Skip to main content

Words by Sam Wolstenholme

Photography by Elizabeth Sharpe | @ummagummamumma 

It’s little wonder that Melbourne’s metalcore superstars Alpha Wolf have brought back Cvltfest after the success of the inaugural festival in their hometown in 2022. Indeed, what better way to indoctrinate more diehard fans into the Alpha Wolf CVLT than by curating their own star-studded lineup that is packed to bursting with national and international purveyors of the filthiest breakdowns? This time around, Brisbane is the lucky city to be selected as host for the second edition of this festival. With the dual Japanese sensations of Crossfaith and Paledusk, deathcore veterans Emmure, France’s ten56. and a slew of breakthrough Australian heavy bands, the lineup Alpha Wolf have put together for this year’s Cvltfest has Brisbane’s metalcore contingent champing at the bit. And on this muggy, rainy summer Saturday, everyone’s suitably ready for a sweaty mosh that just keeps going and going into the night.

Newcastle’s promising quartet Vilify are first up, and punters who have made the effort to arrive early are thoroughly rewarded, as the band rip right into an uncompromising, ferocious performance that is polished far beyond what you would expect from an opening act. Vilify blast us with blistering hardcore attitude, with all members keeping energy levels good and high, but none more so than frontwoman Amy McIntosh. Amy maintains a compelling presence as she darts about like a bullet and owns the stage, and her nu-core raps and hellfire screams are crisp, brutal and unholy. Initially, the live mix is a little muffled and drum-heavy, but this improves partway through the set, and sure enough, the band gets a fight pit going by the time they’ve launched into their third number. Amy endears herself to the crowd with her Aussie larrikin humour as the band pushes through a few technical difficulties, and they keep the mosh running with bangers such as new single Light Bringer, in which Kieran Jackson has the chance to flex his considerable chops on the kit with some deathcore blast beats. It’s an incredible set from Vilify that ends on a high with the first circle pit of the day. 

Brisbane’s very own Crave Death are up next, and I have to say, it’s mollifying to see these examples of women crushing it in ridiculously heavy bands. A fight pit breaks out immediately as the quintet crash in with raw hardcore rage, maintaining a darkly defiant atmosphere throughout their set. Frontwoman Candice Bankovacki’s growls are as low as the fires of Hades as she saunters back and forth across the stage, staring us all down with an unsettling intensity. With such a chunky rhythm section, the breakdowns hit so hard that you can’t help but move some part of your body. These guys are particularly adept at the “bring the riff back but slower” technique, and the resulting effect is deliciously evil – it’s Knocked Loose vibes with a certain tortured quality. Props also to bassist Rhyse William for delivering a few huge and terrifying screams towards the end of the set. Closing number Suffocate, in which Candice imparts an uncompromising message “death to all abusers”, is thunderous. Overall, Crave Death’s set doesn’t quite hit the stratospheric level of energy delivered by the band preceding them, but it’s solid and strong nonetheless.

Speaking of energy levels, they spike right back up into a frenzy once Diamond Construct burst onto the stage. The quartet launch into nu-wavecore fury – it’s like Limp Bizkit meets Vildhjarta meets Northlane, and between the high-octane sound, polished presentation and strobe lighting, it’s like we’re immersed in an electrifying dystopian anime. These guys have been on tour with Emmure and ten56., and they are absolutely match fit. The mosh is pumping from the first guitar chug, and frontman Kynan Groundwater is a stylishly dressed hurricane of vocal talent, between his crisp trap verses, filthy growls and crystal clear cleans. Razor-sharp drums and booming bass reverberates through the floor as the pit gets messier amid the backdrop of the band’s impeccable grooves. Psychosis is a particularly memorable number, with the mosh going wild, and the scratchy guitar slides during the swaggering breakdown make the riff even more feral. It’s a groove-fuelled dancey fever dream, and this flawless performance from Diamond Construct has begun to tip the mood in the room towards the edge of chaos.

