Live: Mnemic @ Whiplash Festival IV, Sandringham Hotel, Sydney – October 20, 2012

29 Oct

Lifemusicmedia.com recently published our photos and review from the Whiplash Festival IV, held at the Sandringham Hotel in Sydney on October 20, 2012. We now bring you the images and words here for your viewing and reading pleasure. Headlined by Denmark’s Mnemic, it was largely an excellent showcase of Australian metal. Read the unedited review below and CLICK HERE or on the thumbnails for the full image gallery:

Mnemic @ Sandringham Hotel, Octob 20, 2012     Mnemic @ Sandringham Hotel, Octob 20, 2012

Mnemic @ Sandringham Hotel, Octob 20, 2012     Mnemic @ Sandringham Hotel, Octob 20, 2012

So let’s set the scene of the Sydney leg of the Whiplash Festival: It’s been a 35-degree day of hot winds and sweaty butt cracks, but there’s been nowhere quite as hot as the insides of the iconic Sandringham Hotel in Newtown. Sadly, the heat is not all related to the scorching Aussie metal found within. This old venue is a steaming hot, sweaty, stinking series of boxes with stages and you feel the oppression from the moment you walk through the front doors. If the venue has air-con, you wouldn’t know it.

The building is a scene of barely controlled chaos with music equipment stacked into almost every corner with no sign of security for any of it, besides the two security guards at the doors of the venue. As a result, we were unsurprised to hear that one band’s cymbals had gone walk-about before their set.

Don’t get this reviewer wrong. A pretty picture it isn’t, but there is the overwhelming positive aspect to the Whiplash Festival that remains: it’s an incredible showcase of Australian metal with bands traveling from every corner of this country to perform. That’s something that can’t be undervalued.

While the festival kicked off at 12-noon, we didn’t arrive until early evening to find Sydney band As Silence Breaks taking to the secondary, much smaller stage. It’s after 6pm and the band are still only greeted by an audience of about 30 people, although the tiny room looks comparatively full regardless and the band perform as though it was a crowd of 300.

Using alternating stages means that for the most part there is no break between bands: one ends, another kicks off their set. Four-piece Norse was up next, taking to the larger main stage with their tight seven-string down-tuned riffage. The crowd is still thin, but Norse enjoy a larger crowd of gently swaying metal heads perhaps too ragged from the heat in the main room to do any real moshing. It seemed a little odd that only the singer should be wearing face paint, but we appreciated the effort and the slender Peter Steele-esque bassist’s stony-faced performance was imposing. Be sure to check out their new album, which is due in two weeks.

Back on the little second stage, Melbourne’s Scar the Surface sound great, despite the tiny PA and the singer deftly handles both screams and clean vox while repeatedly and inexplicably walking off into the crowd whilst still singing! It’s a pity only about 30 people get to see their rousing set that includes slightly more accessible melodic choruses and stronger songwriting.

Despite their matching red shirts emblazoned with their logo and apparent desire to offer a more stylised and moody performance, Sydney’s Anno Domini ruin their entrance when the singer yells off stage to who we assume is the girlfriend for ‘four jugs of water’. She refuses, leaving the singer to go off and find some water himself, leaving all of us to wait in silence for his return. Amusing, bemusing and a shame for the rest of the band. Thankfully the rest of the performance is a strong showcase of more progressive metal than we’ve seen so far, with excellent musicianship and rousing tunes. We appreciate the singer’s efforts, but it comes across as a little contrived and the overall performance remains high despite having to contend with other bands loading gear in and out through the crowds.

Perth’s Devour the Martyr immediately kicks into gear on the small stage continuing to display the diversity shown by the many Aussie bands performing tonight. Their set is fun, energetic and seems much larger than the stage they’re playing on. They deserve a larger audience, but we’re left wondering what awaits them in the other cities Whiplash is visiting if this is the best Sydney can do on a Saturday night.

We’re getting toward the tail end of the evening and Queensland’s Lynchmada erupt onto the main stage with a high-energy set that sees the entire band pumping out some huge riffs despite the crippling heat. Drummer Daniel Trickett reminds us very much of Mike Portnoy, right down to the glasses, backwards cap, muscle tee and baggy shorts. Luckily for him he can really play, too. Lynchmada are the first band to really whip the small crowd into any sense of frenzy with front man Joel Harris enticing a few eager punters into some mutually enjoyable head banging.

With the small stage now shut down for the night, it’s a short wait out in the cooler night air on King Street before main support act Dawn Heist from Sydney take to the main stage for a set that clearly let the assembled throng know they deserved to play right before the headliners. Sadly the modestly-sized room still hasn’t filled to capacity, meaning Dawn Heist don’t play to near enough people than they deserve. With both guitarists playing baritones, you can bet this was a tasty mix of modern down-tuned riffage with strong performances across the board and singer Pat makes for one imposing front man without a hint of contrivance.

Finally, with almost no moisture left on the inside of our bodies, Denmark’s Mnemic take to the stage to an intimate, but finally more full room and waste no time in paying waste to whomever was in front of them. They’re clearly having fun up there, despite the intense heat, playing up to the cameras and partaking in the occasional group wind-milling, a-la Strapping Young Lad et al.

The band play tracks from across their catalogue, including new tracks off latest album, ‘Mnemesis’, such as ‘Transcend’ and ‘Junkies on the Storm’ as well as crowd favourites like ‘Jack Vegas’, ‘Room 2.12’ and ‘Meaningless’. It’s all tight, taut and delivered with a precision that puts even the strongest on tonight’s bill in the shade – and the fans lapped it up in what was a very intimate environment, free of mosh barriers and even security guards.

It’s their first time in Australia and hopefully won’t be their last, despite the disappointing sense of disorganisation and chaos prevalent throughout the evening.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply