All photography and content © John Raptis Photography 2020

Abbath Live @ Max Watts, Melbourne

All Hail Satan!

Rocked up to this one not really expecting much at all. I mean, standard-fare Black Metal I thought. You know the drill. Incoherent lyrics over a slew of blast beats praising Satan for an hour or so. Nothing wrong with that at all mind you, but what Abbath delivered, was anything but standard-fare. In fact, this was quite easily one of the best gigs of the year and easily one of the better Black Metal shows I have ever seen – and there have been a few!

I took this gig on because photographically, I knew it would be a visual treat. Hey, I’m a total sucker for the aesthetics of Black Metal so I figured it would be a fun night with the camera. Slap corpse-paint on anyone, and I am so there!

Max Watts was reasonably packed out but there should have been more to lay witness at the hell unleashed, because for over an hour, Abbath pummelled Melbourne into diabolical oblivion. It was a relentless foray of the genre’s finest and granted, I had never heard a single song prior to this gig by the band, I sure as hell made a mental note or two to change all that.

Abbath were as dynamic as they were tight. Brutal when need be, yet melodic and sublime elsewhere. Superbly backed by a demon-masked drummer who proved almost impossible to photograph as he spent most of the night enveloped in a thickly layer of smoke. Sight unseen he was, but damn it did he hold the entire sound together. Superb!

The strong Melbourne crowd lapped it all up and even though it was a challenging night in the photo-pit (incredibly well back-lit, but hardly any front-lights doing us photographers any favours) I enjoyed the hell of the show.

So the photos were gonna be a little more on the atmospheric side than crystal clear snore-fest shots. Fine by me.

Photographically, I experimented heavily with tonight’s shoot trying something a little different by shooting with soft focus and using atmosphere as the main focal point rather than clarity and sharpness. I think the results speak for themselves although they may not be your cup of tea, I think they capture the vibe of the night rather nicely.

Abbath! Do not, DO NOT miss them when next they tour these shores!

With thanks to HEAVY magazine for tonight’s access.

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