The Gov, Adelaide SA
Sunday 10th September 2023
Support: The Ocean Collective and Rivers Of Nihil
“Sunday evenings often feel like the weekend is over before it’s even begun.” – Catherine McCormack.
This statement from the renowned English actress is one which millions of people worldwide could resonate with. The precious two days off that we work so hard toward seem to vanish in an instant. As the hours of the final day away from our occupations disappear at an alarmingly fast rate and the “Sunday Scaries” overtake our final moments of enjoyment – one has to wonder, is there a way to soothe this Sunday suffering?
Thankfully Melbourne’s (and parts of Europe) progressive metal sextet Ne Obliviscaris were present to obliterate those “Sunday Sads” for those that adore the avant-garde approach to their heavy music. The “trepidation” admiringly became “tremendous fascination” and assuredly for many on this night, if only for a few hours, the idea of Monday had become a “none day”.
Pennsylvania’s tech death metal quartet Rivers Of Nihil were not here to re-invent the Big Mac (research: Jim Delligatti), but they were here to unleash a big attack on a growing Adelaide audience and they left a tasty impression. Working with minuscule stage area due the headliner’s grand setup and an already assembled drum kit, the four-piece were forced to the front of the stage, and this caused the showcase to be fantastically forthright. Opener ‘The Silent Life’ began as a death metal march that transformed into a post-rock journey with jazz influences (sadly the saxophone did not make an appearance) before climaxing to an onslaught of death math metal and intensity. It was baffling, but it was brilliant and special mention must go to bassist and now lead vocalist Adam Biggs who impossibly managed both duties flawlessly.
‘Sand Baptism’ encouraged a sing-along with Mr Biggs screaming the impactful lyrics “I am the sun, I am the moon” that accordingly left the onlookers in awe and wanting so much more. ‘Clean’ embraced a doom metal motif with glimmers of industrial, blackgaze, synth-metal and even djent inclusions; a nice touch was included with the audience holding up either lighters or phone flashlights to add further enchantment.
‘A Home’ rattled the venue further as a clear favourite and consequently aroused Adelaide from their visit to “the methadone clinic” jokingly put by Adam. The post-death-metal hybrid of the composition is otherworldly. ‘A Void From Which No Sound Escapes’ impossibly incorporated moments of Sigur Rós elegance; this was understandably thirsty work as the charismatic character that is the guitarist Andy Thomas required a shot and chaser of beer, which he sensationally gulped down mid-song.
New song ‘Sub-Orbital Blues’ incorporated more melo-death inclinations and theatrics with blast-beats that were executed to a superhuman level by percussionist Jared Klein. ‘Episode’ was delivered as a captivating collaboration between Sólstafir and Inter Arma that integrated traces of deathcore remarkably. It seemed necessary to close with ‘Where Owls Know My Name’, a gothic-math-jazz-metal composition that both Gorguts and Pink Floyd would become bewitched by. On that extravagant note, this was the show’s opening band; welcome to “Fun Day Sunday”.
Germany’s The Ocean Collective were not here to devour currywurst sausages, they were here to demolish South Australia as they had many times before. Where Rivers Of Nihil had used the small stage space to seize their fans, The Ocean used it as their playground. Each musician played on the edge of the stage, ensuring that their gaze was at either their fanbase, their instrument or at times, each other to amplify their performance. As the ripplings of ‘Triassic’ emitted through each instrument delicately, vocalist Loïc Rossetti sauntered to the front and commenced his message: “You feel so disconnected, and yes, I get it, but there is just no point in further confrontation; Dysfunctional communication skills” – ironically these words are the polar opposite of what TOC achieve with their art. They connect, they communicate, they engage, and they engulf their witnesses with waves of post-metal poetry.
‘Silurian: Age Of Sea Scorpions’ was the first invitation for Mr Rossetti to join and dive into the audience, as became his first crowd surf venture. ‘Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses’ let the Germans explore their jazz infatuation with deeply heavy movements. The sequel of the previously administered track was the Thrice and Car Bomb fusion that was above illustrious. ‘Subboreal’ amalgamated an eerie trance introduction that A Perfect Circle wish they crafted; this then effortlessly morphed into Cult Of Luna territories blended remarkably with Cave In, but still under the instruction of The Ocean’s soundscape.
‘Jurassic | Cretaceous’ finished the exhibition; a 13 minute expedition of excellence that is soundtrack evidence of why the outfit have toured with Tool. There are not just verses and choruses with this composition, there are chapters, pages to be turned, senses to be impassioned. It is what The Ocean Collective execute immaculately night after night. Loïc returned to his second home during his front-man exploits, which is being lifted by the audience – essentially though, The Ocean matter-of-factly lifted the audience at this event.
At this point, it was honestly hard to imagine another act had the responsibility of headlining the event. However, the European and Melbournian conglomerate Ne Obliviscaris were not here to neck Fosters – they were here to dazzle.
‘Intra Venus’ attained this, instantly. Vocalist and violinist Tim Charles was in his element, parading and serenading his devotees in exceptionally endearing elegance while the (Ne) orchestra thrilled those who needed to be affiliated with the demonstration. ‘Equus’ was in all probability the most astonishing duet featuring Mr Charles and the enigmatic heavy vocalist Xen that The Gov has ever hosted in the prog-metal universe. Main lyricist Xen is one of wonderment, a silent conductor who recognises his scene in the theatre that NeO present and when he appears, he mystifies those who observe his aura.
It isn’t just one artist in the outfit though, reminiscent of a symphony, each member displays exquisite talent in their musicianship during their spectacle. It is hard to describe but it is stirring to undertake. ‘Misericorde I – As the Flesh Falls’ and sequel ‘Misericorde II – Anatomy Of Quiescence’ were delivered with the cinematic ambience of Star Wars – not in the sense of a “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” (though not far removed from this opulence), more in the sense of how the constitutions of musical soundtrack were so innovative.
‘Forget Not’ lived up to its perfectly titled name and had willing aficionados deciding they loved the fact this song was being played before Tim could actually announce it was a part of the set -“You don’t know what song it is yet mate.” He exclaimed with immeasurable grace; “It doesn’t matter, they are all great.” The eager fan responded. An idyllic presentation ensued, the musical showpiece is 18 years old and honestly ages like a superb single malt Scotch.
‘Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes’ was an astonishing blend of the majesty of Ulver’s I.X–VI.X LP with Insomnium and this is where Xen became the lead authority and ‘Graal’ inconceivably took this one step further. One might ask: “How”? This could have readily been performed in a grand setting, such as the Sydney Opera House.
An encore was gloriously included with ‘And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope’ and Tim Charles seemed to glow with luminescence during this finale. He started with a string harmony that would have brought cinema goers to tears; he also conducted his tremendously talented artists through nearly 14 minutes of blackened orchestral metal simultaneously. Furthermore, he was a brother in arms with the wordsmith and heavy vocalist Xen and when those hard-hitting prog-metal sections aggravated The Gov’s atmosphere – Ne Obliviscaris were simply euphoric.
“Sunday evenings often feel like the weekend is over before it’s even begun.” – this event certainly defied this sentiment, if only for a few magical hours. Better yet, no-one present was there to FucK spiders.