8th July, 2016
Factory Theatre, Sydney
Supported by Darker Half, Anno Domini & Rise of Avernus
The Factory Theatre couldn’t have been a more fitting scene to showcase some of the absolutely brilliant music that the Australian metal community has been creating lately. An array of heavy black curtains cemented the setting, the whole image of elements only making me all the more eager for the bands to start playing.
First to take to the stage was Rise of Avernus, who are one of the premiere bands in their field; progressive orchestral doom metal (say that five time fast). Their sound is unrelenting. The drums and guitars seem to perpetually thunder on, coupled with vocals that’ll make one feel as if they’re being crushed and sucked into a black hole. Even the term ‘blackened’ need not only apply to their music, as they are entombed in leather coats and black paint, the whites of their eyes in eerie contrast to their visage, creating a further sense of unease that hopelessness in their wake, but their show is all the more better for it. Rise of Avernus are honestly one of the most interesting bands in Australian metal; heavy, tight and most of all, brutal as fuck.
Not shirking on the ‘heavy’ the subsequent group, Anno Domini burst onto the stage much to the delight of their numerous fans. Their short set was filled with solid riffs that had the crowd head banging and jumping around. Despite the music being passably enjoyable, the chemistry of the bands members was lacking, making me believe that they didn’t even want to be there. This may have been due to the various sound problems they encountered or their self admitted break from performing, but whatever it was, there was a sort of disconnect between them all and their music. Regardless, their death metal riffs kept the crowd entertained and cheering throughout their setlist.
In a bid to keep the crowd moving and ready for the upcoming headliners, Sydney based Darker Half attacked the stage in what I can only describe as a blast from the past, playing old fashioned heavy/power metal and wailing like a prerequisite banshee yodeller. Just to clarify: I don’t like power metal. BUT, these guys seemed to thoroughly enjoy what they were doing, romping around the stage and noodling out guitar solos like it was still the 90s. There was one moment of their set where the two guitarists had a solo battle a la Coheed and Cambria, which was compelling to see but not enough for me to ‘get into it’. Despite my own misgivings, the crowd was seriously into Darker Half, a lot of the older patrons (go figure) energetically head banging and throwing the horns to the band every time the vocalist’s voice went so high as to fracture a wine glass. Their last song, title track off their latest album Never Surrender showed off their technical skill with one of the longest solos I’ve ever seen, sending most, even myself, into cheers and applause.
If I had thought the send off for any of the other bands was ‘raucous’, boy was I wrong. The second the headlining band entered the shrouded stage, voices erupted around me, fists launched into the air, all to greet the juggernauts of atmospheric death metal, the mighty Be’lakor. Not bothering to mince words, ‘Venator’ begins, its melodic strings cutting through the crowd and settling like a heavy pall of mist over a funeral before George Kosmas unleashes a hellish roar and the song opens up like a chasm to the fiery pits of hell. The doom influences on their music are even more apparent as the set progresses, ‘Roots to Sever’ having some of the most unsettling vocals on any track they’ve created to date, and fuck is it amazing.
The band as a whole are very minimalist, almost in the vein of ISIS and The Ocean, whereby they let the music speak for itself, not feeling the need to employ dramatic light shows or a stage persona to draw people in, much to their credit, they’re right. Spending the entire show bathed in hues of red, or shades of darkness, I was forced to really take in what I was listening to; the intensity, the emotion and the scope of the sound that was put forth before me. This was not more apparent than on ‘The Smoke of Many Fires’ which has been on virtual repeat since the release of Vessels. The song is massive, and not just in the run time. The atmosphere of the song builds continually until a startling crescendo of noise and demonic vocals assault the listener, which when played live, was plainly put, transcendental.
Recalling an older but no less brilliant song to round off the night, Be’lakor play ‘Countless Skies’ from Stone’s Reach. One hallmark of Be’Lakor’s music that is highly evident in their live shows is that length and immersion isn’t a hindrance. This being one of the longer songs of their catalogue, felt like it was over all too soon, a feeling that was reciprocated by the rest of the patrons of the Factory that night. Be’lakor have the magical ability to transport you to another plane of being when they play their music, a place where time seems to react differently, and it discernibly leaves you wanting perpetually more of their music.
“This is the biggest crowd we’ve played to in a while” Kosmas decided to mention halfway through the show. Well, all I can say is: not for long George, not for long.
— Dylonov Tomasivich
- Roots to Sever
- Outlive the Hand
- In Parting
- The Smoke of Many Fires
- Countless Skies