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  • Shepherds Reign - Gig Review: Shepherds Reign @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 3/11/2018

Shepherds Reign - Gig Review: Shepherds Reign @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 3/11/2018

11 Nov 2018 // A review by butch181

It was looking to be a late night at Ding Dong Lounge with the 8:30 start time being pushed back to 9, then being pushed back even further as they waited for the patrons to make their way upstairs. Traitor’s Fate finally taking to the stage, Shepherds Reign vocalist Filivaa welcome everyone and introduced the evening with a very simple "Welcome to the Shepherds Reign party thing."

Traitor’s Fate are a three-piece instrumental group that sit quite firmly in the hard rock category. With quite a strong 80’s and 90’s influence, each track is full of little sequences that are reminiscent of the likes of ACDC, Iron Maiden, Pearl Jam, and Megadeth & Metallica. With an instrumental group, precision playing is vital as all of the focus is on the instruments, with no vocal section to hide behind.

Alex does a superb job on the guitar, shredding away and makes great use of hammer-on’s and pull-off’s, but while he has some good speed and a fair amount of variation in his riffs, the execution is a little sloppy at times. In an instrumental setting, it really stands out, especially with the live mix having his guitars overpowering the bass and drums to such a large extent. Would love to hear a bit more of a snap to the drums, and a bit more volume on the bass, but it was still a very enjoyable set, with some very talented guitar licks. Apart from stopping twice to quickly say thanks, they didn’t stop at all during their set. Practically continuous playing, each song leading straight into their next.

The second act for the night came in the form of local five-piece Close To The Bone. An interesting group, with two guitars and a bass, there is a very solid, thick sound on stage. Whether the fuzz in the tones they use, or a similarity in notes played, the first few songs in their set did struggle with the guitars merging into an indistinguishable wall of sound, that ended up making the whole thing sound very 90’s grunge rock, especially when combined with Lorenzo’s quiet, mumbling vocal style.

As the set progressed, their instrumental sound increased significantly, and their lead guitarist was in a league of his own, stealing the spotlight on many occasions. Whether it was a poor mix at the desk, or simply poor projection from Lorenzo, the vocal performance did leave a lot to be desired. Much of his lyrical content was not discernible, as it was far too quiet. From what was able to be heard, it sounded like it would be a good style that would fit with the instrumental style, very much having a Chris Cornell vibe to his voice, and a surprisingly solid abrasive scream that he pulled out on a couple of occasions. Some great manic work from the drummer, and some good heavy riffs towards the end.

Final act for the night were the headlining act, Shepherds Reign. The four-piece Polynesian heavy rock act were there to celebrate the release of their debut album, and much of the family had turned up in support. All four sporting their Samoan tooth necklaces and beginning the set with some traditional cultural drumming on a backing track, they jumped into their performance guns blazing; or in this case Gideon and Oliver had their guitars blazing with some awesome duelling guitar action.

Their sound has a thick, heavy chug to it, despite the band having yet to find a bass guitarist to join the ranks. Filivaa was relishing in the praise from the crowd, taking in all the applause with a wide grin. The boys still look a little wooden on stage, not being very animated, but of course Ding Dong is not known for having much stage space to work with. Including a few softer tracks (such as Death) into the mix the set had good variation, with most of the heavier tracks coming across with a strong Godsmack and Avenged Sevenfold vibe to it.

Legend was a cracker of a heavy track and the crowd were in hysterics from the opening notes. But without a bass guitarist on stage with them, they were unable to play through all of their latest material, so they closed off the short set with Concrete Walls, ending the night before midnight hit. There is some room for improvement in Filivaa’s breathing, as his lyrics felt rushed and shortened from time to time, but Gideon and Oliver did a brilliant job no guitars, keeping the interest throughout the set.

Photos by Chris Morgan Photography.


About Shepherds Reign

Hailing from the deep Polynesian stronghold of South Auckland, Shepherds Reign have stamped their powerful mark on the New Zealand and international music scene in a very short amount of time, creating a huge buzz from their live shows. Combining the traditional and ancient music of their forefathers with modern rock and metal influences including bands like Gojira, Avenged Sevenfold and Dream Theater, Shepherds Reign have found their own unique sound in a cluttered and overblown musical environment.

Unlike any heavy artist, Shepherds Reign bring a captivating and enthralling sound with the use of the Samoan language, instruments and culture, making it an integral part of their live show. The evocative and primal live show displays a fierce pride for their music that wins the audience every time with its blood pumping ritualistic beats, thick melodic textures and an undeniable power that hooks the audience into the bands dark and heavy realm completely.

A fifteen date tour of New Zealand as special guests of Devilskin's RED NZ tour 2020 cemented a place for Shepherds Reign as a force to be reckoned with and won them a huge swathe of new fans. Paul Martin, bassist for Devilskin and producer of The Axe Attack commented “I totally knew our audience would love these guys! I can’t remember being this excited over a band for a long time. They completely blow me away with everything they do, attitude, commitment, passion and an unashamedly distinctive sound. But the real magic is in the songs. Powerful, compelling and totally undeniable.”

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Shepherds Reign


Shepherds Reign
Year: 2018
Type: Album

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