Western Front Awards 2008 @ Metro City (Perth, 17 July 2009)

Proof that metal is alive and well, and very, very diverse here in Western Australia. As well as pretty fucking hilarious.

Western Front is a web site and forum dedicated to Western Australian metal – and while the site has had its ups and downs, it’s been going for a hell of a long time and is run pretty much single-handedly by owner and editor Darren. Friday night was the latest in a long history of Western Front community-voted awards nights, although I was unable to find out exactly how long the program has been running.

The size of the crowd at Metro City was quite impressive for such a niche event – it’s a big venue, and while not packed it certainly did not feel empty. Between the early starting time, parking difficulties and ATM hassles – the venue’s two machines were out of order, and the nearest public cash machine was quite a hike away, which must surely have impacted the bar takings – I missed the opening set from technical death outfit Gallows For Grace, a fact I was quite upset about (although I really had no one to blame but myself). I really like this band and seem to have just missed them the last three or four times they’ve played.

Next on the bill was Lacrymae. This melodic, progressive six-piece played impeccably – the rhythm section was watertight, the harmonisations spine-tinglingly perfect, the two singers very much in tune. Their set consisted in total of four very long, suitably epic songs and, despite playing music that you’d think would be somewhat of an acquired taste, the room was held spellbound for their entire length of the set.

Folk metallers Claim The Throne were on next and their stage changeover left no doubts where their priorities lay – before any instruments were brought out, a table of beer and meat was placed centre stage. While the band finished setting up, Darren from Western Front came out to announce the first lot of winners.

Best Bassist
Alex from Noctis and Voyager; runners up were Simon from Psychonaut, Lord Jim from Claim The Throne, and Simon from Grotesque.

Best Keyboardist
Went to Jessie from Claim The Throne; runners up were Sam “Noctarth” from Bereavement and Danny from Voyager in joint second place and Jess from Neverborn in third.

Best Drummer
This was close; Louis “Disaster” from The Furor and Mhorgl won out over Dan from Nexus and Wardaemonic by only one vote, with Ben from Chaos Divine and Trevor from Grotesque not far behind.

Best Vocalist
This went to the dual vocal attack of Francesco and Agostino from Lacrymae; runners up were Cain from Malignant Monster, along with Mark from Psychonaut and Tarren from Grotesque.

Best Guitarist
This final category announced went to Mark from Psychonaut; runners up were Rob from Mhorgl, Geoff from Nexus and Marc from Grotesque.

With the announcements out of the way, Claim The Throne set about destroying the stage. As always, the band played a fun set, switching between folk-influenced black metal, sections of absolute thrash, and then an acoustic folk tune with surprising ease. Lord Jim required an assistant to pour not one but two beers down his throat by way of a funnel, and short work was made of the ales and snacks on stage.

While the venue’s sound setup wasn’t as kind to Claim The Throne as it had been to Lacrymae with a definite muddying of pretty much everything, a big effort on the lighting and the band being so strong visually more than made up for it, and the crowd showed their enthusiasm in the usual way as well as with some jigs and folk dancing.

The final sets of announcements were made next. Darren had some giveaways – he threw a few local CDs into the crowd, which were well received, and then some more commercial CDs he explained came from Warner, which were pretty much left on the floor where they fell: Disturbed, Static-X, and saving the funniest for a last laugh, Linkin Park. Some t-shirts also found eager new homes before the announcements that everyone had been waiting to hear: best release and best band.

Best Release for 2008
This went to Gallows For Grace, for A Process For The Destruction Of Tomorrow. Runners up were Chaos Divine’s Avalon in second place, with Claim The Throne’s Only The Brave Return and Cuntscape’s Thrush Bang Mania rounding out the category. That’s right kids: a technical death release in first place, progressive/traditional in second, folk metal in third and grindcore in fourth. Genre diversity is alive and well.

The big announcement of the night, Best Band, was thankfully not drawn out in the way that reality TV has taught us is expected.

Best Band
The top honours of the night went to Lacrymae; narrow runners up were Psychonaut, Claim The Throne and Gallows For Grace – again, the final four showing a win for the diversity of Perth’s great local talent.

The spot for final band of the evening was thrashers Psychonaut, who are not shy about wearing their old-school thrash influences on their sleeves. I doubt that a finer display of white high-top sneakers has been seen in Perth anytime this decade. Despite narrowly missing out on best band, the Psychonaut guys let loose a brilliant set, getting plenty of help from the crowd for choruses like “death to false metal” and the Star Wars-influenced evening closer, Dark Lord of the Sith.

All in all, it was a good fun night with what seemed to be a pretty good turnout, and it really goes to show that the best metal events are those that are organised by people who put the hard work in purely for the love of it. Big props go to Darren from Western Front and all the people who helped him make the magic happen, and congratulations to not only the winners, but the finalists and the nominees too: you all rock.

Full List of Western Front Award Winners 2009

Best Band: Lacrymae

Best Release 2008: Gallows For Grace, for A Process For The Destruction Of Tomorrow

Best Bassist: Alex from Noctis and Voyager

Best Keyboardist: Jessie from Claim The Throne

Best Drummer: Louis "Disaster" from The Furor and Mhorgl

Best Vocalist: Francesco and Agostino from Lacrymae

Best Guitarist: Mark from Psychonaut