The massive Heaven and Hell festival struck Brisbane over the weekend

Headlined by The Amity Affliction, their new (potential) annual festival kicked off in Brisbane with a big line-up, touting performances from Underoath, Crossfaith, Trophy Eyes, Pagan, Endless Heights, Make Them Suffer and many more.
[PC: Maddie Bell.]

The Amity Affliction’s Heaven and Hell tour was the next big run that followed on from their appearance earlier in the year at Download Festival – their first headline tour of the country in over two years too. With a big day out at the Brisbane Riverstage, and a lineup totalling ten bands, it promised to be a full day of action-packed, back-to-back music.

In Brisbane, the show was designed so that every band except The Amity Affliction and Underoath would only have use of about 50% of the stage while the other half was getting ready for the next band. Standard dual-stage festival set-up that almost completely removes any noticeable wait times until much later in the night. Whilst this was, for the most part, effective – the only big gaps between sets was a 35-minute wait between Trophy Eyes and Underoath, and then again for Underoath and Amity – it was also wildly distracting at times. Stage crew literally rolled cables through Make Them Suffer’s area while they were playing, and walked through performers and in front of drummers and bassists fairly often. Very odd; you never saw that happening in the old Soundwave main-stage days.

Perth’s Make Them Suffer did well to energize the crowd during their 20min set, kicking off with monstrous 2017 jam, ‘Vortex.’ However, female vocalist and keys-player, Booka Nile, hadn’t had her vocal levels properly tested and they came out as overpoweringly loud for most of the opening song. Thankfully, the band quickly realized and compensated for this, still pulled off a great opening song with grace. Professionals all-around. Nile and Sean Harmanis‘ brutal vocals worked together excellently, and their energy was always palpable. Despite the sun still blazing down hot, the crowd was happy to begin moshing early and kept on moving throughout the set. Whipping out an old fan-favourite with the diabolical ‘Widower, they finished the set on the mighty ‘Ether‘. Although only five songs long, and forgiving the fact that MTS have longer-than-average song lengths, the set had been really well-curated, and certainly well received.

Osaka’s Crossfaith kicked off immediately after, with some seriously intense energy in opener ‘Catastrophe’ that both shocked and invigorated those who hadn’t witnessed the band’s epic and fun live shows before. The only way to describe their live set is that it’s the most dazzling metal-rave experience of a lifetime. Lead singer Kenta Koie’s commanding voice and stage presence slotted seamlessly with the frantic energy of keys player Terufumi Tamano and drummer Tatsuya Amano’s full-on play-style. Although it was the band’s second visit to Australia this year (having appeared at Unify in January, being one of KYS’s highlights), it was their first time in Brisbane since supporting In Heart’s Wake back in 2017. Kicking their way through songs such as ‘Monolith,’ ‘Freedom‘ and ‘Countdown to Hell,’ they left a lasting impression on any and everybody within the venue. People who’d looked confused and almost amused as they first emerged on stage were soon heading to the mosh by the second song. And by the end of the set, all eyes (and minds) were on this Japanese act. Promising to return to our shores again next year, Crossfaith certainly gained a new home-away-from-home in Brisbane.

Look, Trophy Eyes have had an excellent year! Kicking off the year with a slot in the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown, they’ve since supported Bring Me The Horizon around the country and played a main stage set at Splendour in the Grass (bringing the legendary Chris Lilley onto stage for a 1.5-minute rendition of “IF YOU WANT TO FUCK LET’S FUCK FUCK FUCK). They’re well-known for their consistent live performances that ring true to their recordings, and this didn’t disappoint. Although the set was only 35 minutes long, it featured well-known favourites such as ‘Hurt,’ ‘Heaven Sent‘ and ‘Breathe You In’ – finishing, of course, with ‘You Can Count On Me.’ Lead vocalist John Floreani’s voice sounded as good as ever, and the band left the stage with the crowd clearly hungry for more – as all good live shows should do!

Underoath’s set introduction ‘On My Teeth‘ commands your attention with a heavy drum and bass start – and if two sets of drums don’t get you fucking keen, you’re at the wrong kind of show. Then they blasted through Loneliness and The Blue Note, only stopping for breath after the crowd is well and truly moshing. They stop a couple more times to thank the crowd for coming out and to encourage them to mosh harder. After some more chit-chat, they power through the final three songs almost all in one staggering blow, getting a proper circle pit going that lasts through to the end of the set. Finishing on the classic ‘A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White,’ ‘Writing on the Walls‘ and (quite surprisingly) ‘Sink With You‘, the post-hardcore faves bid farewell to the crowd “for now”. Now, it must be said that the set time planning seemed a little strange; Crossfaith would have made much more sense as a precursor to Underoath’s performance, but all of these bands put on a solid show nonetheless.

The stage planning did let down the audience a little again here, as there was another break of almost 40 minutes before Amity began, which really broke the flow of the night and the buzz of the crowd. The playlist queued for the break was also strange – hearing ‘Wonderwall‘ between two heavy bands is a jarring experience.

Nonetheless, The Amity Affliction emerged onto stage shortly after 8.30, to a huge amount of cheering. They kicked off the night with Drag the Lake, moving straight into Ivy, I Bring the Weather With Me, and heavier new single All My Friends Are Dead, which was well-received by the crowd considering it was only released barely a fortnight ago. The band has been going for over 15 years, and vocalist Joel Birch’s screaming vocals are sounding better than ever – nothing short of amazing considering the strain that the style often has on a singer’s voice. Bass player Ahren Stringer’s clean vocals are beautifully complementary to Birch’s voice, and his growl brings a very effective element to the overall sound. This is a band who knows what they’re doing, delivering a tight and highly polished performance that only a talented and experienced band can do. Roughly halfway through the set, they broke out recent hits like This Could Be Heartbreak and Shine On, which finally get the crowd into airborne mode.

Pulling out the old fan-favourite Anchors had a roaring response, and halfway through Nikki from Pagan comes out to lend her vocals to the chorus, which is a nice touch. After D.I.E’s mass sing-along, the lights go down and the spotlight comes onto drummer Joe Arrington (ex-A Lot Like Birds, Royal Coda.) In truly incredible style, the drumming platform slowly raises into the air as he breaks into a drumming solo that turns his whole body into a blur. It’s like a god of drumming in all of his white-lit glory is rising above us mere mortals, showering them with the percussive chops of a lifetime. He played for almost five minutes straight without a break, with the occasional bass line lent by Stringer providing more depth. Even after the end of the solo, the platform continued to rise and fall periodically throughout the set, providing even more visual interest than the band was already providing. After Chasing Ghosts and Don’t Lean On Me, the band thanked everyone profusely for coming out, leaving the stage for a few minutes, before returning with an acoustic intro to All Fucked Up. It seemed to be a strange farewell song but it had fans enthused by the time the entire band kicked into gear for the final choruses. Right here, The Amity Affliction proved that they’ve still absolutely got it!

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