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  • Downfall of Humanity - Gig Review: Downfall of Humanity @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 8/12/2022

Downfall of Humanity - Gig Review: Downfall of Humanity @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 8/12/2022

11 Dec 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Into town on a school night, not normally my idea of fun, but it has been a while since I last caught up with these bands and given how much I have enjoyed playing War Cry, the single released today by Downfall of Humanity, it only seemed right that I head in to support them.

First up, at the ungodly hour of 8:00, was Unwanted Subject, who feature Gerrit (vocals), Ryan James (guitar), Blair (drums), Prasert (guitar), and Bran (bass). Tonight, was all about short and sweet sets so the openers only had 30 minutes to prove their worth, but having seen them a few times earlier this year I was looking forward to it. When I think back to when I first saw these guys there is just no comparison to where they are now, which shows there is no substitute for getting out there and playing. They started with Ceasefire, with everyone in the band creating a wall of sound before Ryan started the riff and then we were off. The confidence is palpable, with everyone set, knowing what they bring to the band. The snare really cracks, with a double kick drum being utilised when the time is right, while the bass and guitars link in to provide complexity with Gerrit over the top of it all. We even had a beck and call in the chorus with Ryan providing some additional vocals, and if that was not enough, they lifted the intensity with Sons of Savages (which should be out as a single early in the new year). Gerrit’s growl was cutting through the music, and then in the middle they totally changed with the arrangement stopping so that the vocals became spoken. There were also times when Gerrit sang far more melodically, yet underneath there was all this complexity which makes them such a perfect fit for playing with Downfall as in many ways they have a similar musical outlook.

Unwanted Subject know they belong on stage, while Prasert stands on the very edge, almost daring those in the mosh to knock him off, never shying away from providing the complexity. Till The End from their EP continued in the same vein and it was hard to realise we were already halfway through the shortened set. Gerrit then got everyone to clap along to the kick drum as Prasert took us into The End Is Due, where the guys moved between thrash and metalcore to create something which was a load of fun. I was unable to make what was supposed to be their last gig of the year a little while back, which was frustrating, but I am so glad they decided to commit to this as they pull together a load of styles, throw in stacks of complexity and intensity and come out the other side with music which is incredibly heavy but also contains some solid commercial arrangements. Tomorrow’s On Fire is a song they only finished writing recently, so tonight was the first live performance, which had more beck and call vocals with Ryan taking a small lead and Prasert providing a blistering solo while Blair and Bran provided the solidity at the back. They finished with Say Your Goodbyes, which started with a gentle bass intro and tapped cymbal until it was time to move into full-on metalcore. I certainly look to hearing a lot more from these guys in 2023. 

Next up was Downfall of Humanity who had decided to take the middle slot tonight. Talking to Bryce before the gig I was surprised to discover that due to multiple reasons they had only played three gigs this year and I am pretty sure I have not seen any of them! They have been together for many years, starting young, and have had the same line-up for most of their existence, namely Daniel Carleton (vocals), Ben Pegman (bass), Alex Carleton (guitar, backing vocals), Bryce Patten (guitar, backing vocals), and Ben Bakker (drums, backing vocals), They started with Bryce doing his best Freddie Mercury impression and getting the audience to respond to him, and then we were into the introduction for One More Lie, which may start slow but soon picks up. There was no sign at all of rustiness as the well-oiled machine which is DoH threw themselves into battle: they are a band who comprise three component parts in a rhythm section which is far more melodic than many, keeping everything going as the twin guitars can often be found going off at tangents with their tight interplay while of course the third aspect is Daniel. He has a wonderfully clear and emotional baritone when he wishes to sing in that manner, but can also switch into wonderfully gruff styles as well, and in the opening number he displays all of that. 

No sooner had they finished then they were into Voices, the next song from the excellent Deceit EP, which had a wonderfully thick and dominant groove. The mosh had certainly picked up by now, with a lot of frenetic movement as the guys prove that complex music can also be over the top heavy, while then dropping into a section which sounded as if it should have been on 2112. This is a band of contrasts, with one guitarist playing in Xile and the other performing solo acoustic folk gigs, two extremes, yet working together here as one. Next number, Crushing Down, saw them not only linking on guitars but also providing dual vocals while Ben Bakker joined in with Daniel. There are times when they show influences from the likes of Type O Negative, not really Goth but bringing in some of that darkness. They keep moving and mixing styles, yet it is down so well that it is seamless.

