The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney NSW
November 10th 2017
Supports: Hazmat, Metreya and Tensions Arise
This is the third time that Anvil have toured Australia. The first time was a part of the now defunct Soundwave Festivals, in support of their critically acclaimed 2008 documentary Anvil!: The Story of Anvil, the second time was in 2015 after the release of Hope in Hell, and finally, now in 2017, in anticipation of their next release Pounding the Pavement and their last offering Anvil, This is Anvil. Now Anvil are a bit of an anomaly in metal circles, ultimately, yes they are a metal band, but in the early 1980s they spent a lot of time touring with more hard rock hair bands and commercially they just seemed to miss the boat. The band still toured, released albums nearly every two years and never disappeared. However, things never really seemed to take off for them, but respect is due, and admiration, for Steve “Lips” Kudlow (vocals/guitar) and Rob Reiner (drums), who have stuck at their craft since 1978, no mean feat! The last time I caught the band live was in Newcastle on their last tour and I loved the set, a lot of enthusiasm, some classic tracks and Rob’s drumming was very strong.
Now The Stag tonight is pretty well packed as the metal fraternity has turned out in full force. The crowd tonight is pretty well stock standard, not a lot of variation from the traditional metal crowd, except that the “old school” is heavily outweighing the younger generation tonight; not a bad thing to be a part of I must say. First up tonight is Tensions Arise. This was the first time that I have seen these guys and it was great to see a number of punters in early. These guys have a new metal sound and I am sorry to say they just didn’t really do it for me. I can see what the band are doing in creating their sound and a visual persona with all members dressed in white, and I like this consistency but unfortunately, not my cup of tea. I wish these guys all the best in the future and hopefully at a gig down the road I can get in to them a bit more.
Next up were Metreya, who have spent some time away from the scene, replacing vocalist Michael Demov with Dave Tinelt (founding member of Nekrofeist and the final vocalist for Mortal Sin). The first time I saw this band play was in support of Testament during a Soundwave Sideshow about four year ago, and they blew me away. They were a solid thrash attack with melody and power. That night I actually purchased their EP Machines of War and this is still a go to CD for me. The Sydney crowd were eager to catch up again with this five piece and Metrya didn’t disappoint. Dave seemed to fit in instantly with the band, its sound, as well as how they present live. He has given them a much harder edge and a heavier sound too. The band were really happy to be back tonight and this was very obvious in their performance; this gig has been a long time coming for them. The band powered through their set with some fresh material such as ‘Blood From Your Veins’, which is heavy, chunky with catchy vocal lines woven throughout the music. The guitar sound stood out in the set tonight, it was chunky, very prevalent in the mix, but not over powering, and this sound really carried the bands material tonight. The tracks that really stood out for me tonight were ‘Metreya’ and my favourites ‘Machines of War’ and ‘The Menacing’. These last two tracks are songs that drew me to the band the first time I saw them. As I stated earlier the band’s sound has actually evolved in the new line up and this has done their overall feel no harm at all! I sincerely hope that Metreya can secure some other profile gigs to get their sound out further as well as release some more material in the not too distant future. A class act who did not disappoint tonight!
Next up, Hazmat, and you know what, you aren’t an Australian metal fan if you don’t like these guys. I first came across Hazmat when they were supporting Ripper Owens on his first Australian tour and I instantly took to them. They reminded me of an early eighties thrash band with provoking lyrics, a crushing twin guitar attack and a solid rhythm section but they are also distinctly Australian and I think this is reflective in Jay (vocals/guitar) and his singing voice and on stage persona. On top of this, they are great guys, old school gentlemen. They have released two albums, their self-titled debut and Atonement last year. Atonement was a huge step forward for the band and it saw them hone their sound and definitely their song writing strengths and the band mainly focussed on this album tonight. The last time I saw these guys was in support of Primal Fear last year, so I am looking forward to the set. The band came on, no fuss, no fanfare, just honest and powerful sincerity. They are well known to this audience and they were happy to welcome the band at the start of their set. The band were very tight tonight and they came to play fast! This is probably the fastest I have seen these guys play, and this did their material no harm. Jay is a great front man and he led the band with pride tonight. He also doesn’t mind a beer and he was combining his playing and swilling with ease and professionalism. I must mention Duck’s performance tonight (lead guitar) he is underrated as a guitarist and tonight he played really well and his leads really carried some of the material. Songs for me tonight that stood out were ‘The Theatre’, ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Burden of Proof’ all off Atonement, a reflection of how this album has really become an important release for the band. I also need to mention ‘Tell It To the Judge’, this song always goes down well live and is real crowd favourite. The set was over quickly and I know there wasn’t a disappointed punter in the crowd tonight on the back of this last forty five minutes.
Now to Canada’s beloved metal institution, Anvil. The band hit the stage with a solid applause and away the band went with Lips spending most of the first track actually in the audience, rather than in front of it. Opening with two classics, including the massive ‘666‘. Lips was in fine form, playing the jovial, and at times, a little off centre front man. He commented on everything from religion, politics to Lemmy and Ozzy! The band played through some of their new material, being released later this month on Pounding the Pavement and it was actually quite strong; but so were their last four releases in my mind. The band also made sure that their classics were aired and for me ‘Metal on Metal’ and ‘Forged in Fire‘ were amazing, as always. It is because of these songs that this band is still so relevant and why they have left their mark. Rob as always, was the stand out musician, he is a very powerful drummer, and to me it doesn’t seem fitting to see him play on such a small stage, and in a pub, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He really shone on the instrumental track from Juggernaut of Justice, Swing Thing. Another track I want to mention is ‘Daggers and Rum‘, Anvil’s very own “pirate song,” with its sing along intro and outro and catchy chorus it just works so well live. Not too many metal bands could pull off a track like this, but Anvil can! The Sydney crowd didn’t grow tired of the set as they band weaved through their newer and classic material. The set actually balanced out really well giving the show a real consistency. I really need to mention the facial expression of both Lips and Chris Robertson (bass), as I have never actually seen musicians pull the facial expressions that they do! It may sound stupid or weird, but you know what, it works! As I said this band is left of centre and their quirkiness is their personality and presence. The Sydney crowd never appeared to slow down, or grow tired as the band completed their set, and the band were ecstatic with the reaction they got tonight. The Stag was in fine form with a great atmosphere.
Tonight we witnessed a seasoned metal icon in Anvil, along with two of Sydney’s finest thrash offerings. An excellent night of metal, thank you to Metropolis Touring for making this tour happen.
Review by Mark Snedden
Photo Gallery courtesy of the legendary Mick Goddard (MickG Photography)
Please credit Wall of Sound and Mick Goddard if you repost.
Anvil – Australian Tour 2017
Sun 12th November – ADELAIDE – Fowlers Live
Tues 14th November – PERTH – Rosemount Hotel