Live Review: Whiplash Festival “IV” at Sandringham Hotel, Sydney – 20 October 2012

Words and Pics: for Life Music Media
So let’s set the scene of the Sydney leg of the Whiplash Festival “IV”: It’s been a 35-degree day of hot winds and sweaty butt cracks, but there’s been nowhere quite as hot as the insides of the iconic Sandringham Hotel in Newtown. Sadly, the heat is not all related to the scorching Aussie metal found within. This old venue is a steaming hot, sweaty, stinking series of boxes with stages and you feel the oppression from the moment you walk through the front doors. If the venue has air-con, you wouldn’t know it.

The building is a scene of barely controlled chaos with music equipment stacked into almost every corner. Don’t get this reviewer wrong. A pretty picture it isn’t, but there is the overwhelming positive aspect to the Whiplash Festival that remains: it’s an incredible showcase of Australian metal with bands traveling from every corner of this country to perform. That’s something that can’t and shouldn’t be undervalued.

Arriving at the venue in the early evening, we find Sydney band As Silence Breaks taking to the secondary stage. The band are greeted by a relatively small crowd yet perform as though it was a crowd of 300.

Using alternating stages means that for the most part there is no break between bands: one ends, another kicks off their set. Four-piece Norse was up next, taking to the larger main stage with their tight seven-string down-tuned riffage. The crowd is still thin, but Norse enjoy a larger crowd of gently swaying metal heads perhaps too ragged from the heat in the main room to do any real moshing. It seemed a little odd that only the singer should be wearing face paint, but we appreciated the effort and the slender Peter Steele-esque bassist’s stony-faced performance was imposing. Be sure to check out their new album, which is due in two weeks.

Back on the second stage, Melbourne’s Scar the Surface sound great, despite the tiny PA and the singer deftly handles both screams and clean vox while repeatedly and inexplicably walking off into the crowd whilst still singing! They play a rousing set that includes slightly more accessible melodic choruses and stronger songwriting.

Next up is Sydney’s Anno Domini, whose performance is a strong showcase of more progressive metal than we’ve seen so far, with excellent musicianship and rousing tunes. We appreciate the singer’s efforts, but it comes across as a little contrived and the overall performance remains high despite having to contend with other bands loading gear in and out through the crowds.

Perth’s Devour the Martyr immediately kicks into gear on smaller stage continuing to display the diversity shown by the many Aussie bands performing tonight. Their set is fun, energetic and seems much larger than the stage they’re playing on. They deserve a larger audience, but we’re left wondering what awaits them in the other cities Whiplash is visiting if this is the best Sydney can do on a Saturday night.

We’re getting toward the tail end of the evening and Queensland’s Lynchmada erupt onto the main stage with a high-energy set that sees the entire band pumping out some huge riffs despite the crippling heat. Drummer Daniel Trickett reminds us very much of Mike Portnoy, right down to the glasses, backwards cap, muscle tee and baggy shorts. Luckily for him he can really play, too. Lynchmada are the first band to really whip the crowd into any sense of frenzy with front man Joel Harris enticing a few eager punters into some mutually enjoyable head banging.

With the smaller stage now shut down for the night, it’s a short wait out in the cooler night air on King Street before main support act Dawn Heist from Sydney take to the main stage for a set that clearly let the assembled throng know they deserved to play right before the headliners. With both guitarists playing baritones, you can bet this was a tasty mix of modern down-tuned riffage with strong performances across the board and singer Pat makes for one imposing front man without a hint of contrivance.

Finally, with almost no moisture left on the inside of our bodies, Denmark’s Mnemic take to the stage and waste no time in paying waste to whomever was in front of them. They’re clearly having fun up there, despite the intense heat, playing up to the cameras and partaking in the occasional group wind-milling, a-la Strapping Young Lad et al.

The band play tracks from across their catalogue, including new tracks off latest album, ‘Mnemesis’, such as ‘Transcend’ and ‘Junkies on the Storm’ as well as crowd favourites like ‘Jack Vegas’, ‘Room 2.12’ and ‘Meaningless’. It’s all tight, taut and delivered with a precision that puts even the strongest on tonight’s bill in the shade – and the fans lapped it up in what was a very intimate environment, free of mosh barriers and even security guards.

It’s their first time in Australia and hopefully won’t be their last.

View Full Gallery Here
Mnemic + Dawn Heist + Lynchmada + Devour the Martyr

View Full Gallery Here
Scar the Surface + As Silence Breaks + Norse + Anno Domini

** Check out the Photos! Mnemic @ Whiplash Festival “IV” with Dawn Heist + Lynchmada + Devour the Martyr – 20 October 2012
** Check out the Photos! Scar the Surface + As Silence Breaks + Norse + Anno Domini @ Whiplash Festival “IV” – 20 October 2012

Bands: Mnemic, Dawn Heist, Lynchmada, Devour the Martyr, As Silence Breaks, Norse, Scar the Surface, Anno Domini
Event: Whiplash Festival “IV”
Venue: Sandringham Hotel, Newtown NSW
Date: 20 October 2012

Check here for Whiplash Festival “IV” Tour Details!

* More articles by Ben Hosking…