Words – Richard Grimm
Photos – Mitch

It’s Valentine’s Day in Melbourne and love is in the air. The love of fat meaty fucking riffs that is! Melbourne turns up in their blackest band tees and patch-covered vests for their long-awaited date with not one, but two titans of metal. Lined up around the block outside Melbourne’s iconic Forum theatre, you had to turn two corners to reach the final punters waiting to have their ears tenderly caressed by the sonic war thunder awaiting them. Inside we’re greeted by a massive backdrop of the in flames logo looming over the audience. I can overhear chatter from camps for both bands mentioning their excitement to see the other act for the first time. With the house lights fading down it was time for these two titans to grace the stage.


Loudspeakers begin to play a beautiful acoustic intro and stage lights flutter to elevate the mood. One by one In Flames take to the stage, bathed in applause. Then like an abrupt kick in the ribs, they blast into Foregone pt. 1. At the helm is Anders Friden in his peak form. The bloke is out here making recordings of his own voice sound amateurish and dispassionate in comparison to the stellar delivery he is giving tonight. The track moves out of In Flames signature style riffing into a meaty breakdown followed by an exchange of solos by Chris Broderick and Björn Gelotte. The former of which clearly carried all of the backline in on his own because swoly moly that man was yoked.


In Flames showed the kind of easy swagger in their performance that really only comes from years of experience. At the start of the second track Anders calls out to get the pit started and Melbourne honoured the request of our metaphorical lover with delight. Third track of the night (everything’s gone) was my favourite of the set and clearly some of the crowd agreed because around now we started to see our first few crowd surfers. Anders showed off some of his vocal range both in timbre and register and kept the crowd thoroughly engaged, hyping up every stop and drop and the ending riff was so filthy I had to take two showers when I got home.


After 6 songs, the band stops to let us catch our breath a little and Anders has a little banter with the crowd. “Maybe at 1am later on the streets,” he responds to the crowd demanding their participation in the sacred Australian party ritual known as the shoey and then lends some advice to someone in the front row. “This isn’t a rule, but you’re in the front row looking at a little screen. My suggestion to you, put the phone in your pocket and go into the circle pit. I promise it’ll be the most fun you can have”. Some advice that I felt compelled to follow later in the evening. Now obviously you can’t encourage people to go into the pit if there isn’t one so the Swedes provided by playing Food for the gods. Which had another highlight moment for me when the bridge riff hit with some gnarly pinch harmonics that forced me to make an audible “ugh”. I think this is a good moment to acknowledge whoever was doing the lighting for this show. I had a lot of mentions in my notes about stylistic choices they made that I felt really elevated the show. One particular choice being using the colours from the whoracle album art for the lights during food for the gods

In flames are at the top of their game. My least favourite part of the set was when they finished with Take this life. Not because they played it poorly or because it’s not a good song because it certainly is. But it’s just a shame that song has had the most exposure because from what I saw these guys have so much more to offer and that song doesn’t even begin to scratch the depth of their talent as both songwriters and more importantly, performers.


Now it’s time for the intermission and Anders’ words rang in my head. I decided he was right, if I wanted to truly review the experience of this show I had to participate in it. So while the bands changed over I headed from the back of the room over to the pit. As I moved down, a drop curtain decorated with the band’s logo was raised to conceal the machinations of their oncoming performance.

The lights go down, and the curtain drops to reveal an extravagant stage design. Four figures in red cloth hang by their necks from the ceilings and the stage is winged on either side by more figures impaled on spikes. Behind the band, a large blow-up statue of the band’s mascot, Violent Mind, dominates the stage visuals. Kreator wastes zero time launching into the title track off their newest record, Hate Uber Alles and I’m treated to one of my absolute favourite tropes in large stage metal performances: double kicks with synced strobe lights. A trick that the band will continue to abuse throughout the show. As I say that you might be asking yourself, “won’t that get old after a while” and the answer to that is “fuck you, no it doesn’t, it’s rad as hell”. Singer Mille Petrozza commands the crowd with authority all night. He says jump, the crowd says how high. He gestures for a wall of death, the crowd splits. He says “crowd surf”, there’s people flying all over the place (I even saw a dud with a walking stick getting thrown in the air).


A few songs deep and we hear some ominous funeral bells and fans familiar with the album gods of violence know what’s coming. Satan is real was played to perfection with guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö, shredding a beautiful red Ibanez destroyer, nailed his solos both here and throughout the evening. Giving off the impression that he couldn’t play a wrong note if he tried. When the final chord is played the crowd breaks into an impromptu chant “Kreator! Kreator! Kreator!”. If there was any doubt that the German thrashers had a following in Australia it should be erased from your mind at this moment. Kreator’s live rendition of Hordes of Chaos was also a highlight, effectively a summary of what it means to be metal with every type of mosh pit erupting at one point or another in the one song. After a stunning twelve song setlist, Kreator rounded out the night with Pleasure to kill and a call out for the last opportunity to participate in the wall of death.


My final thoughts on the show come around to how much I appreciated the differences between In Flames and Kreator as I think they complimented each other well. In Flames had a more personable feel to their set whereas Kreator were much more theatrical. Having each band side by side like that really helped me to appreciate how a band works best when they play to their specific strengths and both bands on this bill did exactly that. If you ever get a chance to see either of these acts you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not snatching up tickets the second you can.

Huge thanks to the Forum Melbourne crew for having us and a special thanks to John Howarth for arranging media access.