Words: Callum Doig
Photos: Jose Sanchez

If one new band has been blowing up this year, it’s been the Italian-Aussie blackened punk heroes themselves – Pagan, who have dominated stages with big names such as Rise Against and ’68, and are soon to appear at the Unify Festival in 2019. Having released their debut full-length “Black Wash”, Pagan have been touring across the country in support of one of their biggest achievements to date. On the final Saturday of winter, I went and caught the quartet at Collingwood’s The Tote, with the support of noise-grind enthusiasts Diploid, crust-punkers Removalist, and local punk quintet Protection completing the event.

Starting with a small crowd of at least twenty people, punk quintet Protection, fronted by Fourteen Nights at Sea’s Amy Muir kicked it off with a nice start to the evening’s formalities. For the next twenty minutes, Protection blared out an abrasive audible signature similar to that of Sonic Youth, Descendants and even a bit of Melvins in the mix. While they delivered a great start to the evening, they projected a bit of a comedic side throughout their set, addressing themselves a Christian rock band and how much they love Jesus.

Next up were local five-piece Removalist, who provided a more energetic, antagonistic, and almost His Hero is Gone-esque vibe to their character and music with pummelling screams, and a very crust-punk persona. With numbers slowly increasing, Removalist’s set consisted of a plethora of short, but also highly extreme tracks that rapidly grew more caustic and belligerent, one after the next. However, one interference that stumbled upon Removalist was trouble with one of the amplifiers on their stage. The problem was soon solved, and Removalist returned to executing their exceedingly destructive and mordant tracks, and demolished the rest of their timeslot without question.

With two drum kits being setup along with some electronic sample pads, Diploid turned the tables for the next half hour by ripping out a raw and absolutely guttural take on noise metal. For me, there really weren’t any expectations on what these guys could possibly sound like, but wow, they are real aficionados of tearing open a new one for anyone that has never heard Diploid before. By excreting a myriad of super hostile, distorted electronics and strong percussions going at full velocity, they’re able to make a Death Grips song sound like a nursery rhyme. While a number of their songs weren’t very lengthy, the noise and abrasion that stuck with them during their set kept at strong level of potency and extortion.

As a neon light symbolised as the inverted cross candle from their debut album glows, Pagan, without any trouble, possessed the hell outta their entire audience with the greatest emulsion of punk rock and black metal one could ever hear. The Tote’s moshpit grew wilder, one track after the next, with the quartet blowing everyone’s minds to smithereens. From Imitate Me, to Silver, to Blood Moon, Pagan were on their A game for the entirety of their hour of spotlight. For the whole hour, Nikki Brumen and co. expelled more vitality and excitement than I had ever seen from them previously. The antics of the night included Brumen drinking a $50 bottle of champagne, getting everyone to do Italian hand gestures, and of course, a maniacal pit going at full throttle.

Soon after they announced their ‘last song’, drummer Matt Marasco recited one hell of an impressive drum solo, before everyone else in Pagan returned to the stage and paid tribute to the famous Italian composer of the same song title Luigi Cherubini. It’s hard for me to walk out of a Pagan show without feeling impressed, especially with what they’ve managed to accomplish in such little time as opposed to your average band. I’d be understating if I said that 2019 will be another great year for them, and I can only hope it gets bigger for Pagan than what 2018 has already done for them.

Get your tickets to see Pagan on tour HERE!