The Ocean + Caligula’s Horse + Lo!
Factory Floor Sydney
10 April 2015
Review by Matt Doria
How good is the Factory Theatre? Sure, Marrickville is a cesspool of supreme dodginess, but there’s no venue in Sydney with an aura quite as inviting as that of the Factory. Even more smile inducing is the small, homey little hub that rests underneath the Factory’s hall – it’s hidden little brother, the Factory Floor, where this cataclysmic array of heavy music was unleashed upon us. Rainy, messy and still somehow scorching hot, tonight’s atmosphere was less than desirable. Still, walking through the gates presented a sea of excited fans, too psyched up by the prospects of seeing The Ocean live to give a shit about some pissy weather.
Kicking off what was sure to be an intense night were the sludgy Sydney metallers commonly referred to as Lo!. Characterised by their punishing hardcore-tinged melodies and callously twisted vocals, Lo! were absolutely relentless in their pseudo-apocalyptic showcase. With his best ‘murder face’ on, spine-chilling frontman Carl Whitbread danced around the stage with violent apathy, his coarse wails delivering equal parts commotion, and genuine terror. At times just a touch brandish, his serial killer vibe was mellowed out by his destructively power laden bandmates. Too focused for fuckery, what the axe lords and drum wizard lacked in animation, they made up for with grueling precision. Their crowd was underwhelmed at best, but in true fairness, this was the wrong place for their ire to be unleashed.
Nonetheless, palates were whet for the eventual assimilation of Brisbane’s alternative prog Gods; Caligula’s Horse. Smokey, raw, and all of their own, it was as soon as they punched open with ‘A Gift to Afterthought’ that it became clear why this five-piece powerhouse are skyrocketing in popularity at the moment. On drums, Geoff Irish is a holy providence, his masterful jittering meshing almost perfectly with a cavalcade of serenading annihilation from guitar-wielding maniacs Zac Greensill, Sam Vallen and Dave Couper. However, it’s vocalist Jim Grey that gave Caligula’s Horse their bite tonight, his impassioned vocals only superseded by his hilariously witty banter; “not even Whitesnake want to play Whitesnake!,” he cut in retort to a heckler persistent on a cover song. Highlighted by their mellow, and then completely insane new jam ‘Rust’, Caligula’s Horse played a captivatingly energetic set that left us all wishing for an encore following their exuberant closer ‘Dark Hair Down’.
They took their sweet ass time getting everything ready, but once The Ocean were up and running, the Factory Floor was overflowing with splendour at the hand of an insanely talented collective. The five-piece German prog-metal unit played their 2013 concept record ‘Pelagial’ in full, and while it’s always a bit of a cop out when a band decide to boast one record instead of a discography-spanning spread, The Ocean come off the hook because ‘Pelagial’ is an album designed to be listened to in concert, and in full, at that.
Accompanied by a truly hypnotic film portraying a woman’s undersea possession and demise, The Ocean tore through their hour-long set with fluidity and grace, stopping only briefly to ensure the crowd hadn’t been completely brainwashed – even though we all totally were. Sending a shiver down the spines of the cumulative hundred standing before them, their set was a transcendental disposition of compelling, powerful guitars, vigorous drums, and rich, omnipotent vocals. Though familiar throughout the hour spanning presentation, The Ocean never encountered monotony in their exhibition, the entire show an enthralling experience embraced by a spellbinding journey through the malicious scourge of a fascinatingly delicate underwater landscape. Effortlessly mesmerising, this was an hour unlike anything this writer had ever witnessed, a mind-blowing ordeal that needs to be observed by all prog-metal fans at least once.
Having brought us back down to earth (or up, having plummeted us deep into the pitch black depths of a watery abyss) with a lengthy encore comprising of ‘The Origin of Species’ and ‘The Origin of God’, it was confirmed well and truly that The Ocean are incredibly adept, and a marvel to watch as they tear apart their instruments onstage.