Recommended Aussie Band:Tamerlan Empire | Sydney Symphonic Black Metal | Listen

Live Reviews : Darkcell, The Last Martyr, Flat-Liner, Death of Art @ Stay Gold, Melbourne, 04/05/2019

By on May 5, 2019

Stay Gold is virtually a brand new live music venue for Melbourne, and it’s great to see. Also good to see is that it has had a bit of cash splashed on it to ensure that it is a good, comfortable, welcoming and professional venue for punters to come to to watch bands, eschewing the typical dingy, sticky carpeted Aussie rock venue vibe (and don’t get me wrong, I love those venues too) for a cleaner, more ‘American’ bar-style place. The infrastructure of the place is excellent too, the stage is large for a small venue, the sound is excellent and there is great lighting for the bands. Well done to the folks who set this up. May Stay Gold provide long and enjoyable service for the Melbourne gig-going public.

And the night I get to road-test it is a great one too, a diverse bill that draws a strong, equally varied crowd, from goths to metalheads to crusty old rockers like myself.

First up is Death of Art, a quirky three-piece with a female guitar player, a somewhat lackadaisical male drummer and frontwoman Erin Blackie, unquestionably the star of the show. The music is unashamedly gothic rock, featuring symphonic and industrial flourishes, with a garishly dressed and made-up but nonetheless alluring and attention-grabbing Blackie prancing and strutting the stage, brandishing wooden stakes like she is about to become ‘Blackie the Vampire Slayer’, wearing devil’s horns and performing with ropes tied to her arms, possibly simulating some bizarre bondage ritual. It is designed to be performance art as well as a rock show, and in this it succeeds rather nicely, you simply cannot take your eyes off the spectacle. Given some success and a greater budget, Blackie could undoubtedly pull off something rather amazing.

Sound-wise, it definitely needs a bass guitar in there to fill out and give some bottom end to the aural effect, but overall Death of Art are an unquestionably entertaining experience.

Speaking of bass guitar, Flat-Liner bassist Datura definitely has something about her, a look, a sound and, most importantly, a groove that is indefinable, that only a few bassist you see/hear possess. It is lucky then, that the band she provides that groove and chunky but smooth bottom end to is pretty damn cool as well. Flat-Liner are a Melbourne-based band who do what they do extremely well, that is, slam out their completely in your face ‘industrial nu-metal’ with an enthusiasm that is ‘grab you by the throat’ infectious. They are a five-piece, including a stringswoman who adds strange, somewhat discordant but evocative textures to the sound with her electrified cello and violin, which is a fabulous touch.

And underneath those industrial and nu-metally stylings is the soul of a kick-arse rock act, embodied in howling frontman Grey, who attacks his role with relentless, good-natured anger.

As a whole this band write strong songs (single Salt the Wound is particularly good) and deliver them with a blistering, kinetic energy in a live setting. Flat-Liner do not live up to their name, they are very much alive and kicking. And kicking hard, with steel-capped boots…

The Last Martyr pursue a more traditional metalcore sound, with some industrial tinges and ballsy female vocals. Like the venue they play only their second ever gig in, and very first home town show, they are virtually brand new. So they are like a big ball of clay that needs some sculpting, they are high quality raw materials that need to be worked, moulded and nurtured by skilled hands. They lack nothing whatsoever in enthusiasm, and each individual is highly skilled at what he/she does, the screaming female/male vocal trade-off is particularly promising, they just need to work a little more on their songcraft, and stagecraft. With regards to the former, more hooks and more cohesive arrangements should be the order of the day. For the latter, it’s fantastic to see such movement and energy onstage, they just need to control and coordinate it a little better. Both will come with hard work in the band room and more shows, respectively.

Even at this early stage in their career, and given the work that needs to be done on their presentation, The Last Martyr still put on a highly entertaining show that their throng of fans appreciates no end. There is a big future ahead for this band if they want it badly enough.

By stark contrast, sound and career-wise, Darkcell are wily veterans of Aussie heavy music and live scene, and it shows. Their show is a show of contrasts. It is, at once, sleek, slick and features a level of professionalism only possible when you have literally hundreds of shows under your collective belt, and raw, ghastly (in the nicest possible way) and almost violently aggressive in its delivery and impact. Yes, some of the aural onslaught is augmented with some backing tracks buy hey, many, many bands are doing that these days so it’s really not an issue.

Another sweet contrast/balance in their live set is that between the relentless industrial inhumanity of their sound and live show and the fact that 98% of that is delivered organically, by four human beings with (ear-splittingly loud) analogue instruments.

This show is the Melbourne launch of their brand new, self-titled album. The album is excellent and the songs, both new and old, reach a new level of pure savagery in a live setting again. This is truly what is meant by the term ‘industrial metal’. It is loud, crude, nasty and unrelenting, a maelstrom of highly organised industrial chaos, and shitloads of fun.

You can place this band’s name in the ‘highly underrated’ file, they are a world-class industrial heavy music act that possibly hasn’t received the kudos they richly deserve, here in Australia, let alone across the planet. Let’s hope this album changes that for them.

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.