Thy Art is Murder
Roundhouse, Sydney NSW
January 13th, 2022
Supports: Whitechapel, Chelsea Grin, SPITE
Here we are, only halfway through January and we’re staring down the barrel of the biggest deathcore tour of the year. To further aggrandise the occasion, Thy Art Is Murder are celebrating 10 years of their groundbreaking album HATE. We’re in Sydney. This is their hometown. They’ve rightfully put their name at the top of this stacked lineup and they’ve only gone and sold every ticket in town.
I roll up to the Roundhouse on this hot and muggy evening and a group of young excitable guys at the front of the line let me know that they have been standing there since 4pm. The doors open just after 7pm and the first two excitable lads to make their way in beeline it straight to the front centre of stage. The wait was worth it. Just try and wipe the great big shit eating grin off their faces. The rest of the entering crowd scatter themselves between the barricade, the merch table and the bar. One bloke rolls in with thongs on and they’re not steel capped. He might be in for a long night. Not far from him is a group of young blokes getting warmed up MMA style. Knees pulled up to the chest, squats and toes getting touched. They’re stretching like it’s a showdown with Cobra Kai at the All-Valley Karate Championship.
The lights dim, the smoke machine is turned up to 11 and SPITE emerges to kickstart proceedings with opener ‘Lord Of The Upside Down’. The punters on hand begin to stir but the sound suffers early on. The techie sorts it out though, turns shit up and SPITE are as tight as a fish’s arse. Vocalist Darius Tehrani screams “We are SPITE, from the Bay Area, California. I want to see a circle pit. Move the fuck around”. The rabble abides as the Californian five-piece rip into ‘Caved In’. A bunch of young men start doing mainies of the Roundhouse dancefloor, which starts churning up the ample smoke that’s in the air tonight. Drummer Josh ‘Baby J’ Miller is in a frenzy and has a blonde mullet that fucks with Johnny Farnham’s mid 80’s masterpiece. SPITE are unrelenting throughout their performance. Tehrani has all the onstage presence of an Ace Ventura era Chris Barnes. The lads rip though ‘IED’, ‘Kingdom of Guts’, and ’Kill Or Be Killed’ before closing out with ‘Crumble’. Job done. SPITE have riled up the youngsters in the pit and set the pace for the night ahead. They thank Sydney and exit through the red mist.
It’s getting pretty warm in this joint and we’re only one band in. Half the crowd ducks off to the bar to escape the mountains of smoke still pouring out of the smoke machine as the temperature goes up a few notches. The aircon in this joint is struggling and it’s only going to get wilder from here on in.
“You motherfuckers already know what this is. Open that fucking pit,” yells charismatic frontman Tom Barber as Chelsea Grin take the stage with ‘Recreant’. By this point the dancefloor is chockers and the pit is churning hard. “For those of you who go do not know, we’re Chelsea Grin. We’re shaking baby.” They burn through ‘My Damnation’ and ‘Playing With Fire’ and the young lads from the earlier warm up yoga class throw in a few round kicks that are getting increasingly tight given how packed the audience is. No problem though, Barber calls for a wall of death and the seas part for the start of ‘Dead Rose’. Bodies collide but everyone here is in this together. People hit the ground but are swiftly picked back up. The lads dedicate the next song ‘Suffer In Hell, Suffer In Heaven’ to Whitechapel vocalist Phil Bozeman and then hammer out ‘The Isnis’. They close out with ‘Hostage’ and the whole crowd screams ‘I SEE MY DEMONS STARING AT ME NOW!!!” It’s a killer finish to a great set and there are a lot of smiles on a lot of faces when the lights come on.
During the break I talk to Jessie and Nathan, a couple of 20-year olds camped out next to me on the balcony and they’re sporting the hugest grins right now. This is their first time seeing most of these bands. For instance, the last time Chelsea Grin hit these shores was 2019 and these two were too young to go. Throw a pandemic in the mix and the last few months have been the first real chance these two have had to get out and see live music.
The smoke machine starts churning again and Whitechapel roll out to a very enlivened room. The anticipation surrounding Whitechapel‘s return to these shores has been huge, with a good handful of punters saying that they could easily headline a tour of their own. The fellas kick off with ‘When a Demon Defiles a Witch’ and the energy in the room subsides a little. The tempo shifts a few times during the song and for the first time tonight the place goes still during the slower clean part of the song. As the song ends, vocalist Phil Bozeman explains that it is in fact NOT his birthday and that Tom was fucking with us. It gets a few laughs, they launch into ‘Forgiveness is Weakness’ and the crowd energy starts to return. The mob on the dance floor are definitely digging it and with all the smoke, mixed with the lighting, it’s starting to look like a post apocalyptic zombie scene. Cool for sure, but I can see fuck-all of the guys on stage. They rip into ‘Brimstone’, ‘Black Bear’ and ‘Doom Woods’ and while the band sounds amazing, the performance itself looks a bit subdued. The song choice is drawn from the band’s mid-tempo catalogue and lends itself to a more sombre mood in the crowd. The maniacs on the floor keep swinging their arms about joyfully while dancing and even pull out the occasional Amon Amarth styled rowing pit. They close out the performance with ‘This is Exile’, ‘A Bloodsoaked Symphony’ and ‘The Saw is Law’. Overall, Whitechapel sounded incredible, the performance itself was a tad lacklustre.
