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October 15, 2012

Concert Review: Lord, Sonic Altar, Just One Fix, Stone Monarch and Stormforge

Brutal Tunes, Concerts & Grog Fests

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Friday October 5, Kings Arms, Auckland

Wollongong/Sydney power metal masters Lord last played on our shores in 2009. I missed them then – I think I might have been in Syria at the time – but this time I wasn’t going to be a piker. I must confess that I haven’t paid much attention to this band – although I’ve heard good things from all sources, they’ve never really tipped over into the realm of “must listen” for me – so I went to the show unfamiliar with their material, but pumped for something awesome. If nothing else, I figured even if the headliner turned out to be a flop, the ticket price – $10 – was a pittance for a night of quality local acts.

Lord might perhaps be better known under their previous incantation, Dungeon. Between 1989-2005, Dungeon released six studio albums and attained some international success, appearing at festivals in Europe, Aus and Japan, and supporting bands such as Nightwish, Mayhem and Destruction. They even toured with Megadeth through Europe in 2005. Despite many of their songs being considered classics of the genre, constant line-up changes and litigating circumstances meant Dungeon never seemed to get a solid footing, and now many of the early Dungeon albums are woefully difficult to get your hands on.

Lord Tim Grouse, guitarist and one of the only consistent band members of Dungeon, formed Lord as a solo project in 2003, and after Dungeon broke up it became his sole focus. Lord’s sound continues where Dungeon left off, and they continue to perform popular Dungeon tracks live. Lord’s latest album, Digital Lies, is so far unreleased over here, so their new material was hotly anticipated by the hardcore fans.

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But first, the opening bands. For what I believe is their forth time on stage, Stormforge brought out a massive sound, big, galloping riffs, soaring vocals, ridiculous lyrics about dragons – power metal majesty at it’s finest. Vocalist Countney O’Leary put on a particularly notable performance, and their new drummer is out of this world. They’re unfortunately saying goodbye to guitarist Sebastian as he heads off overseas, so if you know anyone locally who wants to play epic power metal and doesn’t mind endless conversations about various bodily functions, hit up the Stormforge boys.

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Next up was Stone Monarch – with a sound more classically hard rock, with a seventies groove in the solos and drumming. Vocalist Ross McGuire has made dramatic improvements since his last band, and his guitar licks are as catchy as ever. And that drummer … well, he’s quite dreamy :) The two new songs in their set stood out were highlights for me, with that languid musical ease of one of those infamous Led Zeppelin jam sessions.

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If you’ve been around the local scene for any length of time, you would have seen Just One Fix at least six-thousand times. These guys always play a solid set with plenty of crunchy, headbanging tunes, and this show was no exception. The crowd were in to it, too, and they left the stage with the whole venue buzzing.

Up next, Sonic Altar brought out the mainstream radio hard rock. Their set, although tight, needed to be shorter, as most of us were well ready for the headliners by the time they started. They definitely don’t need to covers in their set, as their original songs can more than stand on their own.

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Finally, it was Lord’s turn. And the Aussie lads didn’t disappoint. The opening track, “Betrayal Blind”, from the forthcoming Digital Lies album, pulled no punches – it was a full-on assault of melodic madness – imagine a Dragonforce song where the guitarists cared more about hitting every note than somersaulting from trampolines. The band looked like they were having a blast, and it rubbed off on us – it’s always a fun show when the band doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but still reward fans with a tight, flawless performance. Catchier than the clap, I moshed along to song after song, shouting out the choruses even though I’d never heard any of them before.

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Dungeon fans found their screams rewarded with old classics like “Rssurrection” and “I Am Death”. Another new song, “Final Seconds”, was also a big hit. Their set included two covers – their particularly infamous version of Kylie Minogue’s “On a Night Like This”, and to close, Metallica’s “Creeping Death” performed with lightning speed and ferocity.

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Groupies!

If you get the chance – and the Lord boys are touring through Australia in Oct, with possible dates in Europe to follow – I’d get along and see Lord. And if you need any more convincing, I give you this:

One Comment on “Concert Review: Lord, Sonic Altar, Just One Fix, Stone Monarch and Stormforge

Joshua Russell
October 27, 2012 at 12:22 am

Ginger on the loose!

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