Last Saturday (14 October), two revered vocalists from two of the biggest nu metal bands of the mask wearing and inclusive genre blending vein (Slipknot and Mushroomhead) that reignited my waning passion for metal some decades ago, have laid down masks of rivalry (no, not the masks literally) and will be sharing time on the Mansfield Tavern stage for Nu Metal Mayhem.It's a venue that has hosted fantastic live metal and rock shows and mini-festivals since back in the day, and not much has changed. Inside, it's like time stood still – you also find out it's like the Tardis once inside – so spacious for a tavern venue, yet it retains the intimate feels of a small dive bar.
As I arrive, I can hear, well before I can see them, Brisbane's Void Matter. The five-piece are kicking off the Nu Metal Mayhem festivities with their crushing track 'Blunt Force Trauma', and by the time I kit up my cameras they're throwing everything at us with 'Extinctions'.
There is a rock-solid fan base in front of the stage super excited and singing or yelling along. A crushing and confident set include a song called 'Outcast', which is being introduced by their brutal vocalist as their new single.
After warming up the early crowd they finish off their set with 'Running Blind', 'King Reign' and 'Numbered Days'.
Void Matter - image © Clea-marie Thorne
I find out set times and realise that while I thought there were four acts with Void Matter thrown in as a surprise arrival bonus, there are eight on the line-up. Winning.
Masked up, and looking like they are dressed to kill, the "four horsemen of future nuclear waste" aka band members of New Clear Vision, mosey out onstage. Following the intro, the beats signal the opener 'I Don't Know'. I can already hear the sound is going to be huge.
Vocalist Brad Bromfield is a colossal sight, dressed in a t-shirt that has an exposed rib cage who lets loose with guttural growls and dark rapping as the band builds momentum and powers on behind him.
The drummer, in a raven skull, does well to keep the beak bone clear from his sticks as he thrashes the skins and the guitars are competing in volume – welcomed ear bleeds that definitely sound the best in front of the stage.
Things get changed up a bit with the drummer leaping out from behind the kit to lend some ferocious vocals at the front of the stage, while a guest drummer jumped on the tubs to join the jam. The eight-song set went flying by like hair on the dude moshing beside me – fast.
New Clear Vision - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Time flies, or so they say, and We The Hollow are next on the metal menu all dressed in white with faces either masked up or painted – I love it! Halloween truly has come early to the Mansfield Tavern.
With a smash-you-in-the-face set of dynamic and aggressive, even overtly confrontational at times, my ear lugs are thoroughly absorbing every vibration they are throwing at us. From the first song of their six pack, 'Dark In Me', to their closing number 'Spineless', hand on my lil black heart of hearts, I assure you that We The Hollow, sounded anything but.
I'll be queuing at the door for another instalment whenever and wherever close by. They're definitely worthy to be in the mix for Good Things band competition or any other un-consecrated festival ground they may want to dig into and let rip.
We The Hollow - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Unmasked – no, not KISS – Brisbane's hard and heavy hitting rockers, PistonFist are next to let it rip. Frontman Geoffrey O'Leary gets to growling at us as he stalks chaotically around the stage, stopping to rest a foot on the foldback to punch out some lines with force into the microphone, making eye contact beneath the brim of his cap to the moshing fans on the floor below.
O'Leary thinks the crowd can give up a bit more energy and is pretty much telling us we can do better. As they launch into the rest of the set, punters take the cue to get amongst it and things are heating up some more.
Fluid and heavy as mercury, PistonFist are unforgiving in unleashing a furious set of their fan favourites gathered in front of the stage, including my favourite 'Dig In'. I can feel the vibrations through the wooden floor in front of the stage – all the way from my feet to the tip of my head the whole time.
Ferocious growls pour forth with some pleasing harmonies thrown in, guitars are thrashing and chugging their own tonal screams and metal croons, while a rhythmic assault at the heart is as steady sledgehammer dropping with the force of gravity.
