the Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW
November 22nd, 2017
Supported by: Somnium Nox & Tessel
Walking into the Factory Theatre I can’t help but marvel at how uniform the crowd is tonight; wearing just as much black and just as many band shirts as I would see at any of your regular metal shows. This is entirely heartwarming, to know that even though this is electronic music, Perturbator still appeals to my kind of people.
Quite a first for me though, was walking onto the floor and seeing a DJ doing his thing. Tessel, as far as I am aware, does not make his own music, but that doesn’t stop the music he did play from being very good Choice tracks from the new Dan Terminus album (which is fucking awesome by the way), and some Carpenter Brut gave a real tease to the crowd for what was to come. Blinking LED shutter shades in hand, Tessel looked a bit out of place at the beginning, but who wouldn’t be playing to a dark room full of people who look like vampires? After a while, he got a lot more confident, and the crowd responded in kind, throwing out some noise as the set reached its peak, and even a few dance moves.
Unbeknownst to me, but to my great pleasure, there was an actual metal band playing tonight. I had an inkling when I saw the guitars and drums all set up but I wasn’t prepared for the aural assault that was Somnium Nox. Atmospheric black metal that is equally complex and brutal. Much like if Mgła decided to bond with Fall of Efrafa. Arrayed in enough grey paint to look like masks, the band members filtered on stage to the sound of screeching instruments and even a didgeridoo. The atmosphere continued to build until a figure robed entirely in black (literally entirely) shuffled on stage and unleashed one of the most unsettling screeches I’ve ever heard.Everything exploded at this point. Lights. Instruments. Vocals. It all came together in an absolutely crushing moment of time and space.
From this point, every layer of their music was employed masterfully and without flaw. Somnium Nox is a great example of how blending atmosphere into music isn’t just about the contrasting of speed and dissonance with slower, melancholy sections. It’s all about skilfully constructing an atmosphere. Lightning fast riffs and squealing feedback marked the string section, whilst the drums were always dynamic and energetic, straying into flat out mind boggling at time. All that skill and all hat atmosphere erupted in one of the most cathartic releases of raw emotion and energy as ‘Transcendental Dysphoria’ delivered a climax to end it all. The repeated screaming of ‘Please kill me / Am I dead?’ saw myself, and the crowd as a whole, almost double over in awe and agony. Truly a mesmerising spectacle paired with truly inspiring music.
Shifting the tone just a bit back to the ye olde synthwave, pillars that had shadowed the stage all night flared into life. A blinding array of lights and roving strobes were set up, which were promptly covered in stage smoke. But before Perturbator took to the stage, I couldn’t help but think of how important James Kent is, as a musician. Virtually bridging the gap between metal and electronic in a way like no other, he is possibly one of the most important creators around today in any genre. By being in black metal bands himself, I can’t help but feel he knows what we, as a subculture, are drawn to, and it’s so refreshing. It’s a fact that the metal community loves electronic music; we had adopted The Prodigy long before we adopted Pendulum, and with those more or less out of the picture, we now have a whole genre of people who have adopted us.
On the back of this greatly satisfying train of thought, Perturbator, in his signature hooded form took his place between the keyboards, laptop and lights… And unleashed hell. There’s something to be said about this brand of electronic music — it is undoubtedly heavy. Crystal Castles or Gesaffelstein can sound heavy at times but this is something else. The entire show was an assault on the eyes and ears. The blinding strobes and flashing light pillars attempt (and frankly succeed) in blinding you, transporting you to a state of disorientation, where the only thing you can comprehend is the crushing bass of the music around you. Older songs ‘Future Club’ and ‘Weapons for Children’ were well received and sounded expansive when played this loud. Every single nuance in the melody and composition was laid bare. But biggest crowd mover at this point was ‘Humans Are Such Easy Prey’. Entire swathes of the room jumped maniacally while the fringes headbanged like it was a Gojira concert.
Whilst Perturbator’s early music is exquisite, newer release New Model saw the incorporation of decidedly darker and more brooding elements, equating to something akin to a vocal less Spektr at times. Synth heavy behemoth ‘Tainted Empire’ showed exactly what the new EP was about, dancing between brooding electronic passages before diving into slow and tortuous bass sections that attempted to grind the crowd into dust. ‘Corrupted by Design’ followed the same method, throwing down some groove and atmosphere whilst strobes and bright green lights flooded the floor, bathing all in a sickly nightmare glow. But none were so hypnotically destructive as ‘Tactical Precision Array’. Using the lights to the full effect, the frenetic, thunderous beat of the song drove the room to an almost animalistic level of primal rage, all the while Kent is head banging his way between the keyboards to suck every ounce of energy out of his music.
Perturbator defies genre, culture and creed. His music is without a doubt, magic in every way. Occult, dark, scary magic that renders the listener incapable of regular thought. This was easily the most captivating show of the year.
Review by Dylonov Tomasivich
Perturbator – Australian Tour
Brisbane Nov 23rd @ Crowbar
Perth Nov 24th @ Tetsuo