Cassie and I saw upcoming Melbourne band Ne Obliviscaris at Brisbane progfest in 2010, and I reviewed that show here http://www.bravus.com.au/blog/?p=1959. When we saw that they are touring their new album and playing in Brisbane, we made plans. Just for fun, we decided to do a shared review of the gig, like the one Alex and I did of Soundwave in 2011 http://www.bravus.com.au/blog/?p=2246. Incidentally, if this review makes you want to see Ne Obliviscaris for yourself, they’re playing at Soundwave in 2015.
The Brightside (the venue)
I’ve been to most of the rock venues in Brisbane, The Brightside in Fortitude Valley was a new one for me. It’s a fairly new venue, in a space that has held a number of others over the years. It’s next to a club housed in a deconsecrated small church, and reports suggest it may also be a former church, or possibly church hall. It’s the right shape… Here’s a short review of the venue http://www.au.timeout.com/brisbane/music/venues/963/the-brightside. There’s an excellent little open air bar outdoors, which made for a much more enjoyable wait for the show than the more usual line in the street. This was a pretty small extreme metal show, so the line wouldn’t have been huge anyway, but waiting with a beer until most had headed inside was even mellower. Good range of craft beers and ciders available, along with some truly preposterous cocktails.
$10 preposterous cocktails O.0 An example of one of these cocktails is the Heart-shaped Box – a combo of vanilla-infused vodka, lemon and strawberry compote topped off with lemonade and a heart-shaped lollipop.
Inside, as a venue, it’s great. There are (comfy looking) booths along the walls but you need to get in early, and most of the space is for standing, but there are balconies at about head height along both sides overlooking the main floor. Cassie and I grabbed a spot on the rail on the balcony, and stayed there all night, with a great view and above the fray. Sound mix was fantastic, too, with the acoustics of the venue better than a lot of the local rooms.
From our perspective, we could have done with just a touch more security presence. I’m all for unobtrusive security not messing with the flow of an extreme metal gig, and too much is arguably worse than too little, but incidents like one dickhead getting right up into the bands’ faces video recording them on his phone, with the flash light on shining in their faces, and not being stopped kind of damaged the gig for the majority of the more-considerate punters. Some idiot was also back-chatting the band which is ok to an extent, but this same idiot was then standing on tables and running around the venue with no one to reign him in. There was an energetic pit, which is fine, though there were one or two inevitable minor injuries, but I think Cassie was concerned about the crowd surfing. I’ll let her talk about it, if she wants to.
I am far too empathetic to stand back and watch as someone falls. There was this weedy looking guy who kept crowd surfing and kept getting his upper body dipped towards the ground. I was even more nervous when the extremely good looking guitarist from Beyond Creation, who was a lot larger than the weedy guy, jumped onto the crowd. Dad said his band’s singer was looking worried too. Usually this stuff would not be so hard to watch as the crowd is VERY packed in and so there is a small chance of someone actually hurting themselves but as Dad said above the crowd was a bit sparse.
Local support was symphonic metal band ‘Halcyon Prophecy’ https://www.facebook.com/HalcyonProphecy. They were technically astonishing and had a great dynamic range and variety of songs. The singer had excellent stage presence, and handled a supportive but too-noisy idiot in the crowd with grace and humor. Vocal style involved too much scream and too little clean or growl for our particular tastes, but the skill and beauty of the music was impressive. (Though the drummer did tend to overly rely on one particular ride cymbal on every song – mix it up, dude!) I suspect we’ll hear more of these guys.
Ditto, I loved the music not so much the singing. I have never liked screaming again because I am too empathetic and I imagine that it would really hurt your throat to do it for a lengthy amount of time as this guy was doing.
Progressive death metal band Beyond Creation is from Montreal, Canada https://www.facebook.com/BeyondCreationOfficial http://beyondcreation.bandcamp.com/album/earthborn-evolution. It’s complex, dense music, but not as ‘tech-death’ speedy as their town-mates Beneath the Massacre – but Montreal must have a hell of an extreme metal scene.
Singer and rhythm guitarist Simon Girard plays an 8-string with fanned frets http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanned_fret_guitars, lead guitarist Kevin Chartre an 8-string with standard frets and – here’s the real point of distinction – bassist Dominic ‘Forest’ Lapointe plays a 6-string bass with no frets. The fretless sound, along with lots of two-handed tapping and sliding, gives the band a distinctive sound (Cassie: sounded a bit like those ‘thong xylophones’, kinda like a boing-ing sound). Drummer Phillipe Boucher anchors it with complex blast beats and a great variety of tempos.
