29 Jan 2023
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The Rising Tide - Gig Review: The Rising Tide @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 20/01/2023

20 Jan 2023 // A review by Kev Rowland

Back to Dead Witch tonight for my first time seeing The Rising Tide who were up from Palmerston North in support of their excellent new EP, The Hope We Die For. They had also invited a few other bands who I have seen before, namely Brawler NZHC who I saw supporting Xile, plus favourites Unwanted Subject and Pale Flag who were both at the Downfall of Humanity release show. After Venom Dolls, I am pretty sure Pale Flag were the band I saw most last year, and they always deliver an amazing show. I must admit to being impressed when I came in tonight as all four bands had merchandise up in the corner for sale, the first time I have ever seen that here.

It also made a change for the opening act to start bang on the time it said on the run sheet, but at 8:30 precisely, Unwanted Subject kicked off with Ceasefire and deathcore was in the house. This band has changed so much since the very first time I saw them, not only in terms of some of the personnel but in the way they approach everything and are now packed full of confidence. Blair keeps changing the attack from the back while Bran is all over the place on his 5-string headless bass. Ryan and Prasert bring the complex noise and then over the top is Gerrit, who switches between death growls and clean vocals as the need arises. Sons of Savages, which is planned to be their next single, shows a much more brutal side to the band, with far more straight death elements, and when they are in those passages, they really are a metal monster unleashed. Prasert was doing his level best to be right on the edge of the stage as normal, he just can’t help himself, has to push himself forward almost into the crowd, even if it is Ryan providing the lead. If they can capture this energy and enthusiasm when they record it, then the single is going to be immense.

I am sure they get heavier each time I see them play, as while A Broken Man has some more melodic passages, when they need to switch it up they do so with ease. I do feel a special mention should be made at this point of Bran’s shirt – it is obvious that he and Jesse of Café Fistfight are holding a competition as to who can find the most outlandish Hawaiian shirt available, and currently it is a close-run thing. Sartorial elegance (or not) aside, somehow he does not let the loudness of his attire affect him and he is always locked in with the rest of the guys to provide both a bridge to the drums and linking right in with the guitars. By now we were into Till The End and the whole crowd were moving as one, bending at the waist as the music took hold. One of the things which makes these guys standout is the arrangements and the use of space, so Blair may be moving in one direction, Bran in another and the two guitars in yet another, all of which creates space so while the attack is consistently brutal there is also space which allows us to move inside the music, and for Gerrit to create his own platform. They ended with the crunching Say Your Goodbyes, and hopefully it will not be too long until I see them again as they get better every time.

Now it was time for the hardcore monster which is Hamilton quartet Brawler NZHC, with singer Joe yet again starting the set wearing a balaclava – I was sweating in a singlet, I hate to think what he was going through. This is all about aggression and anger, with a band in tune with the audience who were reacting in kind. Some bellows from him and guitarist Damz and they burst into the rage which is Pay The Price and the crowd were with them, creating the aggressive moshpit they are known for. Talk is Cheap has a filthy groove, but then in the middle they totally change the tempo and time signature, switching it into something else completely before it drops back. Bassist Greg looked far more relaxed than the last time I saw them, but drummer Facundo was more than making up for it with a pained look of concentration as he provided the foundation for the band to keep switching and turning. Some people feel hardcore is just a matter of head down and meet you at the end, but Brawler NZHC demonstrate that while that is a huge part of what they are about, they also have a great deal more complexity than one might imagine.

Joe never stops moving around the stage, full of menace and venom, spitting out the words to Family First and just when one thinks it cannot possibly get any heavier, they launch into Eternal Suffering which is delivered at breakneck speed and over the top brutality with a sound which is more straight death metal than it is hardcore. Somehow Damz looks relaxed and in the moment, all the while blasting out savagery. One of the bands they are heavily influenced by is No Zodiac, and here they presented us with the only cover of the night, their take on that band’s Drowning with plenty of time shifts and menace. When it comes to mixing metal into hardcore there are some bands who go close to the line while others jump all over it, and then there is Brawler NZHC, who take it to a whole new level while never losing sight of their hardcore roots. Joe always looked like he was ready to punch someone out, generating intensity from the stage, while the mosh was ready to join in. They finished the set with Hard Truths, piling in the energy before the set was over way too soon. Short but never sweet, Brawler NZHC are the real deal.

