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Live Reviews : Transience, M0dal1ty, Cirrus Crown, Formiles @ The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne, 24/5/2019

By on May 26, 2019

I love nights like this. No big international headliner (although I love those too, of course), just four superb local rock acts doing what they do best in a classic small, intimate venue. This is the shit!

Hailing from Geelong, Formiles are a real enigma. While they certainly squeeze into the broader Aussie alternative/progressive rock scene, they have something all their own going on. Their sound has tinges of a post rock aesthetic to it, but you would not call them a post rock act. Their music is built on subtleties and atmospherics as opposed to unbridled heaviness, and features syncopated drum rhythms, pained and ethereal vocals, dreamy soundscapes created by shimmering guitars over wandering basslines and highly skillful use of dynamics and musical ebb and flow. And when it flows, it is subtly powerful.

The crowd, a little unsure what to make of them initially, slowly but surely warms to Formiles over the course of their 30 minute opening set, and they ultimately receive a hot reception from the Evelyn punters this night.

Cirrus Crown are a brand new band with a huge ambitious sound and a highly extroverted live presentation. This is only their third ever gig as a band, and already they have a highly developed and confident show. Imagine what they will be like when they have 50 shows under their collective belt!

One thing about this band is that when they go hard, they go very, very hard, the sound comes at you in veritable waves of intensity as they shoot for the stratosphere. Especially during their tune Vertigo, during which guitarist Pete Borzeta steps into the crowd. Elsewhere, as with any progressive band worth their salt of course, they know how to pull back and utilise dynamics and ambience to provide contrast to the pulsating heaviness. They even sample a didgeridoo during Chroma, which lends the track an eerie and in’didge’enous effect. Cirrus Crown have put themselves together and hit the ground running.

Similar to Cirrus Crown, you can still count the number of gigs Melbourne’s M0dal1ty have played on one hand. And again similar to Cirrus Crown, they have already hit their stride in a live sense. The confidence and exuberance flowing off the stage when they smash in with D1sc0nnect is truly infectious and a sight to behold, especially for a band that only broke their live cherry a matter of months ago.

One small complaint about M0dal1ty’s set is that the co-lead vocals of bassist Alicia Richards are almost inaudible tonight. Her voice is sweet, and offsets frontman Nigel Jackson’s more ferocious assault beautifully, however they are a little lost in the wall of sound mix this night. It’s a relatively minor blemish however, and Jackson’s full throated, uplifting delivery pretty much makes up for it. Overall, their set tonight is stellar, it is obvious that much work has been done on this band behind the scenes before they went ahead and unleashed themselves upon the world. Watching their career unfold fills one with breathless anticipation.

In the case of both Cirrus Crown and M0dal1ty, get a few tours into them and they will both be absolutely on fire.

Tonight it is a case of three newer bands supporting a relative wily veteran act. Transience have been around a number of years now, they have done the hard yards and their live show is testament to that. For the uninitiated, this band slams out a typically Aussie brand of progressive heavy rock and metal, with long, blistering songs, advanced musicianship from the band and impassioned, howling vocals from frontman Robert Cuzens.

And speaking of howling vocals, a highlight of the Transience set tonight is when local legend Nguyen Phambam, who has graced stages with the likes of Circles, Alithia as well as his own band Enlight, joins the band on stage and screams a repeated line like his life depends on it. Another highlight is when they treat us to a new track, a slow burner, a slow builder, with an enormous peak.  

Closing with the monumental Ocean, Transience send us home fat and happy after gorging gluttonously on another fabulous evening of Aussie progressive heavy 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.