It’s heavy, intense, but also groovy, complex music, and just mesmerising to watch and listen to. One song in French – as the names hint, these guys are not from the English-speaking enclave in Montreal – and great banter between the songs. A cute touch, in a show in which the bands obviously respected each other and enjoyed each others’ company – was a birthday cake with one candle coming out mid set for Kevin Chartre’s 25th. I’ll definitely be acquiring their albums and checking them out: in some ways I think the complexity of the music will be more accessible in recorded form, but it was definitely a very enjoyable live show. As with both other bands on the bill tonight, the technical chops are mind-blowing, but it’s the way they’re used musically and in the context of complex compositions that’s impressive, not just mindless shredding.
This band was fascinating to watch (not just because of the very attractive 25 year old guitarist :P). The speed and agility with which they played was astounding. The technicality in the songs was breathtaking. I will definitely steal the album Dad gets and listen to it as well.
My only gripe is that this band was trying to force a scary, dangerous mosh pit which is really not what I came to the show to see. As I am a people watcher I find that the aggressiveness of the mosh pit detracts from the beautiful-ness of the music played.
Side note: If you read this Cadmann, I think you would really enjoy this band.
With a bit more experience with metal shows, I’d suggest that the pit is less dangerous and violent than it looks. It’s all good fun, and there are lots of watchful people who will pick someone up the moment they fall, and make sure no-one gets badly hurt. As already noted, the relative sparseness of the crowd on the floor made it look worse because physics – more distance available in which to build up momentum between collisions.
I was blown away by this band http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ne_Obliviscaris_%28band%29 last time I saw them, and again over the past couple of weeks by their new album, Citadel, released this month. It’s complex, progressive, beautiful extreme music, which is very much my thing, and I put them right up there with Opeth, Agalloch and Ihsahn in my pantheon of extreme beautiful music. So I was very keen, and waiting with anticipation for the set. Since we last saw them, violinist and clean vocalist Tim Charles has grown his hair a bit, so he looks a bit less like an accountant, but he’s still, in Cassie’s words, ‘adorable'(He pokes his tongue at the crowd and does everything on stage with a massive smile on his face). Extreme (he does a range of growls and screams) vocalist Xenoyr (Marc Campbell to his mum, or very possibly his mad scientist creator) is as strange and intense as ever, and does a fantastic job of bringing both the music and the presence. (Cassie: I would love to see what his personality is like off stage, because he seems so aloof and uninterested, but something someone in the crowd said made him smile and I think he could have a very different off-stage persona). The band has two lefties, stage left, in headless bass player (um, I mean, his bass is headless, not him!) Cygnus (Brendan Brown) and lead guitarist Benjamin Baret, and right-handed guitarist Matt Klavins stands stage right, with the singers and drummer centre stage. Drummer Daniel Presland still looks like a rugby player, which is kind of an incongruous note in an extreme metal band, but is absolutely killer. Like Carcass’ Ken Owens, he can do the double-kick blast but still lay down a solid beat on the 1, which makes it easier to headbang and keeps it heavy.
Lots of complexity and variety in the compositions, lots of light and shade, lots of melody. The heavy breaks are cool because they’re not all the same, and have a complex variety. It’s also not as simple as ‘this is a heavy bit, this is a light bit’ – the band use all the tools available in their considerable toolkit in rich combinations. Apparently one of the compositions from their previous album, Portal of I, has been added to the repertoire of the Melbourne Conservatorium, which surprises me not at all.
My favourite part of Ne Obliviscaris was the more melodic breaks. Last time we went, the violin was only a backing to the music, this time the breaks were just the violin with a guitar backing. I trained in violin when I was younger but had no sense of timing so it was incredible for me to see the technical playing that I couldn’t really pick up with the rest of the band playing.
Footnote: One of our sports at gigs is spotting band t-shirts (other than for the bands playing). I think the list for me was Carcass, Opeth, Meshuggah, Moonsorrow, and Cassie said she saw an Iron Maiden (I’m wondering whether I can formulate a new law that it’s physically impossible to go to any metal show ever without seeing an Iron Maiden t-shirt).