GIG REVIEW: Immolation, Astriaal & Disentomb Live at Crowbar, Brisbane
When you hear that a band has been performing for 28 years, you automatically assume that they have seen almost every corner of the world during their storied careers. Sometimes however, even that far into their career, a band can cross new borders and perform in a place that they have never been to before. Immolation is one such band, and this week they graced Australian shores for the first time. I must admit I was sceptical of how the turnout would be at the Crowbar, firstly given that Finnish Cello-metal masters Apocalyptica were playing a stone’s throw away across town, but secondly because Sunday nights are never necessarily good nights for gigs at the best of times. Surprisingly enough there was a decent crowd that were gathered at the venue before the bands started and as the night when on that volume seemed to trickle in more and more.
Beginning the night were slam kings Disentomb who seemed to be in better shape than they were a few weeks ago supporting Suicide Silence. Playing for the first time as a 5 piece, the band brought an absolutely devastating sound and tone to the Crowbar. I’m not sure if it was the acoustics in the Crowbar, or if they were just performing better than a few weeks prior, but their tonality and sound was immense enough that it had the floor shaking. While the crowd reception probably wasn’t as great as it could have been, there was very little to fault with their performance and I’m going to attribute the lack of fan movement to it being the ‘beginning of the night’.
Next up were Astriaal, a band which I’m going to come out and say that are Australia’s answer to all the black metal titans like Emperor, and Bölzer, and possibly even Behemoth. With a sound that borders somewhere on ambience and madness, this is a band that definitely sticks under your senses from the moment you hear them. Astriaal had a larger crowd offering than Disentomb, and it certainly seemed like the band had more of a crowd singing along – but when you are playing your first show after a live performance hiatus, well there’s always bound to be a bit of a crowd. Mixing their setlist with old material and new upcoming material, the band grabbed the crowd from the onset and didn’t relent for their entire set. I’m definitely looking forward to getting to more shows from these guys in the future.
While the stage setup was small and demure compared to the last time I had seen them, Immolation seemed right at home from the moment they walked onto it, wasting little time with pleasantries and instead opting to unleash on the gathered mass before them by launching straight into their first track. The fans seemed a bit reserved at first, but after Immolation hit their stride (around three songs in), things in the pit got a little bit more frantic with a lot of back and forth pushing.
Alternating between quietly spoken appreciation for the crowd in between songs, and the aural onslaught that their death metal brings was much very much the recipe for the night, and Immolation’s front man and bassist Ross Dolan is one of the greatest purveyors for this particular sort of tactic.His jovial, humble and softly spoken nature between songs instantly dissipates the moment that the music starts giving off the impression that he is the death metal version of Jekyll and Hyde. One thing that this show did make evident is that Robert Vigna is quite possibly one of the greatest guitarists around. Quite often I found myself focusing on the man, mesmerized by his profound style and just pull myself away. There is something in his motions that just captivates the audience, and I quite often saw several people around me pointing with disbelief that he was able to perform some of the pieces he was performing. It’s obviously no secret that the man is a great guitarist, but to see it that close up in an intimate setting really highlights all the little nuances – and I think that was one thing which made the crowd appreciate his work that little bit more.
There was very little that you could fault from Immolation’s performance. The bands instruments tonality was just perfect; there was an adequate but not overbearing level of distortion on the guitars which reinforced the band’s delivery; the house speakers weren’t muffling any of the sound; the vocals were some of the harshest, thickest and most dense I had heard in recent memory; and the fans were enjoying every minute of it. In terms of execution, this was perhaps one of the cleanest shows I have ever seen and that’s something that not many bands can boast.
The set did barrel along at a pretty quick pace, and the band seemed to hit all the marks that you would expect from a touring band with 28 years experience, and while the crowd seemed to tire out towards the end of the set it didn’t stop the band from putting on one of the better shows I have seen in recent memory. Remarking that this tour had been a ‘long time coming’, the band seemed to enjoy their time up on the stage, and their 14th song of the night, and final song of the tour, definitely rolled around too fast. It seems very difficult to imagine that a band that is 28 years into an illustrious and storied career hasn’t managed to tour or play in Australia at least once in that time. Luckily for Immolation and fans alike, that drought has now been broken – so we can only hope that it’s not another 28 years before the band makes it back here!