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January 26, 2012

Gig Review: ABSU, Heresiarch, Nullifier and Exordium Mors at the Kings Arms Tavern, 19 Jan 2012

Brutal Tunes, Concerts & Grog Fests

Edited to add some gig photos from Misery of Chaos NZ.

So.

I missed Heresiarch (because I fell asleep on the couch and had to change my t-shirt because I drooled on it? I can neither confirm nor deny), but my mate Ross said they were “like a bulldozer”, which I think is a pretty accurate description of their sound. Nullifier unleashed their signature, unashamedly Sepultura and Sodom-influenced breed of death/thrash. This was a good set, tearing many metallers away from their smokes and spliffs to come inside and nod their heads in appreciation.

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Exordium Mors with Absu. This photo cracks me up.

 

Fresh from the studio after recording their third EP, Sacrifice, Perish and Demise, and a spot on the lineup at Siamese True Metal Festival alongside Impiety and Surrender of Divinity, Exordium Mors ripped out one of the most impressive sets I’ve seen from a local act in, oh, five years. Chaotic, vicious vocals spat from the mouth of Scourge, who riles the crowd with his fury. This is a guy who means every fucking word. The thrash-infused riffs and barbaric, moody undertones bring to mind only one comparison – and I don’t make this lightly – and that is early Bathory. They’ve refined their sound and their show since I saw them last, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Exordium Mors will be the next kiwi band the world is talking about. And if not, that is SO your loss.

After that show, Absu could’ve been shit and I still would’ve considered it a great night.

Luckily, Absu weren’t shit. Not even one single iota of excrement.

Since many of you never have, and never will, go to a live metal gig in New Zealand, let me tell you about the Kings Arms. It’s one of the oldest pubs in the country, and is one of Auckland’s proudest small live venues, with space for around 300 if no one minds an occasional elbow in their beer. There’s a decent-size stage by small-club standards, a cosy outdoor beer garden, and some pretty sweet acoustics. It is, on this particular evening, packed with 150 sweaty, happy metalheads, and always makes for a fun, intimate metal show.

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This photo shows how far back the drumkit was (photo by Misery)

Absu had added some extra boxes to the front of the stage, the this thing is even deeper than usual. Proscriptor’s kit is pushed right back against the wall, as far from the crowd as it is possible to get and still be in the same venue. But when the first dischordant riffs rose from the haze, and he ripped into the set with characteristic aplomb, the guy couldv’e been right on top of you – the way that music hit you, right in the belly, a real, honest-to-Satan, wall of noise. Playing drums and singing is HARD – both instruments are doing completely different things, and drums by themselves, especially drumming with that kind of speed and intensity, is an Olypmic-style workout all on it’s own, let alone the breath control and power needed to burst forth with such animalian screeches.

Guitar and bass – played by Vis Crom and Ezezu respectively – lean precariously out over the audience, their assault never letting up. Those two hardly look up from their instruments, and when they do it’s to fix some technical sound issue or to give me the eye :) (yeah, I saw you, Mr Crom.) And while they racked the crowd up something furious, it was the unrelenting attack from the back of the stage that really held the audience captive.

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(Photo by Misery)

Absu ripped through a set of blistering, thrash-influenced blackness that grabs you in the chest. Covering material from their critically-acclaimed Abzu album, as well as old classics like “Four Crossed Wands” On a projector to the side of the stage, occult sigils flashed, and the lights trickling through the smoke that billowed continuously from the stage cast the whole venue in an eerie glow. We weren’t allowed photographs, but I wish you could’ve seen what I saw. I had a prime spot, side of stage, nothing at all between me and the music, no flailing elbows to distract me from the fury. The whole experience was surreal and spellbinding, like a ritual dance. You were swept up in the majesty of it, in the stark, repeating patterns of this unholy marching band. You couldn’t escape. You had to bang your head.

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Or, as Ross so eloquently put it, “that show really tickled my fancy”.

So yeah, thanks heaps to Chaos NZ for bringing Absu over, hell of a good show, hell of a good crowd, and hope to see many more like it.