Chimaira @ The Amplifier Bar (Perth), 14 Jan 2010

A small group of Perth punters woke up on Thursday morning suffering from severe bangovers, and this is why…

Starting a review of a Perth gig by complaining about the size of the crowd is becoming a cliché – but yet again, a show was moved from Club Capitol to the smaller (but somehow funkier) Amplifier Bar around the back due to poor ticket sales. Yet again, an international band deserving of a much better reception got a kick in the nuts as reward for making the effort to come to the West coast of Australia; and yet again the 250-odd punters that did show up got treated to an absolute cracker of a show.

The evening was kicked off by relative newcomers Arkaic Rival. These guys have a pretty heavy sound, and although I wasn’t expecting much i was pleasantly surprised. I overheard that this was a new singer – although I couldn’t find any definite confirmation – but if so, he did a remarkably good job. Arkaic Rival delivered a thrashy, groove-oriented set of not-overly-complex songs that was very solid indeed.

Next up were Neverborn. Although they’ve been around for ages and have a strong reputation, I had never actually seen them live. The first few minutes of the set had me scratching my head – the stage was in absolute chaos, and they sounded almost like five people playing separate songs. Within a song or two, however, they got it together and by the end of the set I’d committed to going to their upcoming CD launch (23rd January at The Villa in Northbridge if anyone is interested). They have a unique sound, heavy and harsh but with a strong melodic line, and with one of the most interesting uses of keyboards I’ve heard in ages – and the huge demon’s head on the front of the keyboard stand deserves mention as well.

Chimaira is just one of those bands: when they play, it is impossible to stand still. Subsequently, from the moment they took to the stage and kicked off their first headlining tour of Australia with The Venom Inside, the entire crowd were moving – grooving, moshing, banging, crowd surfing in one unified, sweat-drenched lump of human. No one was exempt – even those at the back against the bar were at least nodding.

The next ninety minutes were a sweaty blur as Mark Hunter, Matt DeVries, Rob Arnold, Jim LaMarca, Andols Herrick and Chris Spicuzza toured through ten years’ worth of back catalogue. Power Trip, Resurrection, On Broken Glass, Severed, Six, Dead Inside, Painting the White to Grey, Nothing Remains, Salvation, Pure Hatred and more that I couldn’t record, being preoccupied with staying upright in the pit and not being taken out by stage divers, while belting out the lyrics to every song, and sustaining self-inflicted neck injuries. This was not ever going to be a “stand at the back and take notes” kind of gig.

I did manage to make some reviewer-like observations: the sound quality in the little venue seemed pretty clear – not that it seemed any of the punters were paying attention to that – and the lighting was as good as it ever is in The Amplifier, which is not saying a hell of a lot.

The crowd may have been small, but they made as much noise as they could, and the band came back for an encore, Mark Hunter picking up a guitar for Implements of Destruction. The ten minute instrumental was somehow a fitting finish to what had been an intense hour and a half of metal – the most fun I’ve had at a gig in a long time.