Live Review: Rosetta, City Of Ships, Nuclear Summer, Hope Drone

14 August 2012 | 9:35 am | Tom Hersey

More Rosetta More Rosetta

The setting for Rosetta's final Australian show is kind of poetic; being that they're an underground band playing a basement club. Yet tonight's line-up means there's a lot more to dig on than band/venue synchronicity. First up, local four-piece Hope Drone push their amplifiers to their limit. Proving themselves true to their droning moniker, their set hits that sweet spot between black and drone metals.

Locals Nuclear Summer play the second support slot like they're determined to lighten the mood, or remind everyone that heavy music is supposed to be fun too. The five-piece really seem to be having a good time as they thrash about some of the tracks from their self-titled full-length.

Making the trip with their State-side brethren, post/prog/heavy/whatever rockers City Of Ships are tonight's main support. Though they stand out as the most melodic band on tonight's bill, the crowd of post-metal enthusiasts can appreciate the smorgasbord of sounds created by the three-piece outfit. As the bill's sort-of dark horse, what City Of Ships do with their time onstage stands out particularly. Their swirling guitar lines are disarmingly infectious, and their uniquely mellow take on some of post-metal's textures keeps everyone in the club interested.

Philadelphia four-piece Rosetta have described their music as 'metal for astronauts'. If that's the case, when they take to the stage in Crowbar they aren't floating through the orbital phase of a space voyage, but re-entering earth's atmosphere, hurtling towards the ground like a blaze of fire. The ethereal textures of earlier albums like Wake/Lift and 2005 epic The Galilean Satellites, which served as the centre-piece of their last Australian tour, are superseded by the grit and power of the band's newer material. Vocalist Michael Armine is shirtless and in the faces of the front row, commanding action with a hardcore-styled bark while the ambient soundscape component of Rosetta's music is pushed towards the background. Buried amidst a mess of J. Matthew Weed's guitars and the fierce crash of Bruce McMurtie Jr.'s drum kit. While Rosetta's music has always had an element of hardcore's brawn amidst the overt braininess of meticulous space rock arrangements, tonight their set is all muscle. Even during the six-minute plus efforts, when the audience expect the band to settle into the kind of drone-influenced motifs that can be appropriately appreciated with thoughtful head-nodding, a brutish squall of distortion will come from nowhere to shake everything up and cause a pit to break out.

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In the chaos of these moments, the band's performance hits its zenith. It's this sweaty yet intelligent hybridisation of hardcore and metal that, when Rosetta take their exit from the stage, leaves the crowd in awe of Rosetta's near-unmatched dexterity.