Metal seems to be one of those genres that pushes people into extreme opinions, I’ve spoken to people who have happily ranted and raved about their absolute disgust and confusion at even the concept. I also know probably just as many folk who will merrily reel off all their favourite Metal sub-genres and every band they’d love to see live. If you’re in the first category Doomsday Festival is not for you, probably just stop reading now. However if you are at all partial to the latter, well my friends, come with me on a magical journey through time and space….
It was a spitefully shit day outside in Melbourne, which is a good thing we were spending our day in the gloomy band room of the Northcote Social Club, and it was with anticipation and hunger that hundreds of sludge, doom, stoner and psychedelic metal fans flooded in to perform possibly the slowest form of head-banging I’ve ever witnessed in my life as band after band flooded the crowd and stage with a wave of sonic force so heavy I think my bones are still vibrating four days later.
Mother Mars were given the honour of kicking off proceedings, the trio taking to the stage and rather abruptly proceeded to blast out a wandering set list of experimental and psychedelic rock that had the punters in rapture. The Sydney band looked as relaxed it was as if they were just having a jam together in someones shed as they took us on what I can only describe as a metal space odyssey. Sons of The Ionian Sea were scheduled to hit the stage quite quickly as the next act, unfortunately owing to some technical issues (and at one point the misplacement of an entire guitar player) they took to the stage a little flustered and more than a little late. This forced them into jamming out as much as they could in a heavily compressed set, fortunately the crowd warmed to them very quickly as they brought almost a funk and soul feel to the house of rock.
It was early in the evening when a a group of spritely young lads took to the stage, who are these infant gentleman and from wherenst did they come? I asked myself in olde timey english. They were in fact, Hydromedusa (which by the way is apparently a real animal, who knew?) a group of very young, but extremely talented boys out of Adelaide. Right from note one their entire set was all energy. Fast paced, frantic hardcore tunes belted out one after the other with an almost obsessive passion. The huge vocals and friggin’ rad guitar power coming out of these guys was seriously impressive and I doth my cap to them.
The night brought on a heavier tone to the proceedings, with Summonus taking the stage to deliver a set of melancholic barrage. The brutal outfit hailing from Sydney brought with them a powerful mix of doom and sludge with a screamo feel flowing throughout. Following them on stage was Looking Glass, a band that describes their genre on their Facebook page as “Psychedelic loud stuff with extra stuff” and that’s a pretty good description of what they delivered. With a sound that took it’s cues from the sounds of Zeppelin and Sabbath they combined ominous echoing vocals with a level of sonic power that can only be described as… epic.
If sludge is what the audience was waiting for they definitely found it in Clagg. They were sludge like nothing else, they were sludge like quicksand or molasses, they sound like you would imagine a filth demon from the depths of hell would taste. Throw in some casual swearing and crank up the fuzz to eleven and you’re getting somewhere close to Clagg. The penultimate spot on the line-up went to d.USK and the were out there to earn it, with possibly the most theatrical intro by any band that’s graced the Northcote Social Club stage. Flooding the room with blue light and fog, and shoving a constant wave of echoing choir and sustained guitar chords into our ears that seemed to last forever. d.USK brought a style that see-sawed between super heavy super slow death metal and high octane intense speed, their entire one-hour set only consisted of about three or four songs that seemed more like cosmic exploration and left the crowd screaming for more at every pause and breath.
And so it was that with a packed house and the witching hour approaching the boys all the way from Richmond (the one in the United States that is) stepped onto the podium. Cough took everything that the crowd was feeling, all the energy, all the intensity and doom that had filled the festival and squeezed it through some heavy distortion effects before cranking it out at twice the volume. The band brought a clean and unified feel to a very chaotic and filthy sound, layered with reverb an fuzz, and deathly growls flowing lyrically over the top of the whole thing. Listening to Cough it struck me that Doomsday Festival is beautifully named as in my mind I imagine this is what the soundtrack would be like should the apocalypse ever arrive… and then get a film adaptation.
Covered by Raj Pandita and Dale Bennie.
More Photos from Doomsday Festival 2011: