Video: Kingdom of Sorrow playing Enlightened to Extinction live at Rockstar Mayhem Festival, Auburn, Washington USA (12 July 2011).

Another year, another Soundwave Festival. Man, was this year’s festival a big line-up.

With three of the “Big 4” metal bands of all time making an appearance – Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica (no tears from me that Megadeth were not on the bill!).

There were some 90’s bands on the line-up that I really wish still didn’t exist, namely Blink 182 and Linkin Park. They annoyed me back then, they still do today! How come their luggage didn’t get lost by Virgin Airlines (just Garbage and Mindless Self Indulgence)? Damn you Richard Branson!

Anyway, I digress. Melbourne turned on some lovely sunny weather, it was a bit breezy at times which did impact the sound quite a lot, but what can you do about mother nature at an outdoor festival?

Reports estimate that 65,000 people attended the Melbourne Soundwave which was held at Flemington Racecourse, instead of the usual Royal Melbourne Showgrounds.

Flemington Racecourse as a venue was better as there was more room to move to other stages, order food and find a free toilet – so the festival experience was for the most part enjoyable.

Getting rid of the drinking tokens and associated queues was a god send. The lack of staff at the main stage drinking area during peak hours was not! I wanted to volunteer to help serve it was so atrociously slow, but you know, bands were playing on stage and stuff…

The 2013 Line-up:

Soundwave Festival Melbourne Line-up, 1 March 2013

The Bands I committed to:

Red Fang – The first band of the day, they played stoner rock worth waking up early for! Check out Red Fang @ Soundwave 2013 for more details.

Anthrax – It was awesome to see Anthrax up on the main stage in front of several thousands fans, albeit playing in the 12.30pm timeslot. At Soundwave 2010 they played a great set in front of maybe a thousand people, but it felt like a hundred degrees in the hot tin shed and after the first 3 songs my brain melted and I was non compos mentis from that point on.

This time around the crowd got to enjoy the big stage Anthrax experience. Joey Belladonna’s vocals rang out across the whole main stage arena, for a 52 year old he was bloody fantastic – what a set of lungs! Drummer Jon Dette was filling in for Charlie Benante who had some personal issues at home.

Anthrax started their set with Caught in a Mosh, and finished with some Aussie rock love with a cover of the AC/DC classic T.N.T!

Later that day Guitarist Scott Ian sent out a nice tweet saying:

3 for 3 in Melbourne. Every show here was great. Thanks so much! Melbourne is Metal!!! #fb #SW13melb

Hope he doesn’t say that to all the kids!

Stone Sour – Corey Taylor has an amazing voice. I could listen to him talk or sing all day. Unfortunately, it’s mainly when he sings in Slipknot that I can listen – maybe I just love how he intimidates a crowd?

Stone Sour had a lovely big rock sound live, but they didn’t thrill me enough to stick around for more than 3 songs. Do something crazy and I might give it another try.

Kingdom of Sorrow – I really enjoyed the metal-slash-hardcore of Kingdom of Sorrow deemed sludge metal. Featuring the vocalist from Hatebreed, Jamey Jasta, and Kirk Windstein, guitarist from Down – a very nice mix.

Jamey is a great frontman and knows how to work a crowd. He had the circle pit going nuts and smoking up all the dust from the gravel under our feet.

The metal horns were out and this reasonably sized crowd were loving it. I had made plans to check out Metallica’s recommendation This Is Hell but ran out of time being thoroughly entertained by Kingdom of Sorrow.

Tomahawk – I’ve seen Tomahawk live before a few times. The first time was pretty good, the second time was average and this third time was again uninspiring. It’s a pity as it has all the ingredients for a great rock show with Mike Patton (Fantomas, Mr Bungle, Faith No More), John Stanier (Helmet, Battles, The Mark of Cain), Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard) and Trevor Dunn (Fantomas, Mr Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3).

I’m going to blame the material as I believe in the musicians! What happened to Tomahawk after the first album?

Mike Patton was his usual self insulting a photographer and a member of the crowd. He loves that shit. They did play Flashback, Rape This Day and God Hates a Coward from Mit Gas and pretty much ignored the material off Anonymous opting instead to wallop the hell out of their new album Oddfellows. They finished with a nice nod to Bad Brains covering How Low Can a Punk Get.