So now it was time for the metal juggernaut which is Pale Flag. These guys have been gigging anywhere and everywhere in the last year, even taking part in an international BOTB in Melbourne, and they have the attitude and approach which is making them a lot of friends in the scene. A thumbs up from drummer Cody to Dave on sound, and they were into Demise, creating the mighty groove we all associate with them, with guitarists Jack and Liam along with bassist Matt all bending at the waist as they were in the groove, with Isaac striding the stage while Cody made full use of his kick drums, It is impossible not to be impacted by their music, which demands the appropriate response from the audience, which is to mosh. Isaac’s vocals are full bore death, inspired by the classics, There is no doubt they are one of the tightest bands around, born out of heavy gigging. They drove faster with Uprising, before slowing it down with the groove monster which is Delusional Exhibition, one of their newer numbers (I hear rumours that an EP may well be on the horizon)

The band is deeply into the music, everyone in the zone where nothing exists but the notes, with Jack at times hitting the body of his guitar as if to demand more from it. It is difficult to describe just how locked into each other they are, with drums, bass and guitars all being struck at the same time to create music which is punchy and uncompromising while at the front Isaac is the master of ceremonies, staring into the audience, commanding them to obey his will. During Breaking The Cage, Cody suddenly starts a much faster rhythm and the rest of the guys respond, picking it up and driving forward before dropping back into a tempo which has far more in common with doom. While generally they can be found playing a hybrid of death and thrash with some elements of hardcore, possibly the fairest thing one can say about their genre is they play metal, as they continually switch their approach and keep mixing in different styles which ensure they are always uncompromising and over the top.

They ended with the mighty The Summit, with lots of breaks, switches of tempos, loads of different drum patterns and kick drum attacks, from a band who keep driving until the last note has died away. I am sure Pale Flag have a huge future in front of them and are a band I will be keeping a very close eye on in 2023, and all metalheads should be doing the same. 

Even with a left-handed drummer causing the normal reset issue, we were still running pretty close to the run sheet, and it was now time for the headliners, The Rising Tide. There was a spoken intro tape and all the band stood facing the rear of the stage until it had finished and the drums started, everyone turned around and they blasted into Accused, the opening track from the new EP. While the brutality was taking place onstage it now meant it was time, for beach balls? I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this at a non-arena event, and they were being bounced around the audience with the aim of getting them onto the stage where they were promptly kicked back out again for the next round. It seemed very strange indeed to see a load of metalheads playing with kids toys while the band in question were ripping it up at the front. These guys have been around the scene for quite a while, although they did have a few years off for good behaviour before resetting with some new members and the line-up is now established with Dylan Rober't (drums), Phil Brooks (bass), Henry van Echten (guitar), Cody Lee (lead guitar), and Matthew Colledge (vocals). 

This is downtuned deathcore with huge slabs of straight death, all played in a very intricate manner indeed. Somewhat unusually for a band playing this style of music both guitarists were playing 8=strings while the bassist was on a 5-string. I was pleased when they brought in the piano sample for The Hope We Die For as it is a very important element of the song on the EP, as it not only provides the base for Cody but provides important contrast and dynamics. The venue was packed by now, and everyone was reacting to what was taking place in front of them, at one with the filthy groove being laid down by Phil and Dylan, and then we were off and running into Night Terror with Matthew spitting venom and while constrained by the number of people onstage he never stopped moving. Tonight we were getting not only all of the current EP, but all of the last one, Visions, as well as a few additional songs and everyone was up for it. 

Dylan has a great touch on the kick drums, really blasting them in when the time is right but also ensuring there are plenty of times when they are more restrained so we get contrast. With OIAM blasting out there was an over the top aggressive mosh taking place and I was certainly glad to be safely behind the chain at the end of the bar! Before they started into Black, Matthew split the crowd with the instruction that when he shouted “Four” everyone was to run from one side to the other, and needless to say they happily obliged, as by now there were no prisoners being taken whatsoever in what was rapidly becoming one of the most over the top shows I had ever seen here, and I knew there were still three more songs to go! 

Joe from Brawler NZHC then jumped up on the stage and joined the guys on their 2016 single, Finger Blasted by Zeus, and somehow, they managed to up the energy even further. The crowd had now been listening to different forms of high-octane metal for more than three hours but were showing no sign whatsoever of slowing down again reacted when Into the Abyss kept switching the grooves and tempos. They ended with the ferocious Mirage, also taken from the new EP, and then finally it was over. 

Tonight was brutal at Dead Witch with four great bands, and tomorrow The Rising Tide are in New Plymouth before heading down to Wellington and Christchurch – miss them at your peril as this is over the top deathcore packed full of energy and balls.


Photo Credit: Kev Rowland

 

 

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