Openers The Ocean’s take on progressive metal went down smoother than whisky on the rocks. Lead vocalist Loïc Rossetti pulled a Maynard James Keenan to begin with, gently crooning from the back of the stage before shifting forward to steal the limelight with his angelic howl. Firmament’s tribal meanderings simmered and bubbled before rising up into thunderous metallic grooves, Damian Murdoch’s sizzling lead strewn throughout. The inclusion of cello added an interesting flavour to the band’s repertoire of sounds, but was frequently drowned out in a booming mix. Next, a surprise guest. “Lochlan, where are you?” asked Rossetti, before local metal guru and The Racket host, Lochlan Watt, emerged on stage to contribute guest vocals to the crushing, Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance. The Ocean ticked all the boxes.
Hometown heroes Ne Obliviscaris were up next. They launched into a set of eclectic extreme metal and the crowd reacted approvingly, pumping fists in the air and thrashing about. With 15-minute songs that include flourishes of folk, the band’s sound is a polarising one that appeals to a niche audience. It may not be every metalhead’s preference, but it sets them apart from many other bands in an increasingly homogenised heavy music scene. Lashings of black metal were entwined with Tim Charles’ folky violin harmonies. The transitions were jarring at times: blast beats dissolve into ambient guitar noodling. Nevertheless, NO are veterans of the live circuit and performed with self-assured conviction.
Their musicianship is top-notch: guitarists Benjamin Baret and Matt Klavins extracted only the sweetest aural nectar from the frets of their 7-stringed beasts, while drummer Dan Presland delivered blast beats by the dozen. Cuts from Citadel and Portal of I dazzled throughout. “You guys are everything to us,” says Charles as the set reached its climatic conclusion. Theatrical, melodramatic and at times completely over the top, Ne Obliviscaris don’t just put on a show – they deliver a genre-defining spectacle.
By Jack Pilven
Highlight: Being part of such an energetic crowd.
Crowd Favourite: Two different takes on metal coming together.