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




MARCH 3 2014

Three reviewers had three very different days at Soundwave 2014 when in hit Joondalup Arena this week and while they may have seen some very different bands all had days to remember. If this is the last major Festival that comes to Perth it’s a crying shame, but it’s clear that the economics and declining crowds in the West don’t add up. Maybe the bills are too big? Maybe the audience is too fragmented? Maybe, but the Hard and Heavy music lovers of Perth now seem to have been left out in the cold and look like they will be migrating East in numbers next year. We had three in the crowd for the last show: check out Andrew’s Metal review and Mark’s alternate view of the day while Paul fills in the gaps!


Testament take the Metal tent


The 2014 Soundwave festival which was headlined by Green Day has been fairly interesting to say the least leading up to the big and final day in Perth on the festival circuit. With several bands pulling out including big names like Stone Temple Pilots, Megadeth and Newsted and the announcement that Soundwave will no longer be touring to Perth, the expectations and disappointments of the final show was fairly big. With that being said, the day turned out to be quite a relaxed, fun and surprising one as I found out on my run of bands that I was able to see.

First thing's first, the last minute move to Joondalup Arena turned out to be a very good move despite the venue being smaller than the usual Claremont showgrounds. Initially being sceptical of the move, the nicest thing about the new venue was the fact that some of the stages had undercover areas for the crowds, and in general it was much shadier and cooler. In the typical Perth heat with the constant sun hammering in on your body the whole day, this was a much welcome relief and something that should have been done years ago.

That started the day off on a good note right there, and off we went. First band up on my list was Amon Amarth, Viking metal legends who always put on a good show. This show was no different and they gave the building crowd a taste of some great music. After a bit of a gap wandering around the grounds checking out some of the stages, it was time for a band which were number one on my list - Testament. The legendary bay area thrashers came to Perth to tear it up and tear it up they did! Mixing tracks off their latest effort "The Dark Roots Of Earth" with some vintage thrashers from early albums, Testament's performance was the highlight of the day. Vocalist Chuck Billy on stage with his signature mic and air guitar stance, Eric Peterson holding the fort on rhythm and guitar virtuoso Alex Skolnick mesmerizing on leads, the band were firing on all cylinders and giving the Perth crowd some true authentic thrash metal. Highlights included opener "Rise Up", old school thrasher "New Order" and crowd favourite "Into The Pit". Drummer Gene Hoglan who is always brilliant on drums was a joy to watch and it was good to see bass player Steve DiGiorgio back in the band with his fretless bass guitars. Testament was a definite highlight of the day!

With a few gaps in-between the must-see bands on my list, I took the time to wander around a bit and check out some different stuff on offer. First up was GWAR on the metal stage, an entertaining show at the very least with their hilarious stage antics including the controversial beheadings of celebrity and political figures as dummies on stage, complete with blood squirts onto the crowd! Musically it may not appeal to everyone but the show is something to see if you have not seen them before.

Moving onto smaller stage 7 in another undercover area, Norwegian black Mettalers Satyricon were bringing their frosty Scandinavian show to the festival. I will admit, this band has been on my hate list for a number of years. Their early stuff while truer to pure black metal was never my thing but upon being recently introduced to their later releases, I was surprised how good they had become which I am sure is much to the dismay of black metal purists who will disagree with that. But it was enough for me to at least check out their live act and see if there was anything to this band and sure enough, this turned out to be the surprise highlight of the day. Relying quite heavily on their later work, which I was happy to see, the groove aspect of their later stuff works so damn good in a live setting. While there are doom aspects and the odd black metal blast beats here and there, the music really has a solid foundation of groove and rhythm and the crowd lapped it up. The title track from "Now, Diabolical" was an absolute pleasure to see and looking back now, I am so glad I saw these guys live. One of the great things about festivals is the chance of discovering a great band that you may not necessarily have bothered to check out before and this was one of them.
Next on the hit list was Clutch on a nearby small stage, who while have been on my radar for years, was never a band I managed to see live. So I took the opportunity this time around and my expectations were not disappointed. A great live band with some mighty fine grooves and southern beats, a perfect band to describe the overall feeling of the day - relaxed and rockin'!

