Gig Review: Wage War + Crystal Lake + Mirrors @ Crowbar - Brisbane

Headliner: Wage War

Support: Crystal Lake + Mirrors

Venue: Crowbar, Brisbane

Date: Sunday, 1st March 2020

Review and photos by Darren Hurford

Photos by Bree Wallace

Loud. Sweaty. International but with an Australian appetiser. This is how Brisbane liked its metal last night at Crowbar. Wage War were putting on a headline show on the tail end of the Polaris ‘The Death of Me’ tour and we were ready to farewell them. With well over half the crowd having seen both the headliners and Japanese Metalcore monsters Crystal Lake the night before, it’s clear that all those messages of “support the live music scene” have finally started to pay off, packing out the venue on a Sunday night.

Having never heard of Melbourne based outfit Mirrors, I was keen to see what these Gippsland boys brought to the stage. And bring it they did. These guys were great to watch, not only as a performance but as professional musicians. It was evident these guys took their music seriously, with Robert Brens on drums carving out some meticulously planned beats and vocalist Patrick Goodman laying out his passion on stage for us all. Mirrors already seemed to have a fan base up in Brisbane, which is good to see that state lines don’t mean much when it comes to good music.

Speaking of brutal, teeth-grinding metal, Crystal Lake! HOLY McFUCKEN SHITSNACKS! I am utterly convinced that every single one of the band members were a traditional Samurai Warrior from a past life. Or even in this life. The precision with which they played their instruments was something that only Japanese efficiency can master. On top of that was the sheer force of unadulterated rage which came at me during their set that at some points, I genuinely felt like I was part of a ritual in which my ears were a sacrifice to their Gods. The performance of this band was one of the most intense things I’ve ever seen, often with members having one foot off-stage and being supported by the crowd. Vocalist Ryo Kinoshita regularly engaged with the audience, mostly screaming AT them, his death growl able to make even the most hardened attack dog whimper. If you haven’t already……GET. ON. THESE. GUYS.

An extremely hard act to follow after the tsunami of craziness that was Crystal Lake, Wage War entered the stage and kicked things off strongly. Opening the set with Who I Am and Prison from the new album ‘Pressure’, the majority of the crowd showed their support and appreciation by singing the words to these newer tracks. However old favourites like Alive and Witness were the real reason people showed up. There’s a certain intensity to the simplicity that Wage War have which blasts through the mess of time signature changes, 8-string guitars and pre-programmed electronics that exists in the metal world today. These guys are just a bunch of dudes from Florida who love to make some straight-up heavy-ass music for your earholes!

Unfortunately, the new album saw the band taking a much more radio-friendly, commercial turn in their song writing. I found some of the new songs a mesh of Hands Like Houses meets One Direction (imagine pop songs with distortion and sadness), which the crowd picked up on due to the severe lack of any movement (let alone a wall of death) whilst they were being played.

The set finished with three of their most notable hits. First up was Johnny Cash in which vocalist Briton Bond told the crowd, “This song goes out to all the aching hearts out there. It does get better.” After that brief moment of softness, the crowd got what they came for in Low and Stitch, in which all of the “BLEGH!”’s could be heard far and wide!

Best part: Seeing the Crystal Lake vocalist literally transform in front of my eyes into a 12-foot-high human growling Godzilla. (reference photo below).

Worst part: The guy who fell down in the circle pit then got up and tried to fight a security guard.

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