Review Contributed by Rochelle Cupido
So, tonight was Melbourne’s turn to witness Swedish metal giants Katatonia’s first ever headline tour of Australia, following on from their 2013 tour when they supported fellow countrymen Opeth.
Whilst many questioned the choice of venue for such a major headlining band, ultimately it proved to be a relatively nice fit and somewhat intimate setting, although the expectations were that the three bands would prove to be anything but intimate.
So, on another cool Melbourne evening, the metal masses gathered in Richmond to witness the musical feast, and first up were local lads Myridian.
This was my first sighting of Myridian, a local melodic death metal band who formed in 2009, and to date have one EP and two full-length albums under their belt, and what a first sighting it was.
Myridian’s songs are full of haunting doom like passages, mixed with progressive off-beats and sinister, yet soothing vocals which seem to evenly flow with the riffs, making for a great listening experience. Clearly, these lads are on top of their game, due largely to the seven years since their inception where they have molded themselves into a well-oiled machine, able to deliver quality performances in front of crowds who expect good performances.
Following on from Myridian were another local band, The Eternal, a melodic metal/rock band formed and fronted by the enigmatic Mark Kelson.
These lads have a very solid history of great music and significant achievements, including their album ‘The Sombre Light Of Isolation’ being named the fifth best Australian release by listeners of Triple J’s ‘Full Metal Racket’ in 2005.
Mark Kelson (vocals/guitar) leads this great band menacingly through beautifully created riffs and harmonies, with many magnificent transitions between extremely heavy verses and ones that tend to pull you back, stand you up, and then allow you to breathe deeply as you drift in and out of what seems to be an emotional sojourn where you lose yourself in that very space… magic!
Believe me, The Eternal were amazing, and their soothing yet powerful undertones were a perfect warm-up for what was to come after their set.
So now the famous red curtain of the Corner Hotel was once again drawn, and when it re-opens it will be Katatonia facing the eager crowd, the tension was palpable!
After what seemed an eternity (it wasn’t, we were simply eager to see these Swedish gods), the red curtain re-opened and there they were, standing in unity with their backs to the crowd, who by this time had reached fever pitch and become very loud.
They turned, and there they were with Jonas Renkse front and center, long, dark black hair almost completely covering his face, and dressed in black from head to toe.
The set began with ‘Last Song Before The Fade’ which is one of the more gentle offerings on the band’s magnificent ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ album of 2016. This, however, was clearly a settler, as they then completely ripped into ‘Deliberation’ and ‘Serein’ and now if you weren’t jumping and raising your fist with the opener (and why wouldn’t you), then you were now.
This band is truly amazing, and completely in control of what they do on stage, a testimony to the many years dedicating themselves to the metal genre, and one of the reasons why they enjoy a loyal and strong following right across the globe.
The riffs and harmonies were mesmerising, and had such a beautiful and easy flow from one to another, a trademark of the well-known Katatonia sound. From Jonas Renkse’s unbelievable vocal arrangement, through the soothing, yet powerful guitar duo of Anders Nystrom and Roger Ojersson, to the energetic and flowing stage movement of bassist Niklas Sandin, and the simply stunning drum performance of Daniel Moilanen.
For mine, the sound guy seemed to leave one or two guitars turned down too far on a few songs, however the unmistakable trademark Katatonia power still managed to rip through those ones and keep the set well paced, and the crowd energised to a point of near exhaustion.
Katatonia delivered with ease and raw power songs such as ‘Leaders,’ Ghost Of The Sun,’ ‘Teargas,’ and ‘For My Demons’ which proved to form what was to be a great representation of their vast array of albums.
Jonas Renkse talked playfully to the crowd at every opportunity to a thunderous reponse, followed by a short description of the impending song and then boom, into another smooth, harmonic layer filled majestic piece of metal which immediately had the crowd singing to each line, and belting out the choruses… this ensured that there was to be no let-up, just simply one classic song after another.
No time to walk away for a drink, just stay where you were, and watch and listen in amazement at the Swedish mastery!
No complaints from the metal punters, ultimately Katatonia delivered nineteen magnificent songs, sixteen on the set list, followed by a three-song encore led by ‘My Twin’ from the ‘The Great Cold Distance’ album, clearly a crowd favourite, because I’m quite sure that the decibels rose in unison on our side of the stage when that one was announced.
This fantastic night ended with ‘Lethean’ and ‘July’ and had Katatonia decided to play more, then I’m sure we all would have stayed long into the night… however who could complain, they truly conquered the Melbourne leg of their first ever headline tour of Australia and we were all pretty much spent.
If you (somehow) haven’t purchased your copy of their latest album ‘The Fall Of Hearts’ then do so without delay, a stunning album from an amazing band who hold their place high up on the world’s metal pecking order.