If you’ve read our previous event reviews you will have noticed that Witchdoctor Productions has brought out two international folk metal acts and you might wrongly assume that this is their specialty. The problem with that assumption can be summed up with two syllables: WITCHFEST, which is a predominantly death and black metal (read extreme metal) festival. Witchdoctor Productions’ latest serving shows us that they’re not just focused on a few genres of metal. I am undoubtedly talking about bringing out one of the founding fathers of metalcore, Darkest Hour.
Bassline is always an excellent choice for a venue to host international acts as it is fully kitted out with awesome sound equipment, a fantastic stage and ample space for rabid metal heads. This show was no exception and the sound at the venue was simply amazing. Drinks were a little on the expensive side, with a can of Windhoek Draft costing as much as a craft beer anywhere else. A protective barrier for photographers would have also been desirable considering the amount of slammers and stage dives, although it is understandable that there was none, since this is how Darkest Hour wanted to play the show (they wanted “to be able to smell their fans”).
Local metalcore legends, Facing The Gallows, started the night’s festivities. The adrenaline must have been pumping because of opening for one of their all time favourite bands and this showed in their performance. They sounded a LOT better than I have heard them sound for a long time. Heck, even the clean vocals were in key (for the most part). Musically, these guys are always tight and that night was no exception, as they executed breakdown after breakdown with machine level precision. Last, but not least, the on-stage energy was awesome.
Next up was The Drift, one of SA’s most well-known metal bands. The Drift has produced two excellent albums and the production on these albums is next level – easily on par with international bands with record labels funding them. I am sad to say that this does not come across in their live shows. They are tight and excellent musicians but their live shows feels as though there is something missing and it was lack-lustre performance. Not everything is negative though, as I was pleased to note a drastic improvement in the cleaning singing parts – they were actually really well done.
The main event, Darkest Hour, then proceeded to blow our minds. It was easy to see that this band turned 20 this year. Their professionalism was unmatched and they were so tight. What I really like about Darkest Hour was that they do not obey the conventions that most modern metalcore bands do. They have no need for pretty boys in skinny jeans and boy-band-esque autotuned clean singing. They do not let their style of music dictate their image and the lack of stereotype was refreshing. Every tune the band pumped out was hard hitting and energetic and the blazing solos were simply incredible. Consider me a new fan. If more metalcore bands could focus on their music (like Darkest Hour) instead of their image then the genre could be revolutionized for the better. Thanks Darkest Hour and thank you Witchdoctor Productions for another excellent show.