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[Review] Archspire @ Corner Hotel 14/10/2023

It’s been a fair while since I’ve been to a gig at The Corner Hotel, I think the last time was Bel’akor in 2022. Tonight is sold out and this place is a hell of a lot smaller than I remember but the one thing I do remember is that damn pole in the middle of the pit, anyone that’s been there knows exactly what I’m talking about. As the doors open and people flood the room, the merch line goes across the entire venue floor to the back-end bar, the bar line is then crossing over through the merch line, there are people everywhere and no one knows what line they are in, its chaos, but the sure fire thing is that everyone is keen for the line up tonight and it’s great to see a packed venue from start to finish.

Local Black/Death Metal trio Werewolves walk out on stage to a full crowd, who clearly have the local following behind them, being greeted with a whole room screaming for you as an opener must be an incredible feeling. I’ve now caught these guys 3 times and they are yet to disappoint; they are always tight and I’m sure everyone knows how freaking good Dave Haley is at drumming, the guys is a machine! They run through their set, smashing out track after track trying to fit in as much as possible with the like of Crushgasm, I Don’t Like You and Under The Ground. They get the crowd all riled up and energetic stating they are filming a clip for No More Heroes, to which they get a lot more movement going. Definitely a local band to check out if you haven’t seen them already.

Next up is probably the most talked about band tonight, Ingested. This UK based Death Metal band have come over here for their first time and are clearly loving the trip. I’ve never heard of these guys before tonight, but I walked away a fan. Right from the get-go, the singer had the crowd moving and screaming, there would have been some sore necks the next morning. Ingesteds sound reminded me of Thy Art Is Murder but with a heavier vocal style, it was unreal. They performed a tight and energetic set with the only issues being that some vocals were missing either from a mixing issue or even a vocal style mix. I noticed that some of his highs weren’t coming through and then also some of his faster phrasing work but goddamn, when it came through, it came through! What a scream on the guy! And the other issue being that the low end was a bit lost, but I think that may have been where I was standing, I was moved about a fair bit by just general crowd flow. About three quarters of the way through the set, the singer gets the entire venue floor to cut in half for a wall of death, to which, everyone happily obliged, and I saw some old hardcore moves I have seen in a long time, clearly there are some older style fans here tonight. The announcement of “This is our last song” is met with a chorus of BOOOO’s to which the singer smiles and thanks the crowd for making their trip one to remember.

Archspire, tech death from USA, I have listened to these guys a little bit since the announcement of the tour and I was keen as hell to witness the guitar work and singer live in action, the did not disappoint. Straight off the bat, wicked guitar solos and melodies are being played with the bassist following suit with some incredible handiwork, I wish I had a better view because it sounded incredible! The next thing that hit me was the drummer! This guy just didn’t make sense to me audially, and I wish I could have seen him, he just constantly blasted but the sound of his snare hits was amazing and crisp, cut straight through the mix. The vocalist had me in awe at how quick he was phrasing, it was just rapping but with a death growl style voice, I can’t imagine how hard that is to actually do and I would love to know HOW he actually does it. The whole band are incredibly skilled at what they do, and they are just as funny. In between songs was band banter of crazy introductions of members, an “I love you” snuck in at the end of a song, “First one to kiss the disco ball gets a free shirt!” and damn! I’ve never seen a guy climb up on top of people fast enough to kiss a disco ball. The ultimate thing of the night was watching people play “Twister in the middle of a moshpit! “Right hand Red!” I can’t say I’ve ever seen that in a show.

It’s these kinds of things that make a night great, unexpected, fun, incredible musicianship, packed rooms and a game of twister! It’s also what I love about the metal scene, people just want to come out to have fun and see some incredibly well played and performed music.

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[Review] Drugdealer @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne 09/03/2023

The enigma that is Drugdealer, is a true ode to the gems of the 1970s. The brainchild of Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Michael Collins. I was a fan of Collins previous project Silk Rhodes, with it’s focus on groovy delicate soul, and was extremely keen to catch the larger folk rock end of his mind in Drugdealer. The Corner Hotel, a classic venue in Richmond, was packed with Lennon-esq young men on Thursday night, eager to step back to the seventies for a night of classic yacht rock and groovy balladry.

One could accidentally assume Drugdealer to be peers of Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Looking Glass or Bill Withers, but you’d be surprised to find release dates in the mid to late 2010s. And the best part of this: the band knows it, and we’re all invited to be in on the joke. This made for a night that was equally musically joyous and hilarious.

Opening for the band was Tex Crick, an Aussie singer-songwriter and keyboard player, and recent entry to Mac Demarco’s aptly titled record label Mac’s Record Label. He warmed us up with soft electric piano ballads, backed with a simple groovy drum machine, and a few friendly guitar lines from his single bandmate. Key tracks Peaches & Cream and Here We Go led the tight set, helping the packed crowd wind down and prepare for the laid-back evening.

With curtains closed, a bizarre news report announced the beginning of Drugdealer’s set. This described a recent controversy that apparently the band had run over a pack of quokkas while escaping a previous gig, which was allegedly only the most recent crime our stars had perpetrated. This was of course, just the first of many strange jokes to come.

The curtains parted, and Michael Collins welcomed us to the Drugdealer show. He told us this was his first time in Japan, “so Kawaii”, and that it was pleasant to be around such a simple people. This set the tone for what was a constant back and forth of true musicianship contrasted with bizarre humour for the following hour.

Largely playing keys and some guitar, Collins and bandmate Sasha Winn shared lead vocal duties, taking turns to play through the set, but the jokes were all Collins. He introduced us to the song Mad World, which was of course actually the hit Madison, the opener of their recent 2022 record Hiding In Plain Sight. Even namedropping controversial Aussie radio station Triple J during another track, no opportunity for goofiness was missed.

The tight engineering of the seventies drums on the records was not missed in the live setting, with just as much dry punchiness heard, and not a beat was out of the pocket. The guitarists and bassist grooved along to the beat, and our singers rode the waves with soft sweet melodies.

Highlights of the set included The End Of Comedy, Suddenly and Hard Dreaming Man, but my favourite track was of course Honey from the 2019 album Raw Honey. Such beautiful harmonies and vocal lines were not missed in the live rendition.

While the band is certainly self-aware of their throwback and potentially dad-rock tendencies, don’t let them sell themselves short – they’re a killer live band, with a set of gorgeous groovy rockers sure to get you dancing and smiling any day of the week.

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