24th September, 2016
Manning Bar, Sydney NSW
Supported by Cruciform & Astraal
Immolation, need they any introduction? Incepted in 1986, they are the creators of some of the most brutal death metal this side of the Void, and still pumping out album after album of amazing metallic master craft. Fans have waited and prayed for over 25 years to see them destroy the shores of Australia, and finally, those parers have been answered. However, before that long, long timer of 25 years ticks over, two bands are set to warm the crowd up.
First up is Cruciform, a pack of local veterans dabbling in the soundscapes of the doom variety are up first. Having always heard whispers of them picked up in overheard conversation, I was eager to to seem them play after their hiatus. Sounding very much like early Paradise Lost, the trio trudge their way through each song, clawing out of the darkness amid the remnants of deep, lingering roars. Brief moments between slow riffs ratchet up a notch and dowse the crowd in torrents of groovy death; a welcome addition making the band evermore interesting. Unfortunately, the time away from the stage show in their presence and playing, at times sounding disjointed and inexperienced. Despite this, the larger portions of their show were still intact and kept the heavy coming.
Keeping in line with the heavy theme of the night, next band Astraal waltzed onstage, bringing the black metal tones instead. From the very first song I became aware of what I was in for; throat tearing screeches and a jazz drummer’s wet dream behind the kit, but out of nowhere, the vocals switched to an operatic bellow and everything revolved in my head… This was no ordinary band. Astraal are relatively unique, in the sense that they work on contrasting the sections of their songs, stepping up in intensity and speed with each verse and blending them into a seamless, pitch black package. The drumming is breakneck and dynamic, perfectly complimenting the heavy, accentuated vocals that pierce through the mix. Before I knew it though, their set was over and they left with an offhand “Get ready for Immolation.”
Immolation have always held a special space next to that suppurating crystalline mass that I call my heart, so in preparation I had played Majesty and Decay and Close to a World Below (my favourites) for a solid three days to prepare myself. I thought I was in the zone, I thought I was ready.
A light flashed, I couldn’t see. My heart stopped and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I had died, but it was only Immolation’s first note. If all the bands that night were an explosion, the previous two were a firecracker to a nuclear blast. When my body had righted itself I could fully take in the glory of what I was seeing, and it was unbelievable.
Robert Vigna was moving like a disjointed puppet on fast forward, not so much playing the guitar as he was trying to flay the flesh from a murder victim. Making some of the most inconceivable noises ever heard from a guitar all the while Ross Dolan loped his way about the stage, fingers galloping across the bass like a herd of possessed elephants. Dolan’s horrendous bellow echoed through the room and lodged in my chest, ricocheting in time with the crashing cymbals of Steve Shalaty.
As the crew progressed through each of their hits; ‘Father, You’re Not A Father’ and ‘The Purge’ to name a couple, the crowd became increasingly manic and uncontrollable. Punters yell the lyrics in return, jump over each other in an insane milieu of flying limbs and hair, it was quite a sight to behold. The band went so far to even play a new song; ‘Epiphany’, rending the room in two with unending amounts of sheer force and brutality, making me, among many others I assume, very eager for the new album.
The highly religious (and brutal) motifs of Immolation’s songs continued with ‘Burn With Jesus’, the highly poetic lyrics spewing forth like a torrent of hate, energising the crowd to even further heights of madness. ’No Jesus, No Beast’ pushes it further, lightning fast drumming pounding the words into my brain, “Jesus can you hear me?!” Personally, I think everyone in the greater city limits could hear the violence coming from the Manning Bar at this point.
Overall, as vivid (or confusing) as this review is, it cannot do justice to the visceral nature of Immolation live on stage. It is truly a sight that needs to be witnessed personally to fully grasp the extent of the heaviness, the brutality, and the joy that this band can bring to a room.