After impressive sets from Cruciform – Paradise Lost‘s Aaron Aedy commented to Sentinel Daily how much he enjoyed the Sydney band’s sound during their set – and Rise of Avernus, whose wolfish drummer Andrew Craig gave a bravura performance throughout the band’s all-too-short stint on the Metro stage, the faithful settle down to wait for tonight’s headline attraction.
The venue isn’t sold out, but is tightly packed enough out front to give a rousing welcome to these returning doom titans, who reflect that love right back a the audience with a measured, tightly controlled masterclass in doom/death styling. Perhaps not surprisingly for a band now touring behind their fifteenth studio album – the crushing Medusa – the set is littered with standout tracks and top drawer metal; Gregor Mackintosh in particular is in splendid form, wrenching out solo after trademark solo from his Flying V whilst the band’s other main focal point, Nick Holmes is in jovial mood despite being a little fatigued thanks to the band’s unforgiving Antipodean schedule which sees the band playing five gigs in five days with little time to draw breath.
Tragic Idol and One Second are early favourites, the latter in particular being welcomed warmly by the Sydney crowd, whilst the middle of the set is bolstered by the new album’s title track and a fine reading of Erased, described by a smirking Holmes as ‘a guilty pleasure’.
Blood and Chaos and As I Die form a formidable late-set one-two, keeping the audience just below fever pitch but a minor seismic tremor does occur as the band unsheathe a glorious Embers Fire to round out the main set in tremendous fashion, Aedy and bassist Steve Edmondson grinding away in the yeoman pursuit of riff nirvana stage right whilst Holmes and Mackintosh hold the attention on the other side and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen brings the hammer down unremittingly at the rear. This is what we came for.
It’s getting late now, and some of the audience are starting to flag, but the encores pick everyone up and send them home happy, not least final offering Say Just Words which ends this sixteen-song celebration of despair in upbeat fashion, the superb chorus ringing in our ears as we head off into the night in search of kebabular sustenance.