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!

 

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