Radical Rituals Return To Revitalise - blog post image

Radical Rituals Return To Revitalise

On the evening of Saturday the 5th of September, the metal gods must have been smiling on Katoomba, as Rituals Vol. 3 - Rock For Refugees turned out to be another massive success. As head organiser Max Steel helped bring a night of stunning progressive metal together, local headliners RED BEE drew solid support from the area’s subcultural society with Sydney’s Hemina and Halcyon Reign playing mighty sets and local duo Quoll delivering a very memorable performance. According to MC Willem Hendriksen from popular Radio Blue Mountains program Retro Rehash, the large influx of people through the doors of the Baroque Room generated earnings of nearly $2000 for the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. We also heard optimistic words from the group’s female spokesperson, who summarised that the impressive attendance showed that all crowd members were passionate about building a fairer and more equal Australia.

The weighty, oceanic and Mastodon-influenced Halcyon Reign opened the night to promote their recent recording effort, The Voyage, whose copies were being sold on a nearby merchandise table with little paper pop-up ships built inside the CD sleeve. When the smoke had cleared and we were allowed time to wet our collective whistles, Quoll, featuring Mt Victoria’s Ash Manning (guitar, vocals, programming; formerly of 90’s group Tourettes), and Katoomba’s Isaac Beggs (drums; Basil’s Kite, ex-Feast Of Fools) utilised intimidating hooded robes, head-strapped torches, a sophisticated digital audio set-up and a laptop powering a fully-assembled series of video projections to unlock an entirely different realm of experimentalism. Promoting a staunch activist’s attitude on Indigenous rights, the evils of social media, issues of depression, and the cult of personality, bold symbolism, visual images and videos were projected on the screen behind the pair, so we couldn’t possibly ignore their socio-political messages. Just as Halcyon Reign were influenced by Mastodon, Hemina were definitely inspired by Dream Theater. The Sydney four-piece performed some moderately traditional prog-meets-power metal after the bizarre alien djent of Quoll, kicking off ‘The Only Way’ Tour on the back of their fourth long-player, Night Echoes. Allowing themselves time for some energetic lead soloing and a generous range of high vocal notes from lead singer and guitarist Douglas Skene, Hemina performed a powerful set of original pop-tinged pieces with a dizzying array of lights and smoke.

As the fourth and final band of the night, the notable punchy trio of RED BEE then took to the stage to deliver the goods. The longtime flagship band of the Blue Mountains’ metal scene, singer/guitarist Dan Silk, bassist Jim Silk and drummer Ian Dunn have been enjoying a constant rise in popularity on the back of their latest album Silent Enemy. Recently supporting a host of notable national and international acts, such as The Tea Party, Circles, The Omnific, DARKCELL, and Pop Evil, the bee three are still as humble and thankful as they’ve always been, and radiated genuine appreciation and love for their area of origin. With drummer Ian persisting through a sprained ankle and a ‘moon boot’ of a foot support, he still kept the double kick coming with rapid force as RED BEE worked the manic crowd into an absolute frenzy. Leading many triumphant sing-along moments and merry mosh pits, recent tracks like ‘Dead Inside’ and ‘Chokehold’ produced their desired effect from the crowd of the Baroque. Music designed for maximum cathartic impact.

Not one to stay resting on the laurels of another successful evening of unique indie metal, Max Steel tells us that he’s organising three more Rituals events to take place from late 2019 to late 2020. With more bands, heightened community involvement and a broader spectrum of heavy genres, this recent rise of Blue Mountains metal events is something truly special. We might even get some festivals!

Words by Corin Shearston

Photos by Peter Wright - (descending: RED BEE, Quoll, Hemina)




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