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[Review] Metal Church @ The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 14/12/2023

It has been a few years since Metal Church have graced our shores last travelling here in 2019 and quite a few things have changed since then. With the tragic loss of their frontman Mike Howe, which was a massive loss to the music industry and devastating to fans worldwide. After the initial shock Metal Church regrouped and came together with new singer Marc Lopes and a killer new album Congregation of Annihilation in 2023. Fans have welcomed Marc with open arms and embraced the new album excited for the band to be on the road celebrating the new songs and singer. 

It was no surprise to see black t-shirts lined up awaiting entry to The Croxton Bandroom. It has become a stalwart for old school heavy metal gigs and always has a terrific vibe as you are waiting to nab prime position. With lots of excited band banter being had as we counted down to doors, it is always a fun time to reminisce with like minded fans. With a steady stream of people finding their way to the front and beers flowing across the bar opening act Firing Squad started to warm up the crowd. They gave us a quick fire 25 mins of thrash metal, engaging the crowd and getting heads nodding in approval. Some fans wearing their merch and head banging on the barrier with gusto, it was great to see an early turn out and support for them. They had a substantial crowd by the end of their set and one of the guitarists even joined the punters on the floor to shred out the last minute or so.

Next up were thrash five piece Nothing Sacred, a name well known in the scene, these guys have been plugging away for 30 years and their experience showed. They powered through a thirty-minute set delivering some tasty tunes and wicked riffs. Singer Chris Stark has a most powerful set of pipes and I was left in awe just watching. With punters up and about they had a massive audience and the vibes were nothing but positive. Ending the set with Deathwish we were more than warmed up and ready for Metal Church.

The merch desk was kept busy with lots of cool stuff on offer, and things started heating up as the sea of black T-shirts congregated up close to the front. The odd peppering of red or white tops stood out like a sore thumb as the old school rock brigade brought out their finest thrash metal regalia, battle jackets worn with pride and every man and his dog wearing a Metal Church t-shirt.  The demographic was a much older crowd, diehard fans still showing their loyalty to their old thrash favourites.  As the lights dropped a roar rang out as the band took to the stage opening with the blinder Ton of Bricks from The Dark album. It was one of four from the album and was definitely a great way to get the night off and running. Marc Lopes was in fine form belting out the songs with his trademark long screeching on point all night.

Start The Fire did just that as the crowd were up and about, fists punching the air, singing word for word back to Lopes. Kurdt Vanderhoof has shredding up a storm along with Rick Van Zandt, both keeping the big riffs coming all night. Gods of Wrath really got the bandroom pulsing, with a few of the younger attendees on the barrier head banging with fury. The punters chanting back ‘Gods of Wrath’ for the duration. Pick a God and Pray and Congregation of Annihilation followed both off the latest release of the same name. Stet Howland was a machine on the drums, being a part of the band since 2017 he was right at home, providing backing vocals and vicious hitting of skins, on many occasions playing while standing up showcasing his skills. His spanking DW kit was a shining light in the middle of the stage and he used every piece to his advantage, he really was joy to watch.

Burial at Sea, Watch The Children Play and Fake Healer were welcome additions to the setlist and got the crowd up and about. Steve Unger on bass also added backing vocals and looked all parts the rock star in his leather and studs. He had the bass line covered and worked the stage with the ease of a true professional. Badlands is a loved Metal Church song from the album Blessing In Disguise and the punters enjoyed every minute. As the night was coming towards its end you would usually see the odd grogged up wannabe rockstar try and crowd surf over the top, but the seniority of the crowd put that to rest. All in attendance happy to just head bang on the spot and even that was done with reserved spurts to save the chiropractic bill the next day.

Beyond The Black and Metal Church saw out this killer night of thrash metal finery, Lopes digging deep and giving it everything he had.  As he returned with his phone to capture the crowd, arms quickly were held skyward to showcase the love in the room. A quick photo with the crowd and that was it, the show was over with Steve and Rick handing out guitar picks and Lopes pulling up a setlist for one lucky fan. I think many were expecting and encore but at 11pm on a weeknight I was more than happy with the killer performance we had.

Metal Church were so appreciative of their fans with Kurdt taking the time to thank us all for our undying support and I for one would be more that happy to bow down at the altar of Metal Church should they decide to come our way again.

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[Review] Kings of Thrash @ Max Watts, Melbourne 14/07/2023

Review By Cassandra Hale

Melbourne metalheads rejoiced at the news that Dave Ellefson and Jeff Young, both elder statesmen of Megadeth, were coming to Australia.  Not only that, but they were playing So Far So Good So What and Killing Is My Business..And Business Is Good! in their entirety.  Kings of Thrash the Mega Years was something to get excited about and the line of fans waiting outside Melbourne’s Max Watts was a testament to how keen we were. The cold winter night was no deterrent as the stream of unending people flooded into the venue, necks ready to be snapped with unending headbanging and thrash hits that we all knew and loved for way too many years.  The demographic was of the older generation but there were a few youngsters leading the charge and keeping thrash metal alive.

