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Live Review: Zeal & Ardor, Dispossessed, Burden Man

28 February 2019 | 12:10 pm | Brendan Delavere

"This show will go down as one of those cult shows that everyone claims they were at but few witnessed."

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Sydney trio Burden Man meandered their way through their half-hour opening set with an amalgamation of post-black metal, southern fried riffs and deep, gloomy vocals. If Deafheaven and Tom Waits collaborated, the result would be Burden Man, their expansive sound captivating the half-full room.

Dispossessed are fiercer than ever. They've shed their sludgy sound in favour of blast beats and short, fast, loud grindcore. No one murmurs a word during their Welcome To Country opener, before they rip into a blast-y little number. Volatile, unrelenting and in your face, the band break up the violence with moments of dialogue about the injustices suffered by First Nations people, particularly at the hands of police. 

As the lights dimmed, the already dark room descended into pitch black with the haunting sounds of Sacrilegium I beating chests with its massive bass drop.

Taking the stage to the screams of a packed Crowbar, the six-piece Zeal & Ardor, aka the brainchild of Swiss-American Manuel Gagneux, flanked by backing vocalists Denis Wagner and Marc Obrist, drew the crowd in with In Ashes. The chanting in Servants and Blood In The River (with its refrain of, “A good God is a dead one”), and the soul-destroying call of Come On Down were heightened by relentless strobe lighting.

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With very little to say instead “let[ting] the music do the rest”, Gagneux continued his unholy screech – a blend of black metal and spiritual chanting with snippets of free jazz thrown into the mix. Row Row and Gravedigger's Chant encapsulated the very nature of the band; jangling chains and chants woven between bursts of banshee-like screams.

Choosing to forgo the unnecessary lie that is an encore, the six-piece stayed on for the final two tracks of the hour-long set. With the haunting chant of Devil Is Fine ringing in the dark, the room chorused as one. Sweaty and elated, the band closed with a final beast of a track, Baphomet. This show will go down as one of those cult shows that everyone claims they were at but few witnessed.