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[Review] Bring Me The Horizon @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 18/04/2024

Walking up to Rod Laver Arena on a freezing cold Thursday night, I had to double check my tickets.

“Rod Laver Arena? Surely, they aren’t selling out a venue that big?” I whispered to myself as I triple checked the venue.

They, are Bring Me The Horizon. I remember them as one of the many sculptors of my mid-teens. My memories are me sitting on the bus, sullen because all my friends went to Sydney to see them. I probably gave myself tinnitus on that bus ride. Or sitting in woodwork and a group of girls I desperately wanted to be friends with told me to, “Go and talk to Jess, she likes that emo shit too.” And becoming her partner in home-ec that year. Bring Me The Horizon were an intimate band for me, the cause of friendships falling apart and coming together. They weren’t an arena rock band. They were mine, they were for the kids like me. But, clearly, they were ours. And we were all here tonight.

A swarm of platform black boots, fishnets and black lipstick pour passed me, as the hyper pop anthems of Daine pierce the freezing air. I love Daine. They were one of the artists who defined lockdown bonfires with my housemates for me. Tonight is a night dedicated to making the best out of a bad situation, clearly. SALT, I want the light to swallow me whole and a far-too short list of songs later, the set is finished. I can feel the applause from outside. Daine is an absolute machine, the powerhouse to end all powerhouses.

I finally manage to make my way inside, shoulder to shoulder with the coolest people I’ve ever seen. I love ex-emo kids. I’m now much more of a corduroy-and-American-Traditional-tattoo emo enthusiast, but here I am with the upper echelon of emo kid. And I’m thrilled. As I take my seat, the lights dim again and Make Them Suffer takes to the stage. Going from goth-rock meets hyper pop to Australian metalcore might seem strange, but this crowd is absolutely on board for the weirdness. I watch as a half-filled GA area throws themselves against each other, the smacks of their arms audible from my seat. Opening with Ghost of Me and winding up seven songs later, I wish the Perth band had stayed on earlier, but tonight is about celebrating lots of bands, and so they make their way offstage after a thunderous finish with Doomswitch.

Now, my relationship with Sleep Token, is a little bit…. Strange. The London progressive-metal band are famous for making a TikTok edit song for a hot video game vampire. I didn’t know it was a Sleep Token track, until I was sitting down and as The Summoning started playing, I was surrounded by videos of this pale hottie. Certainly, one for the ol’ bucket list.

Sleep Token have this awesome stage presence. White masks with red and black paint splatters cover the faces of the entire group, their anonymity is their power. The crowd is almost possessed with the slow, melodic drops and the ultra-high screaming peaks. The band plays in a way that makes them seem blank-faced, but their musicianship is evocative, powerful and an absolute feast for the senses. The red lights spray into the crowd as our screams mix with theirs. An outstanding final opening act for the absolute chaos I was about to experience with Bring Me The Horizon.

Bring Me The Horizon are mythic. Formed in 2004 in Sheffield, they’ve released 8 albums and have sold over 5 million records. They sold out 3 shows in Melbourne alone, on this Australian tour. To say they’re popular, would be an understatement. They’re revolutionary. And my God, do they know it.

The show opens with Eve, an AI woman doing “audience analysis” on us. The screens of the arena are filled with her uncanny face movements as she asks us to scream in excitement, only to be met with; “Performance analysis: Weak as fuck”. The antsy crowd on the floor takes that as a challenge, and immediately open up a Circle Pit. Before the band’s even come on. It’s insanity.

Then, the backdrops project the walls and windows of a church, with beautiful sunlight streaming through. The British 4-piece come onstage, taking their own pillars, except front man Oli Sykes, who is on the lowest level in a velvet top and these amazing loafers. All of the band take to their human-spine mic-stands and let it rip for the next nearly 2 hours. “Bang your fucking heads, pussies!” Sykes screams into the crowd as he lets out a vocal-chord tearing scream and his guitarists jump what feels like 20-feet into the air.

I am completely swept up into the story they’re telling. Project angeldust has gone awry, Eve’s systems are corrupted and her fanatic cultists are dying. Project angeldust arrives, and the church windows aren’t filled with snow or rain or sun anymore, they’re torn down by a body-horror baby with wings, and everyone loses it. Matt Nichols on drums is an absolute mad-man, he is incredible. Every song, he’s making the beat and then outperforming himself as the song goes on, legendary. All of the musicians are killing it, they’re note-perfect, and even better than I can describe.

There’s fire, sparklers, smoke, lights – it’s a feast.

As the circle pit continues, and the crowd keeps splitting itself into walls of death, Sykes smirks that smirk we all know, “You guys are fucking mad for it! But can you jump?” And yes they can. He insults us, he lifts us up – anything he barks at us, with that killer smile, we are all too eager to oblige.

