Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Destruction with Dark Order & Dungeon
Sydney Australia, November 2002
Review & Pics by Brat

German thrash metal legends, DESTRUCTION had to cancel shows with KREATOR in the UK as Schmier's hand was put in plaster, but he wasn't going to let that get in the way of an Australian tour in November 2002.

Following the success of EDGUY's tour earlier this year, the people at All Access and Nuclear Blast had no hesitations sending the mad butchers to the land of eager livestock and fresh meat. I had an important decision to make: to see an awesome triple bill at Club77 on William Street in Sydney - just down the road from our much visited red light district, Kings Cross, OR hold out for an event at the Gay Games which was also taking place in Sydney - NOT!

The first band on the slab was Sydney thrash heads DARK ORDER. As the night was meant to finish at 11.30 pm, DARK ORDER came on at 7.45 pm and I missed one and a half songs. They started with "Rise and Kill" followed by "What is Past is Prelude" both from 5000 Years of Violence.

The venue was less than half full and there were a lot of unfamiliar faces in the crowd. Metalheads from as far as Queensland (11-hour drive from the boarder to Sydney) came to the show and were probably watching DARK ORDER for the first time but the crowd response was far from weak.

With the imminent release of The Violence Continuum, DARK ORDER gave us a dose with "Slaves of a Nameless God", "…War has Begun". The mighty Stevo of DUNGEON filled in as drummer for this show, showcasing his skill by playing two very different, tight sets back-to-back because family matters had called Vlad away to Russia.

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In fact the whole DARK ORDER set was tight and too short, but there was enough time to include a chant of the DARK ORDER 'mating call'- name bestowed by me to their sound that I imagine (as I've never heard one) to be similar to a moose mating call. Those of you at Wacken this year would have been introduced to this sound at various stages by the Australian Wackenites (one being bassist Zoran) and on the last night when the sound traveled like a Mexican wave through the campsites at about 4 am.

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...Back to the live show…In tribute to their fathers of thrash, "Raining Blood" was delivered and accepted with much enthusiasm from the audience. By "The Terran Empire" and "Built of Blood, Not Stone" the venue was full and DARK ORDER left the stage leaving the crowd with a craving for more.

No sooner did the last note of DARK ORDER lose its resonance than a stampede ensued to one of two places-up to street level for oxygen or to the bar to replenish the body of lost hydration.

After months of being teased with the new material I was handed a copy of The Violence Continuum after their set. This was the first time the CD was being sold (as a pre-release) and in a way this show was launching it. Ah...there's nothing like the feeling of a brand new CD in your hands - the smell, the feeling, your eager fingers opening the case, pulling out the sleeve and your greedy eyes devouring the booklet and finally, putting it in your stereo and pressing play for the first time.

Next on the bill was Australia's favorite Australian power metal band DUNGEON. With less than thirty minutes between sets, Stevo started off "The Legend of the Huma" from Resurrection with no less energy than when he played with DARK ORDER bringing the introductory chord from the band to a crescendo that said: "Wake up arseholes! We're here to make you forget you can't breathe."

"Netherlife (Black Roses Die)" from the new CD A Rise to Power followed without break. The muffled sound of the first two songs was a little surprising considering DUNGEON have played Club77 many times and their music is nothing new to the sound engineer, but the problem was fixed as they launched into the new CD title track (A Rise to Power) at full sound.

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More people were arriving during the DUNGEON set and by "Insanity's Fall" the crowd had grown. Fresh faces strained to get a better look at the band belting out some songs with an awesome sound mixing traditional with power metal. Obviously winning over the new people by the time DUNGEON launched into "Lost in the Light", the crowd became more concentrated in front of the stage and there was a sea of banging heads for "Where Madness Hides".

Now it's time for me to correct a wrong with the next song in DUNGEON's set. In my EDGUY Australian tour review, I mistakenly described the DUNGEON metal anthem "I Am Death" as an ACCEPT cover instead of Fast as a Shark. I'm blaming the constant state of high I was on following the tour-that and a typo. Anyway, "I Am Death" was greeted with loyal enthusiasm from the crowd with a 100% participation in the sing-along-song. I hope they never drop it from their live set.

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Dungeon finished their set with a song that never ceases to amaze me and breaks any boundaries the band has ever set for themselves, "Traumatised" from A Rise to Power. As usual, at the end of the set, most of the crowd moved from the stage with a sense of wanting-wanting more DUNGEON.

Another mass exodus out for oxygen followed. Their desperation was evident as over one hundred people decided to move into a staircase four-people wide and twenty steps high. Rescuers at the top of the stairs were forced to pull people up into the street as a doctor pulls a newborn baby gasping for its first breath from between its mother's legs.

