Words Alexandra Ferrier.
Photos Sally Townsend.
Doomsday promised an impeccable night, boasting a killer line up and pulling out all the stops to give Melbourne’s community of doom and sludge enthusiasts a night of pure bliss. It showcased some of Melbourne’s best local talent, teamed with international heavy weight headliners Windhand and Beastwars. The spirit was high and the excitement grew over the course of the evening, especially in regards to this being Windhand’s first tour of Australia. There was no doubt this five piece from Richmond, Virginia had struck a chord in the hearts of Melbournians with their fusion of metal and psychedelic rock.
Motherslug opened the evening and set the tone of what was to come. Shrouded in green light, their set was incredibly atmospheric and stoked the fires of early punters. Horsehunter followed, taking the stakes even higher with their thunderous, fortifying sound, rich with melodic constructs and progressions. They seem so beyond their years. DEAD were another band that blew me way. Having been my first time witnessing this band, I hadn’t seen such ferocity from a two piece since San Franciscan sludge / doom outfit Black Cobra. They proved themselves to be just as intense as those that preceded them, proving that a band doesn’t need an epic set up and an army of members to conjure and project a sound with such force.
Sydneysiders Los Hombres De Diablo make the trek down, fronted by ‘resident ass kicker’ Michele Madden who literally gave no fucks, encouraging antics and commanding the stage. Child followed and as always had the crowd mesmerised. Surprisingly, for many Doomsday participants, this was though their first time experiencing the band. People were hanging off every note, every lyric of their soulful blues rock. It was a soothing break amongst the thunderous riff and fuzz, but it also implanted them amongst another crowd and new ears.
Beastwars needed no introduction, they were ruthless. Bracing myself on the stair side of the bar, every note, every strike of the drum and bellowing growl from Matt Hyde consumed the ears and chest cavities of the onlookers. The Beasts of Wellington (NZ) put on a show of epic proportions. Raised fists and cascading beer ejected sporadically from the feverish crowd throughout their whole set. Each song they played was greeted with anticipation. This was especially noted during The Sleeper. It was an amazing treat to witness this band once again since their last appearance at Cherry Rock 2014. They never fail to impress.
Doomsday Fest had successfully sold out and by the time Windhand took the stage, the atmosphere was intense and claustrophobic, but not in a way that was uncomfortable. Breaking out with Orchard, the first track off their 2013 album Soma, was a truly engrossing moment. It transcended reality for many people and was lovely to witness not only the band but the crowd in their element. Time became irrelevant and focus was purely on Windhand. Woodbine showcased Dorthia Cottrell’s vocal ability, a glorious front woman who exuded strength and soul. Each band member was passionately consumed by their music so it didn’t feel like there was an emphasis on one particular member or instrument. Each song blended beautifully into one another, fortifying a path that we all took with them, mixing in Winter Sun from their 2011 self-titled. They finished their set with Cassock and despite the length of each song; their set was so enigmatic and so glorious that the gentle push back to reality was almost heartbreaking.