Now it was time for the new single, War Cry, which has massively impressed me as it feels like a step up from their previous material, and in concert it is even more dramatic. Both Bens are working hard, the guitars riff and bounce melodic ideas off each other, Bryce and Alex provide great vocals on the bridge, Daniel is in control, and the twin duel need the end is wonderfully Maidenesque. Defeated (which is so new that this is a working title) starts with a great bass riff, which is then followed by the guitars and extended, but there is far more space in the arrangement. They really mix it up, with the rhythm section an incredibly important lynch pin for the setup as it allows the guitars to go off and do so much. Then it was into a cover, with the crowd all shouting when they recognised the familiar introduction to Chop Suey, a song which is perfectly suited to their style, yet made heavier due to the guitar interplay. It ended with Bryce and Alex taking on the melodic vocals, with Ben and Daniel in direct contrast. 

We started the set with the first two songs from the last EP, and now we were ending with the other two so here we went into the title cut, Deceit, which is melodic with some nice drum fills, and then it was time for Alex to move to the other side of the stage to make room for Isaac Drakeley of Pale Flag to come up for the final number, Litany of Hate, which vocally moves between the raw and guttural to the melodic, all while the band are creating complex metallic threads and bringing them together to create a tapestry of sounds which is both heavy and packed with finesse. One heck of a band, let us hope they gig much more in 2023. 

I think this is the fourth time I have seen Pale Flag this year (or the fifth, I’ve done a lot of gigs), and they always deliver so I knew this was going to be fun. Talking to bassist Matt Hammond beforehand I was somewhat surprised to discover this would be his first time playing at Whammy, as his other bands had not progressed to this level. Alongside Matt and Isaac are guitarists Jack Queenin and Liam Donald as well as every soundman’s nightmare, left-handed drummer Cody Johnson. Whatever time allocated for the changeover is never enough given the amount of work it takes to reset the kit, and given that DoH had finished a little late it was no surprise to find us taking quite a while to get everything ready, but it gave everyone the opportunity to get their breath back after the first two bands. 

Pale Flag have been playing loads of gigs this year, even heading over to Australia, so they are well practiced at their craft, and when the introduction tape was playing, they were all staring into the crowd, and then after a signal from Cody all the heads were moving as they crunched into the brutality which is Demise. There is a brutality about this music, a raw ferocity as they combine death and thrash with some hardcore influences. Isaac is one of those singers who gives his all when he is on the stage, never stopping, and demanding everything from the audience, while Cody is an incredibly hard-hitting drummer and Matt is undoubtedly relishing playing this style of music, which is far removed from his days in On Tick and Black Sands. Then of course we have guitarists Jack and Liam (strange to think there were three members of Xile playing tonight in Ben Bakker, Alex and Jack) who both have very heavy styles which complement each other, and while we do get them playing off each other there are less single notes and more riffs than DoH. It certainly felt like everything had been turned up, and not just the volume, with Delusional Exhibition showing they can produce intense metal even when they slow the tempo. 

Breaking the Cage is one of their songs where one can really hear the importance of Cody in everything they do as he provides so many different styles, fills, cymbal strikes and kick drums patterns, rarely settling in one particular style, and when be provides a massive fill in the middle it heralds an uplift in the approach as he keeps it tight yet ferocious. One can tell they have been playing a great deal through all of 2022 as they are incredibly tight and also understand the need for dynamics and contrast with songs like Human Error being brutal at times yet also containing far lighter moments which make the heavier sections feel even more so. They finished the night with The Summit, dropping down to doom speed at times, yet speeding it up at others, always brutal and always crushingly heavy with Isaac even untying his hair for the occasion. There is a staccato end to this which only works as everyone is so tight, working together so the sound is as one.

That was it, the end of the night, and what a night it was. Heavy music is alive and well in Auckland and even though this was a Thursday it was some event.


Photo Credit: Joe Photography
Downfall of Humanity Photo Gallery
Pale Flag Photo Gallery
Unwanted Subject Photo Gallery

 

About Downfall of Humanity

Combining the raw power of meatiness, heaviness and brutality with the richness of melody and harmony, Downfall Of Humanity strive to get their audience headbanging AND humming to their tunes. Watch out for the occasional cheesy bit of on-stage antics... and prepare to sample some tasty heavy metal from the depths of West Auckland.




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Downfall of Humanity

Releases

Deceit
Year: 2021
Type: EP

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