It’s about to get feral as the brutally heavy creation that is ten56. swaggers in with their unflinching nu-deathcore grit to deafening cheers from the rowdy crowd. The mosh is slowly falling apart at the seams as the quintet chug through breakdowns in possibly the lowest tuning imaginable – think Kublai Khan meets Cane Hill. The rage in the music is reflected in the stage lighting, which blooms red for the majority of the set. Frontman Aaron Watts delivers truly terrifying death growls, striking a formidable presence as he commands the biggest wall of death yet. But what’s really special about this set is the sense of inclusivity facilitated by the band. Aaron calls for ladies’ and gender diverse mosh moments, both of which are enthusiastically embraced by myself and numerous other female fans. Aaron also leans into the territory he’s in, remarking that “this is the only country I can call you sick c***s and you’re happy about it”, before dutifully downing a shoey. Considering the absolute mayhem of this particular deathcore soundscape, it’s reassuring to know that ten56. is determined to make this a safe space for everyone. It’s a tight, percussive and punishing set from these guys, and brutal doesn’t even begin to describe it – more like a searing rage rave.

Paledusk emerge to the backdrop of Eminem’s Lose Yourself, with tribal drums from Seiya building the tension in the room until it explodes with metalcore madness. The mosh turns rabid instantly, endless circle pits seething like a tornado. The quintet are bolstered by a flawless live mix with a strikingly powerful guitar tone, and their DDR metalcore kicks the atmosphere in the room into hyperdrive. We’re running at full throttle now, and it’s clear that this band are incredibly popular here, judging by the crowd reaction. The mosh is left with no uncertainty as to how to move with frontman Kaito literally yelling his commands – the Japanese dynamos certainly know how to grab and keep your attention. The level of technical precision on display from all members is immense, and the dual guitar shreds between Daisuke and Tsubasa are particularly impressive. Bangers like SLAY!! and PALEHELL go off like a rocket, with Kaito unleashing amazing pitched gritty screams during the latter, and Kenta Koie from Crossfaith joins him for a powerhouse duet during Q2. Closing track RUMBLE lives up to its name with the mosh in complete disarray by this point. 

You’d think that after five sets’ worth of constant moshing that everyone would be a little fatigued by now, but the gregarious lads in Ocean Grove are the tonic to keep us literally jumping on. Serving up their signature brand of cheeky groovy goodness, the Melburnians inject some lightness back into the room with their laidback style of metal. After professionally breezing through a few initial tech issues, frontman Dale Tanner is as charming as ever as he gets a wall of death going to the nu-metal party bangers. Ask For the Anthem inspires a floor-wide jump pit, and Thousand Golden People is particularly jubilant after Dale reflects that this track was written “to get us through hard times” shortly before COVID-19 hit. The good times have well and and truly returned, as evidenced by the ecstatic mayhem in this room. A guest appearance by Kaito from Paledusk at one point adds a layer of chaos to the fun-loving sound, and this chaos only builds during the legendary belter JUNKIE$, which is bright, messy and an absolute classic. Closer Sunny rouses up a huge crowd sing-a-long, and it’s a fitting end to an effervescent set from the OG crew.

We’re back to brutality with U.S.A.’s rough and ready deathcore aggressors Emmure, whose most popular track makes for the perfect opener – You Asked For It. This mosh didn’t need egging on any further, but that’s an inevitability with the sheer menace of the quartet’s binary code breakdowns. They carve up the stage with relentless force, and things are really kicking off now in the pit. Everyone is throwing down to the merciless, punishing, percussive chugs, and Zach Allard’s double kicks are as sharp as knives – the resulting effect is akin to some kind of militant auditory battlefield. There’s simply so much low end in this soundscape that it feels like we’re about to fall into a black hole. Between the aggression in the music and the humidity in the air, it’s an overwhelming experience, but judging by the giant circle pits and increasingly frequent appearance of crowd surfers, punters are lapping it up. You have to marvel at the energy levels of everyone in the pit, and the general thirst for throwdowns. They’ll certainly need that for the remaining acts.

