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Live Review: Thy Art Is Murder, Emmure, Fit For An Autopsy, Justice For The Damned

On Valentine’s Day, at the Rosemount Hotel in Perth, Western Australia, we got the privilege of seeing four enormous acts on one night. I was standing at the very front and middle of the audience; parallel to the drum kit, giving me the advantage of not only standing in front of every vocalist that would perform, but also being able to hear every instrument clearly. Whether you’re a fan of each band or not, it doesn’t matter, for I am going to tell you why you should see all of them when they come to your town.

Justice For The Damned was the opening act. The thing I like the most about them is how their songs don’t sound like they exclusively belong to a single sub genre. Most of their songs can fit as hardcore, grindcore, or sometimes just regular death metal, for it is their raw and grimy feeling riffs that are a gateway for fans of many heavy genres, almost like an open house party. Furthermore, nearly every song has a good flow such as a breakdown at the right time, a slamming array of chugs, tempos escalating and changing reasonably, and overall never really having segments that sound out of place. Truly, their Dragged Through The Dirt album is one of few recent works that I can listen to from beginning to end without tuning out. However, it is their performance that is in a totally different league to their recordings; everything sounds heavier, more brutal, and just better in every way – the comparison is a lot like looking at a bodybuilder before and after their muscle gains. Not at all what one would expect from an opening act, they really set a new standard.

Watching Fit For An Autopsy set up was interesting to watch. The drummer was very kick-happy during sound check, and the guitarists were briefly playing the intro riff to Black Sabbath’s Into The Void. After a few tech adjustments here and there, they were good to go. I have to say, Joe Bad had really defined the term ‘stage presence’ for me; the guy is roughly 6 feet tall, but the way he leaned so close to the audience with one foot on a monitor to deliver each growl had made him appear larger than life, almost colossal in a sense. The other thing that put it into perspective for me is how he maintained this presence even though he was the least-moving frontman that night. Heads Will Hang was the song with the best crowd reaction; I really had to hold on tight to not lose my place at the front.

At one point, he had asked the audience if anyone had seen them perform in Perth before, not thinking, many had raised their hands cheering, only for him to reveal that he was not even in the band then. Oh well. There was another occasion where he had come right up to the audience and everyone had gotten excited to the point where I was getting crunched with nothing but the railing between myself and Joe Bad. No one really touched him or anything like that, I guess they just could not believe he was really there in the flesh… yeah, many had been star-struck then and there, some singing along, others just trying hard not to blink too much. When he had announced Black Mammoth as the last song of their set, I remember feeling a little melancholy – I didn’t want them to go… Nevertheless, it was a good song to finish on. I can easily see tickets selling out the next time they visit.

Emmure was up next, and I am sorry to say I had never thoroughly gotten into their music personally, at least never beyond their well known songs. This was not intentional either, I guess I just never got around to giving them a proper chance… however, seeing their performance that night had me immediately wanting to kick my own ass. You see, their frontman Frankie Palmeri is an incredibly energetic and lit performer; having an obvious hip hop influence, the guy knows how to hype a crowd, as well as produce an endless number of stances when it comes to holding a microphone. It was not physically possible to keep an eye on the rest of the band as one’s attention would continuously gravitate towards him – he was so damn inspirational I was kind of hoping to get a bro-fist, but he would not stand still long enough for me to even try holding my hand out. While he is definitely one of the best nu-metal/metalcore frontmen I may ever see in the flesh, one does not simply talk about Emmure’s music without talking about the breakdowns. Yes, they were indeed monstrous, for one does not need to know a song to headbang in perfect sync. I should also mention, their performance had brought in the first wave of crowd-surfers that night – I just wish there weren’t so many sharp-edged steps, platforms, and speakers in front of the stage waiting for the poor bastards to risk falling on. One member of the audience had managed to get on stage and scream along to a verse, and I’m pleased to say Palmeri was very cool about it, by prompting a security guard to not worry about having to throw their ass out. While I am admittedly unfamiliar with Emmure, I have to say, their performance really won me over. Full respect.

The grand finale of the night was Thy Art Is Murder. The last time they came to Perth last year, I missed out because the tickets were sold out – I thought I would just buy one at the door. Stupid. I had grown quite fond of their Dear Desolation album too, so one can imagine how painful the regret and the wait was.

This was it, the roadie crew were performing sound checks and the crowd was getting pumped. “I Love You CJ You Fucking Beast!” someone called out. “Lee You Fucking Machine!” called out another. Then everything went black…

I cannot for the life of me remember which song they opened with, but when they did, lights were flashing and all the members except CJ were already on stage tremoloing away on the strings backed by an onslaught of double-kick blast beats. When the song had reached the verse, CJ emerged wearing a hood, nike shoes, and what looked like black yoga pants cut on both knees. At first glance, he looked like a rather sporty grim reaper.

Now since his return to the band and the release of the album, it seems many keyboard warriors have had something to say. I’m not sure where some of these ideas came from, but allow me to clarify something for everyone. Having stood in front of him and having heard, I can say that he is very versatile with his vocals in just about every song, light years beyond the recorded material. He did lows so deep they almost sounded like slam gurgles, he did highs that could very well rival Mitch Lucker’s. On top of that, there were numerous occasions where he actually did proper Bree-Eee pig squeals on the tails of sentences. In the strictest sense, it is important to note that one has not heard CJ’s true capabilities until they have seen him live.

I judge a crowd’s reaction to songs based on how hard my ribs got crunched up against the railing. In this case I’m going to have to say that Holy War took the cake; throughout it’s duration, I honestly wondered if someone would manage to pull me away from the front. People were holding onto my arms and shoulders for dear life so that they don’t lose their place in the human tide of a mosh pit that took over. Everyone wanted to be as close to the front as possible. It was almost as though CJ catching a glimpse of them shouting along to the lyrics would somehow pardon their very souls from the gates of hell. It was insane, so many wanted my spot right in front of CJ, but no matter how many hands tried to creep under mine, and no matter how many elbows jabbed into my upper back, no one was moving me. I think the crowd responded a lot better to songs from the Holy War album, don’t know why, considering Dear Desolation is arguably heavier and more diverse (but whatever).

The two (yes, just two) security guards had their hands full with crowd surfers. It was actually CJ himself that prevented the first one from landing a nasty fall; in one swoop, he had rushed off the stage, prompted an unaware guard to focus, and pushed a crowd surfer by the leg to stop him from falling spine-first on a step. Top bloke. He seemed to be in a very good mood too; plenty of cheeky remarks, and somewhere in the second half of the set, he talked about how one member of the audience was told by security to keep his shirt on. So what did he do? Took off his own shirt, commented about how he gained a bit of weight since he quit smoking, and told everyone they could do the same. Fully sick, mate!

To conclude, it was clear that the local Perth Heavy Scene had received each band with open arms that night purely because they had each delivered a spectacular performance. When they come to your town, get your ass out there and see them.

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