A Monday night in Canberra. A Monday night in Canberra in deep midwinter. A Monday night in Canberra in deep winter when the city’s beloved Raiders are at home to the mighty Dragons. Three things, which, when added to the fact that Canberrans really don’t like leaving their suburbs for the seething fleshpot that is Civic on a school night surely spelt disaster for the svengali-like promoters hoping to perform some sort of financial alchemy with tonights three pronged feast of heaviness…
Well, that shows what I know, eh? When MaF arrives at the ANU just as local openers 4Dead are starting to go about their deatructive business, one thing becomes apparent – there’s a crowd here. By the time headliners the Doomriders take the stage there is a bloody healthy turnout indeed, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves – back to 4Dead.
This band has been a staple on Canberran extreme bills for years now, their violent take on punk-informed metal always providing an RSJ-styled prop for those with seemingly bigger ambition to rest against. But the last twice that Metal as Fuck has seen this band – coincidentally perhaps both times have been here at the ANU – 4Dead seem to be heading upwards and onwards with a fire in their bellies that promises good things. There’s a nasty crunch to their sound tonight, and they lay the ground for their more illustrious bill sharers well.
Fellow Canberrans I Exist have yet to disappoint in the live arena, and tonight is no different. Riding high on the back of an album, II: The Broken Passage which has seen them vault from well meaning local heroes to serious international class contenders in the blink of an eye, their second hometown show in as many weeks is, simply, a riot of violent entertainment that delights the partisan audience. Their chosen milieu is nothing new, but the way they weave the seemingly disperate strands of doom metal and old school hardcore punk into an eminently palatable maelstrom is a joy to behold. They’ll be headlining (and selling out) bigger venues than this before very long.
So, two down, and two very satisfactory results to boot. At this point, MaF is starting to feel its age and looking for a gap in the conversation to make its excuses and head off into the arctic night in search of a kebab and a bus. Sensing what was about to happen, I Exist guitarist Josh Nixon leaned across and bellowed “JUST STAY FOR ONE SONG!” before nodding sagely at me and returning to a Buddha-like repose. Needless to say – he’s a metal correspondent himself after all in another life – he was right. For the next hour and a bit the Massachusetts quartet proceed to bludgeon the nations capital into submission with a set that combines pure heavy metal thunder with despondently doomy passages in a manner its hard not to enjoy if you’re a fan of extreme music. In an age where heavy metal has splintered into seemingly innumerable genres and sub genres, what the Doomriders represent is in essence heavy metal in its purest (that’s to say least diluted) form – adamantine, stentorian, with traditional values of musicianship and dynamic songwriting fused to just enough punk fury to keep things from getting to stolid. After the band finishes an exhilarating set the audience doesn’t want them to go, and, quite frankly, neither did I. Why can’t every Monday night be like this?