The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world



5th march 2012













31,000 rock, punk and metalheads descended upon Claremont Showgrounds to find that the only thing hotter than the 38 degree scorcher of a day was the international 
lineup featuring the cream of the world’s loudest bands spread across no less than 7 stages.

We filed past the main stage where HYDRA DA HERO jumped around energetically, but a muddy mix did no favours to their sub-Rage Against The Machine hollering.

Californian shredders HOLY GRAIL warmed up a healthy crowd with their old school black leather and studs metal approach, wrapping up with a fiery ‘Fight To Kill’.

CHIMAIRA deliver an early metal onslaught to a large and vocal crowd, whilst THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER scream too much to attract any interest outside of their established fanbase.

The best thing about a festival such as SOUNDWAVE, featuring over 90 bands, is being turned on to new bands, and Swedish hard rockers ROYAL REPUBLIC really impressed with a tight set of 
memorable and entertaining rockers taken from their 2010 debut album “We Are The Royal”.  ‘Tommy Gun’ and ‘Underwear’ are great and immediate rockers in the Danko Jones vein, and we will 
undoubtedly be hearing a lot more from this great new Scandinavian export.


Cherri Bomb



L.A. based teen rockers CHERRI BOMB were another unknown quantity going into the day, and their sugary and colourful pop rock had many new admirers bouncing along to catchy tunes such 
as ‘Paperdoll’, proving that they may just be the most likely candidates to wear the title of a Runaways for the 2010’s.

Adorned in red and black battle paint TURISAS blast out heavy folk metal from the dark forests of Finland, sounding for all the world like The Smurfs have taken guitar lessons and learnt a batch 
of Viking drinking ditties.  It’s mental and features the heaviest violin playing of the festival, and has their brethren moshing and stomping and throwing themselves around in front of the stage.





SAVES THE DAY/PINKERTON would have been more at home on the bill of a shoe-gazing festival than on the main stage of the country’s pre-eminent metal and rock fest, and their whiny tunes 
can’t hold a candle to the band directly following their set.


Steel Panther



STEEL PANTHER are the number one drawcard of the day for many here, including us, and they did not disappoint, delivering a master-class that is equal parts rock show, metal parody and 
stand-up comedy.  Their years spent playing covers in L.A.’s clubs have honed them into a magnificently tight unit, and parody though their material may be, the songs stand up in their own 
right, as well as being just as funny as their between song repartee.  ‘Eyes Of A Panther’ started with Michael Starr’s microphone not on, but they recovered well like the professionals they are, 
delivering a mix from their two albums, including an explosive ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’, the hilarious and intentionally sexist ‘Community Property’, before closing their set with first single and 
mission statement ‘Death To All But Metal’.






HELLYEAH bring grind and groove to a large crowd, powering through a set of mighty modern metal including ‘Stampede’, driven along by Vinnie Paul’s powerhouse drumming and some of the 
heaviest riffs to be aired in the beating sunshine today.

Back over on the main stage, ALTER BRIDGE provide a blues rock change of pace from the metal madness and mayhem, singer Myles Kennedy fresh from finishing the recording of Slash’s second 
solo album.  Tight and confident, they fail to adequately engage the sweaty crowd, their songs sounding a bit bland in the furnace of the day’s heat and they never rise above the “okay” level.


Alter Bridge






If you’d have asked anyone 5 years ago if a metal festival in Australia could have grown to be one of the biggest events on the National festival calendar people might have

thought you were crazy. But in 2012 that is exactly what we have – Soundwave, a solidly metallic event is the biggest festival we now have down under and this year is

particularly strong. Not only that, like every year we can remember, virtually the entire Rockpit crew is here all with their own agendas and list of ‘must see’ bands.



As photographer for the day I have planned my running between stages (in close to 40 degree heat) to a tee: I even have the five or so bands I plan to watch in their entirety safely locked

away too. This year organisation is pretty spot on and despite an end of the day hiccough involving a very officious member of security staff that means I miss System of a Down (to be honest

I was quite pleased as I’ve never been much of a fan) it’s all beautifully worked an co-ordinated.



