Black clad masses swarmed in numbers out front of the RNA Showgrounds for the highly awaited return of Soundwave. Anticipation surged as metal fans struggled as hair gel and mascara melted under the harsh conditions of Brisbane’s summer sun, heatstroke and skin cancer looming in the air.
Festival goers by now should have realized that if their favorite act isn’t amongst the top four on the bill, their sound will most likely be mixed poorly. Sevendust were no exception to the rule. Overall, the sound was mushy and over distorted. The drums were too loud and the vocals not loud enough. Besides the underwhelming sound production, the band managed to put on a top notch show which included a cover medley of’ Master of Puppets’(Metallica) and ‘Walk’(Pantera).
Next on the bill was Rise to Remain featuring Bruce Dickinson’s prodigal son on lead vocals. The band was tight, hard hitting and full of beans. If you’re a metal-core fan after breakdowns, solos, ass kickin riffs and soaring vocal melodies, look no further then Rise to Remain.
By the time Devildriver took the stage the heat was becoming unbearable, but that didn’t stop the punters from forming circles and colliding into each other. At one point, Dez Fafara ordered the crowd to divide then charge each other like Viking berserkers in Valhalla. The set was a perfect balance of technically forged riffs combined with sheer power and brutality. The only major let down was horrible sound, which was once again all drum’s and no guitars or vocals.
After battling the decision of which Slipknot side project to watch, I finally decided on seeing Stone Sour over Murderdolls. It was quite disillusioning seeing Corey Taylor sing unmasked and with the brutality dial turned down to 2 instead of 11. The bands set list was largely concentrated on the Audio Secrecy album and featured very little from their previous two albums. Highlights from the set included the infectious sing along rock ballad ‘Through Glass‘and mosh anthems ’30-30-150’ and ‘Get Inside’.
Primus, metaphorically speaking in comparison to the lineup, were the pubic hair on a well crafted wedding cake. As soon as gods of quirky abstract funk opened up with ‘Pudding Time’ you could tell right away the band was on a musical level that far exceeded any other band on the line up. Les Claypool literally reinvented the bass guitar, his technique ranging from dynamic slap groves to acid induced space rock odysseys - almost reminiscent of The Doors. New material was played which confirmed the rumours of a new album are true. The only disappointment was the short time slot which was allocated for their set. Personally, I think Primus would receive more appreciation playing a festival like Blues and Roots.
After seeing Slash perform with Myles Kennedy I no longer have hopes for a Guns and Roses reunion. The set was on fire. The mixture of Myles Kennedy’s pitch perfect voice with Slash’s orgasmic guitar wah licks created a rock atmosphere like no other. The crowd at peak capacity, it was like watching a headlining act through the day. Slash played all the classics: ‘Night Train’, ‘Paradise City’ and ‘Slither’ - however, the show was topped off with 20,000 of so fans singing along to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. I’m sorry to say but given a choice between Axl’s “Guns and Roses” or Slash I’m going to choose the man with the hat every time.
There was a lot of speculation as to whether Gary Holt from Exodus would be worthy replacement for Slayer’s venom ridden ax master Jeff Hanneman. To my surprise, Gary did an excellent job. The riffs were tight and played note by note perfect. Even the improvised guitar solos were amazing; fast and flawless. The craziest part about the show was the crowd, with no disrespect intended, it seemed to be filled with gigantic speed induced, metal eating, nut jobs that weren’t afraid of taking their shirts off and declaring war on one another. At one point, I become covered in a random punters blood. I guess it’s what you should expect from a Slayer show and it certainly defined the song ‘Raining Blood’.
Rob Zombie was by far one of the standout performances of the day. The band was dressed in post gothic zombie apocalypse attire, the sound was a divine mixture of electronic 4/4 simplicity mixed with brutal metal groves and choruses so catchy you could help but scream ‘HEY DRAGULA!!’.
The stage lineup was essentially a super group featuring Slipknot’s very own skin blaster Joey Jordison and former Marilyn Manson guitar virtuoso John 5. The stage was filled with projections of chopped up scenes from vintage horror slasher’s, essentially making a perfect film clip for a spectacular live show. Standout songs from the show were ‘Superbeast’ White Zombie’s classic ‘Thunderkiss 1965’ and a mind blowing guitar solo from John 5 which ranged from sweep shredding to deliverance style banjo madness. A must see show for any industrial metal/ horror film enthusiast.
People waited in tired, mosh fatigued anticipation for the final climax: Iron Maiden. The set opened with ‘The Final Frontier’ and as soon as the first chords were struck you could tell right away that Maiden meant business. The stage was set like a giant spaceship similar to the Star Trek enterprise and was commanded by Bruce Dickinson’s powerful charisma and vocal fervor. With two hours to kill the band wasted no time.
Primarily the set showcased there latest number one album The Final Frontier, which surprisingly held up well against their fan favorites. At one point Bruce acknowledged the victims of the recent floods and earthquakes and dedicated their song ‘Blood Brothers’ to all that were struck by the disaster. Song choices ranged from sing-along epics such as ‘Fear of the Dark’ to classic’s like ‘The Trooper’ and even Paul Di’Anno era tracks such as ‘Iron Maiden’ and ‘Running free’ were great numbers to end a festival with.
Overall, the Brisbane show was a success. It fantastically showcased a wide range of amazing talent from abroad. The sound met up with typical festival standards and the fans showed true dedication by conquering the heat with beer, war cries and testosterone.
I’m already counting the sleeps until Soundwave 2012.