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Words by Sam Wolstenholme

Photography by Dan Maynard – @danmaynardphotography


There have been many, many international metal tours here in Australia already this year – not to mention full festivals – and many more announced over the coming months. But none have been more hotly anticipated than Bring Me The Horizon’s headline return down under, co-touring with none other than Sleep Token, the band that has taken the world by storm in a way that I personally have not seen before. The only word to describe this pairing of the UK’s greatest modern metal exports is “titanic” – though very much in the Greek mythology sense. Bringing our very own metalcore hot topic Make Them Suffer and dark electro-pop up-and-comer daine along for the ride, it’s a varied lineup that is tailored to the complex palette of the Tiktok generation of heavy fans, while also guaranteeing plenty of opportunities for a good old-fashioned dirty mosh. Tonight’s spectacle at Riverstage is the first of two Brisbane shows – a second show was added due to overwhelming demand – and the final stop of the tour. A sold-out Riverstage boasts an almost 10,000-strong attendance, and this show was a quick sellout upon announcement. Those at front of the line apparently camped out overnight to secure their lead, even with the threat of impending rain – that should give an impression of just how big of a deal this tour is.

The rain starts to gently fall as breakout experimental pop persona daine takes the stage with their two guitarists in tow. daine’s collaboration with Oli Sykes on their single SALT a few years back put them on the map, and subsequently the Melbourne-based purveyor of goth-pop modulations has secured this most coveted opening slot. They announce that they’re unwell tonight, but fortunately the smooth vocal effects they have applied successfully mask any vocal difficulty they may be experiencing. daine soldiers on through a short and sweet set of pleasantly melodic heavy electro tracks – think shades of Olivia Rodrigo and Purity Ring meets New Years Day, with an additional gritty edge thanks to some unexpected screams. They also do a fine job at performing both vocal lines in SALT, casting a shimmer of sound that washes over us. It’s a sweet opening set to gently warm us up as punters continue to filter into the arena.

In a change of pace that’s so drastic it’ll give you whiplash, Perth’s metalcore superstars Make Them Suffer burst right into their set in the most explosive manner possible with Ghost of Me. This instantly catapults the vibe in the arena right up to electrifying levels, and the mosh erupts with circle pits raging and crowd surfers sailing. Their lighting and stagecraft has levelled up considerably since I last saw them – strobe lights punctuating each djenty guitar chug and ample smoke machine further enhances the high-octane excitement and energy of the performance. To my delight, the set that the quintet bring us tonight really gives keyboardist/vocalist Alex Reade the opportunity to demonstrate her extensive talents; her mellifluous yet powerful clean vocals temper the rabid rage unleashed in older bangers such as Bones and Ether. Punishing, relentless riffs from Nick McLernon and Sean Harmanis’ unmistakable screams drive the mounting sense of aggression, which gets the blood racing. New single Epitaph is a particular highlight, featuring a stunning vocal performance from Alex, thunderous drums from Jordan Mather and a satisfyingly sinister breakdown. Closing out with the truly epic Doomswitch, it’s carnage in the mosh with a huge circle pit and a wall of death. The only criticism I can make of this performance is that the keytar should appear more than once! It’s a mind-blowing set from Make Them Suffer tonight.

Now it’s time for what may be the most widely hyped heavy band of this generation to commence their sacred ritual. There’s a palpable sense of enchantment and magic in the air as the arena goes dark, and an eerie intro track unfolds for what feels like an eternity in an achingly slow burn – it’s like the world is momentarily frozen in suspended animation. Then Sleep Token appear in flashes on stage as they launch into The Offering, surrounded by an arc of light bars strobing steadily. Three masked and bejewelled dancers undulate on the far riser to the sensual sound of those dark, stately riffs and ethereal synths. Vessel’s hypnotic tenor drips with seductive intensity, and the layers of melody in the music dance around us like fireflies. The unprecedented appeal of this enigmatic collective can be attributed to the visuals almost as much as the music itself, and the combined experience comes as an invitation to an invocation. Unsurprisingly, The Summoning inspires an arena-wide singalong – literally, the entire crowd knows every word – and Vessel’s vocals here are nothing short of transcendent, with the lightning guitar solo flawlessly executed by IV and a jaw-dropping display of jazz fill technical mastery by II

