Metalise Wintery Edition – The Basement is dead, long live The Basement! – Lots of locals light up the gig calendar – 2-day CBR metal fest announced

With Josh Nixon

To kick off this edition of Metalise, Australia’s longest running continuous metal column stretching back to the last millennia, we need to recognise the efforts of someone who has directly contributed far more for the local metal community than just about anyone. Lance Fox has recently sold The Basement to the new proprietors Nicole and Mik Bergersen, bringing to an end a tenure going back to 2014 that saw the venue space change drastically.

Lance Fox – consummate gentleman

In times past, the Town Centre Tavern and Pete’s Bar & Grill occupied that space, at a time when Officeworks over the road was a carpark for people to struggle with the chemicals they had ingested, or to settle arguments that began in the bar through the medium of fisticuffs. Actually, that used to happen in the two aforementioned bars as well, but I digress… even when ‘The Basement’ became ‘The Basement’ it wasn’t half the venue is is today, in terms of crowd capacity in pre-Covid times or floor space.

This is, in part, due to the fact that the back wall where Chompy’s is today used to be the X&Y Dumpling House, or amusingly as the decrepit sign with missing letters was prior to its closure the “X&Y Dump House” used to fill that space. Lance and the team invested tens of thousands of dollars on the infrastructure from the PA, to the back wall, to the 500 guitars signed by every band owning a distortion pedal that came near the joint.

The renovations were extensive and the scope and ambition decisive as when Lance took over things, Canberra was dropping off of the nation and international promoters’ radar, particularly for heavy music.

The peak of all of this investment was probably the Phillip H Anselmo & The Illegals show with King Parrot, Potion and Palm, where the doors of the joint were overflowing and the head banging people stretched all the way from the stage at one end to the bar all the way down the back.

Covid stole a lot of this momentum, but again Lance and crew saw opportunity and opened up the riffs for select audiences, with Witchskull kicking off the exclusive events in the lowest ebb for the live music industry ever.

And one final pic of Lance because a) it’s his farewell, and b) I couldn’t choose between the two

The Basement, through Lance’s leadership, provided a model for many around the country to operate through C-19 and negotiate the changing legislative landmines that came with it.

Nicole and Mik inherit an institution, and it’s one forged on the back of a hard working team lead by a bloke that has always put the local stuff on the same stage as the biggest bands that came through town. Well done, and thank you Lance.

Sadly, July’s With a Heavy Heart festival of brutal doom metal succumbed to the Covid. But Futility still have their new album Anhedonic available now (full review can be found here) and you should all go and order a copy here or

Dirty Sanchez, a Belconnen two-piece made up of former members of Golden Crop, Precursor, Pod People and All Throth play a special two-set show at The Pot Belly on the Saturday, 17 July and you can go have a look for the grand price of free.

Thy Art is Murder rescheduled their Human Target tour and the monstrosity of the Sydneysiders finds the target at The Basement on Thursday, 21 July and you can still purchase tickets, thought undoubtedly not for very long, so don’t be hunted down wondering.

Witchskull copped a severe wing clipping for their upcoming March of Winter tour with dates in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane having to drop due to the Covid. The final form of the Canberra leg at The Basement on Saturday, 24 July is still up in the air a little with three of the five bands on the support bill being from Red or Orange Zones. The current line-up is still Witchskull, Mental Cavity, Mountain Wizard Death Cult, Astrodeath and BC but keep an ear to the ground through the ‘Skull socials to see what’s finalises.

Mental Cavity will no doubt be raring to go with their new album dropping earlier this month. Mass Rebel Infest is another slab of punk-inflected death metal with a pleasing crust of d-beat in spots that is being very well received around the heavy press world wide, I’ll have a review of my own up here real soon, with the disclaimer that the guitar solo in the first song is both A) very good and B) played by me.

Melbourne melodic death brutalisers Orpheus Omega are due here on Sunday, 25 July as a part of their Bleed The Way 10th Anniversary tour. Bringing fellow Mexican death metal act Triple Kill you can still get tickets at this point.

Newcastle band The Witching Hour bring the Gen-Z Tour to The Basement on Friday, 6 August with Black Heart and Tundrel. The guys’ single Sleep with the Stars has been getting radio play the world over including Alice Cooper adding it to his TripleM play list.

Cryptic rumblings last month from the Canberra Metal Fest announced for 14-15 January, 2022. Only a couple of bands announced so far to add to the detail on the promo of “Two Days of Aussie Metal”, but Brisbane’s Misery and Melbourne’s Reaper being the first two acts announce bodes very well indeed, and we will be watching with interest as to what materialises in the coming weeks.

That’s all for this month. Join us next where Australia’s longest running continuous metal column will extend that run just a little further.

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