Decapitated, Misery Index, Origin, Psycroptic @ Black Betty’s (Perth), 6 April 2010

The self-proclaimed “most brutal tour of the year” kicks some serious arse.

Black Betty’s is not a venue that has been used much for metal gigs, but I have no idea why not - it’s going to become one of my favourite Perth spots. Although lacking the capacity of, say, Club Capitol, the workable lighting, awesome sound quality, reasonable drink prices and all-important close proximity to a decent kebab shop make it a clear winner for smaller gigs.

Numero uno: Misery Index were shredding already when the doors opened, and man they went to work. Guitarist Sparky Voyles, doing his best impersonation of a demented Moses with his wild shock of hair and gravity-defying grey beard, stomped around one side of the stage while bassist Jason Netherton and guitarist Mark Kloeppel took care of vocal duties on the other. And drummer Adam Jarvis belted out an absolutely top notch drum sound. In fact, the overall sound was really, surprisingly good, one of the best mixes I’ve heard at an international show in quite a while.

The unassuming Baltimore deathgrinders ripped through a short set, each song faster than the last, and made a very good impression on the early crowd. They even dropped in the title track of their forthcoming album, Heirs To Thievery. Very good start to the evening indeed.

Part deux: despite spending an extended period of time messing around during the sound check, the previously outstanding audio mix was reduced to a muddy mess by the time Origin’s set started. This was particularly disappointing as this was a band I was really keen to experience, especially given that guitarists Paul Ryan and Jeremy Turner, drummer John Longstreth and bassist Mike Flores have just this year been joined by new vocalist Mica Meneke. Quite a few other people, judging by the mass of bodies front and centre, had the same interest.

Sound matters improved slightly as the set wore on, but the Origin set was still the lowest point of the night, with punters reduced to visual clues as to when a guitar solo started, because audio-wise it was nearly impossible to tell. As an onlooker it’s impossible to know where the blame should be placed, but given the ease with which the other bands managed to set up and how good they sounded, it’s tempting to think the band just fucked around with it too much.

Dirty drei: Ah, Psycroptic. First of all, I’m really thrilled to see an Australian band so high on an international billing, and solely because they really do belong there. Despite hailing from the depths of Tasmania, Psycroptic are every bit as good as the other bands on the bill. The crowd seemed to suddenly remember they were at a metal gig, even if it was a Tuesday night, and got right into the set with guitarist Joe Haley, bassist Cameron Grant, drummer Dave Haley, and frontman Jason Peppiatt. A few even attempted some rather dubious hardcore-style dancing, with limited success.

Grande finale: the incomparable Decapitated. Here’s a band that has suffered the kind of loss and tragedy that would be the end of most other bands: the death of drummer Witold "Vitek" Kiełtyka in a car accident Russia in 2007, that also seriously incapacitated vocalist Adrian "Covan" Kowanek. Yet here we are, three years later, and guitarist and founder Wacław Kiełtyka (better known as Vogg) is carrying on the memory of his brother with new band members: Kerim "Krimh" Lechner on drums, Rafał Piotrowski on vocals, and Filip "Heinrich" Hałucha on bass.

The audio mix – which had dialled right back up to awesome for Psycroptic – got even better for the headliners and I swear it wasn’t just the beer I’d ingested. Lechner had massive shoes to fill behind the kit, yet he did a worthy job, as did Heinrich on the bass (who plays in a few Polish bands including Rootwater and goth outfit UnSun). Vocalist Rafał brings a style all of his own to the band – strikingly different to both original vocalist Sauron and his replacement Covan – and while it might take fans some time to get used to, it’s not out of place.

Vogg – who had obviously been at Soundworks Touring HQ raiding Dysie’s left over merchandise cupboard, as he was sporting a fresh new Morbid Angel Australian tour t-shirt – was the undisputed star of the show. He was an absolute joy to watch, showing off some phenomenal guitar skills, with each solo ringing out crystal clear (more gushing kudos to the sound guys – you made my night). The set was heavy on tracks from 2006’s Organic Hallucinosis with some older tracks thrown in for good measure.

The gig went almost until 1 am, almost unheard of in sleepy Perth, and the crowd that emptied out onto the street afterwards was a satisfied one. A brutal night of metal indeed.