2 Dec 2022
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Xile - Gig Review: Xile @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 01/10/2022

01 Oct 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

So, it is back out on K Road again for another gig, but strangely enough I am sure this is the first time I have been at Whammy Bar in more than a year, and tonight it is for Xile’s album release show. It shows just what strange times we have been living in as I Am Your God has been out for a couple of years, but this was the first opportunity for them to get out and play, so they were making the most of it. Originally this was going to be a five-band bill, but unfortunately Wolves had to pull out, but it was still going to be a massive night of hardcore mayhem: I had not seen any of these bands play before, so I was looking forward to this. Red from Finger Tight came up for a chat about their forthcoming album launch beforehand, and there were certainly a great many faces I recognised in what was expected to be a sell-out crowd.

Up first were Brawler who say they are influenced by the likes of Warhound, No Zodiac, Xibalba, Queensway, Billy Club Sandwich and Six, and comprise Joe Steiner (vocals), Facundo Ferreira (drums), Greg Weaver (bass) and Damz (guitar). They made their intent clear from the beginning with Joe wearing a full-face balaclava and encouraging a violent mosh right from the off. After the short aggressive intro they kicked into Pay The Price, showing the band can mix the hardcore vibe with Cannibal Corpse style death. The balaclava was gone before Talk Is Cheap as it was already getting mighty hot in here. It was obvious they had brought fans with them as Joe held out the microphone for the audience to join in, which they happily obliged. Damz is one of those guitarists who is relaxed when mayhem is all around him, while Greg was the total opposite, hair swinging wildly as he was so into the music on the other side of the pillar. At the rear Facundo was hitting everything in sight, and when they picked up the pace he was very much in his element. It was then they really upped the ante with Family First and Eternal Suffering that one could really feel the power of these guys. Joe never stops moving, moving his vocal style from hardcore to death depending on the need. One of the interesting things within their set was the changes in tempo, as it is the use of contrast which makes a difference, and this was even more apparent when they went into the cover of Drowning by American outfit No Zodiac, which was slower, deeper, and full of groove. They finished the set with a new number from their next release, Hard Truths, and it was a fitting brutal end to a brutal set. They shouted out to their crew, BCHC Bridge City Crew, who were definitely having a blast. 

Next up was Christchurch-based quartet Treachery who are Joshie on vocals, Ollie on guitar, Nick on bass, and Andrew on drums. They kicked off with a synth-drive intro tape, building the suspense and then when it reached the climax they crunched into Disdain, creating a massive beat-driven groove which shows that like many genres, hardcore has multiple hats. Right from the off the brutality levels had been lifted, and when the double kick drums started it sounded like we were in for an onslaught but instead the attack ceased to give us some breathing room before it commenced again. These guys truly understand the meaning of contrast, shifting tempo and styles, and this was just the first song! Apart from Joshie, the guys had previously been in Temperamental together, so really it was no surprise that they were incredibly tight. They were taking everything to the next level, and the feeling in the venue was palpable, full of aggression and power, passionate hardcore to the max. They were giving it their all, putting everything into the music, with the synth overlay adding an additional layer of finesse. Joshie is a great singer, switching into the growls when the time is right, riding the powerhouse beneath him, with everything being taken to new heights. The bass is sick, creating a filthy groove, while the drums drive it from the back and the guitars are everywhere. Archangel is one of their songs which can be found on Spotify, seeing them throw in elements of djent and mathcore, but never losing the brutality of their approach. The use of samples definitely adds an extra layer to their sound, providing the contrast which allows the heaviness to come through even more, which they showed off again in the last number, Echoes, where they were still lifting the game as if it were the beginning of the set and not the end. They are the real deal.

Next we had Adelaide quartet Winnerz Circle, who comprise Ottscay (guitar), Boz (vocals), Ambruz (bass) and Carlos (drums). Right from the off Ambruz was throwing shapes, Boz had a massive smile on his face, while the band crunched out traditional hardcore with a strong NY influence. No samples or messing about with other styles, this was all about brutality, and their use of different tempos emphasised that. Boz was a ball of energy, never stopping jumping or punching the air, doing whatever he could to rile up the crowd even more. Just two songs in and he had lost his shirt, which meant it was time for the band to up the tempo before switching into d-beat, creating a massive groove designed to get the crowd going. It may have been their first time playing overseas but the Auckland crowd treated them like old friends, something which was warmly acknowledged.

