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Live Review: Queensryche, Lord, Hemina

17 October 2016 | 4:16 pm | Brendan Crabb

"The more mature metal punters craved the Seattle mob's classics."

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Being a local opener can be an arduous enough proposition without the sound issues Sydney prog-metallers Hemina encountered (according to the band, the mixing desk ran out of inputs and "we only had three vocals and backing going through the PA"). They acquitted themselves well considering, teasing intriguing new material.

Lord faced similar challenges, but the Wollongong/Sydney melodic metal crew are a seasoned outfit by this point. They've undergone personnel shifts since last supporting the headliners a decade ago, but their enthusiasm remained infectious. Carbon Black's Rob Giles ably substituted for honeymooning bassist Andy Dowling, and a spirited version of Metallica's Creeping Death even dragged the uninitiated away from the bar.

They weren't the only act on the bill whose membership has altered recently. Lawsuits and public mud-slinging ensued Geoff Tate was replaced as Queensryche frontman by younger wailer Todd La Torre. To dub La Torre a high note-hitting sound-a-like would be largely accurate, but doesn't tell the full extent of the story. Highlights of his powerhouse, confident display were affording early favourites Queen Of The Reich and Take Hold Of The Flame a proper justice not previously possible in eons, while imbuing a modicum of individual flavour.

Such histrionics aside, this turnover has seemingly reinvigorated bandmates, too, enhancing energy levels and enabling them to delve deep into the catalogue. For instance, Damaged, from 1994's oft-neglected Promised Land was aired. The more mature metal punters craved the Seattle mob's classics. The latest incarnation has issued two solid, if unremarkable, releases, but only scant reference was made there as landmark efforts, 1988's Operation: Mindcrime and follow-up Empire understandably comprised half the set-list. They were aided by a clear mix and although perhaps fractionally too brief at 75 minutes, few seemed to complain. In 2016, nostalgia in heavy metal may be more prevalent than ever. Queensryche aren't exactly trendy and have survived a PR battering, but reiterated that truly great songs endure.

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