In the pit is a solid mix of blokes who spend a lot of time in the gym, blokes that should visit more, some kids that have dodged the joint entirely, and a few blokes that opted to go to the pie shop instead. But if a man goes down, every bastard on hand works to get them back up. It looks dangerous but everyone knows the score. I’ve seen enough haymakers thrown in the pit tonight for me to think that maybe Dana White should start advertising UFC classes at deathcore gigs around the world. While I’m not the sort of bloke that condones this style of dancing, it’s great to see heavy music thrive in a world that in the mid 90’s wrote off every subgenre of heavy metal as dead and gone. Green Day, one of the biggest bands in the world, sold this joint out in 1998. 25 years later, a mob of blokes from Western Sydney have gone and done the same and are gunna put on a hell of a show.
But not before the sound guy puts on Venga Boys ‘We Like To Party’. Thy Art Is Murder materialise on stage through the thick red smoke and the congregation on the floor belts out a collective “YEAAAAHHHHHHH!!!”. There’s no faffing about tonight as TAIM launch straight in to their landmark opus HATE. Start to finish, neck-to-nuts, there is not an inch of fat on that record and live tonight it hits on a communal level. Given the youthful age of most of the punters tonight, it’s fair to say that that a large chunk of tonight’s rabble grew up on the album. From the opening notes of ‘Reign Of Darkness’ to the back end of ‘Doomed From Birth’ the horde dives in and celebrates along with the band. When ‘Purest Strain Of Hate’ lands, it’s like a bomb has gone off and after burning through ‘Shadow Of Eternal Sin’, the band retreats backstage for a cheeky beer to let vocalist CJ McMahon publicly ponder on the enormity of this particular occasion.
“How you doing Sydney, you good? This show is very important to me and my band, our crew, our families that are here, our friends which are also our families. We grew up coming to here. My first show here, I was 19, I watched Deftones play here. I also played my first show with my band before I was in Thy Art. We opened for the (I Killed The) Prom Queen Goodbye Tour. First time Bring Me (The Horizon) played in Australia was here. And now we’re headlining, it’s sold out in our home-fucking town. Thank you so fucking much.”
The crowd responds accordingly. Horns are raised, cheers are yelled and whistles ensue. CJ goes on to thank the bands long time support from their backstage family and the fans that were on the journey with them. It’s a massive moment from these proud Western Sydney boys.
After the finishing notes of HATE, TAIM launch into ‘Death Squad Anthem’, before dedicating ‘Holy War’ to 8-year old legend Colton who has been walking around all night. The crowd starts chanting “COLTON, COLTON…” and it’s a genuinely cool moment. With him being the son of a tattoo artist, and surrounded by metal musicians, I think it’s fair to say that Colton is being raised right. The smoke machine is still working overtime and it’s looking very much like this gig has taken place in the lowest depths of hell. Before closing out the night, CJ thanks the three bands that came out to help celebrate the 10 years of HATE. He acknowledges that selling out the Roundhouse couldn’t have been done without them. He then announces, ”We get to pick and choose who we tour with. We’re about to be our own independent band. We’re very talented but with out this man over here AMGN (pointing to guitarist Andy Marsh) running the fucking train and the business,” After a few more thank you’s TAIM close out with ‘Puppet Master’ and I hope the cure for Covid is in the red mist because the shit has been fucking everywhere all night.
Overall it’s been a momentous night. A landmark show for Thy Art, supported by some of the hugest deathcore bands on the planet in a venue that has hosted some of the worlds finest. For the punters, this’ll be an all time gig. Infested Entrails singer James Hughes was in the pit all night and when asked about what this mammoth occasion has meant for him he said, “Chelsea Grin, Whitechapel, Thy Art… it’s like 16-year old me come climbing out of my mouth”. The crowd were solid. As always there were a few people up the back saving themselves for work the next day, and the short-arses up on the balcony lacking the height to be in the pit. I look at the barricade and the two young lads that lined up from 4pm are still perched where they started. They survived the night unscathed and it’ll be a night they, and many others will never forget.
Review by Duane James @duanejamestattoo
Thy Art Is Murder – Decade of Hate Tour
w/ Whitechapel, Chelsea Grin and SPITE
Tue 17 Jan @ Hindley St. Music Hall, Adelaide
Wed 18 Jan @ Metropolis, Fremantle
Chip in a buck or two for the WoS crew!
Want to help Wall of Sound grow and deliver more killer content? Support us by chipping in as little as a dollar to help!