GIG REVIEW: Minus Life, Massic, Eternal Torment, Zagtar + Open Casket, Mansfield Tavern, 09/10/2021

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane {The Colourful Writer}

Photos: Aimi Hobson {Darkmoon Studios}

*** Please always credit our photographers when sharing their work on social media – do not edit their images, and ask permission first before using their images for any other purposes. ***

Now, you’ll have to forgive me if I am a bit rusty here. It’s been a hot minute since I have reviewed a live gig! But when I heard Minus Life were unleashing their new album into the world via an album launch show at the iconic Mansfield Tavern, I just had to crawl out of my gig reviewing (kind of) forced semi-retirement (due to Covid mostly) and take this one on. So, phone in hand (to take notes) I made my way to one of my favourite live music venues to take it all in and pen it all down in this here review! Yeehaa! Let’s do this. 

So, Minus Life eh? These guys have been around for a bloody long time and for a bloody good time too! 17 years in fact. Forming in 2002, they split up in 2007 and then reformed in 2018. Playing a stellar sold out comeback show at Brisbane’s old and now defunct ‘home of the heavy’, Crowbar with a slew of quality bands on support including, The Black Swamp, Massic and Snake Mountain. What a night that was! For anyone who was there, y’all know what I am talkin’ ‘bout! That night was huge. 

Fast forward now to 2021 and after a few changes to the line up and a fresh new drive to make new music and perform in their new form, Minus Life are back with a new album, released on the first of this month. ‘Contorted Reality’ has been on the lips and in the ears of many a metal fan. Many have been raving about this new release and I have even heard people calling it the ‘local metal album release of the year’. Huge. 

But that’s Minus Life, they don’t do shit in halves. They do it in full force and they do it well and for this reason, the Mansfield Tavern hosted a steady influx of metal fans, both old and new for their album launch show. With Massic returning to support them again along with Eternal Torment, Zagtar and Open Casket. Another thing Minus Life does well is choose top shelf supports to only enhance the overall experience of their shows. Sadly due to Covid, the original support line up consisting of interstate bands (Orpheus Omega, Alarum, Dissidia and Minds?End) was canned but the bands who jumped on in their place certainly fit the bill and delivered quality performances. 

The night opened with Brisbane death/thrash metal heads, Open Casket. Fronted by a mate of mine, Josh Hyndman, who, along with the rest of the band really turned some heads and wrecked some necks last night with their performance. I am unsure of the drummer’s name but man, that guy can play! Standing with a friend of mine who is also a drummer, we were both completely mesmerized by his playing. All of the band played with all their might, the guitarist seemingly out of breath a few times from playing with so much gosh darn passion. The only thing that bummed me out about this performance is that it was over too soon. I wanted more! 

Next up was local metal/heavy rockers, Zagtar. Now, I have heard the name many times and caught snippets of their live performances at things like Shredfest and other shows in between usually running around working or something, but last night was the first time I had the opportunity to really watch this band and take their whole vibe in. Last night I was sporting one of my new favourite band shirts of one of my new favourite local grunge rock bands, Violet. As it turns out, the drummer (Jason) in Zagtar used to drum for Violet! So I was keen to see what he could do on the drums with Zagtar. I had heard he was a big fan of some heavier, metal drumming complete with some delicious double kicks and I was not left wanting, his double kicks were on fire and I thoroughly enjoyed watching/listening to him play. Frontman Paul Doig sporting his Danzig T-shirt (love it!) gave his all in his performance, I’ve been told he used to be a heavyweight boxer and now he’s showing he’s a heavyweight in the local metal music scene with his frontman skills displayed in all their glory in this performance. There was something about Paul’s vocals that gave me big Ministry vibes. The friendly banter on stage between Adz (bass) and Paul was really just, well… real and refreshing in a way, no bullshit, just some good mates making music together and loving it. That lovely energy was extended to the whole metal fam with a chant of “Bris-bane Me-tal” soaring through the rafters of the Manny Tav. Stand out track for me was Amputate To Escape

Eternal Torment have a sound so deep, so loud, so guttural that it literally shakes the floor at whatever gig I am at of theirs, no matter the venue. The Mansfield was shaken from its very depths as Eternal Torment took to the stage, as I stood watching, I literally had to hold my nose from tingling and tickling from the vibrations coming through the floor. But once I held my nose, I then felt it vibrating through my chest, there was no stopping the onslaught of sound delivered by this Gold Coast metal four piece. It was ready to engulf your very soul. 

Frontman, Neville (Nev) Pierce is known not only for his guttural growls but also for running Everblack Media, a well loved metal music platform showcasing, highlighting and supporting local metal and heavy rock as well as metal/rock from all over the world. Nev’s vocals are equally as impressive as his interviewing skills. He’s a powerful frontman and last night his performance was one of the best I have seen from him, his eyes rolling into the back of his head on several occasions as he let the music take over. The one thing that always makes me laugh (in a good way) is when Nev will announce the song they are about to play, it always goes something like this: “This one’s called… *insert epic guttural growl into the mic that is indecipherable here*,” which while sounding very metal and relevant, also makes it incredibly hard for a reviewer taking notes to make note of what song is in fact, up next. I will never know the titles of their songs in their sets, but I know I love them all. Another chuckle through their set as someone mid set decided to echo out an epic bird call sound. Highly amusing amongst the metal madness. Their set also featured a dual vocals session as ex Eternal Torment drummer Shane Smith got up to sing a track with Nev. I am a sucker for any band or track with dual vocals, so this was a highlight for me. 