All elements combined are simply hard rocking auditory bliss while punters around me are also relishing in the mosh and devouring the physical feedback through their kinaesthetic senses with dance and many a head-bang. Another superb contender for your triple choice vote for the Good Things competition – cast your votes!
PistonFist - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Three-piece Sin Soto are up next. While my eyes are transfixed on charismatic frontwoman, Alexis Tajlia (aka Lexie – with dreadlocks that are verging on Rapunzel status) she is telling us she has left just enough in the vocal tank to see the set through.
The tour thus far in seems to be taxing the pipes and thank goodness, there is some in reserve for us. Meanwhile they start in on their opener and a pit dweller beside me taps me on the shoulder to point out a fourth body has joined the trio, dressed as a dishevelled, devil-esque looking conductor who has tumbled out on to the stage to join them.
With some rad and even kooky dance moves, his freaky facial expressions and body gestures are adding even more energy to what seems to be shaping up to be an eclectic mix of rock, metal, hip hop, pop and electronica – one musical cocktail to rule them all! Delectable.
I have taken a calculated guess who could be beneath the disguise – but as I cannot truly confirm, they will remain incognito to you. Lexie is not allowing the entertaining conductor to have all the baton attention (my girl crush says this would of course be impossible) and is now playing the role to punctuate the beats and emphasise the emotion of the music to us.
Lyrically, Alexis (Lex) seems to sing about global social issues and raw feelings and despite telling us how her vocal cords have taken a beating on the tour with Anders Colsefni and Waylon Reavis, she is smashing it with force.
Sin Soto - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Churven McSweeney is showing us what finger licking good really means – a colonel of the shred and then some! While Ronny Branford is killing it on the electric tubs, I am more impressed that his killer mohawk is still standing to attention throughout the set while the rest of him is glistening in sweat. What metal-punk-ass hair product wins the sustainability prize tonight?
I need this band to climb out of the underground rock scene a little more often to expose their incredible talent on unsuspecting punters and set more hearts on fire – it is truly a unique sound.
I found out that not only do Sin Soto make glorious music with lyrical content that seeks to ensure punter awareness of the world around us, but they craft much of their own merchandise and also gift donations from some merch to a few worthy charities. I'm liking what they stand for and am taken aback at how they sound more like a six-piece than a trio! So rich and rounded.
Interval is interrupted by a taped public service announcement is being played over the PA. The warning leaves it up to punter discretion to roll the dice and dance with the chance of seizure, injury or death during the show. I roll snake eyes!
I'm not going anywhere and my eyes are on the lead support act, as they enter the stage one by one. It is of course, Kaosis from Aotearoa. There are seven bodies with masks or painted faces moving into place – now, this is a crowded stage!
Kaosis - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Launching us into a frenzied start, Kaosis' lead singer known as Xen, is signalling us to get on it from the get-go. The crowd don't need too much encouragement, but also, they can be forgiven for being so absorbed by the captivating sight, to take their eyes from the stage to mosh.
Xen, who is shirtless, eyes stained with war paint, is the last to join as the band launches into their first song with an enthusiastic savagery that is guaranteed to be converting the uninitiated into instant fans. I'm told Kaosis will take us through tracks from their album 'We Are The Future'.
The guitarists are free range on the set while the two hype girls have a choreographed role to play, delighting us with extra light show elements while dancing. An energetic 'Throw Em Up' hits with heavy bass feels and punters willingly follow the instructions to do just that. Arms and hands raised in the air, horns, middle fingers, all the fingers and fists!
All the band members are getting a chance to shine for us, which is great as my attention is all over the shop. Even some punters are noticing as the lead singer is exiting the stage to mix it up among the crowd.
He is pulling people into the mosh, head-banging and singing with them. He then climbs on to a dry bar table to sing to fans. Oh! He is leaping of it – lucky he is a fit motherf...er or that could have ended poorly!
