Seeing the bands youâ€™ve loved for years play a set at an open air festival is one thing. But having the opportunity to witness two of your all-time favourite international metal bands carve up an indoor stage, with vastly superior live sound, on a school night? Itâ€™s one hell of a way to break up the monotony of a work week. Itâ€™s why Iâ€™m so glad festival sideshows have made as glorious a comeback as the festivals themselves. So it is with great excitement that I and many hundreds of other still-sore and tired festival-goers make our way to Eatons Hill Hotel on a Tuesday night to witness the lethal double act of Gojira and Lacuna Coil for the Brisbane leg of their sideshow tour.
After an atmospheric intro, Italyâ€™s premiere gothic metallers Lacuna Coil burst out onto the stage. Launching into Blood, Tears, Dust, initially the live mix isnâ€™t optimally balanced, with guitars, vocals and backing tracks urgently needing a boost. The band gets bodies moving with the swaggering Reckless, but itâ€™s not until Layers of Time that the levels in the mix have improved, and as a result, this banger hits like a ton of bricks. Cristina Scabbia is such an iconic figure in the metal world, and her pristine vocals soar with power and grace above the pulsating grooves of the rhythm section.
Lacuna Coil recently released ‘Comalies XX’, a reimagining of their beloved ‘Comalies’ album to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and tonight they interweave some of the highlights from that release with a selection of their greatest hits. The reworked versions of the tracks breathe new life into the cherished songs, and itâ€™s exhilarating to watch and hear live. Andrea Ferro holds his own with his rip-roaring harsh vocals, which add a real compelling agony to the reimagined ‘Comalies’ classics like the soulful Heavenâ€™s a Lie, Tight Rope – which also features an excellent drum solo from Richard Meiz – and of course, Swamped.
Thereâ€™s an earnest quality about the five-pieceâ€™s performance as they power through their set with palpable ecstasy and passion. Not only that, but thereâ€™s always been such an element of theatre to this band, and tonight is no different. The unholy rites of Veneficium juxtapose cathedral choirs with relentless guitar chugs and showcase Scabbiaâ€™s impressive classical mezzo-soprano range. And it would be remiss of me not to mention Diego Cavalottiâ€™s masterful guitar shreds throughout this set which add flair and further finesse to the sound. Wrapping up with a crowd chant of â€œWe fear nothingâ€ to fire us up and lead us into Nothing Stands In Our Way, itâ€™s a powerful way to end a relatively short but impactful set.
Mist engulfs the stage, and amidst this eerie, unearthly scene, Gojira emerge out of the shadows, ripping right into Born For One Thing. Instantly a floor-wide mosh breaks out and mayhem ensues. The French extreme metal titans are a thunderous force to behold; itâ€™s fitting that they wrote a track called Heaviest Matter of the Universe, because the seismic impact of their live sound makes it feel like the floor is going to give way beneath us. Backbone is stupendously heavy and punctuated by grand steam shots at the stage. The grooves get lower and louder, and infernal blast beats courtesy of Mario Duplantier create a cataclysm of intensity and energy in the room. Iâ€™ve said it before, and Iâ€™ll say it again, Mario Duplantier is one of the greatest metal drummers in the world for his technical precision, creative jazzy fills and ingenious understanding of polyrhythms.
Stranded sounds absolutely colossal live, sending tidal waves of intensity through the room. But itâ€™s only when we hear the unmistakable sound of whales that we know weâ€™re in for a true explosion of chaos. Sure enough, as soon as the band crashes into Flying Whales, the mosh becomes a frenzied pit of hell, a force that simply cannot be contained. Frontman Joe Duplantier radiates a fierce, inscrutable intensity, and his powerful, distinctive pitched growls are the stuff of vocal legend. Iâ€™m also in awe of the flawless guitar/bass work, with razor sharp guitar slides adding texture to the brutal wall of sound, and notably, moments of perfectly synchronised, impeccably tight unison rhythmic chugs.
Weâ€™re treated to a few numbers I didnâ€™t think would make it into this set, including The Cell and The Gift of Guilt, which really inspires the feels with its simple yet mournful lead guitar melody. But the real highlight for me is Toxic Garbage Island, a personal favourite of mine, and oh boy, it absolutely raises the roof tonight. Out of all the fired-up, passionate chants that would stay with me, I never thought â€œPlastic bag in the seaâ€ would be one of them, but here we are. Lâ€™enfant Sauvage unsurprisingly spurs further chaos in the mosh, and thereâ€™s a great crowd participation moment as we chant along to the aptly titled The Chant.
75 minutes has flown by, and suddenly weâ€™ve reached the ostensible end of the set, but thankfully the band returns for two encores – latest banger Our Time Is Now, and the face-melting, heart-wrenching Amazonia. Joe dedicates this final number to the First Nations people of Australia, and itâ€™s a touching gesture, given the thematic significance of that particular track. This adds a whole other dimension to the impact of experiencing these arrestingly powerful tracks in a live setting.
Gojira are a rare, unique and transformative force in the global tapestry of extreme metal, and theyâ€™ve been missed over here in Australia these past few years – but by the metal gods, they were well worth the wait.
Thanks to Dallas Does PR