set isn’t the best – vocal levels could definitely be elevated – but thanks to a satisfyingly crunchy guitar tone, the riffs still hit with assertive force. There are quite a few devoted fans chanting along with the feral hardcore harshes as the band noticeably ramps up the intensity partway through the set. It’s a solid performance from the brash quartet tonight that would please any Knocked Loose fan.
Next up is Melbourne blackened deathcore outfit Mélancolia, who burst on stage and announce that “everyone in this room is a fucking target”. These guys make a striking first impression. With their cyberpunk goth aesthetic, one expects to hear something along the lines of Cradle of Filth or even Murderdolls – except when their frontman rips into a truly unholy pig squeal reminiscent of Despised Icon, what follows is some of the most unsettling deathcore I’ve ever heard. Vacillating between blast-beat cacophony and slow, deliberate deathcore chugs, the quartet quickly whips up a frenzy in the room, which is starting to feel significantly more oppressive as more and more punters charge to the pit. It feels as if the walls are caving in on us. There’s a lot of aggressive goading of the crowd from the frontman, who leers at us through stark white eye contacts, challenging us to unleash hell. Mélancolia’s blistering set has well and truly rendered the crowd match fit for further carnage to come.
Melbourne’s metalcore madmen Starve create instant anarchy as they launch into their punishingly heavy breakdowns, and the pit is already jostling with pent-up energy. Bolstered by an electrifying strobe light show, the sense of urgency in the music is palpable, and the overall experience is akin to a visceral kind of audiovisual aneurysm. Blast-beats spur on a circle pit that becomes more and more unhinged, and this contrasts with slower breakdown sections that have a hypnotic effect. These guys have the added fortune of an excellent live mix that delivers their crushing riffs like a barrage of freight trains. Shiver and Parables are particular highlights of the set, with savage, Alpha Wolf-esque grooves crashing through the room and fuelling the circle pit like a swirling pool of lava. It’s hot, it’s heady, it’s heavy and it’s readied us for the mayhem of the headlining act.
When To The Grave storm the stage, frontman Dane Evans, clad in a pig mask, gets straight to work in starting a jump pit in the mosh while the lowest, dirtiest chugs imaginable signal that it is time to throw down. The pit grows choppier as the unbridled aggression of bangers like Red Dot Sight, (.REC) and Full Sequence get the blood rising. The infernal power and versatility of the extreme vocals screamed by Evans is astounding, and really, all members of the band are at the top of their game from a technical perspective. Props to Simon O’Malley for his terrifyingly crisp snare hits, each of which land like a slap in the face.
Raw, primal rage and gore bleeds through every note, particularly during Axe of Kindness, which Evans advises was inspired by his recurring dream of turning up to the houses of animal slaughterers and taking an axe to them in retribution. The swaggering grooves, then thunderous blast beats and guitar chugs send the mosh into further disarray, and everyone is lost in the all-consuming viscera of this horror movie nightmare come to life. The brutal Lips & Assholes brings forth further deathcore carnage, and it feels like a vast angry horde of vengeful demons are coming for us.
There’s been a lot of macho energy in the pit thus far, so in an incredibly cool move, Evans calls for a ladies-only mosh in between rabid walls of death and shirtless men fight dancing. I myself dive right into that and have a whale of a time – petition for more heavy bands to do this, please. The five-piece go out on a high with crowd favourites Shock Tactics (1000v) and Wastage, leaving everyone sweaty and utterly exhilarated. The passion, conviction and care that To The Grave have shown tonight, both through their stance on important social issues and their warm treatment of the crowd, has resonated deeply with me, and many others I’m sure. This is not only a band to watch, but a band to thoroughly back in the way they are going to make change in the world.
Thanks to Maric Media