The hype girls are keeping the party lit onstage – choreographed dancing continues as they are wielding laser beam gloves, LED wings, laser water guns, balls and blow-up pool toys! What else? So much fun!
Kaosis - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Their energy is never ending and is only surpassed by Xen who jumps, stalks and flings himself about like a kid on his first red cordial high. 'Zombie' and 'Who's Your Daddy' are met with a loud fan chorus.
Even Kaosis newbs like me join in the easy bits and a special treat met with roars from the punters when Colsefni came on up repping a PistonFist shirt, setting the stage on fire with Kaosis for a song a fan tells me is 'Breaking The Falling'.
As sporadic lights and lasers cut through the smoke the stage is being abandoned and we are left with heaving chests and invisible fishhooks tugging at the sides of our cheeks. What a masterful bash that turned out to be – you can't really call it a 'set'; I feel like I just came out the other side of an industrial heavy metal dark rave that set my heart on fire.
The warning at the beginning of the set is applicable! It was monster partee, peoples! Their darkly obscure mix of fierce metal and electronica combined with fascinating choreographed stage performers – a scrumptious layered cake made from alternating delicious ingredients of sound, sight and energy.
The band gives it up with a ritualistic intensity of sonic chaos and organised visual teasing that manipulates the senses. It is this uniqueness that unites fans in a head-banging and shouting camaraderie.
Anders Colsefni - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Colsefni, one of the pioneers to catapult metal to unchartered musical soundscapes that gave the genre a refreshing reset at a time when we were all craving something we'd not yet tasted. For me, Mushroomhead and Slipknot gave it up and were on high rotation on my five-disc carousel. Vintage.
As the original vocalist for Slipknot and their first demo EP – that just happened to be distributed on Halloween in 1996 – how perfect for a masked band? That demo, 'Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat' is about to performed live by Colsefni – for the first and likely only time here in Brisbane!
Colsefni will be helping the band out by throwing in some percussive elements along with his vocal prowess as a small drum rig, complete with dangling animal furs, is being set up just left of centre stage.
'Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat' is representative of the cycle of life and part of that is seeing younger punters mixing it up on the floor with the boomers and gen-Xers. Straight up behind the drums, fist raise high is Colsefni in black leather bonds and black kilt and rabbit pelt. Pounding out a tribal rhythm as fans are losing their sh/t before him!
With a powerful voice that has a distinctive raw and gravelly texture, Colsefni effortlessly shifts between cavernous tones and penetrating high notes, as he has us embracing the intensity of emotion of each song from the EP.
We've come through 'Slipknot' to 'Only One' and I can vouch that he has not lost one ounce of depth and versatility to his voice as he demonstrates how these songs would have sounded live all those years ago – bloody brilliant.
Colsefni does indeed join in the drumming, unleashing a primal energy in the room and sparks the memory of the first time I listened to Slipknot and had my face melted. When Colsefni stated he'd been training every day and felt fit and strong enough to tear Australasia apart, he was not exaggerating!
Anders Colsefni - image © Clea-marie Thorne
With ultra heavy strings and drums (The Feeders) behind his brutal vocals are also assaulting us in the most welcoming way. 'Confessions' get a big cheer from the crowd and the complexity of the song revered among fans in the room.
Leaving no room for respite, Colsefni didn't let up, only stopping for some dialogue here and there. 'Killers Are Quiet' or so the song goes – thanks to the ancient ones that Colsefni is not. What a voice, what a frontman. What a bloody legend for bringing this to Australia. I feel honoured to have witnessed it all.
Another drink right now is not a want, it is a must! As I am served at the bar, I see Colsefni talking to fans buying merch and allowing them to take endless photos with him. So friendly and accommodating.
Around nine years ago, I witnessed the glorious vocals of Waylon Reavis at Sydney's 2014 instalment of Soundwave as frontman for Mushroomhead. The band promised to come back soon, but to date, they never have. A Killer's Confession has also been on my live wish list and I am a wee bit excited that I'll be indulging in a little bit of both tonight.