Not wanting to give up my corner spot where the oxygen was denser than the rest of the club, I sat and consumed copious quantities of coke (the liquid, not powder) at alarming rates. I just couldn't drink alcohol for fear of shriveling up like a dried apricot and it was useless drinking out of anything but a can because no matter how much ice you put in the drink, half of it was guaranteed to evaporate before you even managed to put your lips to it. At times the bar looked like a scene in a 1970s D-grade horror movie as people moved away from the bar with opaque steam rising from various brews: eau de metalhead, essence of a virgin, drag queen pulp.

Sydney was experiencing a freak heatwave during first week of November reaching a high and very humid 36C (almost 97F) during the day leaving the evening temperature in the high 20sC but with no change in the humidity. The high temperatures, coupled with the odours leftover from B&D Club which occupied Club77 earlier that week thanks to the Gay Games, made the DESTRUCTION show memorable.

The heat increased when the crowd came back in from the fresh air ready for DESTRUCTION. Just when I thought the club was at capacity level, even more people squeezed into the vacuum that was Club77-a total of 270 payers, plus supports, plus crew, plus guests in a venue licensed for only 150. The heat made the crowd more impatient than usual for a headlining band and the chants of "DE-STRUC-TION" grew as aggressive as a WWF wrestler looking for his lucky underwear before a 'match'.

The chanting died down and the crowd started cheering. I could only assume DESTRUCTION were on stage. There as an almighty raw of music as DESTRUCTION started "Curse the Gods". Now Schmier's no small guy, but I couldn't see him on stage and I had bucklies of seeing anyone else. The crowd went berserk-the shin-high stage allowed the crowd to push so far forward they were probably scaring the band off the stage.

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When DESTRUCTION finished "Nailed to the Cross", I decided I would brave movement and with two cameras securely in hand, made my way to the side of the stage. I was kindly allowed in front by a couple of friends, but they weren't kind enough not to cover my lens with hair every time I managed to focus on Schmier, Mike or the rare occasion I saw Marc. At times the smoke machine excreted such thick smoke on the small stage, it obscured any site of the band from side stage-they were there, we could hear them, we just couldn't see them. Other times it was only Marc who disappeared from view like a ship navigating through the thick fog of the English Channel. Not even the air conditioner that managed to reach the stage and first 3 rows of audience helped clear it.

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During (I think) Eternal Ban one of the Metal Warriors crew got on stage and looked like he was going to join Schmier in the vocals, but he was actually motioning for the crowd with his hands to move back and mouthing those same words. I couldn't see it was going to do any good, after all, what the hell can the average metalhead see while he/she is banging to a legendary live band, face obscured with metres of hair in every colour swishing and slapping from every direction. My guess is that a momentary assumption that a non-member was on the stage to stage dive would race into your mind, but then you'd realise there was no stage from which to dive.

Before they started "Machinery of Lies" Schmier greeted the crowd and said how great it was to be in Australia (of course) and they'd been wanting to play here for so long. How could he not say that? Self-preservation probably stopped him for screaming: "Well, my shoes boxes are bigger than this club. It's so fucking hot and I wish we stayed in Germany because now I'm going to be sent home in a jar." I'm sure it was going through his head-hell, it was going through mine.

During "Tormentor" the foldback monitors were being pushed so much they were disconnecting forcing members of the Metal Warriors crew and DARK ORDER to place themselves as sentries on stage for the rest of the show to keep the monitors in place. This show was really hard for the crew. It was impossible for anyone to move quickly through the crowd and around to the stage, but they did an excellent job regardless. Their professionalism was put to the test here and they passed with flying colours.

"Bullets from Hell" and "Tears of Blood" followed. The front half of the audience made the most of the view and banged their heads to the point of concussion, while the back half just nodded slightly in time with the music to either conserve energy or just because there was no room to move, or both.

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It was at this time I frustratingly gave up hope of taking any decent shots of DESTRUCTION so retired back to my corner like a good little cockroach to listen to "Reject Emotions", "Release from Agony", "Life without Sense" and "Thrash til Death".

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It was either during "Mad Butcher" or "Total Disaster" when the back half of the audience could no longer contain themselves and joined in the headbanging. Once in the motion they continued to let loose for "Invincible Force" and "Bestial Invasion".

The diehard crowd was praised by Schmier for being as hard as any huge crowd they'd played to encouraging some to crowd surf during Fuck the USA in a space of about four feet between the ceiling and the average height of the audience.

If we are all doomed to hell at least we've had good training. Even though I barely moved all night, I felt like I'd jumped into a pool fully clothed. As a person who's never heard a DESTRUCTION song, I don't know if I could enjoy listening to their CDs but I'd definitely go and see them play again! It's a shame I missed them at Wacken.

The east coast of Australia has had some great metal bands play shows in the past 12 months: EDGUY, MAYHEM, DESTRUCTION. My only comment is this: "NEXT!!!!"