The day starts off with an electrifying set from Pasadena’s Holy Grail. If you love your old school metal then these guys know how to deliver, comprised of three fifths of White Wizard they

manage to not only elicit a great response from the rather sparse crowd (the perils of being first on stage and starting the moment gates open) but also some chicken sandwiches too. To be

perfectly blunt these guys were one of my absolute highlights of the day and I encourage everyone out there to check them out.



Holy Grail



Sometimes serendipity smiles and so a short hike from Holy Grail took me to catch Royal Republic who sadly for the gathered faithful (replete with Swedish flags) were beset with technical

problems which meant that they ended up playing only about half of their allotted timeslot. Thankfully for me I caught it all. I don’t know if it was the pressure of the short set or the charged up

nature of the band but songs like ‘Full Steam Space Machine’ and ‘Underwear’ rocked the gathered throng like freight trains passing through.  It was great that they managed to keep their sense

of humour too under the circumstances: ‘it hurts me even more than it hurts you’ we were told as they eventually started only to be told later with a smile that ‘we could play our whole album

in a minute and a half’. It helps that ‘Tommy Gun’ that ends the set is one of the best songs I hear all day. 




Royal Republic




On the sister stage to Royal republic Cherri Bomb are up next – they look like kids, play like kids and from my point of view are all hype. Like the Runaways?  It’d too early in the day and far

too hot and bright for anyone to make the mistake of mentioning them in the same breath.




Steel Panther




Steel Panther is the first band I get to see on the main stage and after seeing them in the Panther’s natural Sunset Strip habitat previously it’s nice to see how they translate to the large

Festival stage.  They do very well indeed, drawing a crowd to the main stage well before the bigger acts and it’s not just a mixture of the fanatics and the curious they seem to have a real

presence. Musically they do what they do very well and as far as entertainment goes, their well-rehearsed routines and set pieces are executed with the precision of a team of naked female

formation skydivers (I just thought that might be something they would say)... Long live the Panther!




Steel Panther




Hellyeah! is the band that entices me from Steel Panther glam metal to the grittier variety on offer on what are dubbed the metal stages. It’s worth the trip as Hellyeah! Pull off one of the

best received sets of the day in front of what is already a bubbling mess of mosh-pit bodies that will be on full boil later tonight.  Everyone camped out at the metal stages deserves a medal

for endurance at the end of the day for braving both the physical and auditory onslaught.




A few seconds of critically-acclaimed Fireworks is enough (not sure what they have been acclaimed for but it can’t be that rather tepid opening song) before it’s back to the main for Alter

Bridge who don’t so much boil in the heat as gently simmer. There’s a large enough crowd there to see Myles get to play his guitar and the Creed boys rock out: but they remain largely

subdued throughout what is a nicely balance set that somehow fails to grab the audience’s attention fully.




Alter Bridge




Motionless in White is worth a look just around the corner and the kids seem to be enjoying the onslaught by the painted ones. The horror-themed Pennsylvanian shockers seem to have the

growing crowd made up of equal parts emo/Goth/horror contingent right where they want them. I think a few have just wandered over to see Wednesday 13 (who is on next) but have ended

up being drawn in to one of the best reactions on Stage 7 all day.




Motionless in White




Wednesday 13



Wednesday 13 in fact is one of my highlights of the day, and as I’ve never really given his music much of a listen before, it’s a very pleasant surprise. As the only photographer in the pit I get

more than my usual share from the guys wandering over and hamming it up a bit. The show itself is pretty cool. More cartoon horror than Motionless in White but far more entertaining. Some

killer songs too and a  band that looks like they are enjoying every second, despite all that black in the searing middle-of-the-day heat, make it memorable.




