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Live Reviews : Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hybrid Nightmares, Earth Rot & Hollow World @ Max Watts, Melbourne 03/06/2017

By on June 4, 2017

Images: Clinton Hatfield
Words: Rod Whitfield

Fleshgod were here a few years back, with Septic Flesh, in what was a very fleshy lineup. It was more of a co-headlining thing, and the night I saw them they came on before Septic (which is absolutely fine, as Septic are an awesome band too), but it meant that Fleshgod only got a 45-50 minute set, which is nowhere near enough. That they were coming back with a full headline tour of their own was very welcome news.

Hollow World

First up however is support slots and invaluable exposure for three Aussie heavy acts. Four bands in one night seems a lot, but short, sharp 30 minute sets for each of the local acts makes things rather streamlined, and the night runs as smoothly as silk and never seems to drag.

Melbourne’s Hollow World definitely have their own thing going on, they slam out a blistering brand of extreme metal with very subtle symphonic and progressive touches. Frontman Ben Roberts is a pocket dynamo, his voice could strip paint off a wall and he attacks his role with extreme energy and controlled aggression, while the ultra-tight band punches as one like a steel-encrusted fist. If there is one small criticism that can be levelled at the band and their team is that the drums are ever so slightly overpowering, and the guitars could be given just a bee’s proverbial more presence. But overall, in this humble writer’s opinion, Hollow World are the pick of the supports this night.

Hybrid Nightmares

Farming slightly more traditional, garden-variety metal soils is Perth four-piece Earth Rot. Their sound is more straight up and down, organic thrash and death metal, with blackened edges, the performance is over the top and and they do it all rather well. Especially their frontman, who handles bass and vocal duties, Tom Araya style, with aplomb and his voice is absolutely ferocious. If you like a more straight-edged approach to extreme music, these guys are your bag.

Melbourne five-piece Hybrid Nightmares have been around for quite some time now, and also have a very distinctive thing happening. Right down to their onstage apparel, which lies somewhere between druid and viking and comes replete with corpse-painted faces. It’s a bizarre visual concoction, but somehow it works. Similarly, their sound is a wild mix of death, black, thrash and progressive metal, which is difficult to pin down and always keeps the listener guessing. Frontman Loki’s voice displays a strong influence drawn from Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir, which is a wonderful thing, as the Norwegian is one of the great extreme metal vocalists. Hybrid Nightmares deservedly receive an uproarious reception this night.

Fleshgod Apocalypse

The best place to experience the almighty Fleshgod would undoubtedly be in a far bigger venue with a full-blown orchestra and choir. But, since such things are way too expensive and impractical to carry around the world, seeing the illustrious Italians in any way possible is a wonderful thing.

Another difference from the previous Fleshgod tour is that they’ve brought fabulous opera singer Veronica Bordacchini with them on the road with them this time, and her stupendous voice and presence lends yet more pomp and circumstance to an already overwhelmingly bombastic sound. The fact that they are able to wind out to an hour and 20 minute headlining set takes this band’s show from an awesome live gig to a transcendent, truly memorable experience from a band taking metal to where it’s never been before.

The sound, whilst not perfect (which would be impossible anyway), is monstrous. It must be a nightmare having to balance all of those myriad sonic elements, even when the orchestral parts are, by necessity, triggered rather than live.

The visuals are spectacular, all the way to their renaissance-inspired onstage garb, which along with the heavy European accents, give the show real gothic grit and authenticity. The setlist is highly satisfactory, with the highlight being the closer of the set proper, the audacious and grandiose Syphillis, with Bordacchini’s voice reaching the very heavens.

What an evening of extreme music.

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.