Leprous + Voyager + Teramaze
The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne
6 February 2016
Review by Rod Whitfield
Photos by Carl Neumann
You don’t have to think or search for a long time to find Aussie heavy bands that are heavily underrated. Teramaze are one of them. The former Geelong based band have been around for years and years and have released several excellent albums. On record, they are quite scintillating, displaying amazing musicianship and strong prog and power metal songs. They should be much bigger than they are.
When looking for a reason why this is the case, their live performance may possibly be sited. Whilst their songs, musicianship and sound are high level, the live performance needs a little kick up the arse. I believe there needs to be a strong visual element to a live band, and I believe that even bands who play reasonably complicated progressive music should ‘put on a show’ when they play live. Bands with such an impressive command of their instruments should get up there and command the stage as well. I don’t really get that impression from this band. Both a little more onstage energy and presence, and more of a visual component would go a long way.
Nevertheless, the crowd was virtually at capacity for their 9pm set, and the heaving throng gave Teramaze a rousing reception, especially after their epic final track. Dean Wells’ blazing fret histrionics are a joy to behold, and he and frontman Nathan Peachey’s vocal harmonies live up to the singer’s name very nicely indeed.
In the last two years, Voyager have gone from an excellent Aussie band forging a rather respectable career for themselves to one of Australia’s absolute favourite heavy acts; and it’s easy to see why. Their last album V is a sensation, the brand new single they released in the lead-up to this tour, Misery is only Company, is another slice of highly impressive melodic heavy music, their back catalogue is a thing of beauty, and in a live context it all comes together like a dream.
Opening with Momentary Relapse of Pain, the band launched into a typically blazing set that didn’t fail to put a smile on the face of crowd and band alike. A favourite part of their live set is always their medley, where they slam out five or six 30-40 second stabs of any cover song they can think of. Tonight they paid tribute to fallen rock warrior Lemmy with Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, plus snippets of tunes from Periphery, Korn, Disturbed and more. It’s just light hearted fun that is rare in the dark and frowny world of heavy music.
It’s always fun too, when band members jump out into the crowd to rock out with the punters, and at one stage all members except the drummer Ash Doodkorte, still onstage holding things together beautifully, were out in the crowd. Again, it was big cheesy smiles of enjoyment all round. Voyager put on yet another dazzling set.
Nothing could have prepared for the magnificence that is Norway’s Leprous. After persisting with them for two to three weeks prior, and finally ‘getting it’, I went in expecting them to be amazing. They were that, and a whole lot more.
Firstly, there is no band out there quite like Leprous. You can certainly detect traces of influences, but they channel a whole bunch of them into something that is completely their own. It’s difficult to know where to slot them. You can certainly fit them under the banner that is ‘prog’, but that term is far too broad these days. They’re not really prog-metal, they’re not really prog-rock, they’re prog, Leprous-style, and that’s all that can be said. Their records are incredible, and in a live setting they lift several notches again.
Visually, they sort of resemble an 80s new wave band, with their matching black collared shirts, teased 80s short hairstyles and the singer out front behind a keyboard. Two songs into their set, they blew a fuse, or suffered some other type of technical difficulty, and the show ground to a halt for a minute or two. They took this easily in their collective stride.
Their set was one hour and twenty minutes of beautiful, avant-garde progressive heavy music power and passion, and drew very heavily for their stunning latest album The Congregation. The musicianship inherent in that band is nothing short of mindboggling, and rising above it all is the stupendous voice of frontman and keyboardist Einar Solberg. I was utterly transfixed by his voice and performance.
The capacity crowd at The Evelyn went home extremely happy after this show. Half of me feels that bills like this should be filling much larger places, while the other half feels extremely privileged to have seen this stunning show in a tiny, sweaty, super intimate pub like The Evelyn.
If Leprous tour Australia again, I will fall all over myself to go see them again.