Words – Clare
Photos – Mitch
Tuesday night on the 5th of December we arrived at Max Watts for the final night of Behemoth’s Fury Upon the Earth tour which would also be the final gig for Everyday Metal in 2023. For this final Melbourne show Behemoth was joined by Melbourne’s own black grinding death band Munt and Golgothan Remains from Sydney.
Munt opened the show to an already packed room. Once again, Melbourne represented the metal scene by selling out the show and most rocked up nice and early to get their hands on band merch. Psychedelic ceiling lighting drew our attention towards the stage as Munt started strong with powerful drums, whining guitars and a deathly growl with Children of Delirium, track 1 from their newly released album Pain Ouroboros. Next up was the super satisfying sludgy breakdowns of their 2018 single Seeds of the Machine. Munt showcased their entire 2023 album release, continuing with The Vengeful March, Zero Sum and Communion of Thorns where lead vocalist Tim finally let his hair down for some epic windmills. ‘Big shout out to Destroy All Lines and a big fucking shout out to Behemoth’ the Munt frontman growled. ‘This next song is from our first EP and it goes out to BEHEMOTH!’ They launched into Cleansing the World with Sickness and Rot from the 2019 album Towards Extinction as orange beams of light speared through their bodies. ‘This is an old one, if you’ve seen us before you fucking know it’ they performed the single Striges with real drama and intensity ‘This is the part where you bang your goddam fucking heads!’. The set concluded appropriately with Apostate Sermon and it left the room buzzing.
An intro track sounded from a dark stage that melted into a purple haze. The lead vocalist sporting some envious locks growled to the crowd ‘We are Golgothan Remains from Sydney!’ They smashed through a perfectly grim set with heavy drums, fast guitar work and a lot of head banging windmills. They powered through tracks from their 2022 album release Adorned in Ruin which included Forgotten Lores of Hatred and Bloodshed, Opulent Incarnation of Perservering Torment, The Malign Hordes of Abhorrence, Veneration of Carnal Blasphemy and On Lifeless Wings of Malice. The band’s frontman took a moment between blood curdling howls to address the patrons ‘Who’s ready for Behemoth’ the crowd roared in response ‘Big shout out to Munt who killed it!’ Another cheer rose up from the venue in agreement. After they played their last couple of tracks the band members exited while the vocalist bowed to the audience in appreciation ‘Thank you Melbourne! See you next time’.
Finally, what the hundreds and hundreds of hungry fans had waited for, the unapologetically blasphemous, extreme metal giants from Gdansk Poland, Behemoth! The room was already pulsating with the alacrity of the audience that minutes before the set even began, the fans started chanting ‘BE-HE-MOTH, BE-HE-MOTH, BE-HE-MOTH!’ So when the house lights finally darkened a huge cheer tore through the room as Post-God Nirvana sounded from an ominously empty stage to introduce the monstrous event that was about to commence. Legendary drummer Inferno took his rightful place on the raised platform behind the gargantuan kit and presented outstretched arms that appeared to shoot beams of light. He was joined by the guitarists who stood up on the risers and silently acknowledged their fans with raised fists and raised horns.
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer from the 2014 album The Satanist kicked things off which inspired plenty of fist pumps and ‘HEY… HEY!’ chants from the rabble. I was already impressed by how guitarist and lead vocalist Nergal expertly worked the crowd and how impressively intimidating the bassist Orion was not only due to his stature but his stage makeup that accentuated his scowls and death stares. Orion disappeared in the wings only to return with a mouthful of liquid which was spewed over the mosh. Bringing the song to a close, Orion and the touring guitarist Seth shared a fist bump to the audiences delight.
Nergal faced the crowd to ask his fans when it was that Behemoth last played in Melbourne, which we all knew was quite a few years back (although technically is was only a few days back Nergal jested). They had invaded Australia so many times that Nergal likened the back and forth travel to a boomerang! He continued, if we ready for a night of metal we should say ‘Say FUCK YEAH! This is Conquer All’. The track from the 2004 album Demigod received a huge response from the crowd with roars of gratitude sounding from around the room.
The Deathless Sun began while Nergal stood, his back to us with the fully extended wings of his hooded cape. This track from Behemoth’s most recent 2022 album release Opvs Contra Natvram resonated with the crowd, the entire room belting out the chorus ‘I am nothing… I am no one’. During Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel from The Satanist, all the guitarists all stood on the risers imposingly while glaring over the crowd and still not being able to keep my eyes off Orion I noticed his pony tail appeared to have its own personal wind machine. Nergal took the time for what he called ‘reflections’ at the end of the track. The band thanked Soundworks, their PR person and everyone who was involved in the tour and last but not least ‘You people’ referring to us the fans and as Orion put it, ‘Epic’ metal heads.
They continued with Once Upon a Pale Horse, followed by Daimonos from Evangelion whereall the guitarists surrounded the drum god Inferno, worshiping him with their instruments. This track also featured a stellar drum and guitar duet by Seth and Inferno. For the track Versvs Christvs Nergal returned to stage in a cloak and thurible which he swung from side to side. This was followed by a theatrical monolog all hunched over, gagging and coughing into the mic the stage lights faded and all of a sudden ‘PTHRRRP’ we hear a fart noise made by Nergal which I’m assuming was off-the-cuff as I watched the sound engineer whip his head back to look at the lighting guy with surprise before completely cracking up. This was immediately trumped by the next spectacle where Nergal presented a bible, held it above his head and began tearing out clumps of pages to throw them into the pit. The crowd loved the anti Catholic Church gesture, a few fans catching the scrunched up pages in their fists.
The performance of Ov Fire and the Void featured some wicked synchronised guitars moves as the crowd roared but when Nergal returned to the stage wearing a traditional papal miter hat for Bartzabel, the whole crowd sang along‘Come unto me Bartzabel’. During a brief pause Nergal swigged from a vessel and said ‘You make me so fucking happy I already started drinking!’ For which the crowd responded with ‘SKULL, SKULL, SKULL’ Nergal eyeballed the patrons, ‘Skull? CUNTS!’ He continued on to express how insane it was how many diverse people he had met so far on this tour and he was amazed how international the crowd was, the crowd in turn clapped and cheered as someone yelled out STRAYA! The next track ‘No Sympathy for Fools from Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) hadn’t been played in concert for many years but, Behemoth brought it out from the back of the closet for this tour because it ‘Works well for the mosh pit… Get as violent as you can’. The room went wild.
The bells chimed for the 1999 release Chant for Eschaton 2000 from Satanica and Orion returned to the stage with an even more terrifying face of makeup that appeared to be blackened blood covering half his face. He crouched down to his fans at the front and was swallowed up by the pit remaining out of sight for some time. ‘We shall return to Melbourne! We fucking love you! Stay strong!’ And with a strong finish Behemoth left the stage as the venue blackened once more.
With booming sounds and flashing red lights, Behemoth returned for one more song, the encore, O Father O Satan O Sun! Dressed in hoods and masks, the band members stood in a row, strumming their guitars like deranged executioners until it was all over.
I have seen many amazing shows this year, but this was by far my favourite and I’m so stoked that this was the gig that closed out 2023 for me.
EVERYDAY METAL – SUPPORT LOCAL HEAVY METAL