Max Watts, Melbourne VIC
November 2nd, 2019
Supports: Desecrator and Mason
Despite very recent leg surgery in the frontman’s leg, Soilwork managed to make it to Australia only days after cancelling their Singapore show. Having already smashed it in Brisbane and Sydney, the Swedish musicians polished off their Verkligheten Australian tour at Max Watts. It was a long awaited tour, as the band were meant to head over earlier this year in February but needed to reschedule – so about a year or more in the making.
A couple of local thrash acts warmed us up after a rainy day in Victoria, starting off with Mason and then Desecrator. It was an interesting set of support slots given the (highly) melodic death metal headliners, but the cross-over of fans may have made sense.
Mason delivered the textbook thrash set that transported you back to the 80s, in a good way. Elements of Slayer flowed throughout each track and remnants of Anthrax also shone through. The band definitely looked the part, and weren’t in deficit of windmilling. They also had one of the coolest local band logos I’ve seen in a while, which I hope to see on more shirts around Melbourne as they spread their name. Overall, an enjoyable half hour of thrash.
Next up were Desecrator who were super excited to be playing shows in Melbourne. Following on naturally from Mason, the local thrashers delivered their polished set, with tracks from ‘To the Gallows’ with real certainty and experience. The number of punters definitely grew during this set, as people swarmed in a ‘U’ shape around the well-known mosh-bowl. Front-man Riley Strong gave the spiel about Brisbane and Sydney crowds not being quite as good as a home-crowd, and though I’ve never really understood the reason to compete crowds with each other, it seemed to work as everyone yelled with excitement as if they’d won.
After a few beers were had, the digital back-drop for Soilwork‘s Verkligheten album appeared, and the stage started opening up for the Gothenburg band to unleash the best of their back catalogue. The crowd screamed for the band as they came on one-by-one, with an impressive number of Soilwork tees per capita being worn, many from previous tours over the years.
Vocalist Björn Strid has a real rockstar presence about him. He’s got an iconic look, no matter how many years go by, or how the band’s musical style volves, Strid will always embody a symbolic vision of melodic death metal – well at least I thought so. As the band were starting the opening tune to the title track of their latest album, Strid appeared to a roar of screaming fans.
The band messed around with a couple of new tracks to get the adrenaline going with fans, but didn’t waste too much time before jumping into older classics like ‘Nerve’, and interestingly enough, a few of the awesome songs from their double album ‘The Living Infinite‘. When they played ‘Tongue’ punters all wore smiles, as the band delivered the highly melodic and intensive track with perfection.
Soilwork closed with new track ‘Feverish’ from a brand new EP as well as ‘Stabbing the Drama’ which got people moving one last time.
Despite a couple of technical glitches here and there, Soilwork delivered exactly what you’d expect out of one of their shows. Interestingly though, it’s noticeable how times shift and how peripheral the sound of Swedish melodic death metal seems, particularly in context to the contemporary world of metalcore that has swept us up in recent years. Hats off to Gothenburg metal history for staying alive.
Review by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90