Up first to open the nights proceedings was Melbourne trio Resistance. Only forming earlier this year it was a big spot to fill and the boys were keen as mustard to get us warmed up and ready. It was easy to see from the get-go that these guys all had previous band experience. They were tight and energetic and made some big noise for a three piece. I really enjoyed their 30-minute set which was crammed to the brim with enough thrash tunes to have the expanding crowd banging their heads. They are playing at the Bendigo soon and I definitely recommend checking them out.

Next up and with the punters piling in at a rate of knots was Alarum. These guys have been making music for many years now and were happy to bust out all their heavy goodness. They unleased a 35-minute set that was fully loaded with thrash metal madness and had the fans well and truly ready for the big guns. They played hard and they played fast with so much going on it was enough to make the roof of you head lift off. They were super tight and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted as glasses were charged and the black t-shirt brigade were pumped and ready to mosh.

Max Watts was fit to bursting and the air was electric as we counted down to showtime. As the lights dimmed fists pumped the air in allegiance to the two Megadeth heroes in Ellefson and Young.  Busting straight out with So Far So Good So What and that killer interlude Into The Lungs Of Hell the boys were off and running. Although there were a few small changes to the order of songs they all got one hell of a run. Set The World Afire, Mary Jane and 502 kicked things off and by now the floor was a mass of twisted bodies revellers making the most of every minute. Singer Chaz Leon was the perfect fit for the band. He had his flying V strapped on and sang with vigour. He was extremely engaging with the crowd, and I was left well impressed with his vocal and shredding skills. Insert massive drum solo here ……Peruvian slayer of the kit Fred Aching gave us a mind-bending solo, showcasing his amazing talent as the band worked through all the Mega hits. In My Darkest Hour was a standout for me and the punters, they sang with gusto and lapped up every second of the Megadeth classic. Liar and Hook In Mouth were both impressive, then the boys finished out the album with Anarchy In The UK. It was an hour of power like no other and had the floor pulsing as one for the duration.

Dave Ellefson is a name synonymous with Megadeth and let me tell you he plays the bass like a 4-string assassin. Believe the hype my friends, Dave is just as fresh as he was in his prime and his enjoyment was written all over his face. He spoke of how he really enjoyed playing the songs from Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good!  as they were ones he seldom got to play. He also mentioned that a lot of the room weren’t even alive when it was recorded, and to that end I leant in and gave my son standing next to me an elbow in the ribs. Yes, folks that is parenting done right and I for one am passing the baton to the next generation of metalheads! Jeff Young was still strutting the stage with enthusiastic high kicks and exemplary shredding skills.  He worked the stage like a man in his prime and was happy to jump on the mic and chat throughout the night. Clearly knowing of Melbourne’s rivalry with Sydney he was keen to stir the pot and raise a challenge to those north of the border to step up and take the coveted live music crown that Melbournites proudly hold.

It was back to the old-school snap your neck thrash metal as Last Rites and Rattlehead rang out. Again, the order was mixed but that left a little mystery as to what was coming next, and I for one loved it! Chaz had the saccharine growl down pat as he ripped out the Skull Beneath The Skin and Looking Down The Cross. Then it was a new level of crazy in the pit as Killing Is My Business opened the mosh up with bodies flying from one side the other. Shirts waved aloft as half naked sweaty men tried to stay upright and keep their drinks from dousing their pit buddies. Loved To Deth, Chosen Ones and the banger Mechanix were an assault on the senses and the album was finished out with These Boots. We were now one and a half hours deep into the show and thinking it was about to wrap up. But the Kings Of Thrash had other ideas, no encore, no leaving the stage just straight back into it with Dawn Patrol and a medley of Megadeth intros including Holy Wars and Hangar 18 which certainly whet the appetite for a few more classic Megadeth songs. The boys gratefully obliged with Wake up Dead, a cheeky cover of Riot’s Swords and Tequila and the one and only Peace Sells. If one song alone could raise the roof this would be it and the pit slammed for its duration. With a deafening applause and metal fists raised we saluted our metal saviours as they left the stage, leaving us with many tales to tell about this night of metal madness with the Kings of Thrash!

Hardline Media have been knocking it out of the park with their recent tours and Kings Of Thrash was no exception. Having the opportunity to hear some of these killer songs live was any Megadeth fans dream come true, thank you to all involved. Now I am off to book an appointment with my chiropractor, I may have overindulged in the head banging department but it was worth every bloody minute!

