It was a slow moving night at the Bald Faced Stag as a short line of metalheads that’d emerged from the cracks in the pavement made their way through the performance space door; a completely paper system grinding them to a halt as they tried to get in before the first band started.

Deiformity are said first band, and they cut an impressive figure on stage. Deiformity look like a the local death metal band that they are, and back it up with impossibly thick sound. A self aware “Yeah, all six of you!” lead into the second song, a combination of percussive vocals and chugging guitars, as the room scarcely filled to around 30 people nodding along. The band topped off their set with the extremely brutal Clouded Ash and Spitted Fire, both thick, chugging, riff laden tracks that encapsulated Deiformity as a band.

The room was still relatively empty as the second local support, Daemon Pyre, took to the stage. The noticeably younger band launched straight into a more aggressive and abrasive sound than the openers. The mixing of the band took a while to work itself out, and the early half of the set suffered from some awful sounding triggered kick drums that drowned out the rest of the band. Moving between guttural intensity and melodic guitar solos the band used dynamics and technique to show off not only their skill but also creativity with the genre. Set highlights include Misanthropic Parallels and set closer Defeated, both of which had killer shredding guitar solos.

“If you hang around the Australian extreme metal scene long enough, eventually you’ll see Psycroptic six times,” a friend had joked while waiting in line. But it doesn’t take much to realise why it is that Psycroptic have managed to stay at the top of the Australian scene for the better part of two decades. With a huge amount of on stage energy Psycroptic are nothing if not entertaining, being joined by touring bassist Todd Stern. Spitfire vocals and technical leads give the music a more intricate sound, even with a smaller line up than the two local bands; however, the technicality of a Psycroptic show never seems to take away from the songs or the performance. Even when guitarist Joe Haley has to stop headbanging to concentrate on a part, it never detracts, which might also be because of how hard the rest of the band is always going on stage, with vocalist Jason Peppiatt seeming to be completely lost in the music.
The band managed their audience well, giving breaks between songs to let everyone catch their breath. The band were in complete control the entire set, with fantastic tone and brutal intensity. Highlights included The World Discarded, and Cold, both off the band’s 2015 self-titled album, and The Colour of Sleep, some brutal death from back in 2003.

Making their triumphant return to Australia after their last tour in 2013, Cattle Decapitation could not disappoint the packed out room. As the stage went dark the crowd cheered louder than at any other point in the night, and the band launched into The Carbon Stampede. Not stopping they blasted straight into another Monolith of Inhumanity track, Dead Set on Suicide. The band was backed by banners with their signature bovine ouroboros with an added rubbish sign, that had a man throwing the planet into a bin. Todd Stern was doing double duties on bass for Cattle, and slotted right into their energetic stage persona.

Smashing through a set that included nods to their grind roots as well as their later death metal direction, the band also managed the energy of the set well, not killing the audience before the end of the night.
A joking “We’re all tired, let’s go home,” was followed by Forced Gender Reassignment, before the band cleared the stage. A mic stand took centre stage and vocalist Travis Ryan came out alone for The Monolith, which led into Kingdom of Tyrants; the low energy track highlighting how heavy the second track really is, while also contributing to the band’s use of energy throughout the night.
Powering through Manufactured and Pacific Grim the band made their obligatory exit of the stage before their encore, topping of an amazing set with Your Disposal. Disposal is the perfect way to end the set, with fast paced grindcore sections, more death metal influenced parts, and Travis’ signature switching vocal style.

Ryan lamented the band’s inability to play Australia as often as they’d like to, but the crowd that had amassed is a clear indication that the band can definitely make trips down under more often.
The entire night was brutal and intense from beginning to end, and as black t-shirted metalheads dispersed the hot and humid venue gave way to a chilly Sydney night. If you’ve never been to an extreme metal gig then Cattle Decapitation is the perfect place to start, and their next Australian tour will be unmissable, even if it does take another five years before they’re back.

– Josh Mills