GIG REVIEW: SCAPHIS, 100 YEARS WAR, HEADLESS & SHREDDER Live at Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne
The Melbourne music scene has incubated over the past year and what’s been churning out has been nothing less than magnificent! A cross-section of this talent pool was on show this past Friday night at the legendary Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood with the group’s Shredder, Headless, 100 Years War and Scaphis giving epic performances.
Common between the groups were a captivating stage presence and presentation, great sound, awesome tunes, and an audience that savored every bit of it.
Launching into the track “Tortured Souls”, Jackson-armed thrashers Shredder kicked off the night and drew favorable comparisons to Slayer (according to Luke from Headless). The room filled pretty quickly and by the time they were onto the track “Fatal Severance” they easily won the crowd over. In fact, the only fault I could give on their performance were in the leads, they were played quite well however sounded abrasive and dry tonally like they poked out in an unflattering way but that’s a simple fix I’m sure they can get around with a bit of delay and reverb.
One thing I wanted to point out, in particular, is bassist Zac Halpin, There were more than a few points during the set where he threw down some bass solos, and from the perspective of a seasoned bassist: The dude kicked a*s!
By the time they hit the set finisher “King of Serpents”, they had more than assured that they would see some returning fans at upcoming shows.
Up next came tech-death masters Headless and I was NOT prepared for what was to come. They were an impressive four-piece last I saw, but seeing the monstrously talented guitarist Luke Helgesen simultaneously take on vocal/frontman duties at the same competency level was a spectacle damn formidable to behold! He didn’t look at his fretboard while seemingly slopping his hands all over the place and appeared completely at ease with a microphone in his face with his banter between songs being engaging and pretty funny.
Off to the right of the stage was the understated and freakishly gifted bassist Deo Aguanta who was staring at his fingerboard the whole time, sliding all around the place and tapping on his fretless with accuracy that can only be measured in microns while drummer Nick Karamitansis smashed around like a surgical mountain avalanche behind him. It’s amazing to see they’ve become three-piece that sounds like a band with twice the member count.
From opening with “Rampart” to “Through the Flesh of Eyes”, they had the entire room moving, screaming along, heckling with humorous inter-song banter. They also dropped a few new tracks which were received with welcome ears. There was a communal sense that it was everyones’ best mates’ band on stage.
Beginning their unified campaign of the night, 100 Years War took to the stage. The group is somewhat a supergroup made up from past and present members of Desecrator, Strict Vincent, As Flesh Decays and System of a Don’t. It was the first time I’d heard of them but the Groove/Hardcore and Death Metal influences were very welcomed with vocalist Lacca completely owning the stage while the band at large commanded the attention of the room with a subtle yet imposing presence. It was the kind of presentation you’d expect from a bunch of people who’ve been on the scene for a while and I’m doubtless that they left without making quite a lot of new fans, myself included.
The tracks “Backwards Evolution”, “Collateral Depravity”, “Afterlife Insurance”, “Sacrifice” and closer “Let Lying Dogs Sleep” were standouts that no doubt contributed to the future need for medical expenses of some in the crowd; One woman, in particular, putting a dude wearing a Burzum shirt into a headlock after he intentionally bumped into her one too many times. The bands’ energy was only matched by her fury at that point though the whole situation was clearly in jest.
Jumping into the “Belly of the Beast”, both for us in the crowd and as the title of the first track of their set, Scaphis proceeded to headline the night adorned in torn clothing, paint-splattered skin, and bullet belts.
Before I go on to comment further about the bands’ performance, I’d like to make a note of their fans. They are quite possibly the most polite and friendly people you could possibly meet and are all-inclusive of each other. This is quite interesting for a Death Metal band with lyrical imagery based around horror and gore.
Anywho, Their presence was mixed in a good way with the towering, gothic baroque guitarist Josh Ristrom counterpointed by the friendly bearded Bassist Ryan Koetsveld offering smiles and beard touches to all who reached out. From the understated (Until he rips out the craziest solos you’ll hear live) Guitarist, Ben Eberhard to the frightening and imposing (except between songs, then she’s a bada*s sweetheart) roars of Spyke Jagerkrieg. All the while, Lance Vegas is up the back bridging the gap between man and machine (I’m told his parents were an atomic clock and a metronome).
By the time they hit the stage, the gig had ascended into a party with moshing, dancing, fun banter between songs, and a feel-good camaraderie while being treated to gems such as “Buried Alive”, “Death Provides” and “Dissected and Fermented”, a new track from their upcoming album. Spyke got in on the action by joining fans on the floor for a big ol’ communal headbang.
The party continued for some time after the bands had finished but it’s safe to say that all attendees were happily sated by the nights’ acts and antics. There’s no wonder why though, it was a fantastic mix of groups giving their 100% and people making new friends. Everyone got their dollars worth for sure!