17 Aug 2022
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Gig Review: Laid to Rest @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 08/07/2022

08 Jul 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Tonight’s show was called “Laid To Rest” as it was the last gig for the Yakushima Assassin Clan Metal band from the distinguished ghetto streets and suburbs of West & South Auckland (Forty Bucks Till Tuesday) with singer George Shinobi Mishinoku, who has decided to leave the scene for now.

Opening act were Moshpitt, and this was the first time I had seen them since James Trimmer (Black Sands) had joined. He hits the drums harder than anyone else in the scene, which makes him the perfect foil to the incredible 5-string bassist Arata Aono. Either side of the stage are guitarists Aaron Yap and Layla Zhou who build on the incredible frenetic foundation while at the front is Hao Cheng. He may look as if he has just left his job at the bank with a smart suit and shirt, but vocally he is intense and when they opened with Sucker he was like a man possessed, screaming as if he was fronting an intense hardcore outfit. One of the things I have always liked about Moshpitt is the way they move in and out of different styles, normally wrapped around the bass, and Eighth Day was a very different number indeed with Hao showing he can sing as well as scream, while Layla took the opportunity to provide melodic guitar licks over the riffs. Here they kept hitting on the offbeat, creating a sound far removed from what they were doing before as they moved to a climax. The addition of James to the line-up has ensured the rhythm section are operating at a different level, as he is able to bring so many different facets to the overall sound.

The sheer ferocity and volume of the James and Arata allows the two guitarists to do whatever is required to get the best out of the songs, whether it is riffing hard or trading lead lines. They even all dropped into a Sixties-style number at one point with Manado, but one is always aware that the storm is never far away, and they can switch from gentle rock to something way more metallic very easily, all the while still making perfect musical sense. Round Round Round turned into a mighty groove and created a very dangerous looking moshpit indeed with people really getting into it – I was very glad indeed I was safely behind the chain (they keep me penned in at Dead Witch). All too soon the set was over, and they were closing with Wellington, which at times saw them move firmly into SOAD territory. It was a real blast, and certainly set the tone for the rest of the night with Moshpitt again creating a mighty noise.

Antebellum were up next, a band new to me. They are an instrumental trio, which is somewhat unusual these days, featuring Daniel Beeler on guitar, Isaac Martin on bass and Ash Rolston on drums. A gentle backing track provided the introduction, with Ash slowly starting to add more cymbals and percussion before they launched into Origin, which saw them move into mathcore and very technical metal. In many ways they remind me of Black Sands and one can certainly imagine them touring together. Ash is the focal point of the group as he is having an absolute blast onstage either moving his whole body as he headbangs or gurning, all the time providing complex fills while Isaac provides the support on his 5-string for Daniel to either play down the neck or provide some complex widdly widdly near the top. Summit saw them creating a very different pattern, with Isaac and Ash joining together on one path and Daniel going off on his own, before coming back together and then moving away again. It felt like two very different routes being taken to get to the same end, almost like two sets of walkers or climbers taking their own ways to get to the top, to the summit.

Daniel is a very technical guitarist, seemingly able to play any style he wishes, so we get a great many different techniques, but the rhythm section is there with him every inch of the way. I have always felt that trios are probably the most honest band format as there is no room whatsoever to hide, and the weakest link always stands out whereas they can sometimes hide in quartets. While Daniel is creating the melody, using various pedals to create effects, the only reason it sounds so good is because of the rhythm section which provides the edge and security for him to work against while they keep pushing him all the way. We were getting some wonderful shredding at times, but whatever was taking place was always melodic, metallic, and wonderful to hear. Having checked out their FB page I see they are from Tauranga, which will be why I haven’t come across them prior to this as that is approximately 200km away but I certainly hope they make the trek up here again in the future as their set was intense and certainly gained them a lot of friends. New single Resolve is just a bombastic blast from beginning to end with bass and drums locked in to provide real crunch, with melodic guitar over the top: it certainly got the crowd moving while the short break even got them some cheers as they missed a beat and then kept going. They ended the night with Rapture, and I wasn’t the only one wishing they were playing a longer set as this was quite an introduction.

Then it was time for the main event, and with tonight being George’s last appearance with the band it was being videoed while the set itself was longer with the addition of some covers. They kicked off with Welcome to Purgatory and already the front of the stage was a dangerous place to be so having snapped some photos (hopefully) I retreated once again. Guitarist Hayley Nessia is one of the happiest musicians you will ever find on a stage, often with a huge smile on her face, as this is where she comes alive, locking in with her partner in crime Andrew 'Spoon' Wanhill as they both riff hard while adding little touches and flourishes here and there. Dean Brannagan is another hard-hitting drummer while Carl is locked in on bass (and anyone wearing a Led Zep shirt definitely has good taste), and then at the front was George. This is metal with balls, passion, and heart, driving at pace with a frontman giving his all for the very last time. They blasted through Mother Mercy's Keeper and then were upping the pace with Liberation Deprivation as the audience and band went nuts. There was an intensity coming off the stage as they really meant it, and the crowd were reacting in kind.

Fourth song in and they cranked up the first cover of the night, SOAD’s Aerials. The way that song changes pace, style, and tempo, is perfectly suited to the band, and the crowd certainly knew all the words, and enjoyed singing the ending. Before the next number Hayley told the crowd she wanted to see a pit where people were genuinely fearing for their lives, and they launched into Murder Thy Art and the floor suddenly became a dangerous place to be as the band ramped it up and the audience responded. With Toxicity following, the crowd were in heaven, going crazy at the right moments, George staying behind the guitarists, so they had room to have fun with Carl claiming centre stage. Then Andrew kicked into the riff for The Unknown, Carl joined in, then Hayley and Dean and we were off into another blaster.

The covers were coming in thick and fast now, with Metallica’s Fuel the next to get the Forty Bucks Till Tuesday treatment, but they never sounded out of place, fitting right in with the band’s own material. But then they threw in a cover which probably surprised most of the crowd, seeing as how it was recorded before many of them were even born, Holy Diver by Dio. I saw the man himself perform it back in another lifetime at the Hammersmith Odeon (complete with ruined castle, dragon, and lasers) and the guys did them proud, with George doing a fine job (a heck of an ask near the end of the set in a sweaty dive) while Hayley pulled some wonderful faces as she locked in the riffs while Andrew took the solo. The crowd were bouncing around like loonies and I certainly had a smile on my face. Girl In A Cave was their first single, some five years ago, yet it still sounds fresh and solid with crunching riffs moving into pop punk with plenty of balls and aggression. 

The announcement of the last song had the crowd launching into a chant of “We love George!”. Then it was time for the band to launch into their latest single, Crownless, and the moshpit kicked off again as they kept the riffs tight, hard, and heavy. When they finished a chant went up for one more song, but the band said they had played all their material, but they were not allowed to leave the stage, so they played Toxicity once again, much to everyone’ delight. What a night – all the best for the future George, and let’s hope FBTT soon manage to somehow find a suitable replacement and get back out where they belong, on the live circuit.


Photo Credit: Kev Rowland

 

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