Lamb of God, In Flames, The Black Dahlia Murder, Canberra UC Refectory, 01/03/12

Heaviness, heaviness, lovely heaviness...

It’s been an incredibly wet week in the nation’s capital, but, when the stars come out to play, we don’t let a few million raindrops get in the way of a night on the rock.

In fact so many of us are looking forward to a night of extreme metal jollity that when your correspondent arrives on the scene there are a bewildering number (for Canberra) of rivet heads, earthdogs and associated countercultural flotsam and jetsam attempting to gain access to the venue. Muttering is rife in the queues, and I hear one person near us in the shorter of the queues (we’re not stupid at Metal as Fuck, oh no) saying to his mate that he’s willing to forgo the ability to have one or two sherbets – he’s driving- if it means he can get into the University of Canberra refectory just that little bit quicker.

This clearly isn’t the go, so breaking ranks MaF legs it to the front of the queues to find out what’s happening. As we do this, the band strikes up inside, so now we’re trotting about in the rain whilst simultaneously panicking as to how on earth we’re ever going to get in. Spotting someone we know handing out wristbands to those destined to be dry for the rest of the evening, we ask where the guestlist is. ‘Through that door’ is the answer. We’ve just quit the queue that’s going ‘through that door’ – do we have to go back to the end and start again? Taking pity on our ever more damp, pathetic visage, she leads us up the stairs, past the nonplussed looking goons and into rock Valhalla, all the while making sure we have the requisite wristbands and stamps to get done what we have to do. There can be no doubt – Anna Wallace, head honcho of UC Live, you are a princess amongst women…

And so there’s just time to obtain some liquid sustenance before getting on with the job in hand. The Black Dahlia Murder are going about their business, and mighty impressive they are too. There’s not a lot of fuss or flair going on here, but there’s bludgeon aplenty and avuncular frontman Trevor Strnad leads us through a variety of selections from the band’s past (with Necropolis and I Will Return sounding particularly pleasing to these ears) with a cheery good humour that places him somewhere in the area of a young Dan Connor out of Roseanne leading the junior Cannibal Corpse through their paces. If such a thing were possible. Possibly if there was a minute vacuole in the space/time continuum. But I digress. Ryan Knight and Brian Eschbach are a superb six string team, whilst the rhythm section of Ryan Williams and Shannon Lucas provide the ballast with furious intent and heaps of panache. For all the misery and pain coming from the stage, enjoyable seems the wrong word to use to describe TBDM, but enjoy we do.

Sweden’s In Flames are a different beast entirely. Whilst the ‘Murder revel in their own heaviness, IF are seemingly desperate to get away from their extreme roots and move away to pastures more melodic. They still look comfortingly heavy and bearded however, and their spot on this bill, the melodic meat in a crushingly heavy sandwich gives them the chance to take advantage of the fact that the moshpit’s having a breather by treating us to the classic radio-friendly likes of  Only for the Weak and Cloud Connected in a ten song set that was, surprisingly greeted with fervour by the still swelling throng out front. They get a lot of stick, these boys, but tonight no-one is complaining. At least not in Metal as Fuck's earshot.

Unsurprisingly headliners Lamb of God don’t take long to make us forget what’s just gone before. What’s gone before, you’ll remember was two great sets of diverse heavy metal, from bands on top of their respective games. What comes next is a consummate lesson in brutality from a band that is devastating in the live arena. Opening with Desolation from recent release Resolution, they then proceed to level the UC dining facilites with an unbridled force not seen around these parts since Metal for the Brain fell off the metal calendar all those years ago. We don’t get treated to this too often in Canberra, and the punters react accordingly.

It’s great to see big promoters (this bill was brought to the ‘berra by the Soundwave Festival touring operation) finally realizing that Canberra has a thriving metal community and the turnout, nudging a 1000 on a filthy night, surely must act as a pointer for other outfits looking to bring acts our way. A top result all round then.