4 March 2013 — The Crowbar, Brisbane
It was 8pm; venue: The Crowbar. I sat outside, watching what I counted to be three or four staff struggling to open the venue’s door. They pried. They pulled. They pushed. Eureka. The door gave way and welcomed a swarm of metalheads and moshers to descend upon The Crowbar’s stairwell. I traced their footsteps. Flashback: the last time I was here I saw Darkest Hour. My anticipation grew. There’s something about toking a joint backstage with a band from Washington D.C. that only spells fond memories. Needless to say, I had high expectations tonight as I clicked my pen and opened my notepad.
I first caught Sydney’s Stories, who, admittedly I hadn’t heard of before their set started. Suspenseful samples hung in the air before swooping into tranquillity; I was intrigued. But my interest was soon thwarted. Distortion rung out and kablamo! Stories slammed into whirring crunches of deathcore distortion, with the quintet playing out the expected stage choreography: guitarists running on the spot, floor stomps ‘n’ squats, maniacal hand gestures – you know, the hardcore equivalent to a hamburger with the works.
Stories continued ploughing through their set, unleashing barrages of Meshuggah-meets-Korn riffage, with throat-shredding vocals unrelenting. But unfortunately for Stories it was all just too familiar – contrived even – for a band who failed to rub off as anything more than trend-hopping djent clone.
Prepared Like a Bride
Next up were the Gold Coast’s Prepared Like a Bride – or as commonly abbreviated, PLAB. But by the time Prepared Like a Bride dived into their set, I was overwhelmed by a sense of deja vu: pseudo-math drop tuned grooves, mid-tone hardcore screams and a touch of atmosphere echoing amidst chaos. I felt like I’d heard this before. Wait. Yes. It was literally 45 minutes ago when Stories wrapped up their performance.
But to Prepared Like a Bride’s credit, the band attracted their fair share of moshers; that is, whenever they churned out a breakdown. And there were many – probably too many. Hell, my notepad was almost almost punched right out of my hands by the beserking crowd. Could they sense my pen was inking poison onto paper? I doubt it. Nevertheless, tonight’s show at The Crowbar was off to an average start.
A Breach of Silence
Okay, so by now I was hoping – no, counting on – A Breach of Silence to raise the bar in regards to originality. Did they deliver? Well, the quintet kicked off their set blaring ‘Rawhide’ – the Western song popularised by The Blues Brothers soundtrack. Then, clean singer and bassist, Blair Layt, made his voice known – literally: trumpeting power metal melodies all the way to the bathroom. The band kicked in. They thrashed their guitars; they wielded breakdowns. And I guess if I was asked to describe A Breach of Silence, I’d say, okay, hypothetical situation: Atreyu and Parkway Drive are at a party, drinking with, say, Blind Guardian. And if a collective of five people from those bands started a project, that’s A Breach of Silence.
Now, as for the band’s performance tonight – and coming from somebody who’s seen A Breach of Silence a handful of times – I can say this was their standard set. And I don’t get me wrong: it’s a good set. But I’ve seen ‘em do better: ‘Dead or Alive’ release show, The Tempo Hotel – now that was a kickass set.
The Storm Picturesque
Now it was time for the last band I caught on tonight’s bill, Newcastle’s The Storm Picturesque. And again this was another band I hadn’t heard before setting foot in The Crowbar, and again djent reigned supreme. But fortunately these Newcastle lads have listened to the Meshuggah back-catalogue enough to know there’s depth beyond the band’s drop tuned eight-string guitars. In fact, The Storm Picturesque were the only djent band tonight to experiment outside of conventional time signatures.
Besides that, though, and the occasional shred, The Storm Picturesque were confined to a familiar template: mechanical beats blasting to loose strings; atmospheric progressions singing above walloping distortion; and next to no onstage energy unless signalled by a breakdown. Oh, you know that saying ‘third time’s a charm’? Well, that doesn’t count with djent music.
As you can probably tell, my ears were fed up with the diversity of tonight’s line-up – or, the lack thereof. One djent band: I can handle that; two: sure, but you’re starting to push it. But three? C’mon, I could’ve swapped my notes on each and essentially wrote the same review. Nevertheless, thank the lord for A Breach of Silence who salvaged the night as much as possible, and delivered a tight set as per usual.