Kyuss Lives! – Kyuss did us all a favour by opening with One Inch Man to announce that our stoner rock idols had arrived. They pulled out classics like Thumb and Green Machine for their set and stood in their stoic fashion.

The crowd was a tad sparser than I’d imagined it would be. They obviously didn’t get the memo that Kyuss were retiring as “Kyuss Lives!”. Their new moniker will be Vista Chino.

I would have loved to have seen Nick Oliveri (former Kyuss/QOTSA) in the band again, but apparently he is still on probation. Josh Homme (QOTSA) also was missing. He definitely ain’t coming back!

Slayer – Slayer are always fierce. This time they were down to two original members Tom Araya on vocals and Kerry King on guitar, and some ring-ins (former Slayer drummer Jon Dette; and Gary Holt from Exodus on guitar)!

Unfortunately, guitarist Jeff Hanneman was still at home recovering from a spider bite that has seriously impacted his guitar playing, and poor drummer Dave Lombardo was given the flick (again!) a week prior to Soundwave due to his legal discussions with the band over some payments (or non-payments!).

The crowd was pretty damn packed in to see a glimpse of Slayer. How can you not love these guys?

They kicked off the set with Disciple, and played their killer tracks War Ensemble, Seasons in the Abyss, Angel of Death and Raining Blood.

Slayer were great but they should have been schedule to play right before Metallica. I was insulted for them that Linkin Park got the gig.

A Perfect Circle – The sound was pretty good for APC. They can be a bit hypnotic to watch, and sometimes boring. I’ll admit I’ve lost touch with this band since the early days. I didn’t even know James Iha (former Smashing Pumpkins) was in the band!

The performed The Hollow, Weak and Powerless, a cover of John Lennon’s Imagine, and finished with The Outsider.

Not playing their hit Judith (which was their only song to hit #1 in Australia) – was like a slap in the face. I expected it was going to be avoided from early Soundwave reports, but it still sucks. Stuff you Maynard! Get a new wig with some consideration.

Cypress Hill – How could you not dance to these tunes? These rappers are the shit! They were a welcome respite from everything else on the punk and metal line-up.

I tried to leave to head over to see Cancer Bats early but then they played Insane in the Membrane! I had to respect the rap and stay for a tad longer and dance…

Cancer Bats – My personal highlight of the day, the hardcore Canadian punks rocked the house down! They play a mean cover of Sabotage from the Beastie Boys which I think comes a close second to the actual Beastie’s doing the song live! See Cancer Bats @ Soundwave 2013 for my full review.

Metallica – Wow, 2 hours and 15 minutes of old school Metallica. What more could you ask for? Perhaps more pyrotechnics, faster riffs, fireworks and what about the lasers that they had at Download a few years ago? Okay, I’m a little demanding.

Metallica opened their show with an Ennio Morricone song, The Ecstasy of Gold which accompanied scenes from the Clint Eastwood Western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. They started the night with Hit the Lights, Master of Puppets, and The Four Horsemen. The quality HD screens to the side of the stages were very much appreciated all day, but when the entire stage and two platforms lit up like a giant monitor it was fucking awesome!

Seeing James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo run up and down the platforms entertaining the crowd and jumping barrels was like the thrill you get playing Donkey Kong (okay, there were no barrels!).

They also threw in some classics like Leper Messiah, Fade to Black, Blackened and even played My Friend of Misery from the Black Album which they don’t tend to do very often.

Metallica ended their Soundwave show with Seek & Destroy and with the release of many giant black beach balls into the crowd. These balls aren’t going to the beach anytime soon!

I thought they played exceptionally well, but it felt like a show for hardcore Metallica fans. I probably enjoyed their 3 hour show at Rod Laver Arena in 2010 more so than this set, but it was still damn impressive!

The Other Bands

I also saw part of Garbage’s set over dinner (well, technically it was just drinks), and a song from The Sword, Polar Bear Club, and Killswitch Engage. Nothing much to report.

Apologies to The Chariot, I would have liked to have seen you play but you unfortunately clashed with Metallica. I’ve since caught the ‘amazing guitar chucking incident’ at the Sydney Soundwave on YouTube.

I now *realise* I should have missed the end of Metallica’s set…

Further Exploration:

Other samples you might enjoy:

Did you get to Soundwave this year? What was your experience like?

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