It’s a particularly cold and rainy Saturday night in the city of Melbourne and the streets are buzzing with lights, people, & traffic as I walk up to Max Watts, one of Melbourne’s most beloved venues in the heart of the city. Upon arrival I’m greeted by a few familiar friendly faces in their mate’s band’s shirts with hugs & an offering of flyers for future shows both local & international. The line I soon find has stretched to almost the block corner, easily 60 to 70 metres of keen punters waiting to head inside, the air is swimming with the sounds of band talk, drunken Melbournites as well as a busker nearby, the smell of crepes from La Petite Creperie a little crepe shop wafting along next to the venue. Slowly the line starts to shift (though it grows faster than people are being allowed inside). The security guards at the door inform me the first band has started and allow me to quickly slip into the venue, I feel an instant warmth rising up the stairway accompanied by the sound of the first band on the bill, rushing down the stairs I pass the merch desk hosting a vast array of shirts, pins, and of the like. Making my way to the front I notice how full the venue is from the very beginning & expect the crowd to grow more impressive as the night goes on..

First up for the night were 4 piece Primitive, a relatively new Melbourne band, having only released their self-titled debut EP in November of 2017, who have in the last year or so alone made quite the name for themselves in the local music scene, and their performance showcased exactly why they’ve skyrocketed in popularity the way they have with a live sound proving itself so well constructed & sonically tight not unlike that of a band that had been doing live shows together for at least half a decade. They held nothing back boasting an impressive mastery of their instruments serving a tenacious blend of thrash, groove, & death metal that blew the minds of everyone currently in the venue & sparking up those still making their way in. In a mirage of whites & greens the young but imposing outfit set the night’s tone perfectly, a more perfect fit to kick off this all killer no filler lineup could not have been possible.

I went to grab a drink, my first for the night, and found a spot with a great view on the staircase to the right of the stage, noticing the venue had opened up the second level, surely to accommodate for the still growing crowd, the floor now at approximately 80% full before Melbourne extreme/death metal dealers Hadal Maw even hit the stage. Like clockwork the changeover of equipment & musicians had been sorted then the much loved Hadal Maw wasted no time grabbing the audience by the nether-regions from the word go. From the hellish heavy musicianship of the guitars wielded by Nick Rackham & Ben Boyle to the deeply damning talents of bass by Tim Anderson & percussionwork of Rob Brens leave the audience in awe.. and that’s BEFORE the increasingly engaging antics of vocalist Sam Dillon. With acts of almost contortionist movements & the daring dives from the stage over the barrier into the pit Dillon left everyone in shock, from headbanging arm in arm with punters, removing his shirt, perching himself on the barrier singing face to face with the audience & single-handedly initiating pits before jumping back on stage then letting the audience know “they’re beautiful”. The theatrical element as well as extraordinary talent and commitment to their music displayed in this show was a real step up for the band & has turned me from vaguely interested (having seen them & being on the fence a few years ago with a slightly different set of members) to diehard fan with just the one set and if the chatter amongst everybody after the set is anything to go off so many others have been converted also.

Next on the bill to swagger onto the stage after another well timed changeover (new drum gear being brought in, giving us an idea of the onslaught to promptly befall us particularly by drummer Spencer Prewett) were very special guests on tour Archspire, tech death moguls from Vancouver, Canada, consisting of  they put their cards on the table straight away when vocalist Oliver Rae Aleron claims how glad he is to be able to use the word “c*nt” in Australia & taking the p*ss out of his fellow band members sending the audience, now having swarmed the venue to the point of sardines on both levels, into a roar of laughter which sets them up with a comedic vibe that I felt contrasted well with their sonically intense brutality. Admittedly I’ve never been the biggest fan of tech death for the most part, only really listening on occasion when somebody else decides to put it on, but LET ME TELL YOU I was so immersed in both the sound & personality Archspire put forward on this particular night from witty remarks between songs, to the unbelievable proficiency presented by guitarists Dean Lamb & Tobi Morelli on 7 & 8 string instruments not to mention bassist Jared Smith completing the lineup & giving their sound that extra heavy tone. Even impressing the masses with a song rapped in the style of death metal there was a continuous pit raging throughout the entire set, especially when the group played Involuntary Doppleganger for which a massive circle pit erupted consuming more & more of those in the surrounding areas of the floor. I don’t know what is was this night, perhaps the crowd riled up, perhaps the spot I’d found for the set, I’m not sure, but for me personally Archspire nailed the entire set start to finish & is my highlight of the night & I’m hoping to catch their 2nd Melbourne show on the 23rd in a few days time.

Last but CERTAINLY not least we have a band that need absolutely no introduction, the living legends in Tasmania’s internationally renowned death metal ensemble Psycroptic arrive to bless the stage with their undeniably perfected technique. I’d purchased my last beer for the night after chatting with an old friend & made my way to the balcony-like edge of the top level to watch Psycroptic’s astounding assault as the entire venue save for that spot was sardined with a sea of hair, beer, & bodies they have the punters alight from the word go, the stage a mirage of reds purples & greens accompanied by technical brutality blended with an almost melodic twist in its complexity. Captivating is a term thrown around to often these days but Psycroptic fell nothing short with their performance. With driving beats delivered by madman David Haley I found myself unable to keep still as did many of the rest of the attendees from those I could see below, with wild pits & people crushing one another to get as close to the action as they could vocalist Jason Peppiatt had the crowd right in the palm of his hand, guitarist Joe Haley & bass player Todd Stern shredding tunes they’d evidently perfected many moons ago and combined the band managed to seemingly effortlessly bring their A game as is tradition at this point I’m sure.

All in all Direct Touring in conjunction with Soundworks Touring have once more brought to the table the best possible show I could imagine being formed for the night without a hitch (or at least none I had witnessed), the crowd was ecstatic by the end and everyone left the venue with a great big air of excitement as they found out Archspire had announced another show whilst being handed a flyer amongst others letting the already elated bunch know of it at the exit. So many talks of newfound love for band old & fresh as everybody said their goodbyes, myself included. I couldn’t have been more impressed and eagerly await the upcoming shows they’ve offered up for the near future, kudos!!




Hadal Maw