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Crooked Royals - Gig Review: Crooked Royals @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 29/04/2023

30 Apr 2023 // A review by Kev Rowland

Back to Whammy Bar for the first time in ages for what was a sell-out gig. Crooked Royals were back in town, having opened the tour last night at Valhalla in Wellington. They were being joined on their jaunt by Patient 67 from Perth and would soon be heading over the ditch to tour with them in Australia, while tonight we would also be seeing Seas of Conflict for the first time in aeons.

Before that we had Full Bloom, a quartet comprising Louis Hill (vocals), Jason Woodgate (guitar), Mitch Walker (drums) and Richard Moore (fill in guitarist) while their digital bass player is Mr Rack Unit. The first most of us knew they were onstage (it is packed in here) was when the guitars started feeding back and then we were into the title cut from their recent EP, Black Lung. This was in many ways more hardcore than metalcore, and was a brutal start to the night, with harsh vocals and a very direct attack.

They showed they had multiple tricks up their sleeves with In Between, where they displayed a strong use of dynamics, with a much softer approach at some points, much harsher at others. It really allowed Louis to show his versatility as he switched between styles. Get Out has a massive crunch and groove in the introduction, which they return to throughout, and it had an immediate impact on the crowd who were already moving violently – I was so glad I was not at the front! Decay commenced with some driving synths and then we were off into dynamic brutal hardcore before it became a poignant power ballad – they certainly keep switching the styles, with everyone fully into what they were doing, both the band and the audience. Before they kicked into Throne, Louis put in a request for the first circle pit of the night, and before we knew it we were off with Mitch providing some huge fills to keep everyone driving forward. Even though this was brutal, there were also again plenty of softer and more melodic moments as they continued to provide plenty of contrast. They left us with Malware, their hardest and fastest song of the night and I came away mightily impressed and am sure I will see them again soon.

The last time I saw Seas of Conflict was when they supported Alien Weaponry at the Powerstation in December 2020, since when they have been through some line-up issues and at one point they were down to just Kody Naidoo (vocals) and Nic Martin (drums), but they are now back and with Kayne McVeigh (guitar) and Joel Kirk (bass), they announced their return with a brutal takedown of Temporal Ocean. There were loads of SoC fans here in the audience and when the guitars finished crunching there were huge shouts but there was no time for a breather as they were straight into Monachopsis, which has a huge groove, syncopation, and even short melodic section for Kody to show a different vocal style.

These guys happily play with deathcore as part of their style, as well as mixing normal hardcore elements and styles more normally associated with metalcore to create something which is brutal, sophisticated yet simple, always being driven hard by Nic from the back. It certainly seemed as if the guys had never been away, and when Kody wasn’t putting his all into his performance (he was sweating like mad which is no surprise given the heat being generated) he had a massive smile on his face as he was back where he belonged. Ashfall was yet another piece dominated by Nic at times, Kody at others, while Kayne shone with some nicely picked electric which allowed Joel to show just how much he was doing on his 5-string at the bottom end.

Kody announced that Consume was a new one, which shows how long they have been away as I heard them play that in 2020, and back then I said they were moving more into Fear Factory/Lamb of God territory. There is a massive groove, driven by the rhythm section, huge riffs and Kody switching between shouts and melodic vocals, and then dropping into pure death. The pit was in full action, and I was very pleased I was safely at the end of the bar. If it had been manic until now it was just about to be ramped up with the announcement of old favourite Eventide, and even though Kody said this was not really a comeback gig, to many it was just because they have been away too long, and this had the masses at the front going crazy. They ended the set with Prometheus, ramping it up one last time, finishing with one of their heaviest songs to ensure the crowd were left wanting more. Please don’t leave it 2½ years to the next one guys!

Perth metalcore act Patient Sixty-Seven may be new to me, but they have 10 million+ total streams, over 90k monthly listeners, and more than 80k followers on Facebook so are certainly known to loads of people, as is shown by their touring schedule which sees them heading to the States later this year as well. Comprising Tom Kiely (vocals), Declan Le Tessier (guitar), Richard Alexander (drums) and Rory Venville (guitar and vocals), they released the debut album Wishful Thinking last year, and tonight we would be hearing quite a few tracks from it. A very happy looking Tom told the crowd how good it was to be here (tonight was their second ever gig outside of Australia, and the second sellout), and then the drum machine started, and we were into Stay Paranoid II, and intricate metalcore which allows the band to switch and change, being both melodic and brutal, just what one wants from this genre.

Damage Plan allows Rory to show he is a fine clean singer as well as guitarist, and on this number there was significant interplay between him and Tom. They were a perfect fit with the other bands on the bill tonight, with one difference being that Tom was really going to speak to the audience, and he was just so happy to be here, with a totally different demeanor between songs to what he was like during. A gentle keyboard intro led us into Anti Social, but any thought of it being quiet was blasted away by syncopated guitars which took us back into Limp Bizkit early Nineties territory.

