DOOMSDAY FESTIVAL: Windhand, Beastwars, The Ruiner, Clagg, Sumeru. 05-10-2014. The Tote, Melbourne.


Words Dan McDougall.
Photos Sally Townsend.

I like the doom scene. For a guy who has spent most of his musical career surrounded by intense thrash and death metal bands going to a doom show is such a relief. What I find to be the biggest point of difference is that thrash bands spend all their time crafting intricate and incredibly fast riffage, while doom bands spend all their time trying to get the most devastating guitar tone imaginable. And boy was that on display on this fine Sunday afternoon. I got there a little late so I missed the first band (Sumeru) unfortunately, but many good things were muttered about them in the front bar, the most notable being that the front man was doing his best Phil Anselmo impression and doing quite a good job of it. That gets two thumbs up from me straight away.

Clagg were the first band up for me and straight away guitarist Dav Byrne was having equipment issues and they didn’t let up I’m sorry to say. Despite that they did what they do best and that is monstrous riffs and even more monstrous vocals from Scooter. He is definitely on par with Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth, Storm Corrosion, Bloodbath, Steel, Katatonia, Porcupine Tree) when it comes to intense low growls, that’s for sure.

Next up were The Ruiner, a band that I’ve been dying to see because the members of this band are Melbourne rock and metal royalty (Christbait, Blood Duster, Dern Rutlidge, Legends Of Motorsport, Pillow). It was a bit more low-fi than I was expecting, and once again there were technical issues that marred the performance but despite that I enjoyed their set and always enjoy the smart-ass comments from Jason PC.

I had heard a lot of good things about New Zealand’s Beastwars and it was finally great to see them live. I’d heard they were a bit like Clutch, but I don’t think so. Vocalist Matt Hyde has an amazing voice and the killer riffage just kept on coming. I’ll be seeing them again before too long I hope.

Finishing off the night were Windhand from Richmond, Virginia. ‘Holy shit’ are the first words that come to mind. Despite there being guitar problems once again (seriously I dunno if it was the Tote or what but all the bands had problems for some reason which was a tad annoying), but once they were fixed the band launched into some seriously fucking heavy tunes. The guitar tone was ungodly, second only to Eyehategod in the heaviest band I’ve ever heard live department. I thoroughly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the almost angelic female vocals from Dorthia Cottrell with the intense heaviness; it really works well.

Overall I had a great night, The Tote was packed for a Sunday despite day one of the Doomsday Fest being held the day before at Yah Yah’s. If you’re a metal head and you haven’t tried your luck with a doom show, do yourself a favor and get to one. It’s a whole new level of heavy that you’re missing out on!