Words By Bronwyn Thorne

With great thanks to McEwen DIY M&T & Churches of Steel Fest, this past Friday night the Bendigo Hotel opened its doors at 8:00pm in host of the Melbourne leg of America’s thrash metal legends Lich King, who have embarked on an Australian and New Zealand tour to kick off the year with some retro-inspired thrash heavy delights across the country. As guest supports for the tour Hidden Intent accompanied them to stop off first at The Loft in Warrnambool and The Eastern in Ballarat on the 31st of January and the 1st of February; making this the 3rd of a long string of tour dates (which can be viewed with links at the bottom of this page).

Things kicked off around 8:30pm with none other than Melbourne’s Party Vibez bringing their anthemic thrash to the stage. It was noted later in the set by vocalist Mike Mitchard that they were running a bit behind and he joked that they “would piss Harlott off if we play our full set; I was taking a piss, that’s why I was late”. Mitchard wasted no time pouncing into things, by no means shy of jumping off the stage to pace in front of the crowd like a caged lion as he delivered fun-filled lyrics with might. The five-piece powered through tracks spanning across their career; including Goin’ Rogue from the 2014 Ep release ‘Greatest Pits’, which welcomed chanting and sing-alongs with the shouted lyrics “OORAH! HOOYAH!” and “ROGUE! He’s the man!” Other tracks included works from the 2015 LP ‘Legends of Gnarlia’ such as Battlefield, Prime Directive, Erased From Existence, as well as a highlight performance of the catchy riff-laden Indiana Cones and the Temple of Goon. The crowd were left wanting more; evident in punters shouting out ‘make it three!” upon being informed that they had 2 songs left. Mitchard easily fired up the crowd with banter, including encouragement to “move forward I’m not gonna karate kick ya, he’s not gonna karate kick ya, she’s not gonna karate kick ya; this is a karate kick free zone!”

Next in line were local favourites Harlott with their 80’s thrash inspired tunes that have gained them a keen following. Rightly so; given the consistency in skill, precision and showmanship I have personally witnessed each of the handful of times I have seen them play. There was shredding and riffing aplenty between front-man Andy Hudson and guitarist Jake Weber, not to mention the alternate soloing. Drummer Tim Joyce worked the kit with fluidity and an abundance of thunderous double-kick for those who like to hear a good ol’ pounding. Hudson engaged the crowd effortlessly; looking punters directly in the eye expressively as he belted out lyrical tales like a glorious vocal punch to the face. Their set included the tracks Effortless Struggle and Export Life from the band’s 2013 debut LP release ‘Origin’, as well as the title track from their 2012 EP ‘None’(which spark pit activity and chanting), as well as Means to an End from 2015’s ‘Proliferation’ LP. Concluding the set Hudson humbly invited punters to buy a cd; informing them that there were 3 available, and that if they asked nicely Yolanda from the merch desk would give them a discount.

Supporting guests for the tour Hidden Intent were shortly to follow, adding another serving to the evenings thrash smorgasbord. The three-piece dished out their fusion of thrash with blackened and groove metal elements in an impressive and rowdy fashion; pumping up the crowd both for their own set and also in preparation for the nights international headliners. In light of their upcoming LP due for release on the 5th of this month they showcased some new material including the comical Drop Bears Are Real, as well as the latest single Pray for Your Death. The band was due to launch the ‘Fear, Prey, Demise’ album the following day at Churches of Steel II, which was set to be held in Adelaide’s The Edinburgh Hotel. Drop Bears Are Real was introduced with enthusiasm and hype; with vocalist Chris McEwen shouting “let’s get some f*ckin action out there!” The crowd were also asked to “get some fists in the air!” in show of being “pumped” for Lich King. McEwen introduced Pray For Your Death as being about employers he’s worked for, and the track sparked a “HEY!” chant in time with the brisk beat of Paul Lewis’ bass drum. Their set also included the 2016 single release tracks Eternal Rest, Addicted to Thrash, and Apocalypse Now. There was no shortage on fist pumping and chanting, nor any shortage on face melting with Phil Bennett’s squealing shreds and solo’s for the crowd to feast their souls upon. Their set concluded with dramatic flashing lights atop of fog, with horn salutes high in the air and an invite to “come have a beer with us”.

