What did you do with your Saturday? Well, if you weren't at Heaven & Hell festival at Brisbane's Riverstage, then your answer should be nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing. Feels odd to be hitting a festival in the middle of September, but the atmosphere is electric and the weather perfect for our fine city to host some of the best metal bands this world has to offer.
Leading off, are locals Nerve Damage. With a mix of sludge metal and hardcore, these boys waste no time in getting the crowd into high spirits. Using their set to address a serious issue such as Closing The Gap is well executed. Bringing a feel of unity for fans of all walks of life, this band is poised for great things in the future. Keep those ears at the ready for everything they produce.
Endless Heights are a band that sound absolutely massive. And they are. Hailing from Sydney, this five piece delivers not only grinding guitar work, but also a singer that has one hell of a set of pipes. Melodic vocals play a big part in their set but there's also hints of their metal influences throughout their stellar set.
Pagan are firmly cementing their status as one of Victoria's finest exports. With a hefty CV behind them, this band puts maximum effort into each and every performance. Front woman Nikki Bruman commands the crowd with vocal prowess that is reminiscent of some of the greatest female punk vocalists to ever walk the earth.
Thornhill's intro video is one of the best ive ever seen, it's fortunate that their sound is complimentary of that. Stepping on stage like they've just stepped out of a sale at Lowes, they smash all perceptions of what they should sound like. Absolutely crushing bass lines and intricate guitar work plays well with the mix of vocals that go from hardcore heroes to melodic menageries. The vocal range on Ethan McCann is brilliant. I'm keen to see what's next for these lads and they're sure to be a constant on the metal scene from now on.
Now, i was damn lucky to shoot Void Of Vision at Good Things last year. They didn't disappoint then, and they certainly don't now. From the first code, you know this band has come to fuck shit up and vocalist Jack Bergin dives straight to the barrier to interact with all the fans brave enough to be in the pit for their set. Blasting out annihilating riffs and infectious drum beats, Void Of Vision smash through their set inciting one of the most brutal circle pits of the day. There's never a dull moment in their performance.
Another addition from last year's Good Things are Perth based quintet Make Them Suffer. While I didn't get to watch their set last year, i'm more than keen to indulge here at Heaven & Hell. It's a massive mix of destructive symphonic artistry, break-neck double kick percussion and brutal fret work. Adding to their already fantastic sound are the crushing vocals of Sean Harmanis which are perfectly suited to their sound. Booka Nile on keyboard provides backing vocals on most tracks and it perfectly compliments Harmanis' grating voice.
Crossfaith are a force to be reckoned with. Every stage they play, they destroy the audience with a perfect medley of dubstep, trance, metal and punk. It's hard to encapsulate their show into a mere paragraph but damn I'm going to try. Seeing frontman Kenta Koie deliver his signature vocals is something to behold unto itself. Join it with the energy that electronic fusion and backing vocalist Terufumi Tamano brings to the show and you have one of the most electric bands on the metal scene right now. Leading their set with 'Ex Machina' and 'Catastrophe' is brilliant. But following it up with 'Monolith' was pure genius. These guys certainly have a way to get a bunch of metalheads to groove along to techno beats. Its awesome to see people so devout to the metal life to be bopping away to techno like their at a rave. After smashing out a sensational setlist, they depart the stage with a final note of 'See you all next year!!!!' to thunderous applause. I for one am already amped to see them again as they always deliver a show of epic proportions.
Trophy Eyes leads us into the evening and its a great way to move from such high energy to a more relaxed vibe. The punters are definitely feeling it in their bodies that they need this reprieve. The devoted fan base of Trophy Eyes gives everything they have to their minstrels. It's great to see the band that is a little more mellow of the lineup to still have such a solid following with all the brutality of what we have been witness to so far.
Underoath are damn deserving of the spot before The Amity Affliction. Bringing their 'A' game to the table and working masses to fever pitch, there's so much atmosphere that you'd need a damn chainsaw to even leave a mark in it. With the night well set in, the band gives everything they have to their performance, smashing and thrashing across the whole stage whilst the other bands have had to make use of only half of it. Spencer Chamberlain makes use of every bit the massive Riverstage setting, getting the crowd to sing along in unison to each and every song. The sound that Underoath produce is absolutely enormous. Every single member of the band gives their heaviest self for each song. You'd be hard pressed to find a band of such magnitude and awe-inspiring sound on the post hardcore scene. This band came to throw down and they have it aced without fault.
Its hard to follow an act like Underoath but the main attraction for all of Heaven & Hell festival is without a doubt, The Amity Affliction. Our homegrown heroes arrive on stage to a mass of screaming and applause, crushing it with opening track 'Drag The Lake', it's clear that they're not here to mess around. With each song, the crowd dives head first into thrashing themselves to oblivion. As the opening riff of their latest song 'All My Friends Are Dead' rings out, the audience erupts. The love that each and every one of their fans have for them is immeasurable. It's easy to see why they have such a devout following, as their showmanship and musical prowess is enormous. As they power through hit after hit they are clearly here to deliver something truly spectacular to their plethora of fans. Pyrotechnics and phenomenal lighting give the perfect accompaniment to their blistering tunes. In a blink and youll miss it moment, we reach the end of their setlist and it leaves us all hopeful that we shall be treated to another Amity tour in the not so distant future.
Heaven & Hell festival was certainly more heaven than hell with everything executed perfectly. From the road crew, sound and lighting techs, right through to the PR firms, punters and artists, there was not a single fault all day. Let's hope that this is the first of many H&H memories
Photos by Dan Maynard Photography