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Gig Review: High Tension + supports, Melbourne

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High Tension + I Exist + Outright + Diecut
Howler, Melbourne
11 July 2015
Review by Callum Doig

Australia’s scene in heavy music only gets better and better, gig after gig. There are plenty of bands out there that have been excelling greatly, and one of them happens to be the one and only High Tension, who brought their sophomore Bully to the stage the day after it was released. Joining them onstage were Canberra’s I Exist, hardcore decimators Outright, and Diecut.

With YLVA having to cancel their appearance to open the stage that night, Diecut went on to open the show with a dynamic performance. Diecut’s appearance onstage sort of made me expect a Ne Obliviscaris approach, as the band consisted of the regular guitar, bass and drums with a violin as an addition. But, my guess was wrong, as I heard more a Sonic Youth and The Drones kind of tone throughout the set. Overall, it was quite a diverse and unique set by a band that can take some great musical approaches from noise and alternative music. Unfortunately, the room didn’t get completely filled up until after their set, so the people who came down early to check out Diecut made a good decision.

Outright is a name I’ve heard for a while now, but, to think I’d ever get a chance to see them. It was a fresh and debut experience for me that left me completely astonished. The hardcore outfit pulled one off one of the best half hour performances I have seen out of every band I’ve seen, playing in that same time space. Outright vocalist Jelena spared a few seconds between tracks to make a few speeches on domestic violence and sexism that were related to the concept of the songs they enacted.

Canberra’s very own I Exist were another familiar name to me, yet never heard. While their set went longer than Diecut and Outright, their take on some of the most aggressive sludge metal tracks I’ve heard in a while was true bliss. Their onstage humour of them pretending to be High Tension and one of their guitarists pulling many faces was some good non-musical entertainment. But, overall, the thing that got my most attention from the band was their Sabbath and Eyehategod influenced sound. It was hard to believe that for a band I assumed was death metal from when I first heard the name, I Exist were one of the first few sludge bands I got to hear outside of Melbourne that had the most distinctive sound from a majority of other groups I’ve heard within my hometown.

Now, let’s talk the headliner. High Tension have never done a bad performance whenever I’ve caught them live. Though most of the shows I have seen them perform were mainly in support with bands such as King Parrot, High On Fire, Ecca Vandal and Clowns, it was great to finally see them at a full headlining set. High Tension’s set consisted mainly of tracks from the newly released sophomore Bully, while bringing out some tracks from their debut Death Beat such as Mountain Of Dead, Blaze Up, High Risk High Rewards and the band’s local anthem Collingwood. A few Bully tracks that were performed included Iceman, Killed By Life, Guillotine and the band’s first single off the album Sports, which featured Jelena Goluza of Outright joining Karina on the mic. High Tension allowed their female friends from Outright and Diecut onstage for the performance of their title track of Bully. Sadly, it was announced by vocalist Karina Utomo that the band’s guitarist Ash Pegram (who also performed alongside Karina in Young & Reckless) was leaving the band and the country to live in England. However, it’s not the end, for they will have someone else to take the role as High Tension’s guitarist sometime in the future.

So, in closing, this was my favourite all-Aussie gig of the year, so far. Every band had flawless results on each of their performances. I can happily say that I got three new bands to add into my music library soon, and High Tension picked some great bands to perform alongside them. If only I could see a line-up like this happen again sometime in the future! If you missed out, don’t worry, there’s plenty of High Tension gigs to happen in the future. In the meantime, be sure to check out their latest album ‘Bully’ which is out now. Be prepared for greatness ahead!

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