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Live Reviews : At The Gates, Zeolite, Earth Rot & Spire @ Odeon Theatre, Hobart 28/04/2019

By on April 29, 2019

On Sunday night I was lucky enough to catch At The Gates‘ first ever gig in Hobart, Tasmania. It’s rare to have a band of this calibre down in Hobart, so these opportunities must be seized when they do come; a massive thanks to Matthew Chalk and Southern Extremities Productions for putting together such a solid line-up. While mainland support acts The Haunted and Witchery were sadly unable to make the trek down South, we were met with a slew of excellent Aussie support acts in the form of Zeolite, Earth Rot and Spire.

Zeolite kicked the night off well, gradually convincing more and more people to stop lurking up the back and to come down the front for the pit throughout their set. While the first few songs took a bit of time to dial in the right sound for some clarity in the mid-range riffing, the performance itself was well-executed with some decent energy. Fraser Mainwaring’s vocals were a highlight of their set, balancing the deathcore grunts out well with higher pitched screams and howls. Closing song ‘Plutocracy’ got a strong crowd chant toward the end and overall was a good warm-up for the later acts.

Earth Rot left no doubt as to who they were when they began. As they walked on stage I checked with my mate asking, “Is this Earth Rot?”. Shortly afterwards singer Jared Bridgeman roars ‘We are Earth Rot!” before launching into an explosive set. Their style and sound worked extremely well for the venue and the crowd, with the heavy black/death riffs balanced out with melodic elements that cut through the mix well. Bridgeman had a great rapport with the crowd, getting them hyped for their own set and the later set by At The Gates. Groovier songs like ‘Stares of Sempiternity’ provided a nice contrast from the more intensely straightforward songs leaving the impression of an excellent and well-balanced set.

Spire followed up next and was the only band that I felt were something of a miss that evening, though not because of a bad performance. Certainly, the aesthetics were extremely well executed; from the moment the band walked on stage in Portal-esque hoods and cloaks, there were no words exchanged with the audience, only a howl of black metal esoterica. While it was certainly an artistic experience and was well executed, it seemed to leave the audience in the cold and wasn’t especially suited to the likes of the other bands on the bill. While some of the choral elements were cool and the riffier sections of some songs got the crowd a bit more engaged, the set blurred together a bit and ultimately would have been better suited to an event like Dark Mofo (at which they played last year) rather than a melodic death metal gig.

That said, the main event did not disappoint. From the instrumental opening ‘Der Winderstand’ leading into ‘To Drink From the Night Itself’, Tomas Lindberg was in command of the stage and the crowd. Though missing bassist Jonas Bjorler (who they explained need to, unfortunately, return home due to family issues) the other members delivered an excellent set that balance material from To Drink From the Night Itself, At War With Reality, and Slaughter of the Soul. The sound was excellent with a particularly excellent guitar tone that ensures no heaviness was lost, especially when delivering classic material. ‘Slaughter of the Soul’, ‘Cold’, ‘Nausea’, ‘Suicide Nation’, and ‘Blinded By Fear’ all sound excellent, with Lindberg’s vocals an especial highlight proving that he still has what it takes more than 20 years later. The new material also sounds great, with tracks like ‘Colour of The Beast’ and ‘Daggers of Black Haze’ standing strong amongst the classic tunes. While it might have been cool to hear some deeper cuts and older songs instead of the emphasis on more recent material (especially that of At War With Reality), the crowd certainly love the energy and the song selection, going particularly wild for the Slaughter of the Soul material. Closing track ‘The Night Eternal’ was an apt choice, as each band member left one by one as the musical layers dropped out, demonstrating for anyone wondering how you leave a stage with style.

At The Gates were one of those bands who I assumed I would just never see live due to the distance involved and living in Tasmania and I was delighted to be proven wrong. To have such a great gig here is fantastic, and hopefully, other bands will consider making the extra trip for a passionate crowd of metalheads. At The Gates and the other supporting acts, all delivered excellent sets and I would strongly encourage anyone with the opportunity to see At The Gates (or any of the above bands) live if the opportunity presents itself.

About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.