The Gold Coast music scene is (in my opinion) booming right now. So many solid bands, across all genres constantly taking my breath away with what they are doing. Right on!

There was also a very special and heartwarming moment after Eternal Torment’s performance where some of the Brisbane metal and rock family arranged a special gift for Nev. His tireless work in supporting the local scene recognized through the gift of a (much needed) record player, arranged by Fiona Savino (THE AUTOMATON, Earth Piece Crystals) and helped/funded by some local scene legends, Scott (Minus Life), Geoffro (PistonFist), Byron (Sunset Junkies), Astrid (Eyethewild), Mish (Torizon). Another beautiful display of just how much the heavy music scene in Brisbane (and surrounds) like to uplift each other and support each other. It really is a beautiful thing. 

Next it was time for our resident ‘man of the mosh’ Dave Reed to have his moment to shine as his favourite Brisbane metal band was set to take to the stage. Now anyone in the Brisbane metal scene would know Dave. He is always up the front and in the mosh, having the absolute and actual best time of his life. He supports all bands, but it is well known that one of his all time faves is the mighty groove metal masters, Massic. So as Dave let out a yowl of joy and started to stomp his way around the mosh floor, Massic made their way to the stage to deliver (as always) a high quality performance including a couple of fan favourites and a whole heap of newer material from their upcoming album. They played one of my personal favourites (and I am sure a favourite of many), Devolve. This song always makes me smile, it is just so gosh darn good. 

If you are familiar with Massic and frontman Simon Russell-White, you will know that we nearly lost him and in turn would have lost our beloved Massic, I am quite certain of that. Si is quite literally a walking miracle. His story? You can listen to it HERE via my podcast Music for the Mind. Needless to say, every time I get to see Massic perform live is a true blessing and it makes me smile from ear to ear seeing Si on stage with the rest of the amazing band doing what they do best, absolutely slaying at their calling in life. The entire band are just brilliant and I honestly don’t think there is another bass player in Brisbane that has a trademark bass player stance quite like Rashid. He really becomes one with his bass guitar, it’s like an extension of himself, always a pleasure to watch. Si momentarily stopped the metal tunes to sing a beautiful Happy Birthday to Rashid who recently turned 40. Gosh darn it, this night was just full of heartwarming moments. Got quite a few little tears in my eyes throughout the night. 

Simon also said at one point “How good is it to celebrate our basic freedoms hey!? We’re standing! Let’s celebrate every fucking minute of it hey?” I absolutely agree Si, we were all incredibly fortunate to be able to stand as restrictions were lifted just in time to not have to mosh from our seats for this one. And, hey, seriously, I actually had to do my makeup on my ENTIRE face and not just around my eyes and forehead, because we also didn’t have to wear our masks the entire time. Masks on entry and when we could not safely social distance, but the rest of the time we were free to bare our faces, our whole faces guys! What a trip. 

Finally the time had come. Minus Life were set to take to the stage. A somewhat surprising and confusing introduction song as How Much Is That Doggy in The Window played over the loudspeakers. I mean, I loved this song as a little girl, but where was this going? Oh! Of course! Frontman Scott Moss parades out onto the stage wearing a white and red striped suit jacket and tie and holding a fluffy white dog toy. Amazing and I mean, sure, why not? Once the jacket was removed and Scott revealed his true metal, all black clothing wearing self, the party really began. Scott’s vocals last night, faultless. He and the rest of the band were very clearly in their element, enjoying every moment of being back up there on stage and playing to a slew of friends, family, fans and live music lovers. Opening with their title track Contorted Reality, welcoming punters to envelop the new album in a live format. 

Scott interacted with his crowd like he knew each and every person in the room, which, granted ,he did know a lot of us, but there was some he didn’t and he made everyone feel like they were an important part of the whole event. So if the bands tight performance of a brilliant new album wasn’t enough to reel you in, the interaction was. Playing a track called Negative Thought Process, Scott explained it was about his own personal mental struggle and encouraged everyone to reach out and seek help when you need it, even offering for anyone to send him a message if they needed him. Could this guy get any nicer and more awesome? What a legend. He then went on to mention this track has a “really cool moshing section at the end, so get up, have fun and just do whatever you want too!” And boy was he right about the mosh ready section at the end of this track, the crowd went off and enjoyed every moment. The punters were lapping it all up, occasional banshee-like yells from our dear Fi could be heard over the top of the performance, making me smile every time I heard her. The echoing vocals from Scott mixed with the strobe-like lighting and overall atmosphere created one very special experience for all, these guys really know how to put on a show.

Before performing The Hypnotist, Scott explained: “This is a funny song this one, Travis and I didn’t want it on the album, but these two (*points at his other two band mates*) fought for it and now it is one of my favourite songs on the album!” Mine too guys, I really dig this track. Though for me, track 5, Death’s Architect is most definitely a stand out.

With Scott‘s suave dance moves, Travis‘ impressive rack and just the gosh darn tightness of this band, I was left completely impressed and remembering why Minus Life have succeeded not only many moons ago when they first began, but now upon their return. They are without a doubt, one of the most monumental metal bands in Brisbane. Huzzah to you Minus Life! Thank you for one hell of a night! Until we meet again kind sirs, big love to you.

‘Contorted Reality’ is available via Minus Life‘s Bandcamp page HERE

Follow Minus Life:

Leave a Reply