The Devil went down to Sydney

Metal emerges from Manning Bar.

Photography by Calvin Embleton

Australia, a country known for its gold, iron ore, and lead, got a taste of raw New Zealand metal at Manning Bar last week. Headliner Devilskin, with support from Shepherds Reign and These Four Walls, brought their unique blend of rock and metal to full force at their first international show since the lockdowns in early 2020.

With a beer in hand, sweat in my eyes, and nowhere near enough facial hair to fit in, I entered the rattling venue that shared an atmosphere similar to a WWE cage match. The lights dim as my ears prepare for the damage they are about to endure.

These Four Walls, the opening act, ignites a trail of gunpowder that leads throughout the night towards a distant powder keg. You could see the flame crawling through the humid air as the band’s mix of original songs with rock classics pulled the eager crowd closer to the stage. Time to refill my cup.

As the merch table lady lays down to rest her old bones during sets (what evil bastard put her up to this job I ask myself?), out comes Shepherds Reign, a Polynesian powerhouse that refuses to play anything that doesn’t bash your brain against your skull. Deep heavy riffs, intense stage presence, and sign of the horns. The gunpowder is getting closer to the powder keg.

I hear Devilskin take the stage while I’m in the bathroom, where a broken hand dryer keeps rattling and rattling and rattling – there is no escape from the noise tonight. I emerge into the massive, black pit of unrestrained guitarwork that is Nail and the suffocating vocals of Jennie Skulander piercing through every eardrum in attendance. The lights pulsate with the thrashing of bassist Paul Martin and constant crashing of the drums by Nic Martin. The keg is about to explode.

But first, another stop at the bar. The speakers exacerbate my confusion and I’m reduced to a caveman pointing at his beverage of choice. Somewhere in the hollowed out section of my skull where my brain floated peacefully in thought the night prior, you can hear the distant echo of double kicks ringing out.

I return to take my place amongst the crowd. The headbanging cavalry fighting against the endless onslaught of decibels. The underworld red lights shining down on the burning band. The railing between the stage and the crowd rocking harder than the music. The gunpowder snaking between the mic stands and legs and instruments and speakers and security and bartenders reaches its end. Years of pure pent-up metal explodes into an unholy trinity: Devilskin, Shepherds Reign, and These Four Walls.

Devilskin will be touring across Australia throughout this year alongside Shepherds Reign. For more information about their tour, check out on their official website