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[Review] Vader @ Max Watts, Melbourne 26/05/2023

Review By Mitch Charlton

Its been 5 years since Vader were last here with Kreator, Australia missed out on a tour through the plague times, and this tour was also postponed once, maybe twice, but we finally get to have them back on their 40th anniversary tour and they bring with them their Polish brethren, Hate and Thy Disease, what a line up! I have been waiting for an Australian Hate show since I was about 17, this is monumental. Tonight Vader show us why they are still around 40 years later, one of the old school greatss still showing everyone else how it should be played.

Starting off tonight with a low crowd count at the stage, people went straight to the merch desk, eager to get their hands on the goods, which didn’t last long, I ended up hearing about a few people missing out on sizes of tour shirts within the first 30 mins, but I guess this is what happens when you have a killer line up and a bands first time coming to Australia. The last few gigs I have been to, I have noticed that merch running out really quick is a common occurrence, which is great but I’m curious as to whether this is due to bands not anticipating the demand or whether it’s a cost to get it made in the first place, any readers, let me know your thoughts on this please.

Melbourne’s own Vexation put on one hell of an opening set, a young 3-piece Death Metal band who everyone should keep an eye on, these guys have skills years above them, they know how to write a wicked Death Metal track and perform it with incredible energy. With a full sounding 3-piece band, they ran through a solid set of groove headbanging riffs that were then coloured with astonishing shred solos and bass runs that had heads turning from all over the venue. Their energetic drummer is definitely one to watch, this guy was keeping machine like tightness while headbanging and throwing in amazing drum fills and beats. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, make sure you go and catch a show, you won’t be disappointed.

First off from the Poles is Thy Disease, this is their first time on our shores, and they show off a hard working ethic with a front man who, by the end of their set, had the crowd moving and headbanging. The crowd had grown to cover most of the venue by this stage and they had more heads moving with their brand of groove riffs and melodic solos. The only thing I was confused about was their mix, I could hear faint traces of backing synths but then there was minimal bass coming through, Vexation had a crystal-clear mix just before but, for them to have certain things missing was a bit odd. Thy Disease played a strong show and set the mood for the following bands tonight.

Hate, a band I have been listening to since I was about 17, someone who I never thought I would actually see play live in Australia are finally here. It is clear that I’m not the only one here tonight who has been waiting this long for them to come here. The crowd is thick with anticipation as the lights dim and their drummer comes out to start the intro with some rhythmic tom work that then kicked into Sovereign Sanctity. They run through a killer setlist that spans their career and get the crowd moving with the likes of Resurrection Machine, Rugia and Wolf Queen. The standout track for me was Threnody, the very first song that I ever heard of theirs, hearing this live was unreal! I hope they come back on the next album cycle, now that they know they have an Australian following.

It takes a lot of skill, determination, and grit to get a band touring and recording and Vader are here celebrating their 40th anniversary. They have toured the world multiple times and shown fans all over the world why they are one of the greatest and deserving of being here 40 years later. Vader sounds just as good live as they do on a record, their guitar tone and mix is phenomenal, everything is crisp and as it should be. Tonight’s setlist spans their 40-year career and starting off early on with tracks like Dark Age and Vicious Circle, then coming in with some newer ones Shock And Awe and Silent Empire. There is no slowing this band down, they are as hard hitting as ever and will probably still be around in the years to come! It’s impressive as hell to watch them play the way they do.

Death Metal is one hell of a genre, it has so many different takes but with bands like Vader leading the charge, modern and up and coming bands should be looking to these guys for the inspiration and the requirements to keep a band alive and strong after 40 years!

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[Review] Udo Dirkschneider @ Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 08/04/2023

Review By Cassandra Hale

Seventy-One years in the making and finally the man, the myth, the legend Udo Dirkschneider touched down in Australia to unleash the best of Accept. The black t-shirt brigade turned out early to line the footpath outside the Croxton Bandroom ready to rock with their metal hero after years of waiting. The demographic was of the older generation, and I fitted into that slot somewhat perfectly. The excitement was bubbling down the line as we waited for doors, and being a very brisk Melbourne night, it was welcome relief to get inside and nab pole position front and centre on the barrier.

Opening the nights proceeding were thrash five piece Nothing Sacred, a name well known in the scene, these guys have been plugging away for 30 years and their experience showed. They powered through a rapid fire thirty-minute set delivering some tasty tunes and wicked riffs. Singer Chris Stark has a most powerful set of pipes and I was left in awe just watching. With punters up and about early they have a massive audience and the vibes were nothing but positive. Ending the set with Deathwish we were more than warmed up.

Melbourne’s Elm Street were up next, and they certainly blew my hair back, the gravely vocals of Ben Batres set the tone for the neck snapping set. A well-oiled machine, their stage time was seamless and had heads nodding in approval from the opening song. Can I say if there was a drumming Olympics Tomislav Perkovic was taking home gold, fast, furious and freaking insane, his use of the kit was next level. Elm Street were engaging, exciting and kept the thrash lover’s levels peaking. Metal Is The Way and Elm St’s Children were standouts for me, and if you are yet to listen to these guys I suggest you do so without delay!