Walking over to the main stage for the first time after wards to see the legendary Alice In Chains, a band I HAD to see if at the very least for just a couple of songs. I had surprisingly never seen them live despite several opportunities over the years but this time I could not miss them. I managed to catch the first couple of tracks which just happen to be off the greatest album they ever put out - "Dirt" and I knew I lucked out with that. "Them Bones" and "Dam That River" opened the show and it sounded damn good, even with the new singer William DuVall who I thought did a fairly decent job filling in what has to be a tough role in the band considering how recognisable Layne Staley's voice was. Unfortunately I had to bail on their show after this as I had other priorities to attend to..

Next on the list was New Orleans Sludgers Down. If I had to pick the next top band in the festival line-up, this would be it. The band led by former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo who has one of the best stage presence in the metal world brought their bag of riffs to the Perth crowd and gave a set of mostly tracks from their brilliant debut album "Nola". "Ghosts of Mississippi" and "Witchtripper" made an appearance in the set but this was a Nola fest from the start. I could name them all but "Lifer" and "Stone the Crow" were the highlights and guitarist Pepper Keenan who is a fantastic guitar player, his riffs so addicting that the crowd could do nothing but mosh and go crazy for the whole show. Love this band!

Into the evening now and it was time to move to an adjacent stage and check out Rob Zombie and his industrial metal dance show. Last time I saw him was at the Soundwave festival in 2011 and comparing the two performances, the 2011 show was better in every way. From the band themselves, the sound and the crowd, I won't say it was disappointing as it was still a great show but those aspects really made all the difference in making their previous appearance the better one. You win some, you lose some but it's hard to knock this show though, it's still Rob Zombie and the amazing songs like "Dragula", "More Human Than Human" and "Thunderkiss 65" as well as the surprise inclusion of Diamond Head's classic "Am I Evil?", the song made famous by Metallica with their cover version. Judging by the crowd, it either took them by surprise immensely or they had no idea what the song was but it was entertaining and fun to watch!
Final band for the night was Mastodon who I have seen several times before including previous appearances at Soundwave. Always a solid performance from these guys as they put on a blistering set of crowd favourites which never disappoint.


Overall it was a solid day, very relaxed with a few cool surprises along the way and some great highlights from some fantastic bands. Unfortunately this was the very last Soundwave in Perth, made even more unfortunate considering it began as a Perth festival many years ago. It is sad to see it not come back but next year will simply mean a road trip to the east coast of Australia to continue the voyage of seeing many great bands in a festival setting. Until then, this is goodbye to Perth.


by Andrew Schizodeluxe


It takes a lot of time and money to put on a Festival and a lot and time an effort to build a successful brand. Over the last eleven years there is no doubt that Soundwave has done both, but after a remarkable 10th anniversary in 2013 this year ticket sales were down. The result of those poor sales? Well Perth and Western Australian Hard and Heavy music lovers get cut free, and not just by Soundwave, but also by the Big Day Out too. It’s sad to think that now the Future Music Festival is the only real National Festival and that means nothing for lovers of our kind of music.

One thing is for sure Heavy music lovers haven’t just disappeared and last year’s sold out show is clear enough evidence of that. This year once again the Metal stages were rammed packed while the main stages drew varying numbers of punters. Was Green Day a big enough band headline the entire day and add thousands to the crowd? Were the high profile pull outs of band like Stone Temple Pilots and Megadeth damaging? Were there just too many stages? I’ll leave you with those questions. What we do know is that next year there will still be a Soundwave Festival and it will not venture West leaving Australia’s most isolated capital city even more cut off.

