29-Aug-2012 Bald Faced Stag Hotel, Leichhardt (Sydney)
August 4, 2012
Supports: The Veil, Okera, Myraeth
Reviewed by Brian Giffin
Pix by Andrew Pittman
While there was an appreciable lack of the stench of it about, certainly the sound of doom was heavy in the air at the Stag this evening for the launch of genre veterans Lycanthia’s latest album and even early on the crowd numbers looked pleasing. Opening act Myraeth—featuring two former Lycanthia members—are stylistically quite similar, Samantha Kempster adding colour to the slow rolling thunder of creeping, hypnotic riffs with the melodious tinkle of keys and sawing of a violin. Myraeth are strong exponents of this style that are doing more than simply falling back on its cliches and Kempster’s vocal trade-offs with guitarist Ryan Casey are a pleasing step above the ordinary.
Melbourne visitors Okera impressed this reviewer with their Katatonia-esque album A Beautiful Dystopia recently. Tonight they quickly proved themselves to be just as remarkable in the live arena. While at this stage the band still wears the influence of that Swedish band heavily on their sleeve, that is by no means a terrible thing. The four-piece offered up a solid set of dark, progressive doom-death with a level of showmanship and stage mobility that marks them as a band to really keep an eye and ear out for.
The Veil – also possessed of a former Lycanthia member – had a line-up reshuffle just prior to the show but a stand-in bass player had no negative impact on their elegant progressive rock and doom. As when I’d seen them previously, they opened with an unnamed work in progress that immediately captured the crowd’s attention with craftily-interwoven hooks. Few bands dare to play unfinished, unproven songs as intros to their sets, but The Veil not only does so regularly, they pull it off. Alongside more obvious touchstones like Opeth and Woods of Ypres, The Veil’s elaborate musical palette stretches across the realms of progressive heavy rock, guided by the precision drumming of Dan Nahum and the sonorous, if occasionally oddly-pitched, vocals of Che deBoehmler. “The Light That Burns” became the set showpiece with Sam Kempster joining the band on stage to add a further level of texture; the result was a commanding performance all told.
Lycanthia’s tale is one of personnel sagas, which is why they play rarely. Tonight with a new album and several previous members already preceding them in other bands (and at least one more in the crowd), Lycanthia took to the stage with none other than their original drummer Lachlan Donaldson fitting into the new arrangement. Spread across it, the front line configuration – two guitarists, keys player, violinist and frontman Lee Tassaker – barely fit the stage, but there was plenty of room for their sombre melancholia. For their part, the keys seemed somewhat subdued under the weight of the band's huge, slow riffs and Donaldson's steady rumble but the three-way vocal trades came off well, even if the female singers were a little under-utilised. Still, they had plenty to do, especially Vanessa Black who added not only string flourishes to the band's complexities but a colourful stage dynamic in striking contrast to the rest of them. They were like a band that plays a few times a month instead once in a blue moon; it's a shame they've never been able to perform that regularly because they are truly under-appreciated, and rounded out a great night of doom-laden entertainment with aplomb.
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