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All Guns Blazing - Civic Hotel, 22 Oct 2011

By Trease Riot

I attended Saturday’s All Guns Blazing with the intent on catching some relative newcomers to the scene that haven’t yet broken through to the Perth masses. Stalwarts Vespers Descent seemed to anchor the line up of fresh meat, but even the local legends couldn’t pull the usual punters. Alas, every new band comes with a dedicated fan base of family and friends to ensure a somewhat steady crowd. 

I witnessed the first incarnation of Armada Vale back in 2007 at a hazy backyard party. The kind of party where you find people sleeping in dog shit the next day. The trio had yet to find a singer, but I remember being impressed by the TOOL-esque tunes. Fast forward to 2011 and the band has kept the epic song framework, while incorporating a broader range of musical influences due to the addition of new members. It’s a progressive mish- mash of styles that works to unite fans from an array of heavy genres. Each song was meticulously thought out, riding melodic waves of intricate guitar harmonies, aided by an impeccably tight rhythm section.

Vocalist, Ian Ingleby’s range is impressive, easily shifting from death growls to clean cut melodrama. Seldom do you find a band that can successfully add clean, emotive vocals to the mix, without alienating the core fan base. I guess the boys paid attention in drama class because their use of the stage was vast, yet sometimes unnecessary. Oh look, you jumped off the drum riser just in time for the breakdown!

Ultimately, the musicianship here was at a level that made a mockery of being offered an opening time- slot. 

Straight up, in your face, no bullshit, mid- paced groovy death metal sums up Armadale’s, BloodKlot. It would be pointless to launch into a colourful linguistic exposé to describe this band live; it’s all meat and potatoes here folks. Thick walls of savage guitar amidst chunky, plodding drum work, all broken up by some decently brutal death growls. The metal chops are here, but they’re a little underdone. I found the set repetitious, each song sounding like the last and not really going anywhere. With the dissipating Armada Vale rent- a- crowd, BloodKlot were left with the die hard metal heads, happily head banging away, beer in hand. Not bad at all, especially if you prefer your steak raw and bloody. 

Bunbury has metal? Apparently so! It seems the NWOWATM fad (new-wave-of-west-australian-thrash-metal) has crept its way down south! Though as an ex- resident myself, I’m sure it’s probably the same wave from the eighties.

Death Dependant trudged onto the stage delivering a completely original set, albeit heavily influenced by thrash metal titans Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth. That’s all well and good if you’re up to that level, but oftentimes when bands attempt to emulate their idols, the resulting sound is sub par to an audience familiar with the greats. The band’s song writing ability was still pretty good; thrashy, fast, heavy, all the ingredients necessary for a boozy basement piss- up, but easily the shining feature is the guitar work. Each killer riff is complimented by great tone, linking interesting solos and even better bridge sections. The vocals are OK, but ultimately become a tad cringe- worthy during the slower, ballad- like songs. But hey, no one ever compliments James Hetfield on his singing abilities, right? 

All in all… not bad, just in need of some fine tuning and more hours in the band room.

I am completely partial to anything remotely inspired by the Florida tech death scene. Fans of Death, Atheist or Cynic would no doubt enjoy what Vespers Descent have been spewing out over the past decade. They’ve even added a touch of Swedish melodic death, producing a beautifully interesting hybrid, or a sound that is very much their own. Admittedly, they seemed a little out of place at this gig. Guitarists Grant Burns and Drew Sheppard played effortlessly and in perfect unison, and Perth’s fastest feet, Ben Mazzarol laid down some tidy grooves behind the kit. Fans were sated with the inclusion of songs spanning almost a ten year catalogue, including tracks from Three Faces of Eve, Reality Dysfunction and this years standout; Fragments of the Forgotten. With a resume most local bands would kill for, having supported the likes of Opeth, Mayhem and Hate Eternal, I was left wondering where the fuck everyone was. Perhaps still nursing their Friday night Cold Fate hangovers; or maybe it has something to do with the Perth curse; where is a band to go once they reach the top?