Supports – High Tension, Sanzu
Rosemount Hotel, Perth
June 6, 2016
Metal culture is alive and breathing. Hundreds swarmed into the Rosemount Hotel on a stormy public holiday evening in Perth, with immense anticipation to catch Deafheaven, one of the most eclectic death metal bands on the planet right now – oh and contributing to scientific research answering the question: what is the human decibel limit? This evening sure pushed those boundaries.
Just a couple of local bands to start things off, yeah? Just a few mediocre musicians to provide some background noise, yeah? No. Absolutely not! The hand-picked bands to support Deafheaven were nothing short of spectacular, and stupidly fitting as well. You’d made a mistake if you decided to rock up later in the night just to catch the monstrous headliners.
Perth band Sanzu crafted an atmosphere of aggressive ambience. With elongated riffs, progressive structures and echoing bellows, the local outfit simply tore the place apart. Put strangely, they created a sound that was the birth-child of Meshuggah and Baroness. Bassist Fatima Curley was the first but not last of the evening to remind the crowd that girls can metal too, and certainly do it well, but we’ll get onto that later. Sanzu provided a consistent performance with impressive aesthetics that Perth will be soaking up with more exposure. After their performance my mate said to me – “if you forced me to go home after paying $60 to watch them alone, I’d be more than satisfied” – outstanding.
Fellow-writers in the Wall of Sound camp have raved about Melbourne band High Tension, but I never knew what they were about until they burst on stage at the Rosemount. A petite young lady (and I say that with respect) grabbed the mike with punters unsure of what to expect; and then it happened – chaos. Vocalist Karina Utomo may have produced the most piercing screams I have ever heard, jaws were dropping throughout the entire first track. With a mixture of extreme instrumental crescendo sections and slower ambient balance, High Tension captivated the audience, track by track. Utomo sang between screams and presented a deathly melody to the disorder that ensued. After walking through the crowd and sharing her larynx with the crowd, the band incrementally softened their approach, bringing their set to an organic cease; bravo.
Honestly, it can’t get much better than this – what a premium evening of death metal. And like, we knew what was coming, we knew the ear-ringing the next day would have to be tolerated, and we knew that we weren’t going to regret it.
Beers were refilled, positions were secured, and the stormy weather continued. The house music ceased, the lights dimmed to doomy red, and with humility the Californians showed themselves, waiving to the excitable fans.
“We are Deafheaven” – vocalist George Clarke proclaims to the Perth crowd, triggering chills. The band opened with a deafening delivery of ‘Brought to the Water’, with earth-quaking bass. The riffs commenced with a calm tone, easing us into the dark atmosphere that they were slowly manufacturing. Clarke channelled his internal artistry in terms of how he presented himself on stage. The vocalist closed his eyes and ran his fingers through his hair as he retched the opening lyrics into the reverberating venue. The crowd was still, not remotely due to boredom but due to the mere presence of the band’s aurora and the realm that they immerse people into.
Introducing ‘Luna’, also from 2015’s ‘New Bermuda’, punters screamed back with excitement. The acutely perfectionistic chords shone through the venue behind Clarke’s ear-splitting squeals, a true anecdote of embracing beauty in the noise. The front man consistently engaged with the crowd with intense eye contact, exemplifying passion for their art-form. He followed the band’s pace with what appeared to be autonomic gestures as a queue for each roar.
It truly was the title track ‘Sunbather’ and set-closer ‘Dream House’ that tore the roof of the building, with the melodic climbs and the blistering break-downs. Deafheaven channelled Satan through the dark imagery presented and left us walking away feeling weak and exhausted, yet completely fulfilled.
By Ricky Aarons
Photo Gallery (Click on image to start up slideshow, enlarge)
Photos courtesy of Denis Radacic
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