Photographer: Max Hale
Based in: Sydney, Australia
These images have been taken through various venues in Australia over the past four years. In that time, I have been drawn to the dark alternative scene and found my roots in local black metal. There are a lot of great bands and, as a photographer, they appeal due to their presence on-stage. My mission has been to connect with these Australian bands’, and some international ones, in a way that presents the reality of their performances.
Portal, 2010, The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney
I have shot Portal a few times now and they are a treat to shoot because of how they dress and perform on stage. Some people may not think there is much to taking a good gig shot but it is all about the moment. Being so immersed within the music to feel that moment and know when to shoot. This photo was taken when Portal played inSydneyat the start of 2010. The reason I picked this particular photo is the lighting. Given the fact that they were all wearing black robes, I feel it added colour to what was a darkly brilliant performance.
The Amenta, 2010, Valve Bar, Sydney
The Amenta have always been one of my favourite bands, both of their albums have been just incredible. I first saw them live back in 2007. But it was not until 2009, when they toured for the n0n album that I started to photograph them. I now have quite an extensive collection of images from that era of the bands history. The photo I’ve chosen was only taken last year, at the Valve Bar inSydney. There was very little lighting at the show so I did a lot of tweaking with my camera settings and went in blind fire. The result? This image. When I edited my camera the day after the gig and found this one, I was pleased with the way it turned out.
Erebus Enthroned, 2011, Valve Bar, Sydney
The feel of evil is alive in this photo. On this particular night, I wanted to try and get something new, as it was a really special night for the band. They were launching their album, and having followed the band since they began, I knew it would be quite a show. I experimented a lot with different shutter speeds and camera shake, looking for ways to create something different. I love the way the vocalist’s arm is kind of in two separate places at the same time. Keep an eye on this band, they are getting stronger and stronger all the time.
Spire, 2011, The Globe, Brisbane. (4th)
Relatively new on the black metal scene, Spire are one of the new Australian bands that are creating a great name for themselves with two EP releases already. I was thankful to see them play live at the end of last year. The set was a wall of noise fused with blackened sounds and the atmosphere was electric. The photo has a creepy feel about it, as if you are seeing something in a horror movie – or perhaps a ringwraith.
Deathstars, 2009, Manning Bar, Sydney
This photo is one of my all time favourites. Part of the reason for this is they were one of the first bands I was able to shoot for a website. Most venues/bands stick with the first three-song rule. Three songs in and I was still there shooting. So I went for it. This image was captured towards the end of their set. They were drenched in sweat and truly euphoric with exhaustion. That was the special moment for me.
Nazxul, 2009, Manning Bar, Sydney
If you lived in Australiain the ‘90s and were into metal then you would definitely heard of Nazxul. This shot was taken at their 2009 return show for the release Iconoclast. At first I thought it would be on the scrap pile. But after viewing it a few times, I became really drawn to it because it looks so mysterious. To me that is what Nazxul are all about.
Absu, 2012, Sandringham Hotel, Sydney
Since I started photographing live musicians, I've always found it a real pain to get a good shot of a drummer with the lens I use. Occasionally I take one that really works. Here I was able to do it with the fantastic Proscriptor fromUSlegends Absu. Given their history and the mark they have left on the metal scene, to be able to not only see them live but also to add them to my portfolio was an honour.