They were not letting up at all, keeping it incredibly tight, doing whatever they could to get the crowd pumped, and by now the venue was a sweaty mass of humanity who were all jerking and grooving in response to the music which was all-pervading and powerful. I was surprised when they announced the next number was their last one, as I could not believe how quickly their set had gone as the intensity was at the same high level throughout. It wasn’t that the set was short, just that such was the power of what they were doing that it seemed that way, and even when they finished with a slower one that did not drop. This is an amazingly tight outfit. 

Now it was time for headliners Xile, who tonight were playing the whole of I Am Your God. I must confess to being incredibly surprised when I discovered the current line-up of the band, as although Luke described it as an Auckland mishmash there will be others who describe this as an Auckland supergroup, It comprises singer Luke Manson (also in Antagonist AD), bassist Lee Waddingham, guitarist Jack Queenin (also in Pale Flag), guitarist Alex Carlton (also in Downfall of Humanity) and drummer Ben Bakker  (also in Downfall of Humanity), which explains why there were so many Pale Flag shirts at a hardcore gig! I may not have seen Xile play before tonight, but I’ve seen everyone else in their other bands, and am sure I have seen Pale Flag four times this year alone! Up until now all the bands had been a quartet, which just about works (and everyone put the bassist the other side of the pillar), but with a quintet there was going to be much less room, and everyone knows how much Luke moves onstage, so this was going to be interesting!

As expected, the guitarists and bassist stayed back from the edge, allowing Luke to prowl and encourage the mayhem which was taking place in the pit. BTW, it may have been violent down there, but everyone was looking out for everyone else. The metallic hardcore monster which is the title cut started the set and everyone could feel the change in the atmosphere as the twin guitars were blasting this into far heavier dimensions. The band may not have had much room to move, but they were all in motion as they moved from the waist in time to the massive groove they were creating. It is certainly strange to realise that two of these guys are in Downfall, as this is very different to what they normally play, while Jack was totally in his element. Every song was being attacked from the rear with massive drums, the bass provided the foundation and link to the guitars, Alex and Jack were tied as one, creating a monstrous sound while Luke was in his element, fronting a band which was taking the venue by storm. It was clear that although the other bands had all been great (photographer Ginny and I were chatting before Xile came out and agreed just how good everyone had been), they had been building up to this as Xile were immense.

The album was released on March 26th, 2020, just after we had gone into the first lockdown, and this was their first opportunity to play it, and they were giving it absolutely everything. It took longer than I thought it would, but halfway through the set Luke had lost his shirt, as he was constantly moving, doing whatever he could to get the mosh swirling even more than it had previously. Just when one thinks it is not possible to be any more intense, they ripped into Disintegrate, showing these guys are generating a massive crossover between hardcore, death and thrash and throwing an immense groove underneath. It is just so massively heavy with a huge bottom end, so Luke’s raspy vocals are a huge contrast to what is going on underneath. So Much For Love has an arrangement which provides plenty of space, as well as again being brutal, showing a different side of the band yet again, turning into a blaster as they cranked it up. By now they were up to the last track of the album, Legacy of Disgust, and as Luke said, they play it hard, they play it fast, and give it everything. 

There was no way Xile were going to be allowed to leave with that, and everyone cried out for an encore, so they gave us 369, the opening cut from their 2016 Grafton EP. It was short, it was brutal, it was over.

What a night.


Photo Credit: Ginelle Cocks / Ginny C Photography

Brawler Photo Gallery
Treachery Photo Gallery
Winnerz Circle Photo Gallery
Xile Photo Gallery

 

About Xile

Xile are a heavy hardcore band from Grafton, New Zealand. While holding fast to a style reminiscent of their country’s most aggressive hardcore bands (The Burial, Promise of Bloodshed, Antagonist A.D.), the 5 piece blend in flavours of European beatdown (Nasty, Malevolence, Desolated) to create their own guttural, yet polished, sound.

The vocal message is clear, from religious discontent to the violent state of our modern world, mixed in with darker lyrics of Slayer-influenced murderous escapades.

The music behind the lyrics is aggressive and relentless. There is no shortage of riffage here – technicality is matched with half-time simplicity by vocalist Luke and guitarist Simon the bands primary songwriters. The death-metal background of drummer Jai is also evident, with his technical prowess holding down the rhythm section through the entire release.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Xile

Releases

I Am Your God
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Grafton EP
Year: 2016
Type: EP

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