The day started for all three of us ‘Rockpitters’ at the Metal stage for Amon Amarth – now any band that can open up a festival with a Viking ship on stage and proclaim ‘we’re here to give you a wake-up call’ (when other bands had complained about early time slots) deserves a packed house, and despite the early start it was clear that was what many of us were thinking. The fact that these Viking warriors put on such an exciting set at such an early hour was the icing on the cake and the best possible start to the day.

Walking back to the main stages it never fails to bemuse me that at Australian Festivals drinkers are caged away like cattle in sectioned off areas away from the rest of the Festival goers like to unleash them into the general crowd would lead to a riot. In practically every other country in the world drinkers and non-drinkers can happily mingle without mayhem but somehow our nanny state deems drinkers to be irresponsible louts incapable of behaving themselves. As a result we didn’t have a drink all day, far too afraid to enter a cage we might never be let out of (oh, and we were driving).

Things were a little more subdued on Stage Five with Manchester’s Heaven’s Basement playing to a sparse crowd, and neither the band nor the crowd looked particularly excited to be there. A few curious wandered to and from the stage during the set but only a few core faithful stayed, and even I wandered off to watch some Biffy Clyro on the main stage. Heaven’s Basement looked a little out of sorts today to be honest and despite finishing strongly they looked a band far better suited to a more intimate venue.

Biffy Clyro on the other hand is a band you need to see. Opening up on the main stage may not be a position they are used to (they were second only to Metallica at the UK’s Download Festival in 2012), but they put their heart into it delivering one of the great performances of the day to an appreciative and partisan crowd (lots of tartan waving was going on behind us).

Back to the Metal tent we caught the top end of Five Finger Death Punch’s set and I was so impressed I bought a t-shirt immediately afterwards. Man this is a band you need to see – one fire from the off they are relentless and each and every member has their stagecraft down pat. Best of all though they have the songs to back it all up. If you want to treat youselves to one of the best Metal shows around then catch these guys when they are in town.

On stage two Alter Bridge is in rare form. This is a band that seems to get better every time I see them, and strangely Myles Kennedy also seemingly gets more photogenic! It’s the third time I’ve photographed the band and the firth time I’ve seen them live and today they are pretty much faultless off the back of what I still think is their best album to date in ‘Fortress’.

Richie Sambora was ‘entertaining’ to the extent that I was kicking myself that I didn’t head in the opposite direction to see Testament shake the Metal stage. After a shambolic rendition of ‘Paranoid’ things found a natural flawed rhythm and the set wasn’t unenjoyable, in fact the Bon Jovi songs sounded more like the Bon Jovi of old than they have for years.

One of the best parts of any Festival is the grazing between bands: while we take in a few songs of Alkaline Trio, we wander off not that impressed and watch a few Living End songs from afar before catching AFI who simply shine, with a high-powered show. It’s here we get to see the best crowd walk of the day with Davey Havok striding into the crowd – is feet supported by fans.  

Placebo back on the main stage are sort of low-key impressive.

With the bands running later than expected on main stage we make the worst decision of the day staying close to shoot Black Veil Brides on the side stages and take in Trivium’s set afterwards. In truth we should have just gone straight to Trivium. BVB (who had a ‘no photo we’re special’ policy at last year’s Soundwave) just had shitty lighting instead this year and as a band seem to be going through a bit of an identity crisis. The band that once had a clear image now has a singer that looks like he wants to join the scream mainstream and the Bride’s brand of sleaze-edged melodic Metalcore is now starting to sound pretty much like the rest of the rather large chasing pack. The audience too is thinner than I imagined it would be and most of it drifts out with me in the direction of Trivium.

I’ve never known exactly what it is that draws me to Trivium, but this is my thirteen time I’ve seen the band and they never fail to deliver.   

We catch the end of Clutch’s set on the way to Alice in Chains and it’s one of those performances we wished we’d had the chance to see more of, catching only a couple of songs. Clutch really need to get back Down-under soon, they’re a band with such a muscular sound they deserve both a bigger stage and a longer set, but those that are there in the decent sized crowd clearly know what they like.