Wednesday 13




I make a side trip I wish I hadn’t to see the rather formulaic You Me At Six, a band that has the youngest looking crowd of the day. Their music just passes me by... I hear that two of them

have their own clothing lines too... yawn




You Me At Six




Bush is the band that I never expected to be surprise of the day but they were, revamped and far more ‘real rock’ than they were back in the day. They deliver a set that both proves that

their back catalogue has its fair share of bankers but also reaffirms that this new sound and even look they have managed to capture is one that will have people sitting up and taking notice

again. Loved the arrangement of ‘Glycerine’ too. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for anything new.  Hats off to Mr Rossdale and co.







With plenty more water and a quick bite to eat it’s a very old and comfortable looking Bad Religion that takes the main stage next. Now you could write down what I know about them on the

back of a beer-mat and still have room for a shopping list and a letter home. I’m really not sure what to think of them to be honest, but it’s a pretty tame time down in the pit. The crowd is

certainly impressed though...




Bad Religion



Lamb of God re-ignite the metal stage with what must be the day’s record number of crowd surfers. In fact during their set I get to see four people I know come over the barrier. You have to

marvel at the pit crew though who were plucking people out of mid air every few seconds only managing to miss one (cue large cut to the head and a bit of a sit down before bounding out back

into the mosh) when sheer numbers outnumbered them.   For a band with two of the gentlest looking musicians in their ranks Lamb of God put out a helluva racket and whilst it may not be my

cup of tea, you have to admire the way they go about whipping up the steaming throng, directing a Perth vs. rest of the country plastic bottle fight and generally orchestrating havoc.  And

whilst I can help bang the head a little along to ‘Redneck’ its the crowd that is just as entertaining as the band! Great work metal-stage dudes!




Lamb of God (with Vinnie Paul watching)



Lamb of God




Kittie last night at the Amp Sidewave Show was awesome and today they back it up with a great set at the Festival proper. Ivy their bass player is also taking her last bow with the band

today so it was great to see here farewell an appreciative crowd. If you like your metal hard, with a drop of melody cranked out by a band of ladies who prove that chicks rock just as long and

just as hard – check them out.



Black Veil Brides I will not go and see. For a new band with a very visual image to ban photographers is either very short-sighted or particularly arrogant.  All I can say is that a few of the

people who I spoke to later in the day were pretty underwhelmed, not that I can of course comment...



The Dillinger Escape Plan



I have a brief sojourn with The Dillinger Escape Plan who win the prize for the most manic performers of the day.   For a band that doesn’t stand still for a second (and the singer is off into

the crowd by the start of the first song) they manage to put on an impressive, very punk and very aggressive set.







In the end I’m glad I didn’t see the Brides as Mastodon on the metal stage are eye-openingly and jaw-droppingly amazing.  This comes from someone who hasn’t even managed to get through

an entire Mastodon song in the past let alone an album! All I can say is that sometimes the live arena is the place to see a giant extinct elephant-like beast.  With a sound that blends metal

with some sort of heavy cosmic blues I can even forgive them their quirky time signatures and wizard-like beards.








Trivium for some reason I’ve never been able to quantify has always been my favourite metal band and this is the eleventh time I have seen them and third time at Soundwave. Despite their

new haircuts everything else about the band just seems to get better with each visit and the tracks from their latest album ‘In Waves’ sound amazing live. It’s therefore a huge feat to manage

to tear myself away just before the end of the set to see Slipknot back on the main stage...









By this stage things are pretty much a blur. Slipknot put on one hell of a show visually, but I’ve never been much of a fan of the music and once I’m out of the pit you can tell that they are

suffering (like system of a Down will do later) from one of the muddiest mixes of the day down on the ground.  As I say it’s an amazing show visually though I’ve always been a little scared of

clowns... I would have course much rather have been back on the metal stage to see Zakk Wylde’s Black label Society but you can’t complain with one real clash during a day with eleven







I catch a little of New York's I Am Avalanche on the way between stages and in truth they are not too bad, a band that have the heavier, punkier edge to a sound that borrows a lot from the

pop-punk of maybe American Hi-Fi or someone similar, but well worth a listen.




