Sweden’s Black Metal wolves, Watain have just kicked off their Southern Hell Siege tour hitting Melbourne Friday night, and destroying the stage at Brisbane’s Crowbar last night. With much hype from local Black Metal fans, Crowbar packed out fairly quickly and though it didn’t quite sell out, it still felt like a full house.

The night was opened by Brisbane’s own Death Metal outfit, Impetuous Ritual. They certainly have a stage presence, sporting costumes that included very little actual clothing; real bones, bullet belts and enough spikes between them to do some serious damage if you accidentally bumped into them. These guys are all about the guttural vocals, squealing guitars, deep droning bass and blast beats. They perform with what feels almost like a built-up tension and anger driven by the force of making heavy and brutal music. By the second track, Verboten Genesis the mosh got a little more intense as they had the crowd vibing off their energy. The bruises on my ankle and legs reflect that accordingly.

Next up was Melbourne’s Death Metal kings, Nocturnal Graves and this was where the night rally started. It’s been said many times before, but it needs to be said again, Melbourne’s Metal scene is so good it hurts. I am forever finding Melbourne Metal bands I fall in love with when I see them perform live and it happened again last night with Nocturnal Graves. Delivering an extremely tight performance, these guys were the stand out of the night for me and many others attending the gig. Their set was perfection and was delivered with pure passion and talent from a band that has been going for nearly 15 years and clearly knows how to kill it on stage. Brutal, heavy, fast-paced and engaging, these guys had the least stage props and costumes of the three bands, but they didn’t need anything to enhance an already stellar performance. Starting their set with a perfect opening track, Resistance, which has a nice long intro and build up into the song, and ending with the title track from their album released last year, Titan, I really enjoyed their whole set and look forward to seeing them again.

Watain’s performance was just as much about the stage props and theatrics as it was about the music, with animal skulls and bones, snake skins, candles and more covering the small Crowbar stage. This set the mood for what was to be a dark, savage and unmerciful performance from the Swedish Black Metal kings. There was much hype and some controversy around Watain playing in Brisbane with some concerns around their use of animal blood in their performances, but that only added to the interest for me in seeing them perform live. With Melbourne fans getting splattered with some animal blood at their show at Max Watt’s the night before, Brisbane Metal fans were unsure if we would receive the same. After the first few songs I did get some very small specs of what looked and smelt like some kind of animal flesh and blood land on me when guitarist Pelle Forsberg stood up on the barrier. With occasional yells of “Hail Satan” from clearly dedicated fans, the crowd seemed to be thoroughly enjoying every minute of Watain’s performance. I do feel like the small stage let down the performance a little with a band like this requiring a much bigger platform to deliver what they have to offer but it was still an impressive display of pure Black Metal at its finest.

The tour continues tonight in Sydney, then moves on to Wellington and Auckland before they head of to Japan and South East Asia.

You can get your tickets to these shows HERE and HERE!