At first, I thought he was kidding with the repeated; “I’m a little bit poorly, seeing double. Hot sweats, cold sweats.” Because we launched into Kingslayer, and he smiled up at us before spitting into the mic, “1-2-fuck you!” and let out another spine crunching scream. God, he’s good. But he did need to take a 3 minute break in the middle to get himself feeling better. Even being clearly very unwell, he was the frontman to end all frontmen. Like so spellbinding, his skill is unmatched, his synergy with the band was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. As he returns from break he’s smiling again, “Fuck me you guys are fucking mental!” And we are, it’s true, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. What he considered a 4/10, was most concerts 11/10, and we just kept going. “Peng crowd!” His band coos in agreement to eachother.

Pulling up Sam, a random audience member in a bucket hat, and laden with the most Australian accent ever, was so genius. Performing Antivist together, Sam was throwing in improv lines, screaming and barking orders at us. “Pull the finger out of your fucking asses! Make a wall of death! Let’s go, let’s go!” And we are all too happy to oblige. Sykes grins at his newest prodigee, and they absolutely crush their unplanned duet.

Parasite Eve is, of course, spellbinding. Rave lights illuminate the arena. Spectacular rays of green and yellow and white. Sykes’ voice is unbelievable. His screams are… Better than recorded. His vocal control is criminally underrated, it’s fucking awesome. As their platinum hit rides to a close, the stage turns red, rose petals fall. Sykes lies on the ground. “I have a question, can you… can you…. Can You Feel My Heart?” He jumps to his feet, clearly ready to punch out this last number with everything he has “If you don’t jump to this song, you are a certified dickhead!” And they go into Can You Feel My Heart. A studded sacred heart lights them from behind, the arena is bathed in light, and I am 14 again, in home-ec, on the back of the bus. I feel like I could burst.

The encore goes off without a hit, and I am still lost in nostalgia. Please, treat your inner-teen. I promise they’re desperate to scream along with Bring Me The Horizon and leave arm in arm with other cry-laughing adults as we go from being swallowed by Sykes poetic screams, to being swallowed by the Melbourne cold.

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[Review] Sleep Token @ Northcote Theatre, Melbourne 30/04/2023

Review By Kynan Arden

The metal scene in recent years has evolved into many diverse sub genres and in themselves take their own unique styles, with some groups taking this on such as Bad Omens, Thornhill, Spiritbox, and Sleep Token. I had the incredible opportunity to see the latter of this bunch at Northcote Theatre, and if anybody said that you could not mix the filthiest of breakdowns with ethereal electronics that is a lie (try telling that to Pertubator. I dare you) 

After fans packed together like tuna and bartenders delivered drinks into mosh pits as if we just invented in-house hospo DoorDash, a thick smog of smoke shielded the stage and within it, Sleep Token’s mysterious, identity-ridden front man Vessel, with his tremendous vocal dynamic, opened the night with Chokehold before the remaining mask-clad members joined him as they quickly flowed into an early fan favourite, The Summoning, to which both myself and half the venue collectively lost our voices to this baby-making anthem, and salivated at the unstoppable drum solo halfway through.

With a thunderous stick-wielded behind the kit, an engaging guitarist and bassist, the highly energetic Vessel and his enthusiastic moves, and the three statue-like, robed backing vocalists, Sleep Token set the scene of a real dark and gothic tone, infused with modern day pop and electronic influences, and the whole design of the entire being clad with villainous outfits and being devoid of any form of identity really adds the theme, in some way being comparable to a melancholic performance rather than your stock metal gig. The fans were enchanted by this phenomenal performance from beginning to end, head banging, moshing, and raving alike to the group’s discography of powerful numbers. 

Sleep Token wasted no time for the entire hour and a half they performed, perfecting a flawless performance that kept you engaged every second.  From the sultry, seductive undertones of Hypnosis, to the ever so energetic yet angst teeth gritting Granite, carrying over to the oh so behemoth-like Alkaline, every first note or beat of each track sent roars and applause thundering through the theatre, and every lyric was sung loudly as long as there were any, and no amount of makeup of masks could hide the pure energy surging through the members of Sleep Token and clear enjoyment behind the anonymity. It was an experience experiencing such a diversity between heavy, dancey, and mellow/slow songs, an experience which I admire.

Additionally, the band did not spare a cheeky nature as they teased us fans multiple times exiting the stage in short minute long intervals, and truly milked the opportunity to playfully keep us waiting before the conclusive encore, constructing not one but three mosh pits during the finale, The Offering, before the group blessed us with their gratitude upon departing. However, the classic local chant, “One More Song!”, quickly erupted from within the crowd, pleading a final hoorah. To my surprise, this worked, as Vessel took position behind the keys, accompanied by the stunning backing harmonies from the three backing vocalists, and excitingly presented a live debut of their newest single, DYWTYLM

It’s safe to say that for their first headline tour of Australia, the underground entity that is Sleep Token certainly delivered an unforgettable live experience after shaking the metal industry worldwide with their hits. I have a sneaking suspicion this is only really still the beginning of this powerhouse of a band’s journey, and I’m beyond excited to see what’s next. 

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