METAL EVILUTION ANNIVERSARY 2010
14 August 2010 - Lewisham Hotel, NSW
Putting some of Australia's finest underground metal acts together on one stage is possibly the best birthday gift Metal Evilution could share. The bill was packed with young and old talent encompassing every style of metal under the sun. Kicking off proceedings on a gloriously sunny day was all round nice guys Drop Tank. Unfortunately getting a slot at 2pm is never going to get a massive response but that didn't dishearten them playing their stomping thrashy rock at warp speed. Sonically they were great and even bravely performed Motorheads classic 'The Ace of Spades' that was pretty awesome. The rest of the set showed promise but needs a lot more polishing to rival other bands of this retro sound. The highlight was lead singer and vocalist, Phillipa who had amazing stage presence as well as bucket loads of talent. I would like to see her go far but maybe not with this outfit.
Starting off the gig by saying 'I fucking hate Sydney' sums up Newcastle's Osmium Grid. They are full of disregard and couldn't give a shit what you think and just go for it. Death metal spews out of the veins of these guys but they are slightly let down in ability. The songs themselves are catchy and groovy in places and just pure brutal in others. New song 'In a box' was the highlight of the set and showed a definite growth from the rest of their set. You just can't forget the fact that these songs would be elevated to new heights with a more competent drummer and guitarist. Singer and bassist Ian Tomlinson is the shining light in this band and his guttural vocals and playing were flawless throughout the set.
Hailing from the mid north coast of NSW Corotted took to the stage next with their 'meat and potatoes' death metal act. From the offset you know that these guys aren't happy unless they're playing either brain meltingly fast or as chunky and low as their equipment will let them. Front man Rod Cross put on an awesome display of what it really is to be a death metal vocalist and could even rival the 'Corspegrinder' himself one day. Axe man Stuart 'Dive Bomb Harmonic' Lovell effortlessly smashed out solo after solo and is clearly a master of his trade. In my opinion he could have slipped in a few more dive bombs for good measure. But all of this doesn't come close to the performance we got to witness from Andy Whitehead on drums. You could literally see this guy losing weight he was sweating so much from beating the hell out of the skins. The crowd couldn't help but gawp at this young talent blast beat his way well past 200bpm and beyond. He never showed sign of letting up and his varying styles of extreme drumming make this band great. 'Your Flesh Devine' and sing along favourite 'Shallow Buried Bodies' were my personal favourites from this blistering set.
When you see the four members of Norse take to the stage nothing can prepare you for what's about to come out of the speakers. After a short sound check the lights changed to an eerie green and these seemingly nice looking chaps let the monster out of the cage. The inescapable sound they create is so rich and full of every metal sub-genre in the book. We were treated to a sonic boom in the face and this is just what the crowd was up for. Front men Simon and Treelo complement each other brilliantly onstage. They constantly duel back and forth, each upping the ante song by song. Norse are a live band first and foremost and to be honest should have released a live album alongside side their debut effort Hellstorm. Machine gun kick drums are the forefront of Norses sound which while performed impeccably is a little out of character with some of the set. Some of the more mellow and melodic moments are spoiled by 'decapitatedesque' trigger sounds. This small criticism aside these guys owned the place for their short 40-minute set. They gave us a crash course in technical death metal that we will not forget in a hurry. By far the cream of the crop of the first half!
If there is one band that is hard to find on the Internet then this is it, you guessed it Metal were next to hit the stage. With song titles such as 'The Buccaneer's Revenge', 'The Kiss of Steel' and 'Fighting for Metal' you know you're in for a good laugh as well as a drunken sing-along. Front man Razor set the scene well and took his warriors on a journey involving pirates, kings and most of all METAL. The guys played their songs with good old retro passion and even threw in some choreographed guitar swinging for good measure. All in all they do what it says on the tin.
Well here we go again, Aeturnus Dominion are back from their three-year hiatus. With an understandable shaky start to their set the band soon settled down to rock their loyal fans. After such a long break I don't think anyone was expecting a mind-blowing performance especially with a last minute fill in lead singer. All of this was made a lot worse by a poor mix making the band sound completely amateur compared to earlier acts. None of this seemed to dull the excitement of the crowd however, they just wanted to see the guys on stage at last and head bang away to this greatest hits set. Ted 'Demented' Foster saved the show for me with his unparalleled riff work and effortless solos. It is hard to watch the rest of the band when he is playing, as he is such a natural player and performer. Ted along with bassist Tait Kristen make a great pair and their stage presence is very impressive. Aeturnus Dominion are very hard to pin down when it comes to their style but it is one all of their own. Playing songs like 'Holocaust' really emphasizes this with hard rock speeding up into death metal. The fill in singer ended up doing a good job of recreating the vocal styles of Dan Barrett especially after a few beers stopped him looking like a rabbit in the headlights. All of this aside this was by no means a serious show it was more of a party and these guys treated it as one and just wanted to have fun and play some jams. On this occasion it was great just to see the guys play again and hopefully with the return of their new singer they will be back to full strength and get more releases under their belt.