Alice in Chains is one of those bands that have undergone a wonderful rebirth with new singer William DuValle They are also a band that has managed to ‘move on’ magnificently and on stage this evening they show what a great band they are in an hour long set studded with some wonderful readings of their back-catalogue. It’s easily the best main stage set of the day.

Skindred is a band you cannot afford to miss! With Down and Korn the ‘clash of the day we miss both, transfixed and unable to take our eyes of the Welsh masters of Metal, Reggae, Punk, Hip-Hop, Dancehall, Hardcore and god knows what else.  Live Skindred is a revelation, all energy, power and a lot of humour.
Oddly it’s a Northern Irish punk band from the Seventies I’ve been waiting to hear all day. It’s been far too long since the last time I saw them in the eighties and I’m impressed by the crowd they pull, and especially by the kids that are in there. Stiff Little Fingers are simply flawless (well they would have been perfect if Jake hadn’t inexplicably forgotten the words to ‘Barbed Wire Love’!) and put on a set that is a perfect as you can get in their limited timeslot, even getting away with adding ‘When We Were Young’ from their latest album, out only last week .

I stay for the whole set. Ironically Green Day is up next and band that owes more to the SLF sound than any other band on the planet…

Three hours of Green Day with eleven cover songs in the set, really? The main stage needed an Avenged Sevenfold or Rob Zombie on there, as to be honest Green Day, good as they are seem to be both suffering from a poor sound and a lack of material. Again it’s another one of those moments when you find yourself wishing you were photographing someone else - Rob Zombie is tearing up Stage three to the biggest non-main stage crowd of the day, and he even throws in a ‘Diamond Head’ cover that most of the crowd don’t seem to recognise at all.

On the back stages two of the best acts all day are still to come. After a spirited and beer –fuelled set by The Bosshoss – a manic Country does Rock with beer  band from Mississippi who are probably the most fun band of the day, Walking Papers take to the next door stage. Most people here are probably just drawn by the fact that the band features ex-Gunner Duff McKagan and are genuinely surprised by how good the band is. Even though we loved the self-titled debut when we heard it last year as a live band they wipe the floor with their studio output. It’s one of the highpoints in a great day for us.

Avenged Sevenfold had a very limited photo policy for no apparent reason which is a shame as most of the shots I’ve seen so far from Perth are pretty ordinary and the set was pretty amazing, I have no idea if we had a pass as there was no media lounge this year. Waiting for them we caught the end of Devil You Know’s set and they tear it up pretty good, I just wish Howard Jones hadn’t spent so much of his time taking the piss out of those waiting for AX7, yeah like everyone was really going to move 20 metres to their right and lose their spaces for AX7!  

Avenged Sevenfold have pulled out of tours of Australia before and to actually get to see them is pretty heartbreaking simply because they are as good as we’d imagined they would be! Let’s hope they’re back again soon!

H.I.M. has the best start to a set of any band today – kicking off with the excellent ‘Buried Alive by Love’ and captivating the audience throughout. They may have the most dimly lit show of the festival but it’s one where you can see the true fans so completely into it they are screaming the words back at Ville, who looks in remarkably good humour throughout.

Living Colour was a band I was wavering on seeing having seen them a few years before at a show where they didn’t have the best sound and the setlist wasn’t all it could have been. Tonight they are a revelation blowing away everything that had come before. To see such talented musicians play such a short sharp set with style and groove and soul and precision is the sort of show you dream of. I was pleased to see so many of Perth's Metal musicians in attendance and I was transfixed for the remainder of the set after leaving the pit.   

If this is the last Soundwave to hit the west and it seems almost certain it will be it went out in style… The masses will be heading East next year. Adelaide anyone?


by Mark Rockpit



by Andrew Schizodeluxe, Mark Diggins, Paul Hadlington | Photos by Mark Diggins March 2014



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