Thy Art Is Murder @ O2 Institute (31/01/2020)

Written by Alex Martin

10 Feb 2020

[The ONE DAY that CJ decides to wear light colours... (]

Thy Art Is Murder is an interesting band. With the success and popularity of their 2012 single "Reign Of Darkness", the Australian deathcore outfit seemingly became an overnight success, or at the very least achieved the attention of several new fans, myself included. Said fans have had the pleasure of seeing them transition from the anti-religious lyrics from the first and second albums to more topical lyrics concerning war, poverty, animal welfare, etc. of the third album and onwards, making them not only one of the most interesting deathcore bands but also one of the most important, in my opinion. After almost immediately falling for the band's memorable rhythm, brutal musicianship and demonic lead vocals brought about by frontman CJ McMahon, I bought a ticket to see them play their next show in my city. It was a small venue, the main room being no larger than my house in terms of length, but Thy Art still put on a nice show; CJ may have been a bit ill but it didn't stop him from being charismatic and comedic, and fans have had the honour of watching them become more and more successful, playing larger venues and supporting larger bands, even performing in some arenas, leading up to tonight, my fifth time seeing them live and my second time seeing them as a headliner. They will be playing a much larger venue, and with four support bands instead of the usual number of three or under, the night has lots of potentials to be a deathcore fan's wet dream...

After giving it an hour for the venue to fill up to an impressive level, I Am walk onto the smoke-filled stage to start their set. As starting bands go, they fail to gain a strong connection with the audience but they do get a small moshpit going and frontman Andrew Hileman is enthusiastic. He takes the opportunity to kind-of dance a little bit and, personally, I love him for it. The same can't be 100% said for the other members, sadly. Their song structure seems non-standard in comparison to other deathcore so at least they're somewhat interesting, and their show standard seems to improve song by song, slightly warming up the crowd bit by bit.

With the I Am backdrop now dropped to reveal the next band's, Rivers Of Nihil emerge onto the stage with no intro and more seemingly straightforward deathcore/death metal music. They immediately seem more confident and more experienced and Jake Dieffenbach's vocals even seem reminiscent of CJ's. I personally really liked their guitarwork and I can also see that throughout their set they have a nice level of crowd interaction and their music is equal parts impactful as it is atmospheric/intriguing.

The third band (and backdrop) to come on stage is Fit For An Autopsy, a band I saw over five years ago. From memory, they were pretty good so I was hoping they'd be just as good tonight. After their introduction, they waste no time getting dirty. By this point, however, I'd lost my original spot and was reduced to standing behind a backpack-wearer (whoever you are, I hate you) meaning I can no longer enjoy the show as much. However, from my reduced window I can see a band that people care about putting on a decent show. They don't move around often but have good stage presence and I believe since I last saw them they've added some more elements to their sound, which makes them sound a bit different and a tad more interesting. Their crowd interaction is on par with Rivers Of Nihil, if a lot better; they gain the nights first batch of crowd-surfers. It's the best it's been yet and they end their set on a high. Also, I managed to reclaim my original spot! (Or one very close to it)

The fourth band's massive logo backdrop is revealed even if it was poorly hidden from the very start, and the stage is also changed around to allow for a bigger show. The face-paint wearing Carnifex come onto the stage, summoning an army of metal horns and unprompted clapping, and waste no time in playing the evilest sounding music heard tonight so far. Similar dedication that was felt towards FFAA isn't felt at first but it does come back at time in handfuls. Their setlist even feels solid, having a decent amount of hits and newer songs and even one song off the first album, but then again as someone who's tried to get into Carnifex before and just couldn't, I may be mistaken. Going on from that though, as the show goes on I have to admit I'm starting to see why people like them; something about their songs feel kinda unique or memorable, even if I just can't vibe them. It takes only three songs, up to “Hatred And Suffering”. for the room to belong to Carnifex. From there it's a non-stop deathcore thrill-ride, one with no breaks in between, with Scott Lewis at the helm (although if the people to the right of me could stop fucking whooping I'd appreciate it). The fan interaction does lessen towards the end, but as they end their set with “Hell Chose Me”, Carnifex have done well.

Now the wait for the headliner is finally here, although the crowd seemingly has the mindset that the gig is over, collectively singing “Build Me Up Buttercup” and leaving cups everywhere on the floor. However, after twenty minutes of final stage-sorting and backdrop revealing, and putting up some LCD screens and a microphone stand with a skeleton attached to it, it is time. With all the American supports out the way, it's time for the Australian headliner Thy Art Is Murder to take the stage, which they do with “We Like To Party!” by Vengaboys as their pre-intro, no joke. Starting with “Death Squad Anthem” and “Make America Hate Again” they immediately command the room, inviting everyone to witness their spectacle. At first, the skeleton microphone stand does conceal CJ's stage presence but he later abandons it for the most part and doesn't waste any time being comedic, telling "all the old cunts" to “get the fuck” up, before leading the crowd in a massive jumpathon to “The Purest Strain Of Hate”, all the while effortlessly showing off his screams. From here, all I can really do from here is talk personally; to me, Thy Art Is Murder has a lot going for them; their musicianship and vocals are unique, they're incredibly addictive and their lyrics invite people to think more about the bad things happening in the world. Their setlist consists of songs that have extended intros to drum up anticipation, which does sadly lead to little crowd interaction (you could count the times CJ talks to the crowd on one hand) but for the most part they don't need it. Along with the riffs, and with the help of their LCD screens, they bring imagery that is related to their songs' lyrical themes and a lineup of hits spanning their last four albums. It's a nice setlist, though it took me a while to recognise certain songs and I would've personally removed some in favour of more renowned hits. Nevertheless, the whole night just amounts to what makes Thy Art so great, complete with moshing and crowd surfing; everything a Thy Art gig should have.

However, their set does have a few notable flaws. The band did come on ten minutes late, probably due to the LCD screens not working (they were fixed by the time the band started playing “Human Target”, their newest album's title track) but there's not much anyone can do about technical problems. I think the only real flaw of Thy Art's set is some inherent stuff, ranging from their five-band line-up; maybe, and not many people would admit to it, some people are just worn out after a larger than average number of bands (question mark?). As a result, Thy Art's setlist is cut short to an hour and fifteen minutes but does end with “Reign Of Darkness”, a song that has everyone screaming along. However, as people are walking out thinking the show's over, plot twist; it's not the end, and the band come on-stage for one last encore with the song that I believe to be “Chemical Christ”, which is an odd choice for a set-closer. In my personal opinion, it's one of the weaker songs off Human Target and I wasn't the only one who thought like this, as there does seem to be less enthusiasm. Even the band walk offstage without much of a goodbye. Obviously, the band put on a nice show, but if the setlist was refined and tried to “lessen their load” with fewer supports, it would be a phenomenal/five-out-of-five set. With that being said, I enjoyed seeing them and thoroughly look forward to the day they're playing arenas; if tonight was an intense deathcore exhibition, imagine such a night in an arena...


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