From the outset you could tell that Queensland's
Dead Letter Opener were out to destroy Sydney with their arsenal of catchy Death-Prog tunes. Sure enough they did not disappoint and blew everyone away. The three-piece have a knack of filling up the whole sound spectrum without being muddy and deliver a honed and polished product. They managed to pull this off even after having to borrow equipment off headliners 'Darker Half' highlighting furthermore their talent and versatility. The carefully placed synth and sample parts washed over the crowd beautifully, silencing even the most boisterous metal heads. These parts accompanied by Mick Millards multi layered delayed vocal parts made him seem super human. Millard along with guitarist Chris Lait and drummer Richie Young all looked completely lost in the music and still look in love with the songs they play after touring their debut long player 'Lumen' for a while now. This transcended to the crowd brilliantly especially during 'Yours and What's Mine' and 'The Iron Curtain' which were blistering highlights of the show. On the night the guys managed to pull off the difficult art of switching from death metal to ambient dreamscape melodies with as much integrity and ease as the mighty Opeth or even Porcupine Tree. I am sure they are sick of this comparison but it is hard to put the fact out of your head when watching these guys. The forty minutes Dead Letter Opener were on stage seemed to just melt away as if they have you in a trance. They are very interesting to watch live even though what they do is very simple and stripped down.
Next up... Killrazer! I had been looking forward to this moment all day and the boys did not disappoint. When their Slayer influenced banner was hoisted there was an electric buzz around the Lewisham and we were ready for battle. After all the atmospheric and modern twists on the genre we had been treated to by 'Dead Letter Opener' it was now time to get down to business with the old school Killrazer tick all the boxes for me; duelling guitars, thundering bass, AK47 drumming and of course the monstrous man mountain 'Zoran' on vocals They also have the advantage of possessing all the best aspects of Carcass, Slayer and AC DC, which I think you'll agree can't be bad thing. They made it look all too easy onstage, no warming up, no changing of monitor levels, they just let the mayhem commence. (If only the technician had turned up the vocals a hair it would have been perfect!) The set was full of some of the best licks and riffs you could hope to hear in songs such as 'Sunken' and 'Unleash Hell'. Every solo and sweep pick was nailed to perfection Jimmy Lardner-Brown showed everyone what guitar work is all about and I can only see him improving. If all this was not enough we were also graced by the presence of the legendary Steven "Vo" Simpson, of Darker Half fame. He was greeted with massive cheers from the crowd for which he thanked them by whipping them into a frenzy. Fists were punching the sky, cameras were flashing from all angles, Killrazer were killing it. I was starting to think the night had peaked and their were still headliners Darker Half to play. They definitely had their work cut out for them! If you haven't seen Killrazer already then go out now and buy tickets for their next gig as you won't be disappointed.
After a long day of Evilution we were ready to go all out for one of the most talked about Aussie metal bands of the moment... headliners... Darker Half. All I can really say about their performance is what has been said many times before. Yes Stevens vocal range is amazing and a thing to behold. Yes the duelling guitars are awesome. Yes they make a tiny stage some how seem like an arena show. This is what you get when you pay to see Darker Half. These guys have honed and toned 'Power/Thrash' to make it way cooler than it's been in years. I personally can take or leave the genre but on this night they even got my grumpy death metal obsessed foot tapping. It's not very often that you get to see a band that oozes so much excitement and glee even when performing to a much smaller crowd than they deserve. You really get a sense that they would do this for free and I guess that's why people love them and they are on the rise as a result. 'Take the plunge', 'Confusion' 'Helpless' and album title track 'Duality' were all met with great response from their fans. These songs sounded as close to the recordings as makes no difference and you can tell it took a lot of hard work to make the set so super tight. My personal favourite track played was one written by guitar ace, Brad Dickson entitled 'As Darkness Fades'. This track showed a different string to Darker Half's bow and I would like to hear a lot more from this very talented man. Brad and bassist Dom are like energizer bunnies on stage they just never stop. They are constantly zig zagging across from each other and head banging in each others faces which makes for entertaining viewing. All the while Vo knocks out song after song with some of the best vocal skills around. God knows how he hits some of those high notes especially while simultaneously wailing on his axe. He is a rare talent indeed. All in all this was a very impressive, fast paced performance with even a few Iron Maiden covers thrown in for good measure. They definitely were the most professional and polished band of the day and well deserved headliners.
Mystic Metal Live Review by Drew Ther © 18 August 2010
All pictures by Drew Ther
Editing and Layout by Déa di Morté
Editors Note: Celephai did also play at this event. They played after Darker Half who were the headlining act for the evening.
After the overwhelming performance by all these bands all day long, Celephai were sadly, mistakenly missed from the review.
From the positive feedback received by other guests of the day, one can only hope to see them playing at a gig soon.