In an attempt to cater for the Venn diagram that our headliners sit in, the bill for this evening sports two bands from very different schools of heavy music. Flaming Wrekage are beer-swilling, blokey traditionalists – the kind of band who would play the Stag on weeknights – while Shackles come from the more breakneck-paced school of songwriting, as employed by the likes of Napalm Death and fellow countrymen Extortion. The former make a valiant effort to win over the early arrivals – so moved is one front-row devotee, he averages three raised devil horns per song, which is an impressive quota by anyone’s standards. That said, they’re easily outperformed by the latter. Perhaps it’s a case of absence making the heart grow fonder, but the rarity of seeing Shackles play these days seems to make their sets all the more vital. They power through their set as if they’ve never been off the road, only stopping for a minor technical hitch. The crowd responds in kind, showing its first proper signs of movement as momentum builds. It’s good to have Shackles back, if only for a moment in time.
By the time 10:30 rolls around, the Stag is packed wall to wall. There probably hasn’t been this many people in this room since last October, when The Dillinger Escape Plan launched into their farewell tour. Instead of celebrating the end, however, we’re here to celebrate a band on the ever-continuing rise. A decade in, Power Trip have spent most of their career as a well-kept secret among clued-in metalheads. With the release of 2017’s Nightmare Logic, however, the secret is well and truly out. The album served as their ticket to a far wider and more global audience, as the sold-out sign hanging over tonight’s show is testament to. The Dallas natives waste absolutely no time sending their captive audience into a mane-thrashing frenzy, kicking off proceedings with a blistering rendition of “Soul Sacrifice.” The guitars are piercing, the kick drum hits in the chest, and every roared refrain let out by vocalist Riley Gale is barked back in his face tenfold – particularly “Executioner’s Tax,” for which an enthusiastic punter has brought along his own blow-up toy axe to wield for just this moment.
From start to finish, Power Trip make the very most of their maiden voyage to Sydney – a fast, furious and unbelievably fun set.