Band members dressed in black with black masks carrying their axes assume their positions flanking centre stage. A third band member also in black has snuck onstage and is perched behind the drum kit wearing a white horror mask.
Waylon Reavis - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Tonight, Waylon is in white. The words 'Save A Kid Kill A Paedophile' written on the back, the same as the AKC band-tees at the merch stand. There's a story there – take some time and read about his time working with disadvantaged children post Mushroomhead.
Reavis and the band smash and hammer the senses while lyrically bringing you to your senses about some disturbing things. Songs 'Numb' and 'Tongue' are getting A Killer's Confession fans in a frenzy.
AKC for those that haven't yet jumped on the bus, will result in elements of rap and alternative rock and other random styles, resulting in a sound that's as in-your-face as it is melodic.
Reavis is making many a happy soul by performing Mushroomhead bangers in the mix as promised. Punters are going nuts for them, in particular earlier on with '12 Hundred' and now with fans singing every single word to 'QWERTY', with extra punch in their voices yelling out "Bitch slappin', smack rappin', kick you in the bass drum boom, boom. Alpha to Zulu - I'm here to say, f... you! I had a bad day!" But I AM NOT! Ha!
Even as the Mushroomhead songs were lapped up by starving fans, many punters are quick to let Reavis know they are also there for AKC tunes. A drummer in the crowd is telling me how stoked he is to see Lee Hutt (drums) AKC drummer made it on the tour. I could not have picked that as the man on drums is of course, wearing a mask! How can he know this?
Reavis, one minute harsh and aggressive, the next melodic and harmonious. He must have a dynamic dimension portal in his throat. The way he is transporting us emotionally to a state of ecstasy through vocal textures to the point of departure of the messages or story of the lyrics he is singing. Who needs a dual vocal approach (Mushroomhead) when Reavis is on the mic?
Reavis' band are creating a rich atmosphere that captivates punters, drawing us in. I am basking in the raw power of the vocals and hell-bent instrumentation, but not oblivious to the contrasting vulnerability that creeps in from time to time that cements the sincerity of the music.
Stopping to fist pump fans, take a photo of himself for them and even join in with a selfie, Reavis takes us on a sonic journey that's intense and unrelenting and we are loving this wild ride of raw and emotional storytelling.
So much so, that when Reavis thought he might be done, fans started chanting "You are awesome! You are awesome!" over and over during his thank you speech. I swear it was not just sweat lingering there on Reavis' lashes.
Looks like we are going to get one more AKC song, as Reavis told us just minutes before there'd be no more Mushroomhead songs tonight. Oh, this is a slow solo and that voice penetrating out souls. What a glorious and lilting ending.
Waylon Reavis - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Reavis has without a doubt impressed punters with his powerful instrument of the physical kind. I mean the variety of vocal styles, being both thunderous and melodic, delivered through a dynamic range that switches effortlessly between different emotional tones, just has to knock the socks off ya. Right?
Like Colsefni, Reavis jumps off the stage, after the crowd pic was taken by Hutt, to serve his fans now from behind the merch stand. Fans queued for tees, caps, posters and Reavis signed everything and posed tirelessly as fans took more selfies with him. What a bonza bloke!
Well old-school fans got their fix tonight, along with some stiff shots of new sounds and energy that have turned us on as fans (for those that weren't already in the know), including the support bands that were top quality acts in their individual styles.
As with most bands, there was huge gratitude shown towards the tour organiser and shoutouts to Reavis and Colsefni. Fans and band members were full of admiration and praise for Reavis and Colsefni and not just for their vocal and songwriting prowess, but for being humble and respectful talent.
EVERYBODY I spoke to that met one or both had the exact same thing to say. "Salt of the earth." "Down to earth." "Very cool and humble." Well, that's an attribute sure to attract and keep a loyal following devoted for old and new music we hope is yet to come from both artists.
More photos from the show.