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Live Reviews : Divine Ascension, Damnations Day, Trigger & Horizons Edge @ The Espy, Melbourne 11/04/2015

By on April 14, 2015

Images: Jason Fados
Words: Dilini Fredrick

Despite the ambiguous entrance through the Kitchen, I actually made it on time. I shook hands with the lovely Ms. Jen, the voice of Divine Ascension. A thank you to her for being so welcoming. And there was still at least ten minutes to spare. I was looking forward to going to the Espy as it had been a long time since my last venture to this venue. There were slight changes, but the Gershwin room still had the same, ‘steeped in history’ vibe it always had.

Horizons Edge hit the stage to a very small crowd, but I assumed most were having difficulty finding the entrance. Still, no lack of energy from all six members. Right from the first song they don’t leave you wondering what they’re about. Power riffs aplenty. Each member seemed to have the opportunity in each song to showcase their skill. I must admit during some of their solos, especially when the keytar made an appearance, my mind began to wander. The antlers hung over the bar, the dim lighting and lack of sleep contributed to my mind being transported to some tavern in Germany perhaps. I’ve never been, so I imagine there would be hunting paraphernalia and Horizons Edge providing their epic brand of power metal.

I must say, that alternate entrance made for an inordinately long trek to go out for a smoke, but alas, not enough of a deterrent.

Trigger, replacing Teramaze, were up next. The opening song confused me slightly as energy levels were raised and prepared for some more power metal of the kind that I am more than just a little partial to, so I had a quick look to see what this band were about. In subsequent songs, they incorporated some traditional metal solos that redeemed them, but, personally, I’m a huge fan of In Flames in their Clayman and Whoracle days, so it didn’t appeal to me as much. Keeping my own steadfast preferences aside, it was a good effort by vocalist Tim to keep a somewhat lackluster crowd involved. Even their more thrashy elements fell on ears that didn’t know how to react perhaps. I just hope that the crowd braved a few more steps towards the stage by the end so that Tim’s wish to catch a whiff of the front row was granted.

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The general vibe of the crowd shifted towards heightened anticipation as Damnations Day prepared to take the stage so I couldn’t help but be drawn into this new vibe. That morning I had listened to a few tracks, but, as always, metal can be truly appreciated when experienced live. They unleashed with technical precision and vocals that seemed to draw upon the combined forces of King Diamond, Dio and Bruce Dickenson. It annihilated all preconceived notions and produced one of those, “Fucking Mettaaaaal!” moments. A special mention must go to the incredible and effortless shredding by guitarist Jon. I believe A.J, of Bane of Winterstorm kindly filling in on bass and providing token red head for the night, fell off the stage, but I’m too short to have seen so it actually looked like part of the show! And I was like, “Fuck yeah!” Then I was told that it was in fact an accident; I refuse to accept that. Regardless, A.J and the rest of the band carried on to showcase a new song. You know, just casually threw it in. The fact the crowd demanded an encore should tell you what the effect of this teaser had on all who witnessed it. Perfect example of a band experimenting with different sounds that heavy metal affords, and not afraid to do so. It was rather different, but good different. Groovy. I have a bias towards progressive elements so needless to say I’m intrigued. Mark mentioned recording will begin in August. Time moving too quickly these days hasn’t been more easier to cope with after that.

Before I talk about Divine Ascension’s set, I have to mention that both women, Kat and Jen, displayed the best command of the stage I had seen that night. Show them how it’s done, ladies. But I digress. Actually, allow me a second digression.

Normally this is not an issue, but the Espy seemed to have drawn a different crowd who might not know the simple courtesies you should show. If you must take the odd picture, turn the flash off. I personally like to watch with my eyes rather than through my phone screen so if you have the need to experience it in this second hand fashion, don’t obstruct someone else who doesn’t. Okay, that’s all I wanted to say about what really should be common knowledge, so moving on.

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The curtains opened and Divine Ascension appeared the picture of the consummate band. The crowd warmed slowly to them, but not due to any fault of theirs. It was the first show on their tour promoting their new album ‘Liberator’. All the bands that played experienced sound issues and they all carried on to put on the best performance possible. Divine Ascension, their smiles and energy were infectious and I thought they deserved a more appreciative crowd. There is always room for a bass solo and even keyboard solos. I don’t think anyone noticed a particularly artful keyboard solo that was quietly slipped in there, but I did. As a treat and brave deviation for a metal band, they performed an acoustic ballad. A couple of years ago, I held the Espy in such high esteem as an ideal venue for this kind of music, but that crumbled slightly because of the sound issues and a few rude, yes, rude, people around me. I have to say it, it was only Jen’s powerfully beautiful vocals that drowned out the conversations that could be heard quite clearly up the front. Regardless of these bitter points, it was a great performance and I look forward to seeing them again in a better environment.