Crossfaith honestly do not play in Australia often enough. They are, as always, a marvel to witness, hear and mosh to. The pulsating synth of Catastrophe blares through the PA as the quintet barrel out onto the stage, with Kenta waving a massive flag signalling that the party is about to DROP. Instantly the room explodes into a mega rave, and somehow the circle pits just keep on growing. Monolith lives up to its name, with colossal riffs resounding, and walls of death charging to the heavy hardstyle backdrop creates an intense, otherworldly experience. The theatricality of all band members is off the charts; they’re immensely entertaining to watch. Kenta showcases his powerful clean vocals during Freedom, and new single Zero stirs up carnage in the mosh as Kenta bids the mosh to consume the entire ground floor. 

Blistering guitar shreds and relentless double kicks stir up a sonic inferno, and the excitement in the room reaches boiling point after Kenta holds back a massive wall of death for longer than I thought possible. Paledusk’s Kaito returns the favour from earlier by making a guest appearance of his own in a dynamic duet with Kenta. We’re treated to a Prodigy-esque DJ dance break – watching the fight pits continue during this interlude is pretty hilarious – followed by an astonishing drum solo from Daiki Koide, and this phenomenal set is wrapped up with the one-two rave punch of Omen and Leviathan, which sees synth lord Terufumi Tamano crowd surf into the pit in celebration. 

Finally, after 8 hours of continuous moshing, it’s time for the headlining act to take the stage. Alpha Wolf bring their A-game tonight, and the core aggression is back in full swing. Frontman Lochie Keogh’s searing screams are fierce tonight, and the dissonant chugs from the rhythm section are pulsating with menace. The fires of mayhem in the crowd are still burning bright, and those flames are stoked from the moment the band opens with Bring Back The Noise. Somehow everyone still has the energy to fuel those never-ending fight pits, and bangers like the swaggering Creep inspire crazy tribal chant-alongs. Lochie asks us where all the crowd surfers have disappeared to, and sure enough, punters jump up in droves, sailing across the sea of sweaty bodies. There’s a cataclysmic circle pit during Hotel Underground, and beset by flickering strobe lights, the effect is hypnotic – even a little unsettling. Guitarist Sabian Lynch, known for his trademark mask and mystery, appears in a flamingo hat at one point, and the cognitive dissonance this presents is hilarious. We’re challenged to form a wider wall of death than when Alpha Wolf played in this very room for Full Tilt two years ago, and if memory serves, the gaping chasm that opens up now means that’s mission accomplished. 

The band pauses momentarily to personally intervene with a security guard who was getting heavy-handed with punters, once again  these guys show themselves to be the most generous of humans. Thankfully they don’t allow the stoppage to derail the set, moving on to deliver a series of bangers including Bleed 4 You, which tonight features a duet with the queen that is The Beautiful Monument’s Lizi Blanco (also bassist in Vilify). Recent single Suck 2 Suck has a live debut, and yes, Ice-T does make his guest appearance – on a TV rolled in by a crew member; meanwhile, Lochie channels the hip-hop icon’s gangsta attitude in his absence. 60cm of Steel and Black Mamba send the mosh in a two-step frenzy, but it’s closing banger, the legendary Akudama that whips up the final, most chaotic whirlwind. We watch the bodies drop, and they drop hard.

Only a band as hardworking, world-class and good-natured as Alpha Wolf could command the moshing loyalty of a crowd that literally hasn’t stopped charging into each other for 8 hours straight. With Cvltfest, Alpha Wolf have proven that they have their finger right on the pulse of popular heavy music – particularly of the core variety – and that they can create a movement out of a festival. 

With thanks to Dallas Does PR

Leave a Reply

Optimized by Optimole