Wehrmacht (Sydney, NSW)

18 January 2014 at Lewisham Hotel
Very last minute, this gig appeared in our weekend plans. Wehrmacht was supposed to play in Perth that Saturday but the gig had been cancelled. Disintegrator who had supported Wehrmacht at their regular gig in Sydney some days earlier, quickly put together a show with Head In A Jar and War Of Attrition – so Wehrmacht could play a last concert in Australia before returning to their homelands in the US. As it was only $10 for the entrance, quite a lot of the Sydney metal folks were expected – and came.

But let's not get too much ahead of the story. War Of Attrition had just finished their sound check and the guys from Head In A Jar warmed up with some lovely flowing dance moves while everybody else had a beer and a chat. Wehrmacht had not yet arrived and it was just another Saturday metal show on warm summer evening.

At some point, War Of Attrition started to play. The guys were showing remarkable stamina as they had already played another show earlier that day. For singer Chris and drummer Mickey, it was even the third show as their other band, Gutter Tactic, had been part of the same earlier gig. Showing no signs of tiredness, Chris was energy loaded as always, running around stage engaged in this crazy death metal monologue consisting of screaming and growling. His band mates on the instruments did a good job and putting on the thrash to create a good Death Thrash Metal mix.

Next on were Head In A Jar, one of our favourites and probably mostly seen bands here in Sydney. Their bassist Onni had just very recently returned to Finland and Head In A Jar had added another Adam to their band (Adam Nr 1 is the drummer). Adam, the bassist, was closely watched by a whole lot of people who were friends with Onni (including us) and he certainly had big shoes to fill. Besides the new Adam, Head In A Jar were the usual; Gordy wore ridiculously coloured pants, Nick said a lot of silly entertaining things when he announced song and in between they were just thrashing it away. I personally think their sound gets better every time.

While Head In A Jar performed their Atomic Circus, Wehrmacht arrived. I wasn't really sure how I was feeling about a band named after the German army in World War II – yes, under Hitler. The Wehrmacht was just the regular army and not necessarily the bad guys like the SS but the widespread admiration for Hitler with his Nazis has always left me wondering if people don't understand how much damage was done. Then of course, thrash metal is a lot about war, violence and social/political criticism and the Wehrmacht is not equal to Nazi. The band Wehrmacht had also distanced itself from the Nazis and glorified beer instead – something again, I could identify a lot better with.

Head In A Jar had continued with songs like Nuclear Family, Genocide City and finally my favourite song, Head In A Jar. Adam (junior) played very well but still has to find his own role – he simply is not and cannot be Onni.

Last before Wehrmacht were Disintegrator, a crossover thrash band from Sydney (like the previous bands). Singer Adam "Rad" was a burst of energetic aggression, being quite a presence – not only physically (he is a tall guy) but also vocally. Disintegrator's music is a bit like stop and go; they play short parts of a song, Adam holds some charming speeches about e.g. his arse sweating and off they go with the rest of the song.

By the time Disintegratorwas on stage, the crowd had fully warmed up. With Hangman's Adrian always in the front line, the first stage diving started and at some point everybody was on stage and the mics were conquered as well. It was happy moshing and quite a great party. Everybody was now ready for Wehrmacht.

It took a while until that happened. And when the show was supposed to start and the Lewisham Hotel had given everything in regards of stage lighting, one by one the Wehrmacht came on stage (not so easy when you have to squeeze through the crowd as there is no stage entrance from the back).

Finally singer Eric jumped on stage and extended a friendly greeting with "hello my friends" and off they went. A quick focus on drummer Brian who poured something (probably beer) over his head from a boot, underlined my impression that they really were a beer admiring party band.

First song sounded like a machine gun – very suitable for a band called Wehrmacht. They are an old school cross-over thrash band, calling their style "beercore" and they clearly enjoy playing. Formed in 1985 in Portland, Wehrmacht belongs to a long list of metal bands originating from the American West Coast. The band was founded around the same time like Metallica, Testament, Death Angel and Exodus. Wehrmacht split up in 1991 with parts of the band going to Cryptic Slaughter and Spazztic Blur. They reunited in 2008 but replaced singer Tito with Eric in 2012.

Shark Attack, Beer is here and KISS' Detroit Rock City were some of the musical show highlights. Then it got really interesting when they started initiation by drinking from a boot. First they just got Lee from Disintegrator on stage. He seems to head the chapter of the United Shoe Brothers in Sydney. Immediately afterwards, recruitment started and the stage was full with young lads from Sydney fighting about the drinking boot (I really hope it was unworn) and having a blast. Hangman's Adrian who had been singing for almost every band of the evening was fighting for the mic with a War Of Attrition member and the actual singer in charge, Wehrmacht's Eric. Space was getting scarce on stage but the band's goal PARTY was fully archived.

Line-up: supported by Disintegrator, Head In A Jar, War Of Attrition

Reviewer: Anja