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Live Review + Photos: Chelsea Grin 2015

Chelsea Grin / Boris The Blade / Graves / Mayfall / Absolution

The Factory Theatre, Sydney 21/08/2015
Review: Matt Doria | Photos: Billy Zammit

Chelsea Grin’s last trip Down Under saw the Salt Lake shredders playing a short handful of phenomenal – albeit unethically short – sets in support of The Amity Affliction’s 2013 Brothers In Arms tour. This time leading the pack with Boris The Blade and Graves, alongside locals Absolution and Mayfall, Sydney’s Factory Theatre was home to one of its most brutal affairs, the deathcore powerhouse waging an all-out war on this otherwise freezing Friday night.

Kicking off the night’s eruptive array of flailing limbs and bursting eardrums, Sydney metallers Absolution stormed the stage with an anomalous brew of noxious riffs and corrosive roars. The first noticeable element of their presentation was the menacing murder-face of guitarist Macleane Coward, whose permanent Ice Cube impression was just as intimidating as his ravenous shredding. Gripping the microphone as if it were the throat of an enemy, vocalist Aidan Kajan spent his time in the spotlight absolutely losing his mind as he spat poignant ire, his vitriolic devotion impressive all in itself. The quintet’s 20-minute assemblage consisted mostly of cuts from their debut full-length, The Counterfeit Recital, and though criminally short, their meteoric set went down a treat.

We’re all taught as kids not to judge a book by its cover, but as local metalcore collective Mayfall shuffled out onstage, that shit went right out the window. Complete with emo bangs and a solid dozen face piercings, vocalist Brad Webb is the human embodiment of 2005. It’s like staring Hot Topic straight in the eyes, and while this scribe was entirely expecting to eat his words, they had the lifelessly generic, sluggishly uninspired sound to match. For what it’s worth, it would be disingenuous not to admit that Mayfall’s performance was at least moderately enjoyable. Though at times out of place, Webb’s vocals were distinctly serrated and strikingly gritty, and while the same can’t be said for the rhythm section, guitarists Hayley Phillips and Tor Dollhouse were consistently on their beat. They’re certainly amicable openers, but a defiant mutiny against stereotypes, Mayfall are not.

If Mayfall’s set was smoldering rubble, Wollongong quintet Graves were a raging bushfire. Eight-strings in tow and vocalist Rhys Benn an amped up tempest of guttural intensity, Graves embellished The Factory with a callous exuberance that was impossible to turn away from. Instantly captivating with a dicey alloy of raw, savage fury and unrelenting passion, the five-piece speedily converted unknowing punters into ardent fans, and before too long, the first pits of the night were opened and bodies were flung mercilessly across the room. Those that weren’t were left wide-eyed and foaming at the mouth chanting for an encore, however fruitless their efforts may have been.

Melbourne up-and-comers Boris The Blade rounded out our quartet of openers, and as soon as those first cold-blooded notes echoed out of the speakers, it became obvious why Chelsea Grin chose them to lead the hype train. Making the most of their short time onstage, banter was kept to a minimum as the quintet smashed out an unwavering castigation of thick and fast knockouts, each passing breakdown meatier and more relentless than the last. Only marginally weakened by the irritatingly excessive kick-drumming of Karl Steller, Boris The Blade’s set was a heavy metal holy mess of the highest order, a 30-minute bombardment of energy and madness.

With the concert hall thick with a temperate haze and the alcohol having duly set in, the timing was perfect for the night’s grand finale, Utah deathcore powerhouse Chelsea Grin. As the lights dimmed and a buzzing line of synth wafted out across the room, The Factory became less a hall half-filled with frantic punters, and more an auditory burial ground for unsuspecting ears. People were fucking excited, and with good reason. The five-piece wasted no time catapulting into their headlining set, the first three barbarous cuts showcasing their latest album, Ashes To Ashes. While new tracks were scattered liberally throughout the hour-long spectacle, it was the more recognisable picks from Desolation Of Eden and My Damnation that brought forth the loudest cheers and most vehement moshes, classic tune “Recreant” an especially distinguished moment.

Highlighted by Jake Harmond and Dan Jones’ occasional dual guitar solos, the set en masse was dripping with poisonous vitality as Chelsea Grin unleashed an absolute sonic apocalypse upon us. No ballads in their catalogue and no pity for stitches caused, the quintet let their stamina dry for not a single second. Their audience an uninterrupted flurry of jumping feet and circle pits, Chelsea Grin certainly know how to get their fans exercising.

All in all, it goes without saying that Chelsea Grin’s next return to our shores is one we’re already counting down to. An illustrious night of good, violent fun, just the way God Satan intended!

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