A sudden switch to the feral ferocity of Vore snaps us right back to earth, and the mosh surges with renewed force. Then in Rain, we are treated to an interlude of just Vessel at the piano; he has an uncanny knack for creating a moment of warm, contained intimacy even in a huge open-air arena. Alkaline submerges us slowly, inch by tantalising inch into an audiovisual ocean, flooding our minds, hearts and souls with despair and passion. The urban hip-hop vibes of Granite then get the crowd moving and singing along word-for-word again, the mosh charging into a wall of death once the heavy kicks in. Take Me Back To Eden is a behemoth closing number; after a captivating Vessel vocal moment, an extended vocal harmony section paints a vibrant Monet soundscape, the melodic colours interweaving and intertwining until that final breakdown hits so hard, it’s a suckerpunch. If anyone was ever in doubt as to what all the fuss is about with Sleep Token, all I’ll say is, see them live. Something in you will be forever altered afterwards.

It’s raining buckets now, but the crowd is undeterred as the time for the headline act approaches. A Post-Human robot apocalypse video intro plays, in which a sinister AI host instructs us to have “the greatest night of our lives”. A colossal burst of streamers reveals Bring Me The Horizon in full force on a riser-lined stage surrounded by a striking 180-degree full live video backdrop. Opening with DArkSide, the giants of post-hardcore immediately engage hyperdrive mode, the glittering lighting sequence mirroring the energy of their performance, and the crowd ecstatically sings along to every word. To say Oli Sykes is in fine form tonight is an understatement. Not only is he every inch the rockstar showman, his vocals are perfection – he doesn’t miss a note, and those fry screams could tear the world in two with the sheer power behind them. The rhythm section is bringing their A-game too – guitarists Lee Malia and John Jones crash in with crushing guitar tones, and Matt Nicholls’ kicks and snare hits are sharp as lasers. The mosh dissolves further and further into chaos through this star-studded catalogue of career-spanning bangers including Empire and MANTRA, and there’s a massive jump pit for Teardrops. In a truly spectacular move, great pillars of fire flash from the stage during AmEN!, but the inferno on stage is nothing to the hellishness of Oli’s death growls here.

The frequent AI video bites are hilarious as it narrates a show that is so good, it’s extraterrestrial. After a few more robot jibes, the fun continues with recent single Kool-Aid, featuring a shredtastic guitar solo. A brief moment of darkness, then Oli emerges back on stage raising a lit flare for the legendary Shadow Moses, and it feels symbolic of finding the sole light in a sometimes lonely existence. The chants of This – is – SEMPITERNAL are tribal and deafening. There’s a tantalising build-up to Obey, which is then tempered by the romantic Die4u. The band disappears off stage for a beat, but then the real lasers appear, shooting like sparkling beacons on steroids in the sky to announce Kingslayer. The video backdrop for this track is a lovely homage to Babymetal in their physical absence, with three figures channelling distinctively Babymetal-esque choreography. Bizarrely, the mosh falls into a row pit for the acoustic rendition of sTraNgeRs, but it’s a nice karaoke moment nonetheless. 

The deathcore stylings of early-days Diamonds Aren’t Forever are met with mosh mayhem, and then Parasite Eve gets the loudest singalong yet, with Oli announcing “you have all been infected”. If only all infections were this much fun to experience. But when Oli runs on in a Sleep Token mask for Antivist, announcing he is now “5” as he brings IV on stage for a surprise harsh vocal duel, the crowd truly goes wild. Talk about clash of the titans – or more fittingly in this case, MATCH of the titans. This exciting development is rewarded with a colossal wall of death. Beloved for his rapport with fans, Oli has Drown filmed almost entirely via selfie mode on his phone as he leans into fans along the front row and croons to them. Those fans will be glad now that they literally camped out overnight to get that prime spot. The set ostensibly ends with the megahit Can You Feel My Heart, then a long montage of footage plays, showcasing the band’s extraordinary story of almost overnight stardom. However, we’re rewarded with a triple-threat encore in the form of Doomed, LosT, and of course, Throne to wrap up a musical odyssey of epic proportions. 

Oli remarks that this is a night that will go down in history, and that this kind of tour “will never happen again”. This statement resonates; this is a special and unique moment in heavy music history in which the stars aligned to unite two of the most influential, groundbreaking and transformative voices in modern metal together, in a tour of isolated Australia, no less. And as all 10,000 of us Brisbane metalheads walk away, completely drenched, black eyeliner running, but brimming and buzzing with ecstasy, I know we’re all feeling pretty darn fortunate to have been a part of it.

Thanks to Dallas Does PR

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