25 May 2018

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Gig Review: Northlane with Set On End @ Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland - 26/08/2017

01 Sep 2017 // A review by butch181

I arrived at the Kings Arms Tavern forty minutes before doors opened in order to avoid traffic, and was surprised to find the carpark already full of cars, and patrons waiting to gain entry to the venue. By the time the doors opened, the crowd that had amassed looked large enough to fill the venue to capacity. Making my way inside, the bar was jostling to a level I have not seen in a very long time. Trying to get a beverage looked like a long and fruitless endeavour when surveying the throng of individuals that stood in my way. Turning instead to the stage I waited for the first band to hit the stage.

Local prog metal group Set On End are opening the night and don’t hesitate to get straight into it. Jesse Cleaver is uncompromising in his vocal style, with relentless rough bellows over the top of dissonant riffs. The performance is flawless, with the guitars synchronised in a manner that increases the power of the melody, and the thickness of the grooves. The lack of clear vocals means there is no respite from the barrage of growls from Cleaver, but the crowd are more than committed; and with a simple request to move around and jump, the crowd acquiesce, and the floor of the Kings Arms Taverns erupts into a mosh pit. With a generous helping of djent, the venue quickly heats up.

Next up on stage are metalcore act, In Hearts Wake, who originate from New South Wales, Australia (a fact that they pointed out a number of times, even poking fun at the All Blacks/Australia rugby match happening concurrently). Beginning their set with Passage, the crowd gets straight back into moshing as vocalist Jake Taylor shouts a battle cry of “Resist! Resist!” in an otherwise unremarkable track. As the set progresses, the band picks up the energy and ferocity, and the crowd does the same. Taylor’s deep gruff vocals are smoother and reminiscent in style to that of Mushroomhead’s Jason Popson. The mainstream heavy sound of In Hearts Wake provides a simple rhythm that Taylor is able to take advantage of with a contagious energy, as he flirts across the stage and commands the crowd to move at a whim. After a short bit of banter with the crowd, they break into Survival, with the objective of crowd-surfing Taylor to the rear of the venue to capture the flag, and return to the stage before the conclusion of the song. Riding an inflatable raft, no less, Taylor unleashes fury upon the microphone as the crowd jumps and bustles beneath him, slaloming between the venue’s ceiling fan and chandelier, the mission is almost a success until the crowd gets too excited and flips the boat, Taylor and all. Props to them all, they continued on without missing a beat, and promptly got revenge on the crowd coordinating circle pits and a wall of death (something I’ve never seen successfully done in a venue of this size). The band manages to combine youthfulness, approachability, ferocity, and melody in a set that left impassioned patrons satisfied, while they waited for the headlining act.

Northlane are the final act to perform, and unfortunately their performance was impacted with some tech troubles with their microphone equipment. The confident performers that they were, however, combined with the eagerness (and intoxication level) of the crowd meant that it in reality had no effect on how much the audience enjoyed the show. With some members of the band dressed in masks covering the lower half of their faces (not unlike Heavy Metal Ninjas), they had an impressive and imposing visage, but still maintained a generally friendly and approachable vibe. This was taken advantage of, by the bustling crowd as many climbed onto the stage to hug it out with the band mid-song and started what seemed like an endless stream of disruptive crowd surfers. After the nine or tenth crowd surfer climbed on stage, he was swiftly shoved back off stage by vocalist Marcus Bridge, and the disruptions slowed down to a minimum. The set list was predominantly their newer material, half of which was from their latest release Mesmer, and a quarter from the previous release Node, with Bridge clearly more comfortable performing the tracks from the two albums he was involved in the creation of. Northlane are not a banter-heavy band, instead letting their music remain the focal point, pushing track after unrelenting Australian metalcore track. Nic Petterson provides a great powerful performance to match the unified row of guitarists that have no hesitation in their routine.

This was undoubtedly the heaviest gig I have ever seen at the Kings Arms Tavern. Not necessarily because of the music, but because of the crowd. They were there to get into it, and get into it they certainly did! 

Reviewed by Alex Moulton

About Set on End

Forming in Auckland, New Zealand, Set on End released their debut EP, Means To An End in 2009, touring solidly and sharing the stage with a number of international touring acts. The band took a significant break in order to work on their creative direction, returning in 2016 with a new line-up and their first full-length album, The Dark Beyond, an evolution of the band's heavy, groove-oriented core.

Recorded between Mindset, and Zorran Mendonsa Productions in Auckland, The Dark Beyond was mixed and engineered by Zorran Mendonsa (Blacklistt, New Way Home, Saving Grace) and mastered by Ermin Hamidovic (Periphery, Plini, Haunted Shores) at Systematic Productions in Melbourne.

"The album explores humanity's journey as a species and as individuals, striving for a better world, striving to further our knowledge of who and where we are. Sometimes the path we should take is obvious, and at other times we simply wander into the dark, reaching out for the unknown."

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Set on End


The Dark Beyond
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Means To An End
Year: 2009
Type: EP

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