Live Review: Periphery & TesseracT @ Annandale Hotel – 30.07.11

12 Aug

With the Annandale Hotel sold out ahead of the big night, there was more than a little anticipation for this most ‘djenty’ of gigs. Headlined by two of the current forerunners of this new style people are calling ‘djent’, USA’s Periphery and the UK’s TesseracT (no, that’s not a typo) are both hot ticket items amongst the technical/progressive metal crowds. You can tell just by looking at the crowd streaming in through the doors that there’s something different going on.

For the uninitiated, djent (you pronounce it like you would the word gent, as in gentleman) combines the chugging down tuned riffage and technicality of Sweden’s Meshuggah with other elements like atmospheric interludes, clean vocals and other ingredients to create something entirely new. A slew of great new bands have popped up around the genre/scene since its inception and tonight’s show will showcase two of the best.

Sydney’s own As Silence Breaks opens up proceedings tonight, although sadly (or happily, depending on how you look at it) their style is a little more straight forward modern metal than the two bands following them. They play an admirable set of tunes to a decent response, although they’re not as tight as some of their riffs demand. Strong performances by both the singer and bassist prove an enjoyable watch.
After a short break of watching two bands slowly swap their gear on stage, the broken old projector screen rises and TesseracT launch into their set. Despite being a comically dirty and decrepit venue (my favourite kind, I should add), the Annandale plays the perfect host to the guys from Britain and the small stage seems to compress their intensity into something almost transcendental. Singer Daniel Tompkins reels off an impressive stage act and sings with supreme conviction. Indeed, they give the performance of the night – their sound ringing clear through the venue’s adequate PA and into the eager punter’s brains. It’s interesting to note how clear and strong the guitars sound considering the band’s guitarists do not run normal speaker cabinets; instead using Fractal Audio AxeFX units straight into the mixing desk. The first band this reviewer saw work this way was Meshuggah and it could well be the way of the future for gigging musos if this level of sound quality is normal.

America’s Periphery use very similar setups and tonight as they return to Australia as headliners having last toured here as support for Dillinger Escape Plan. The band utilise a three guitarist format, all using similar rigs and the sound IS huge – sadly, a little too huge for the Annandale’s hardware. Unless you’re familiar with the band’s repertoire, you’d have no doubt been left finding it a little difficult to figure out what the guys were playing until 20 or 30 bars into each song.

It’s certainly no fault of the band and they perform admirably, putting on a great show. This is particularly true of singer Spencer Soleto who suffers from foldback and mic’ issues through the entire set. Regardless, he climbs the foldback speakers regularly to lean over the rabid capacity crowd and increase the intensity levels. With six dudes crammed onto one tiny stage, intensity is an apt term, each of them fighting for space as they perform track after track of intricate fret board pyrotechnics.

The Annandale’s lack of security and a safety barrier between the crowd and the stage mean we’re trapped at the side of the stage behind the bar for the duration of the set thanks to the full room; hence all the images of Periphery in our image gallery are taken from one angle. This also means we don’t get to fully appreciate the enthusiastic dance moves of main spokesperson and lead guitarist Misha Mansoor, who’s largely hidden behind the PA speaker stack.

Djent is a welcome new addition to the metal vocabulary. It’s exciting, mature, diverse and electric. It was also cool to see some of the guys from the band working their own merch stands before the show and a lack of proper instrument techs. If this DIY ethos is part of the djent landscape then I think its lack of ugly rock pretence and down-to-earth connectivity with fans will see the scene continue grow in years to come as opposed to being a fly-by-night phenomena.

Forgiving some technical issues, TesseracT and Periphery made a strong argument for jumping on the djent bandwagon.

(Review originally published on theAureview.com)

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