"Few metal singers execute the bipolar vocal caper with such panache and conviction as Strid. "
Monday nights are typically a hard sell, and thus a scarce crowd for Sydney-based axeman James Norbert Ivanyi and band resulted. Although requiring a tad more charisma, his John Petrucci-esque phrasing and overall approach, akin to an instrumental version of Opeth, left an impression.
The gathering grew somewhat for Aversions Crown, who despite a wealth of synchronised stage manoeuvres were rather uninspired. The eight-string guitar-wielding Brisbane deathcore bruisers failed to elicit many thrills, bar a small crop of diehards down front. Utilising an excessive amount of bass drops and guttural, yet nondescript vocals, a lack of actual songs from the headliners' label-mates became readily apparent.
By the time Soilwork arrived the attendance had reached respectable, albeit less-than-stellar levels. Likeable frontman Bjorn 'Speed' Strid remarked that it was "not too shabby" given the evening in question. Perhaps these circumstances ensured the show didn't quite reach the spectacular heights it deserved to, given the efficient display. However, rather than act as if their mere presence entitled them to an uproarious response and sweat-filled pit, the Swedes earned just that by pouring much vigour into an entertaining 90 minutes. Few metal singers execute the bipolar vocal caper with such panache and conviction as Strid. New bassist Markus Wibom proved a fireball of energy and Dirk Verbeuren a powerhouse presence behind the kit.
Opening with the infectious title track from latest disc The Ride Majestic, the sextet deftly referenced old and new. This meant acknowledging brutal early offerings (The Chainheart Machine, Bastard Chain) without being rendered mere revivalists, carefully slotting such selections amongst a set-list heavily rooted in recent releases. It's a trick their contemporaries In Flames should note. Stabbing The Drama remained Soilwork's most potent singalong anthem; Let This River Flow boasts perhaps the grandest hooks of an extensive career and was treated accordingly. Overall it was another triumph for these regular visitors to these shores.
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