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Banks Arcade - Gig Review: Banks Arcade @ Tuning Fork, Auckland - 13/08/2022

17 Aug 2022 // A review by Gideon Voon

In you are a fan of the newer generation of Metal or Heavy Music. You really missed out. As it might have included New Zealand’s strongest representatives that we send out into the world.

First off apologies to Full Bloom who I missed due to unforeseen circumstances.

The first band I witnessed was Crooked Royals, and after hearing their tracks over the years I was glad to finally be able to catch their show. It was definitely worth the wait.

They blended the aspects of what we loved about 2000’s Metalcore: the riffs, the breakdowns, the anthemic choruses, and chord progressions that came from Pop songs; with the technicalities, and the more progressive ideas that are present today.

A cool aspect of the band was the use of their duel vocalists, with Christian mainly focusing on the clean singing, and Lee on the screams - though the two have the ability to blend into the other if they so wish. Their vocals pay homage to Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. They both also share the responsibility of front-manning, which makes it feel very comfortable between each song, as they converse and banter with one another.

Crooked Royals' sound and mix was very clean, very polished. As clean and polished as their haircuts, as there was not a single person in the band with long hair. Which might be a weird thought for the people who generalize Metal with ‘dudes with long hair’.

I believe Jake Andrews is one the scariest technical Metal guitarists in New Zealand. He effortlessly goes between rhythm and lead parts, within a riff, and he has some of cleanest playing and technique. I’m quite amazed at the way he incorporates lead guitar parts (that would normally be used in a guitar solo) into a section of a song, in which there is vocals over the top. The way they do this while sounding natural would make a lot of guitarists jealous, as most singers would not be able to sing with that kind of guitar part playing. All of his playing is one of the major ways the band shows evolution from the Metalcore bands of old, as virtuosic guitar playing in this style of music was hardly present then.

All this makes sense as to why they were recently signed to 3dot Recordings, the record label run by members of Periphery. I hope that with their help they get the worldwide recognition they deserve.

After that set, I felt uplifted, but just like a jump scare moment in a horror film, I got dragged back down into Australian act, The Gloom in the Corner.

Starting off with some vocal harmonies that was reminiscent of System of a Down, before launching into some brutal screaming, The Gloom in the Corner's brutality came in endless waves, the sort that you either run away from, or surrender yourself to it. Every wave hits differently; song after song they found ways to sound just as heavy, but refreshing at the same time. The way they managed to do this should be commended, and applauded.

There are some other variations however, as they have slower tempo song in 6/8. And The vocalist does a bit narrating that gives us a break from the screaming from time to time.

The thought I had nearly every time a new riff or scream is heard, is ‘They’re so dirty’, I had a frown the whole time, that you make when you are disgusted by something. Most kids do not like playing in the mud, but for those that do, this will feel like a wonderful playground to you.

Hearing good things about Banks Arcade, but having never heard them before, I wanted the first time I heard them to be live.

They start off with a track, which true to their name, had lots of sounds that make you think about an arcade. And then the vocalist, Joshua O'Donnell, entered the stage in a black hoodie. The first few sentences that came out, was spoken/narrated. Then the band entered.

At that moment, my jaw dropped along with the beats and riffs.

The Gloom in the Corner was heralded as being the Heavy band of the night, but after hearing this, the winner of this title may not be so clear cut.

With the location next to each other, you can be forgiven, for thinking even a second you went to Spark Arena. As the sound in this was huge, and clear. The sound and tones this band produced is alone worth applauding.

Whereas the previous act achieved heaviness, through playing more, faster, thrashy riffs. Banks Arcade achieved heaviness, through the production, and their tones. Because their tempos were slower, and had more half-time beats, in a way, they proved that sometimes less is more.

The vocalist range of techniques was quite impressive. When Joshua sings in a clean voice, he sounds like he can fit into any NZ reggae/dub band, as well as be a Pop artist on The Edge. When he screams, its brutal. As a bonus, he’s got a great falsetto too, that he uses very sparingly.

To paraphrase Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders; in an interview he talks about how, electronic music is essentially Metal Breakdowns in digital format. Here Banks Arcade come circle with that saying, as they take electronic music elements, and connects it with authentic Metal Instruments.

Then it finally clicked that they reminded me of Bring Me To Horizon; who implemented Pop and Electronic influences into their music, of which initially started as Deathcore. But of course, Banks Arcade does this kind of thing with their own influences and originality.

The way the band presents themselves visually is not what fits in the Heavy Metal Mold, of leather jackets, black attire, and long hair. Instead they look more like a Punk band.

It makes proud as creative person, to see these guys take Heavy Music and take it into their own creative direction. And have them represent NZ as one of our finest Heavy Music Exports.


Photo Credit: Tadashi Jokagi / Joe Photography
View the full galleries here:
Full Bloom
Crooked Royals
The Gloom In The Corner
Banks Arcade

 

Releases

Death 2
Year: 2024
Type: EP
Future Lovers
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Fever Dreams
Year: 2020
Type: EP

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