As the year comes to a close, I sit here and reflect on the vast number of bands I have seen and written about in the last couple of months. What an experience it has been, multiple genres and bands from all over the world.
It then seems almost poetic and fitting for me, that my final review of the year is here at Stay Gold for the Kicking, Screaming and Live Streaming show by Melbourne’s very own Orpheus Omega.
The first thing that you notice about the opening band, Ironstone is how young they are! However, as soon as they start playing you realise that these boys have certainly spent their youthful years dedicated to developing their skills to be proficient at the progressive metal genre.
On their song, Staring at the Sun off their EP, The Place I Cannot Find, they showcased a good use of vocal harmonies and odd meter time signatures were in abundance that surely satisfied the prog fans.
It’s encouraging to see a new generation continue to push the musical boundaries and it’s gonna be interesting to see where they lead us next.
Sheathed in darkness and gilded in black war paint were Scaphis. I always love it when a band goes the extra mile to put on a show with costumes and makeup. Scaphis would have undoubtedly pleased the dark lord himself.
Blast beats, black metal-tremolo picked guitar rhythms abound and a voice straight out of the deepest recesses of Hell defiled the stage at Stay Gold.
Yet Scaphis is more than just speed and brutality. Their songs also had segments of beautiful arpeggiated guitar lines combined with melodic leads. Vocalist Spyke, has a savagery in her performance and delivery that will turn your stomach and make your blood run cold.
Melbourne’s very own sons (and daughter) of Southern Darkness.
An 80’s synth wave sample played as drummer, Frankie Demuru teased his cymbals and the crowd. Then there he was, strutting out on stage in a glittering silver jacket, the virtuoso himself, Andy Gillion.
Backed by the formidable talents of Ryan Huthnance on guitar and Chris Themelco and Leon Monaco sharing bass duties.
The set began with the blistering, In the Arcade and 1988 off Andy’s new album, Arcade Metal.
There was plenty of fun and comedy coming from the lads on stage but make no mistake, they are no joke. This is technical ability at its highest level and an absolute masterclass for any guitarist or fan of virtuosic music. Sweeping, tapping, string-skipping and every technique under the sun were executed cleanly and precisely. However, Andy always considered in his compositions to prioritise melody and had a great ear for good phrasing.
Following this we were spellbound by Becoming the Nightmare,
Becoming the Dream, Black Lotus and Skyless from Andy’s previous album, Neverafter.
Andy tells a story with his music and takes you on a journey with his playing. From the mystical and ethereal, to the dark and chaotic, you are transported there and back again by his imagination that is so beautifully presented before your very eyes.
It is a challenge trying to compare Andy Gillion’s music to other artists as he truly has a unique voice of his own, but I will say that his playing reminds me of Michael Romeo of Symphony X and the band Illnath, two hugely influential bands in the metal scene.
Andy Gillion truly is a special talent and Melbourne is all too keen to claim him and call him our own.
Orpheus Omega were not only the headliners of the show but they had also organised the entire event and even managed to coordinate a live stream of the whole gig. A gargantuan task to achieve, but this tells you a lot about the kind of person Chris Themelco is. Vocalist, guitarist, bassist, organiser, audio engineer, the list goes on – and Chris excels at everything he does.
All this can only be achieved with intense passion, and that passion is exactly what you see come across when Orpheus Omega take the stage.
Together with brother, Matt Themelco on Drums, Luke Ashley on Guitar, Leon Monaco on Bass and Kes Gallagher on Keyboards and backing vocals, the boys played a phenomenal set of their newest material and fan favourites from early in their career.
Some of you eagle-eyed readers would have noticed that both Chris and Leon performed double duties and played bass with Andy Gillion in the previous set. I guess this is the epitome of do what you love.
The band plays with so much chemistry between members that you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were all brothers as they harmoniously navigate their way between aggression and melody.
The call and response vocals between Chris and Kes was perfectly executed as beautiful clean lines cascaded over blood-curdling screams.
The two new tracks, Within These Walls and Edge of Forever are already crowd favourites as was evident by the voices singing along with the band.
Chris then surprised us by announcing that the 2 new songs are part of an upcoming limited edition 5 track, vinyl only EP and any band that still recognises the value of vinyl is a good egg in my book.
A few days prior to the gig the band had posted on their Facebook page telling their fans to come dressed in their best party shirts for a very special segment of the live show. Looking out across the crowd it resembled more of a Hawaiian Tiki bar than a metal gig. This was the level of dedication that the Orpheus Omega fans had.
In their final song of the night, Sealed In Fate, Chris invited everyone in a party shirt up on stage to celebrate with the band. This was a magical moment and if there was a better way to cap off the night I don’t know it. Luke Ashley and Leon Monaco stepped down from the stage and stood in the middle of a circle pit as bodies raced around them like some kind of pagan ritual. Meanwhile, I had climbed on stage myself as I watched Kes Gallagher and Matt Themelco play to a fevered pitch. I’m pretty sure the fans wouldn’t have minded the set continuing for another hour but alas, all good things must come to an end.
It is clear that Orpheus Omega draw a lot of inspiration from the Melo-death genre but they have unequivocally made it their own and in the process created something that makes me proud to say that I’m from Melbourne and that I am a fan.