During Feel Alive there are sections when Rory was providing the lead, and Tom was there encouraging the crowd to singalong, all with a massive smile on his face. Does he not know singers should be serious? He was just having so much fun with a massive reaction from the crowd. Hibbertia was only released last month, so even though the debut album was just last year they are not slowing down at all, with this one being driven by double kick drums at some point, providing powerful emphasis. Lake Valley had another gentle introduction, but then the guitars crunched, and we were into a real groove laden banger and Rory providing the highest vocals of the night so far, while Tom kept jumping and just could not stop smiling. Declan and Rory were incredibly tight on this, crunching hard and really ripping it up, no wonder the audience were moshing up a storm. Colours includes a keyboard backing track, and is much more of a wall of sound, with the drums keeping it all on track, and was also one of the first songs of the night to have a lead guitar melody over the top. They ended with Scattered, another over the top metallic monster and the crowd reacted once again. There is no doubt Patient Sixty Seven made a load of new friends and fans in Auckland tonight, while they enjoyed it just as much as the crowd did.

Finally it was time for Crooked Royals, out supporting their wonderful album Quarter Life Day Dream. They always deliver the goods, and having so many people out to see them is great reward for all the work they put in. Lee Mackley (heavy vocals), Christian Carstensen (clean vocals), Jake Andrews (guitar), Keane Gilles (drums), Conor Lawson (bass) are rightly known as one of the best live bands around and I have been looking forward to this for a while. Unlike all the other bands tonight they have two lead singers whose only role is to provide vocals and get the crowd going, something they do with style. They blasted off with Glass Hands, the opener to the album, and the tempo and brutality went up a notch as this was the band the crowd were here to see, and the band fed off the energy coming from the pit and vice versa. All the guys stay in motion, determined to do whatever they can to drive the intensity.

Ill Manor lifted it even further, with all the guys somehow managing to keep it tight and powerful throughout. Waypoint may have a gentle start, but soon it was everyone going mad, with Keane keeping it tight at the back, Conor providing the foundation, and Jake giving us the complexity, then Christian and Lee bouncing off each other. The energy they create while providing tight and intricate metalcore is insane, and with Counterfeit they somehow lifted it even more taking us into the heaviest territory of the night so far. They are also aware of the need for contrast, providing lighter passages, where different members drop in and out, but when they combine the groove is brutal, metallic and massively over the top.

Owed To You may start in a more melodic fashion, but it is still hugely heavy and massively complex, with Christian taking the lead in the beginning, but as it builds it becomes Lee’s turn to rip it up. The song takes a sharp turn after this, becoming much more like a power ballad before everyone on the crowd starts bouncing and the crowd follow in turn. They were ripping through the set and already we were into Copacetic, one of the lead singles from the album, and when they hit the groove the whole place bounced. What makes these guys work so well is the complex interplay between all of them which comes together to create something which is more than the sum of its parts. Everyone has a huge part to play, whether it is the driving drums of Keane, the bass foundation of Conor which allows Jake to either stay with the melody or go off in melodic tangents, or the two singers at the front who not only provide vocals but keep upping the energy all night, daring the crowd to stay with them. Of course, when they want to be more direct they can do that as well, blasting into Paper Warrior with massive energy, demanding the circle pit to get going (at which point I was quite worried for the photographers working here tonight as everything had been ramped up and they were putting their bodies on the line before that).

Everyone was asked to lift their phones up for the power ballad which is Between You and I, and to sing along if they knew the words and it was a total switch from much of what had been going on so far, yet also fitted in perfectly. Melodic, yet still with the power they have been demonstrating so far all night, with a lovely guitar solo as well. Even those behind the bar were dancing to this one as it is infectious and from the heart.

That was the end of the set, but there many shouts for “One more song”, so they came back with Rumination, getting the crowd jumping for one last time. Although to be fair, there are so many tempo switches the only ones staying in time were those in the band. Loads of sections, loads of fun, the guys were on fire and ended the night on a high. Four great bands, one of the best ever shows I have seen at Whammy.


Photo Credit: Ginny C Photography

 

About Crooked Royals

Crooked Royals unearth harmony from unpredictability. The quintet is Christian Carstensen (clean vocals), Lee Mackley (heavy vocals), Jake Andrews (guitar), Keane Gilles (drums), and Conor Lawson (bass). Infusing metalcore with moments of head-spinning off-kilter prog, alternative melodies, and even nocturnal trap R&B, the band switch lanes seamlessly and smoothly.

They bob and weave past boundaries with a deft and dynamic approach. After racking up millions of streams independently and touring with various genre heavyweights, they perfect this vision on their full-length debut album, Quarter Life Daydream out through esteemed label 3DOT Recordings.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Crooked Royals

Releases

Quarter Life Day Dream
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Rumination
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Intertwine
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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