I Am Avalanche




The Devin Townsend Project by anyone’s stretch of the imagination is either a wonkily created geek-friendly muso joke to anchor some really innovative music, or a pile of steaming something

or other. Not many were sat on the fence on this one – you either loved it or you hated it. The crowd assembled (some of whom had seen Devin sing with Gojira earlier in the day, something

I’d accidentally witnessed whilst waiting on Hellyeah!). I’m one of the few on the fence who can appreciate the music but not necessarily the ‘humour’...




Devin Townsend Project




Barred from crossing from stage 2 to stage 1 for System of a Down (despite two female photographers being allowed by the same guy to do exactly that about twenty seconds before) I give

up on trying to fight my way round the by now enormous crowd gathered in the main arena for today’s headliners. No I’m possibly not the best person to ask about System of a Down, who

musically I find very hard to swallow and as far as the world of rock vocalists go here on the same stage you probably have two of the most annoying. I’ll let someone else comment, needless

to say it was with a great sense of relief that we made off to try to catch the Angels and Airwaves set.




Angels and Airwaves




Angels and Airwaves had a fairly decent crowd back on stage three and more than their fair share of photographers by volume. Sadly they are also one of those bands whose light show

proper starts at song four right after we’ve handed in our vests and got ready to farewell another overwhelmingly great but exhausting day at Soundwave.  Angles are preaching to the

converted here though, and there’s not a single person in the crowd who would be anywhere else and for whom you feel this is the real highlight of the day. They are tight I’ll say that, and

not at all bad, though they just lack that bit of danger for me.




Angels and Airwaves



Sisters of Mercy just about shade it for me again. As last band on stage tonight they are no stranger to festivals but this is their first time down under and for that I for one will be eternally

grateful to the festival organisers for.  The Sisters are the fathers of Goth and you wonder where Mason, Wednesday 13 and newer bands like motionless in White would be without them.



Sisters of Mercy



Long live Soundwave, it’s getting better, bigger and stronger  with every passing year.







And now for our final view of this year's festival.... there's a distinctly metal taste to this one...



Soundwave 2012 – Metal Billy Roundup




Not being one for queues, I sauntered into the Showgrounds just in time to enjoy those potty mouthed STEEL PANTHER lads exhorting the female members of the audience to show off their assets. This would be my only main stage act of the day as I then ventured into the Metal Zone of Stages 4A & B as HELLYEAH were belting out their southern tinged metal albeit with a strong cross breeze that distorted the sound somewhat, although Vinnie Paul’s trademark drum sound was ever present.
The “Metal Stage” layout was far superior to 2011 with plenty of space and good viewing from the bar area and minimal lines for cold brews however the oppressive heat made shade a premium.


I joined the Clan of the Shademen  as SHADOWS FALL delivered a solid set  to the sweaty masses – highlights being Destroyer of Senses, Still I Rise and Guitar Hero fave The Light That Blinds with Brian Fair doing his best to put someone’s eye out  with his body length dreads flailing dangerously. These guys are seriously good musicians and set the standard for the acts to follow, but 30 minutes was not enough.


Residing to the bar for a few bevvies while  MESHUGGAH played a set that sounded like their name ( again heavily distorted by the breeze ) they received a warm reception from the initiated of which I am not one.


Des Favara’s reformed COAL CHAMBER followed with an uninspiring set of nu-metal grunting but the kids who grew up on this stuff seemed to dig it, however the whiff of cash seemed to be the motivating factor behind the resurrection of this band.


IN FLAMES followed but I was too busy socialising to really digest their performance and not being that familiar with their material I can’t really say if they nailed it but it was a pleasant soundtrack to some serious beer drinking.