The bandroom was turning in to a sauna as the latecomers filled any available space, the hoards were pushing up close behind me and anticipation was at bursting point. I was starting the rethink my barrier position, but I decided it was go hard or go home, so I planted my feet and got ready for the onslaught. Sven Dirkschneider entered the stage and took his place behind his impressive kit, arms raised in the air saluting us as the rest of the band launched onto the stage to massive applause, but nothing compared to the ROAR as Udo graced us with his presence. Opening with Starlight and Living For Tonight the show was off and running like clockwork. Udo impressive from his first note, his voice still amazingly fresh, he has lost none of his sharpness and was still hitting the high notes with ease. He did say when we chatted recently that he was thankful that he still was able to sing so well for his age, and I can confirm with a resounding yes, he certainly can!

There were so many highlights to this show, every song on the setlist was a winner, and with such a massive array of songs to choose from I think they knocked it out of the park with their selection. Midnight Mover, Breaker, London Leathberboys and Neon Nights had everyone up and about chanting for Udo singing the well-known lyrics back with gusto. A standout for me was Princess of The Dawn, the crowd taking over with whoa whoa’s happy to share the spotlight. Udo’s enjoyment was paramount, he was loving every minute and it radiated from him tenfold. Guitarists Dee Dammers and Audrey Smirnoff were sensational, their solo interludes were pure perfection, their shredding skills exemplary. Let’s talk bass guitar, Peter Baltes has recently been reunited with Udo and boy what a duo they make. Also hailing from Accept the songs were second nature and he played them with precision, his stage presence was awe inspiring and I was so glad to see him in the flesh. There are drummers and then there is Sven Dirkschneider. His raised drum kit a throne and he played it like a king, he was a slayer of the skins and his timing was that of the finest Swiss timepiece. I can not reiterate the calibre of Udo’s band. They are one tight united front and it shows with the delivery of every song.

A mash up of Restless and Wild and Son of a Bitch followed by Midnight Highway had The Croxton at boiling point, I was still standing strong but I could feel the punters behind me winding up the cogs and I knew that my days were numbered. Screaming For A Lovebite and I’m A Rebel upped the ante, fists punching the air charged by alcohol, driven by the songs of their youth, we wanted more and as the band departed the stage it was time for the chants to start. After thunderous applause and calls for more the band return to deliver an onslaught of three of the finest Accept songs, Metal Heart, Fast as a Shark and of course, Balls To The Wall. I could feel the surge behind me, punters driven on adrenaline and enough alcohol to forget their age. The charge was imminent, and I ducked as boots came over the top, none quite making it over the barrier, but damn they tried. The frenzy these three songs brought was beyond insanity, the singing voices of the punters enough to raise the roof, the Croxton a veritable melting pot and I absolutely loved every bloody minute.

With waves goodbye and throwing of his black leather gloves to the crowd Udo was gone and it was time to survey the damage. As I de-pretzelled myself and made way to the long line to grab some merch the smiles went for miles on the faces of every person I could see. With this tour being such a success, we can only hope that Udo won’t leave it too long to return. The hoards will be waiting our ‘metal hearts’ pumping German music at its heaviest, ready to do it all again.

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Album InterviewsInterviews

Interview with Udo Dirkschneider

Hardline Media are very proud to announce for the first time ever in Australia, the man, the legend, Mr UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER, performing nothing but the best of ACCEPT, just the way we like it! Backed up by his long serving band that now features original ACCEPT bass player PETER BALTES.

Former ACCEPT lead singer UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER has a long career spanning almost five decades that helped to shape German Heavy Metal. His unique and raspy voice approach and his taste for huge choruses formed a huge part of ACCEPT's appeal and have made him the one of most recognizable characters in Heavy Metal history. Albums like Breaker, Restless & Wild, Balls To The Wall, Metal Heart… hear them live with UDO for the first time in Australia.

Two Exclusive shows only! All shows will sell out, so get in quick. There will be extremely limited VIP meet and greet tickets available – Meet Udo, Peter Baltes and the band.

Tickets via www.hardlinemedia.net


LIMITED VIP MEET & GREET with UDO and band, includes:

– Early access to the show and merch stand

– Get a photo on your phone/device with Udo and band

– Australian tour poster to get signed by Udo and band

– Exclusive VIP lanyard/laminate

– Bring along 3 personal items to get signed

– VIP TICKET includes entry to the show

Don’t miss seeing one of the most iconic voices of our Metal/Rock generation – Mr UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER!


Thursday 6th April – SYDNEY – The Manning Bar

Saturday 8th April – MELBOURNE – The Croxton Hotel

 TICKETS ON SALE NOW FROM: https://hardlinemedia.net/

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