Photo by Josh Groom, @JoshGroom [earlier gig]
Three of Sydney’s finest metalcore bands. One unforgettable local show. Yep, last Saturday night at the Metro with Polaris, Hellions and Northlane was always going to be special, and the energy ran rampant. The main five-piece have clearly honed even further in on their live dynamic, a year since since I last saw them at the Roundhouse.
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The venue was filling quickly, unsurprising given the fierce support for all three locals. The crowd was buzzing, the drinks flowing. We were ready for the crazy energy Polaris are lauded for.
That certainly came as the band burst onstage, particularly from compelling vocalist Jamie Hails.
His powerful, well-controlled screams and crowd interaction were consistent as he nodded and pointed towards moshing punters, crowdsurfing atop the pit later on. The frontman shared a great dynamic with Jake Steinhause
Guitarist Ryan Siew shredded, mostly letting his flying fingers do the talking, although often interacting pretty heavily with the crowd. In one memorable moment, one fan yelled something incoherent, to which he replied “Fuck no!” with a shit-eating grin.
What really sent the crowd over the edge was ‘The Undertow’ from 2013’s Dichotomy EP, featuring a hooky opening riff. The huge circle pit that opened up wasn’t enough for Hails, commanding the room to split in half for a wall of death.
Overall, the five-piece were incredibly tight, riling us up for the two blistering acts ahead.
An incense stick smoked in the background as Hellions got ready to deliver their groovy yet brutal rhythms.
Frontman Dre Faivre got his dance moves on, also getting amongst the crowd. Although not as commanding as Hails’, his screams were solid, yet Matthew Gravolin’s (lead guitar) backing vocals often got lost in the huge drumming and bass sound.
The guitarist crouched impressively low during second song ‘Lotus Eater’ to deliver a haunting, high guitar part, backed by light drumming from Anthony Caruso before the band kicked in again. Caruso drove them home with an impressively consistent performance, while Josh Campiao (rhythm guitar) found his energy from ‘Nightliner Rapsody’ as he moved across the stage and leapt high into the air.
Then around halfway through, Faivre announced that it was Northlane drummer Nic Pettersen’s birthday, further electrifying the venue.
We’d mostly experienced cuts off new album Opera Oblivia, with a few older tracks ‘Hellions’ and ‘Nottingham’, and the group injected an alt-rock vibe with closer ‘Thresher’. The infectious groove underlying their discography translated really well live, setting the bar high.
We had a ball this week with @Northlane and Polaris! Thanks for singing with us ??
— HELLIONS (@HellionsAus) November 20, 2016
With the stage awash in blue light, it began.
Instead of opening with ‘Obelisk’ like at the Roundhouse, they opted for ‘Rot’, another Node favourite. The venue was enveloped in leading man Marcus Bridge’s strong, low cleans before those infectious bellows of “Don’t let the world rot”.
“Plastic oceans, plastic farms / Cover your footprints like a band-aid on a broken arm”
The band moved seamlessly into the slower-paced ‘Leech’, showing off Bridge’s awesome transitions from high cleans to brutal screams and growls.
Two songs in and the crowd began to roar ‘Happy birthday’ towards Pettersen. He took it all in, standing up to gaze out at us.
Axeman Jon Deiley was wearing a face mask, which he pulled off for the devastating ‘Metamorphisis’ off debut album Discoveries, throwing himself into it. ‘Impulse’ was also killer, and Pettersen delivered a sick drum intro before they ripped into the blistering, incredibly groovy track.
Several times, Bridge acknowledged how good it was for them to be home. His euphoria permeated every song, a further step-up from when I last saw them. Bassist Alex Milovic was also particularly dynamic, feeding off the crowd as he came right to the front of the stage.
Later on, a cake was actually brought out for Pettersen, lit with sparklers. The crowd went nuts as he plunged a drum stick into it, scooping it straight into his mouth.
“Wake up from the nightmare / And become the dream”
‘Dream Awake’ was always going to go off, remaining one of Northlane’s strongest tracks. From the moment Bridge commanded us to “Pay close attention”, that’s what we did, reflecting the band’s ability to consistently nail their biggest songs live.
At this point, Bridge signalled for us to catch our breaths before moving smoothly into ‘Weightless’. Then after the devastating ‘Masquerade’, further elevated by the heaviness of previous track ‘Worldeater’, the atmospheric intro to ‘Quantum Flux’ began.
The song reflected just how good Northlane are at delivering breakdowns, and the boys capped off an incredible set with ‘Obelisk’. Faivre suddenly jumped onto the stage, taking it all home.
The night reinforced Northlane as one of Sydney’s top heavy bands, but more importantly, affirmed just how good the Sydney metalcore scene has become. We’re in good hands.
Watch our interview with the band all the way in back 2013.