Review: Jack Price
Photography: JD Garrahy 

If you’re a fan of horror, thrillers, slashers, and generally anything dark and haunting, you should have already checked out Witchgrinder‘s Nothing Stays Buried that released late March this year. The boys are on the road to showcase their new tracks live, and Queensland got treated to two shows this week – Stranded in Brisbane yesterday, and the Gold Coast‘s Mo’s Desert Clubhouse tonight, giving access to some of the youngest punters and next generation of metalheads with an All Ages show.

Supporting the Melbourne based, horror-inspired dark metal outfit is Gold Coast‘s very own melodic tech death metal behemoths Snake Mountain and the metal genre infusion Kaosphere, as well as Brisbane metalcore newcomers Aeon Nexus, who are first to hit the stage to get the afternoon kicked off.
Opening with Twin Hurricanes, frontwoman Sam Wolstenholme shows her vocal prowess in flowing from operatic soaring vocals to howling roars and growls, while backed by her bandmates in their performance. It’s hard to believe that this is only the group’s second live performance, but their experience from previous projects and practice of their new material shows.
Their stage presence is captivating, while their set list is catchy and heavy. Set to release their first single in the coming weeks, it seems the Brissy band have enough material to release an EP in the remainder of the year, as their 5 song set is surely enough to win over more than a few fans tonight.
After a quick soundcheck and swap over, the first of the Gold Coast bands takes to the stage. Kaosphere are brutal, with their punchy sound, aggressive vocals from frontman Ricci Dyer and a mashing of metal subgenres and inspirations.
As a band I had not heard before tonight’s gig, Kaosphere felt fresh but familiar with nods towards Pantera and Gojira, but less noticeable were the Nu Metal influences like Ill Nino and Limp BizkitDyer‘s vocals range from aggression driven growls and screams to emotionally charged clean vocals. The Kaosphere boys put on a great show, full of energy and a tight set that kept the vibe rising for the next set.
No strangers to the venue, Gold Coast‘s Snake Mountain is set to deliver a face melting set for this evening. As the sun had now set and darkness had taken over, the boys took to the stage with their setlist of tracks inspired by pop culture from a time when all things were awesome (the 80’s and 90’s, of course). As is tradition, the Snake Mountain boys all face away from the crowd as the intro to their opening track echoes from the PA.

Bursting into action with Extinction Through Fire, the band, who have been touring hard and honing their craft into the polished state it is presented in, are in amazing form despite back to back shows for the Queensland leg of Witchgrinder‘s tour.

Their charismatic frontman Nev Pearce becomes a monster of madness as soon as the band kicks off, delivering beast-like vocals and demanding the attention of the audience as he contorts and expresses the haunting tales entwined in the bands songs through his performance, both physically and vocally. Guitarists Jackson Price and Jaymes Jackson have complete synergy from either side of the stage, with Jaymes‘s shredding solos trilling through the night air. 
Jaymes and bassist Jared Day lend to the vocal performance, providing meaty growls and howling screams as backing vocals. Drummer Kristian Rousell is an absolute wild man, never missing a beat while delivering a visually spectacular display of skill and energy.

Midway through the set, Pearce invited the Aeon Nexus frontwoman, Sam Wolstenholme back to the stage to help them perform Fall Of Eternia, with her vocals a stunning contrast to those of the Snake Mountain frontman’s. The collaboration  made for an enjoyable rendition of their track and seemed to be a hit with the crowd.
Pearce descended on the crowd during The Revenant, moving to the centre of the mosh pit to terrorise as the band performed. The guitarists bunch on stage as the frontman howled and growl his words at the crowd now fully at his command. Ending their set with their latest single, Everliving, the quavering undertone of the track subtle beneath the raging guitars and hammering drums of Snake Mountain‘s powerful performance.
With the crowd well and truly wound up, the main event was on the horizon. A crash of chords erupted as Witchgrinder took to the stage, jumping straight into Dead By Dawn, fresh off the new record. The quartet sounded amazingly tight and practiced, the fast paced chugs from guitarist Scottie Pacino and frontman Travis Everett show the hours of practice by the band, thrashy drumming from James Shelvo drive the tunes along, while the synchronised vocals of Everett and bassist Jake Parr in the chorus sounded studio perfect.
Stepping back from the new material, the Witchgrinder lads take us back to their 2015 album, Haunted, for The Butcher and Bloodlust, both tracks showing the bands progression and growth into the whatwe now witness as a well polished performing machine. Though the tracks are older than some of tonight’s attendees, they feel fresh as the boys rage on stage. Creeping their way through their catalogue, next up is the 2017 single They Walk Among Us, with its infectious riffs and Everett‘s raspy whispered vocals.

Finally, brought back to 2024, as the distorted guitar intro of Witchgrinder‘s most recent single, Queen Of Sin, erupted from the house PA system. The opening samples entwining with the chugs of the intro, before Travis‘s raspy vocals slithered into the crowds earholes, promises of an evil and dark temptress taking the audience’s minds on a sinful trip. At some point during the performance, guitarist Scottie had descended from the stage to join and mingle with the crowd as he thrashed and headbanged to his own band, encouraging the crowd to join him.
Following Cult Of Voodoo from their first album, 2013’s The Demon Calling, which offered a heavier vocal performance from Everett, again showing the experience the band has picked up over the last 11 years since the album’s release, the Witchgrinder boys offered up a cover of Metallica‘s Through The Never, a nod and homage to their metal roots and clear source of musical inspiration.

The Demon Calling was the final track for the set, bringing the show full circle with the track being one of the heaviest of their set. The entire band gave their all to go out with a bang. Despite being their early work, the rendition of the 2013 title track from their debut album felt fresh and a perfect ending to the headliners set.

Seeing Witchgrinder showcase samples of their entire repertoire was an absolute blast as these lads keep getting better and better as they expand their arsenal of material. Their choice of setting and bands to share the stage with them was perfect, really setting the tone of their new record. As the boys head down to Van Demons… Sorry, Van Diemen’s Land for their final show, the Hobart crowd should be lucky to have a night half as fun.

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