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Metal: Dark Mofo 2018

It’s also most certainly not a metal festival (or even a music festival), however the aesthetic goes hand in hand. Here’s a rundown of the two major metal events I attended as part of the 2018 instalment.

With little idea of what I was actually about to experience, in 2017 I attended my first DarkMofo festival. An annual celebration of the winter solstice, the event takes place in Hobart, Tasmania across two weeks. Embracing the darker sides of art, creation, performance, thought and indulgence, I left the event a changed person. I had been pulled through an alternate dimension, with my perspective on most things challenged and shifted for the better. Never before had I experienced a vibe encompassing so many angles of an entire city, and I soon knew that Goth Spring Break would become an annual occurrence for me. I can’t explain it well enough with words, and it’s something I firmly believe must be experienced to be understood. It’s also most certainly not a metal festival (or even a music festival), however the aesthetic goes hand in hand, and it does include it as part of its many facets. Here’s a rundown of the two major metal events I attended as part of the 2018 instalment.

First up was Hymns To The Dead, the Wednesday evening extreme metal showcase that kicked off the second (and always more metal) week of the festival. The night marked the return of hooded Australian oddities Spire andPortal – both delivering hypnotic, unsettling, and masterful performances. Poland’s Batushka kept the anonymous costume theme in line, filling the stage with seven live members in order to faithfully portray their Gregorian chants and keep their candles lit as part one of the most elaborate and engrossing stage setups I’ve ever witnessed. Canadian group Numenorean stood out somewhat – clearly younger and less masterful than the rest of the lineup, with a post-metal sound perhaps jolting an otherwise entirely cohesive lineup. The headliners of the evening, Canadian black/death pioneers Blasphemy, attacked the stage with a grotesque-yet-camp candor that left me feeling unsure if I was watching Bebop and Rocksteady riff out in comedic fashion, or one of the most legendary acts of the underground genuinely lay waste.

Thursday evening saw me return to The Odeon for another night of metal from a much different walk – the first of two exclusive performances from UK stoner greats Electric Wizard. There is something strong to be said for single band bills – the doors open, you walk in, socialise for an hour, find your place, and then you’re in the zone. To be entirely blunt, I entered the show more curious than hugely excited – I’m just not a huge stoner/doom fan – yet before I even knew what was happening, I was hypnotised and engrossed. Occult images of retro and psychedelic exploitation filled the projection screen behind the band, as the riffs and cymbal wash swirled into a total mind-fuck that left me purged and enthralled.