Live Reviews : Rainshadow (Melbourne) – 22/05/2009
w/ Arbrynth, Wood of Suicides and Okera
The Arthouse – Melbourne, 22nd May 2009.
In the little pub that could, better known as the Arthouse, a night of forest filled fun was to be had by all at the hands of Okera, Wood of Suicides, Arbrynth and Rainshadow. When first hearing talks of this show I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Arthouse would be accommodating the proceedings as the small and intimate venue with relatively cheap booze always guarantees an enjoyable evening.
When first arriving around 8:30pm I was surprised to see the already decent turn out, I say surprised as the typical local metal gig in Melbourne usually doesn’t swing into full momentum till around 9 – 9:30pm. The evening was to mark the debut performance of progressive doom metallers Okera, and as the room continued to fill they took the stage. This in itself was a pleasant surprise to myself and I would imagine to the band as well, that the venue was so packed for an opening act. Their set was comprised of three songs, however each song was in the 7-10 minute bracket so it was a solid 25 minute set. Opening with the down tempo and haunting Black Rain it set the mood for some highly atmospheric and almost euphoric music to follow. Doom metal is always a difficult genre to translate to live performance and in considering this Okera did a fantastic job. The second song Futility continued much in the same vein as Black Rain until it picked up which saw a lot more interaction from the audience. The third and final song (and my personal favourite of the night) was to be Like Jewels in the Sky which was a lot heavier and more upbeat than the previous two and showcased a great talent for writing some killer riffs to send chills down your spine, the overall sound reminded me of Opeth meets Daylight Dies. With the aid of some excellent lighting and a smoke machine Okera put on a successful and highly enjoyable show despite a few minor hick ups which can be expected for a debut show. They received a mighty welcome from the Australian forest metal community through a sizeable applause at the cease of each song and their set which indicates that we will be seeing more of them in the future.
Second on the bill was Wood of Suicides, a band that well and truly lived up to its name, for the music sounded like a deserted wood full of people committing suicide. The piercing and agonising vocals turned a few patrons away to the beer garden up stairs but others still remained to watch. I could appreciate the music to a certain degree as it does fall under the Suicidal Black Metal category which contains a few select bands I enjoy such as Sombres Forets, but for others who have no experience or interest in the genre it’s hard to stand by and watch even out of curiosity as it is a very abrasive style of music at times. The first few songs were extremely down tempo which I didn’t really enjoy but the music started to pick up as their set unfolded and became more enjoyable. At times the music did create a kind of psychotic ambiance through the insane guitar sounds and sorrowful vocals but I think regardless of how solid their performance was they were never going to get the overwhelming reaction that some of the other bands experienced simply because it is a genre that is far more out of left field. However you cannot deny that the band are obviously very passionate about the music they are creating and that did come across to the audience which made me appreciate it a little more.
The pioneers of Australian Forest Metal itself Arbrynth were to take to the stage next and were sure to not disappoint. As this band does not gig that regularly it is always a treat when they do and you can always expect 110% from the entire band each time. Opening with Notorious Dream the set was off to a great start but one thing that always happens with this band is that the sound guy never gets the vocals right! One of the stand out elements in their music are the beautiful harmonies and I wish they had their own sound technician so that the levels would be perfect each time but alas times are tough in this financial crisis. The crowed response doubled during what seems to be their most popular song, The Raven which made it the perfect time to debut their latest untitled track which went down a treat. My personal favourite Rivers End followed which shows off the bass player’s beautifully angelic and haunting voice, which brings me to another reason I love this band. Never being a big fan of female vocals in metal music myself, this band knows exactly where to place the female vocals and at times to place both male and female which creates a wonderful array of tones. As well as the tremendous musicianship itself one thing that makes the band so enjoyable live is the folk and chant like harmonies which create a kind of comradely relationship between band and audience like saying ‘let’s march to the woods together and destroy our fateful enemies as one’ haha. Ending on a brutal note with The Black Veil it was a perfect way to wrap up the set, with intense head banging by all. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching a band that looks like they wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in that moment but on that stage and know that they are enjoying every minute of it. I hate seeing bands that take themselves too seriously and appear as though it’s just another show in the larger scheme of things, Arbrynth are right there in the moment and I love it!
Lastly to wrap up the evening were the headliners Rainshadow. One thing that made their set hard to enjoy was this distinct rumbling sound that continued throughout the entire set, I could not for the life of me actually figure out what it was. The music sounded very Katatonia inspired and I wasn’t surprised to see the lead singer wearing an Anathema beanie either. In terms of performance I thought it was really lacking as there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm or interaction with the audience, and there is nothing worse than watching a lead singer sway from side to side looking bored and not knowing what to do with themselves during instrumental portions of a song. The whole band looked kind of lost on stage which may have been due to the fact that they are a 6 piece band and the Arthouse stage is not the most spacious of stages. The sound wasn’t as good as it had been for the previous three bands and from one song to the next there didn’t seem to be a lot of versatility. They also did a cover of Anathema’s Deep and I personally have just never been a big fan of playing covers live unless the band attempts to reinvent the song and apply their own personal style, and I especially don’t enjoy covers when it’s of bands that I really like such as Anathema, as I cannot help but compare and think it’s unworthy of the original. Overall I think that Rainshadow put on a good show but I think it was lacking a lot of the fundamental aspects of live performance.
After a few too many ales by the end of the evening I had most definitely had my fill of forest and went home a happy woman. One thing that made this gig particularly enjoyable was that the bands all played a similar style of music which made the continuity of the evening flow better than some other gigs with complete mismatches such as Vanishing Point opening for Black Label Society or The Spazzys opening for Marilyn Manson. If this trend keeps up I will be sure to attend many more shows put on by Whitenoise Productions in the future.
For more information on any of the bands visit the following websites;
Reviewed by Holly McBride.
Photographs by Jess Day.
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