The crowd had been steadily growing in size and energy as the night progressed closer toward the headlining set. Final supporting band In Malice’s Wake dowsed the atmosphere with their own personal brand of fire, taking stage to a smoke filled room back by erratic flickering lights. Their set included tracks from the 2015 ‘Light Upon The Wicked’ LP including Bear the Cross, In Darkness and Indoctrinator; garnering clap chants and a pit rife with activity amidst the sweltering foggy room. Vocalist Shaun Farrugia got stuck right into performing; keeping crowd banter to a minimum, noting “Lich King have come all the way from USA to play Warnambool, Ballarat and ‘The Bendigo’ so we won’t hold em up!” Clearly a man of gratitude, he at another point took a moment to shout out their former guitarist Dave as “he helped write half of these songs”. Their performance was filled with intensity, grit, and “pull no punches” riffs and beats. Endless Possession from 2011’s ‘The Thrashening’ was a climactic hit; with a birthday shout out being offered to Andrew ‘Frosty’ Morris of Espionage whom was humorously wearing a “BIRTHDAY GIRL” badge, and went on to partake in a celebratory crowd surf.

Without further ado it was time for Lich King to send the night off with a riotous bang, and they surely delivered. The band entered the stage donning floral Hawaiian shirts; one example of the bands contrast in uplifting and intense vibes. This soon progressed into synchronized windmilling from guitarists Nick Timney and Joe Nickerson, and bassist Mike Dreher. Although the crowd had seemingly dissipated toward the end of the night, vocalist Tom Martin gripped and commanded the audience for the duration of their set with fierce chest pounding, leaning over the crowd in an ‘almost crowd surf’ whilst throttling out lyric after lyric, as well as facing his microphone towards the crowd in gesture for them to sing along. Martin was quite the showman and hype guy, frequently addressing the crowd with interactions. Early into the set he expressed that they “could not possibly be any happier to be here in Melbourne, we want you to set it off!” He went on with requests to “show me what you got!” as well as counting the crowd in for “the biggest f*ckin circle pit this place can handle!” Let me tell you folks, the crowd delivered…twice! In addition to this there were moments of crowd surfing, fist pumping and chanting amidst the rowdy jumping bunch. Their setlist included throwbacks to oldy but goody tracks such as Predator, Black Metal Sucks (which saw one punter dancing like a teapot) and a track as mammoth as it’s title: Attack of the Wrath of the War of the Death of the Strike of the Sword of the Blood of the Beast from 2008’s ‘Toxic Zombie Onslaught’ release. The setlist took fans back to some 2012 releases also; with the demo Crossover Songs Are Too Damn Short,as well as In The End, Devastation, Combat Mosh and We Came To Conquer from ‘Born of the Bomb’. The crowd couldn’t get enough of it, with not one but two encore chants for “one more song!” with the second sparking a giggle and head shaking from the band.

You can find Hidden Intent’s’ Fear, Prey, Demise’ release on the bands Bandcamp page here!

Get your tickets to see Lich King live in Australia in February!

Feb 4th – ARMI – Australian Rock & Metal Institute Clinic – Adelaide – Tickets.

Feb 7th – Albury w/ As Flesh Decays, D.I.E.F.M – Albion Hotel
Tickets $15 at the door. 

Feb 8th – Canberra W/ Reignofterror & Terravorous – The Basement – Tickets

Feb 9th – Wollongong W/ Reaper, Panik & Thrash Bandicoot – Rad Bar – Tickets

Feb 10th – Newcastle w/ Grim Demise, Cerebral Contortion & PurEnvY  – The
Small Ballroom – Tickets

Feb 11th – Sydney w/ Metreya, Head In a Jar – Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice
Free entry. 

Feb 15th – Lismore W/ Beast Machine, Crisis to Collapse – New Tatts Hotel
Tickets $15 at the door

Feb 16th – Gold Coast w/ Deraign, Decryptus, Level H – Miami Shark Bar – Tickets.

Feb 17th – Brisbane w/ Deraign, Asylum, Wartooth  – The Back Room Brisbane – Tickets

Photos by Dylan Martin.