Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney NSW
June 2nd, 2017
Supported by The Seer, Rise of Avernus & Earth Rot
Few bands can even pretend to claim half the intelligence and wondrous skill that is shared between the members of Fleshgod Apocalypse. Combining their love and deep understanding of Romantic Era classical with the bone grinding brutality of old school death metal results in an understandably unique and captivating spectacle. Due to Fleshgod’s inability to resurrect any of those long dead composers, the night is instead supported by some great bands of the death metal persuasion; no complaints here.
Newcastle based death metallers The Seer were the first of the supports for tonight, and let me say, they’re a strong choice. Recalling those old ideas of classic death, their unstoppable riffing and almost simple groove lend themselves to a great experience. ‘The Plague’, one of the stand out tracks of the set even saw an ambient build up before Ryan Huthnance slowly introduced an impossible-to-not-headbang-to riff layered with his addictive guttural growls. The crowd were even offered the allure of a new track ‘Leviathan,’ which saw much of the same elements but it felt more complex, more mature and even tighter than their older tracks. This is a band to be on the lookout for.
Up next were Sydney mainstays Rise of Avernus, bringing their death/doom sound to the plinth. Whilst no explicit conducting was done, the orchestral elements of their set sounded especially good tonight; the entire crowd head banging and swaying along with the paint and leather clad quartet in that kind of creepy mass mind sort of way that I just love to see. In addition, the drumming of Andrew Craig felt like a show all of its own, as the stick twirling maniac, looking reminiscent of Giger’s Xenomorph every time he bared his teeth, worked the kit and the crowd with equal skill and flair. However, special notice needs to be given to Ben van Vollehoven, as his vocals seemed deeper, scarier and more encompassing than they ever have, like what I imagine Chris Barnes wished he could do in the early Cannibal Corpse days.
Continuing the onslaught of good music for the night were Earth Rot, who besides having one of the coolest and most grotesque sounding names out there, hail from the far flung reaches of Perth (that’s Sanzu town my friend). Their March release Renascentia made me a fan earlier in the year so I was thoroughly excited to get in the pit and fuck shit up with their blackened, grind inspired grooves. They definitely had brought the energy for it; dangerously windmilling about the stage as songs progressed as if trying to embed their music into the building’s foundations, but alas, this never eventuated. Possibly due to the OAF’s notoriously weird crowds but it might also be the issues that vocalist Jared Bridgeman endured throughout the show. Be it through microphone problems or those of his own, the absolutely gut wrenching vocals that I had fallen in love with were not quite as impactful as I had hoped. All that aside, the band as a whole tore strips off the walls with brutally heavy and infectiously groovy hooks that lodged in my brain and had me pining for an encore before Fleshgod Apocalypse came out.
But come out they did! One by one the band took to the smoke of the stage accompanied by pagan priestess Veronica Bordacchini, to raucous applause and howling screams as ‘Marche Eternal’ boomed in the background. Adjusting their tuxedos, the last twinkling keys fanned over the crowd and ‘In Aeternum’ erupted over the crowd. At this point, Francesco Paoli’s drumming obliterated any sort of lethargy or hesitancy the crowd contained; moshpits opened and punters finally began to throw themselves around with reckless abandon. As the destructive force that was ‘Healing Through War’ began to filter out into a close, the light shone on frontman Tommaso Riccardi for one of his wondrously enlightening introductions. His smooth and intoxicating voice calmed the crowd for the shortest moment in time before once again flaring into a perfect storm of mashed and frenzied bodies pressed on by his booming, godlike growls.
Much to my delight, Veronica Bordacchini wasn’t just there for show, instead faithfully engaging in all the work she had put into the albums. ‘Cold as Perfection’ and set closer ‘Syphilis’ were perfect snippets of time as her beautiful wail mesmerised the crowd and caused unending wells of emotion to burst forth; I wasn’t the only one in the crowd staring dumbfounded at the stage as she wove her magic. Absolute mind melter ‘The Egoism’ saw not only Bordacchini’s vocals but also Paolo Rossi’s, which is in my opinion one of the greatest pairings since Julie Christmas and Cult of Luna.
Amidst all this beauty, there was still the brutal grime that is the backbone of Fleshgod’s music, walls of death and even an impossibly tight circle pit tore the crowd apart again and again, with van Vollenhoven and Mares Refaleada even joining in with the fun. Eventually the band left the stage but there was no moment of silence. Cheering and bellowing only grew in intensity as the crowd willed the band to reemerge from the void surrounding the stage and grace us all once more with their godly presence. There was no disappointment. As the last two songs of the band attempted to crush the bodies and wills of the crowd, they only fought back with more power and fury than they had before. The end result was a disheveled mass of bodies, covered in sweat, maybe blood, but definitely happiness and satisfaction at a night that they shan’t soon forget.
- Marche Royale
- In Aeternum
- Healing Through War
- Cold As Perfection
- The Violation
- The Fool
- The Egoism
- In Honour of Reason
- The Forsaking