LAMB OF GOD then raised the bar 5 notches with their late-afternoon slot. Opening up with Desolation and Ghost Walking from new album Resolution, Randy Blythe spat out the words with venom and the pit responded. These guys get better every time and have a set list that demands attention. Older songs such as Now You’ve Got Something to Die For, Ruin and Laid To Rest sit nicely beside punk thrashers Redneck and Contractor and the excellent new material from Resolution. Their sound is tighter than a supermodel’s jeans and was the loudest by far as the wind died down and allowed the swelling crowd to fully appreciate how good this band  are. Rounding off with the unintelligible Black Label they deserved more time.


After the ferocity of LOG, next up was MASTODON who march to their own beat and were a refreshing change of pace as they played a set heavily laden with material from latest release The Hunter including Dry Bone Valley, Black Tongue and the extremely catchy Curl of the Burl. Precise guitar work and surprisingly good vocal performances by Bill Kelleher and Troy Sanders ( not their strong point ) were underpinned by the amazing drumming of Bran Dailor. Their hypnotic psychedelic meanderings enthralled those who have followed the band over the years and interspersed with tracks off Blood Mountain ( Crystal Skull , Circle of Cysquatch ) , the prog- tinged Crack The Skye and then the excellent Blood and Thunder won the crowd over and the haunting Creature Lives rounded off the hour long set nicely. Hopefully Perth can experience a full length headlining show from one of the most intelligent and original bands to emerge in the last decade or so.


As twilight beckoned (no not a shitty Vampire novel ) familiar Perth visitors TRIVIUM treated us to new tracks from In Waves but the ‘noise police’ had been lurking and the first few tunes were just not loud enough!  In Waves and Pull Harder .. just didn’t have the punch of previous acts but this was soon rectified as the sound was cranked up and they played Black, Like Light to Flies as well as Forsake Not The Dream and Caustic Are The Ties That Bind . Matt Heafy commanded the stage as usual and the double hit of Down From The Sky and Throes of Perdition off Shogun rounded out a typically enjoyable set. They announced that they will return for a head lining tour later this year so pencil that one in kids.


While some other dudes wearing masks played silly buggers on the main stage, ZAKK WYLDE’S BLACK LABEL SOCIETY fronted a wall of Marshall stacks and the man mountain let it rip with Crazy Horse and the guitar Legend proceeded to wring a million notes and squeals  from his Bullseye axe with Bleed For Me, Overlord and Parade of the Dead leading into a 15 minute plus mega solo that never seemed to end, but it did and finishing off with Godspeed Hellbound and Stillborn put an old school slant on proceedings.


Some much needed refreshments were ingested as UNEARTH & WATAIN filled in the next hour (why 30 min slots this late in the day ?? )  - Watain winning the Alinta Gas prize for consumption of natural resources with a plethora of flaming candelabras however Metal Billy was in preparation for the Metal Stage head liners so not much to report from these two outfits.


As the choral intro to I Am Hell commenced, the now heaving Metal Stage throng lost their collective shit as the mighty MACHINE FUCKING HEAD launched head first into a blistering 60 minutes of awesomeness as Be Still and Know and Imperium grabbed the crowd by the balls (or nipples) . Robb Flynn preached to the converted as MH nailed every song note perfect .Beautiful Mourning and Aesthetics of Hate were masterpieces with new song Locust sandwiched in between. Phil Demmel shredded as if his life depended upon it, while Adam Duce and Dave McClain provided the chrome plated pounding rhythm section to support the riffage of Flynn and Demmel. The sound was near perfect without any bleed from the main stage as they completed their set with the spine tingling Halo and the crowd shouted out ‘let freedom ring with a shotgun blast ‘ for the closer Davidian. The hour had flown by in mere minutes as Machine Head proved to all and sundry that they are truly one of the best going round. They won the day closely followed by LOG and Mastodon.


The main stages may have had the ‘names’ trading on past glory to the majority of the punters, but for my money the Metal Stage was a mini-festival in itself and worth the price of admission alone. Factor in good company, cold brews, herbal relaxation, short queues and easy access to the ablution areas and Soundwave 2012 was up there with the best of them.





by Metal Billy, Shane Pinnegar, Mark Diggins and the Rockpit Team | Images by Mark Diggins