21 Feb 2024

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Gig Review: Immolated Volume 3 @ Valhalla, Wellington - 30/09/2022

03 Oct 2022 // A review by Nicholas Clark
In the murky surroundings of Vivian Street I followed the sounds and smells to Immolated Volume 3 at Valhalla. Initially I was confused about the entrance to the gig, but soon found my way before the stage where bands were still being set up. It looked like the event was going to be a little later than expected but also bigger. Behind me, more people in black clothing were arriving. However, it must be said, the clothing varied more so than on other nights at Valhalla where the acts are all metal of the purely thrash or black variety... There were a few examples of ska fashion occurring, including dreadlocks, beanies, cheese-cutters and a few examples of early 2000’s nu-metal piercings. This was no doubt due to the line-up including a bonafide ska band, Dimestore Skanks and a System of a Down tribute band, named in honour of one of their most infamous releases in response to the Napster music sharing phenomenon of the mid 2000's. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are missing out on an album just as cool as Toxicity and drummer John Dolmayan’s favourite from his own band.)

I bought a beer (Super Charger APA) and began a conversation with a fellow photographer as the bar filled with people, and before long we were treated to the melodic and delay drenched layers of Pull Down The Sun from Whanganui. Their set began with the beautiful and haunting sounds of the koauau which segued beautifully into their textured approach. When they finally did bring out the distortion, bending strings out of recognition and back again in a swaying rhythm, they had the room’s attention.

Like the entrance to the gig, I was confused as I was sure they were going to be playing later, and from what I had heard of them I was interested in their uniquely New Zealand inspiration. Their album, Of Valleys and Mountains, doesn’t look like a classical metal album cover and indeed their music is equal parts pleasant as it is heavy. When vocals came, they were truly brutal and fitted perfectly into the thick wall of sound achieved. An impressive band that can play the gamut from moody to ferocious fluidly with sophistication. One to watch...

Next, Dimestore Skanks began to prepare the stage for their eight piece band, including trumpet, trombone and saxophone. With hardly a wasted moment, the band was suddenly playing to a happy room of punters who were bobbing their read to the quick reggae influenced rhythms. Interestingly, the band played quieter than expected with so many brass instruments on stage and I suppose there was less mics on stage for these players, and so less house music from the PA was utilised. In any case, the band was fast and comedic, but the power of Pull Down The Sun was still echoing in my mind. I was hungry for more heavy music...

Planet Hunter was next, the band I had come to see. I had bought their EP pre-pandemic and was impressed with their special blend of stoner groove rock. I had heard snippets of their upcoming album Moscovium (which, for those who are wondering, is an artificially produced radioactive chemical element) namely the funky track, Humans of the Wild. Cormac Ferris, the band’s singer was dressed completely in silver mask and dress, appearing simultaneously like some unholy priest to an occasion and a robotic being. He sung well and performed better, reaching out to the crowd and really feeling the music. Despite the lights reflecting off the cape and mask, soon the costume was removed to allow the singer to continue performing to the best of his ability.

Borrowing heavily from this new album, the band had people playing air guitar in no time. A small circle of revelers were making a circle where a moshpit would normally be at one time, not unlike some pagan fanatics under a blood moon. The band embellished some songs with improvisation (I think) and they played both heavy and bouncy. The bass was high in the mix, sitting atop a layer of crunchy guitar and effected vocals. Perfect sound from the bar. Give that man a beer.

Finally, Steal This Band approached the stage and did their very best to emulate one of the most unique sounding nu metal bands of all time. Any fan of the band will tell you how important not only Serj Tankian vocals are, but also Daron Malakian their guitarist and principal songwriter. The band was fast and able to stop suddenly for frantic effect, but the vocals were either not high enough in the mix or too difficult to truly nail. However, by this stage, Valhalla had swollen to an impressive size, and it was clear Immolated Volume 3 was a success. The crowd was screaming along to the hits from Toxicity (mainly) as well as Mesmerize, Hypnotize and the afore mentioned album. Not an easy band to cover! Not that the punters minded. Everyone was dancing and singing.

What I remember from the night is the slightly wider range of fans that came to the venue, the four very different types of dancing (ska jumping through to groovy riff dancing, and then finally frantic moshing), but what I really want to see is more Planet Hunter!


Other Reviews By Nicholas Clark

Tower Of Flints - Album Review: Live at Paisley Stage
12 Feb 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
The true proof that any band is worthy of praise is the live act. Recalling my own introduction to certain musicians, the quality of a live album would often be the deciding factor of whether I would continue to follow a band.
Mister Unit - EP Review: There's Always Someone With A Bigger Schtick
30 Jan 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
Mister Unit’s third offering, after one EP and an album, is a six strong EP filled with inventive riffs, clever lyrics and catchy melodies. Oh yes, and lots of great guitar solos.
Mister Unit @ Valhalla, Wellington - 18/01/2024
21 Jan 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
An emotional night for many, Valhalla hosted Mister Unit's album release party on Thursday with a three-band line-up. Emotional because the conclusion of work on a recording always is, whether or not it is a celebration, especially so on the dense, powerful and ultimately nostalgic six track album by the headlining band; but more than usual perhaps, because one member who featured on the album was no longer with us.
Gig Review: Dave and the Dirty Humans @ Fringe Bar, Wellington - 13/01/2024
15 Jan 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
Dave and The Dirty Humans are not a band that fades in memory next to the many other current Wellington bands the capital scene appears to be teeming with. Not only is the name a mouthful, but their live shows are memorable, and their songs seem familiar by drawing heavily from the near past (read, the 90’s and 2000’s).
Lung - Album Review: Lung Cancer
07 Jan 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
The legendary 90’s grunge band Lung recently returned to playing live gigs after a hiatus from 1994 until the 2010’s. In 2022 they released Bad Acid Soundtracks II which offered newer versions from their earlier records (like 3 Heads on a Plate and Cactii) but featured the impressive drumming from frontman Dave White’s son, Zak.
Gig Review: Dave and the Dirty Humans @ The Welsh Dragon, Wellington - 27/10/2023
31 Oct 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
If you’ve attended even a handful of live music events in the capital these past two years, chances are you’ve seen or heard of the alternative heavy rock band, Dave and the Dirty Humans. They’re the kind of band you might rave about the next morning, groggily and inaccurately trying to describe their style as both heavy and funky, metallic but not really metal, direct and brutal at times but complex and harmonious the next second.
Dan Sharp - Single Review: Interstellar Runaway
02 Jul 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
Interstellar Runaway, written with Sam Bartells, is Taupo-based songwriter Dan Sharp’s latest single. This song offers more of the soulful, blues inspired pop he has become known for.
Tomahawk Radio - Album Review: Dreaming With A View
20 Jun 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
Tomahawk Radio’s debut album, Dreaming With A View follows their recent single release of the pop tinged rock song Missiles. The band is effectively listenable, soft, alternative rock, but perhaps ‘soft’ is not a favourable way to describe them – ‘sensible’ might be better.
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