Monday, April 9, 2012

Review of VYRION & CROWNED gigs (black-metal), Jubilee Hotel, Brisbane, Australia, 27 Jan 2012

Review of VYRION & CROWNED gigs, Jubilee Hotel, Brisbane, Australia, 27 Jan 2012

This review is for VYRION and CROWNED performances at Jubilee Hotel, Brisbane, Australia, 27 Jan 2012. There was actually four bands on the bill: VYRION (opening band), CROWNED (second band), MOON, and EMBRACE THE SOLAR WINDS. I can only the review the first two bands here sadly as I had to leave the show after CROWNED played because it was after 11pm and I had to get to my hotel on the Brisbane train network. Anyway...

VYRION was the first band on the bill. The show was in an upstairs room at Jubilee Hotel. There was around fifty people present when VYRION started. The crowd was not big perhaps because people will not support local bands. The weather was rainy and threatening more just prior to the show which may have deterred a few people given that Jubilee Hotel is a fair walk from Fortitude Valley station and there is no covering from the rain once you turn the corner where Step Inn is located and head along St Paul's Terrace. The night began on a good note for me as the bouncer of a club just outside the Valley station shouted out to me as I passed: "Yeah, the Corpse, man, Hammer Smashed Face, man!!!"

VYRION play Scandinavia-influenced blackened progressive death-metal and it was impressive because they had a lot of power and chemistry and were doing a lot of different things musically. The vocalist did some death-growls of a very formidable sort but the band excelled not only with the chemistry and enthusiasm but with the many pace and tempo changes and many short melodic guitar parts put into every song. As an old-school metalhead I do appreciate some melodic guitarwork, leads and/or solos, in as many songs as possible. The band was sufficiently old-school, both in its melody and in its brutal sections, for me to appreciate. There was a line or two of clean singing even towards the end by the same vocalist and he excelled at that too. Three guys were headbanging and parachuting "Corpsegrinder" Fisher-style up front and the vocalist built up great rapport with the crowd very quickly. This band was unique in being mostly fast-paced and shifting tempos and doing short melodic sections at short notice. Although the band was somewhat ambitious, the performance was cohesive and never seemed too showy, gimmicky, complicated or pretentious.

CROWNED was next and this band is very interesting (see my interview with the band on this website). The threesome appeared on stage with the two guitarists (they have no bass player) wearing brown monk capes. This caused something of a stir among the crowd. My friend and work colleague Pauline Collins tells me that this was the band's first gig with the capes. The drummer didn't have a cape and this actually added to the effect because BM is not about conformity and uniforms: three caped men out of three would not have worked as well as two! My mind thought of the CANDLEMASS vocalist Messiah Marcolin at that moment as I can't think at the moment of any other leading metal musician who has worn a cape (although I'm not a BM expert). You could not see the faces of the two guys in the capes and they could not see their guitars. The guitarist is also the singer so he certainly did a great job at singing and handling the guitar whilst not being able to see.

In terms of music the band plays a certain type of non-commercial BM that works to put the listener in a trance and I found myself fighting the effects of this. There are no stoppages in the music and it resembles a drone. This is not to say there are no tempo changes, because there are, but the overall effect is one of continuous drone. The band also was following the BM cultural norm of being aloof from the audience and playing as if they were alone in an ancient monastery or Norwegian forest. The two guitarists were motionless throughout, consistent with the spiritual aspect of the music and the monk robes. They deliberately made no attempt at all to relate to the audience. People stopped headbanging and just watched in quiet awe and appreciation. There was certainly enough technical moves of interest to keep your attention although, not being familiar with this band's actual songs, I could not point out individual songs to anyone. At the end there was sincerely appreciative clapping and someone shouted "hail the black metal gods!" in a tone which mixed irony (not mockery) with sincere appreciation and respect.

To me the monk costumes worked very well because BM is attempting to perform a spiritual activity. It could be argued that BM even aims to reclaim a lost spirituality which modern Christianity, with its Pentecostal megachurches, crass commercialism, prosperity doctrines, and basketball stadium venues, has moved away from. If it is spiritual then BM is ascectic in the sense of scorning materialism and excessive consumption. It has something in common here with death-metal. However, DM is very different to the extent that it aims to establish rapport with the crowd (as even VYRION did).

Overall, two different bands and both interesting and technically proficient. It is a pity the crowd was not as high as it could have been although I was not there to see the final two bands and perhaps the crowd increased later in the night. I will not give a %-score for the gig as that would not appear to be consistent with the BM attitude!

By Jack Frost, 13 February 2012.

VYRION FaceBook page:!/vyrion
VYRION Metal Archives page:
BUSUKWEBZINE666 Interview with CROWNED, 25 November 2011:
CROWNED Metal Archives page:
CROWNED band contact: 

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