GIG REVIEW: Insomnium, Orpheus Omega, Naberus & Myridian Live at Max Watts, Melbourne
It was Thursday night, and there was a big line out the front of Max Watts. In fact, as I was finally walking down the steps of the entrance into the underground venue, I heard the first few notes of the night begin to sound. And turning the corner, I was greeted with the synchronized windmills and melodious black metal of Myridian on stage.
Pummeling riffs were overlaid with twisting guitar melodies and haunting piano lines as the band conjured up their atmospheric darkness, bringing to mind snow swept bleak landscapes. This was only furthered by the vocals to occasionally sound remarkably, akin to those of Wintersun’s Jari Mäenpää.
The drums in particular stood out, taking on a much more complex and interesting role over the more spacious sections of songs, which further added to the vibe and ambience of the experience. Not only was it a pleasure to watch such a solid opening act, but seeing them play to a surprisingly packed venue (and on a weeknight no less) really speaks volumes about the dedication of metal fans in Melbourne.
Naberus appeared on stage next and presented an unusual visage. With their vocalist in a flanny, one guitarist wielding a Telecaster and a backdrop you’d expect to see at a black metal show, it was hard to know what to expect from the performance. Melody was once again a very strong theme with this band, this time underpinned by straightforward, no-frills guitar riffs delivered with a tonne of stage energy. The band hardly stopped moving throughout the show.
Disappointingly, the high and low screams seemed to vary considerably in volume with the lows disappearing in the mix whilst the highs were very audible, However, this didn’t seem to faze the audience, with many appreciative heads nodding along and a few enthusiastic windmills up the front of the crowd. The highlight of their set was the harmonized guitar solo during “Drones” or perhaps the breakdown in “Close Your Eyes”, with both parts being particularly well-executed and memorable.
Local melodeath heroes Orpheus Omega have been smashing the touring circuit lately, not only within Australia but with a quick jaunt over to Asia too. As a result, the hype around the band was at an all-time high. Taking to the stage, there was suddenly loud applause and horns aplenty, and from the energy of the audience, it soon becomes very obvious that there were many diehard fans making up the pit. Launching into faced-paced and aggressive riffing, the band made the crowd surge and thrash around in droves.
Frontman Chris Themelco showcases his impressive ability to sing and scream whilst laying down his high-energy melodeath riffs with style and aplomb. Chris wasn’t the only multi-talented member within Orpheus however. Bassist Nathan Mesiti and keyboard player Owen Gallagher both stepped up to the plate with backup vocal duties, and handled the roles with confidence and charisma.
Whilst the band were obviously serious and seasoned musicians, they also displayed a humorous side on stage, with (bassist) Nathan ending the set wearing a chicken mask (and at one point playing his bass behind his head) which had been thrown on stage by a member of the audience.
As the intro music played, the crowd begins to roar and the tension was palpable. Insomnium walked out onto the stage and stood with their backs to the audience, before suddenly breaking into ferocious blast beats that hit hard and fast.
The drums were thunderous, with punishing double kicks that were tight and fast, providing the backbone of the band’s impressive live sound. However, unrelenting metal wasn’t this band’s only trick in the book as riffs give way to spacey clean sections accompanied by spoken word and slightly sung vocals. This in turn led to tasteful leads and dual guitar solos, before throwing the music wholeheartedly back into monstrously heavy riffs.
Insomnium’s performance was extremely tight, and all of the instruments had a very solid and cohesive sound due to the mix being incredibly good. The drums were powerful and present but not overbearing, the guitars and bass blended and complemented each other forming a punishing assault on the senses, over which the vocals overlayed perfectly.
Seemingly not a band who cares about doing things in a conventional manner, the first half of their 80 minute-long set was performed with no front lights, which rendered the members as dark silhouettes, back-lit by swirling blues and greens. Adding to the mystery surrounding the band was the fact that not a word was spoken by them for the first 40 minutes of the show. Instead, the songs would flow from one to the other, or there would be a short interlude with keys coming through the PA whilst the band left the stage to grab a drink or towel off. Eventually, the front lights came on and the band invited the crowd to “go fucking crazy” – an invitation which the audience certainly didn’t need to hear twice.
Insomnium were all obviously incredibly talented musicians, with lead guitar lines that are tasteful and never just aimlessly shredding, clean vocals that are powerful in pitch with excellent vibrato control, drums that are tight and memorable melodies, and riffs galore. However, they also definitely have found a formula which works for them, with very few deviations from a very specific style. Whether that’s a detriment or a bonus is not for this writer to judge – it is merely an observation. If you ever have a chance to catch Insomnium live, I suggest you do it. It was rare to see a performance quite on this level.
Also check out our Photo Gallery of the gig here!