Date: 2nd February
Venue: Crowbar Sydney
Presented By: Mckenzie Touring
Photos: Amy McIntosh
Bringing their ‘Fragile ‘Figures’ Fifth Anniversary down under, Californian metalcore legends Secrets have begun their tour with a trek across the great southern nation, alongside Brisbane post-harcore act Awaken I Am. With shows lined up at venues in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra and Brisbane, this will be their second Australian journey. For Sydney, they played Crowbar, a venue which I had not yet experienced, and with an absolute powerhouse of a line-up, it’d be quite the understatement to say I’d been in anticipation for this one! I could not wait, and let me tell you first hand it was a hell of a time!
- Kaskeid -
Kaskeid are a band that I’ve had the absolute pleasure of seeing on multiple occasions prior, and on each occasion they’ve never ceased to blow me away! They’re one of those bands that have this incredible wall of sound that so many other metalcore bands in the scene strive to achieve, yet Kaskeid have always proven to deliver, and tonight was no different. As the show began, ambience was setting in, and the crowd began moving forward with haste. Without further ado, they were met with a sudden explosion of gloriously heavy grooves, synchronised head banging and just overall, undiluted badass-ery.
Right from the get-go, Kaskeid introduced themselves as a cohesive unit to be reckoned with, and the red-jacket bearing frontman, James Temo was as brutally commanding as ever! During their set, Kaskeid progressed into some moments in which Temo’s unrelenting ferocity served as a responding voice for bassist Ethan Sykes’ melodic vocals (e.g. ‘Eclipse); a contrast that did not at all disrupt the heaviness, but in my opinion, drove their sound furthermore into undeniable epic territory. From go to woe, the vibe was incredibly energetic, and the crowd at the front got furthermore involved as the set progressed; jumping frantically as the band delivered their own brand of bouncy, unfuckwithable grooves and some seriously bangin’ breakdowns!
‘Conquer’, one of my absolute favourite tracks of theirs, was a testament to this, and the tempo change during ‘W.M.H.B’ left me thrillingly flabbergasted. Although I felt that there were some occasions in which the band members did not always visually synchronise with one another, rest assured that when Kaskeid get into it, they get into it HARD! In addition, an appropriate use of backing tracks served to keep the set super vibe-y, atmospheric and connected throughout. As the set came to its conclusion, intensity was at an all-time high, and Temo jumped into the pit to fiercely assert his one final command for energy, ending it with a bang!
Overall, a fantastic introduction to the night and I’m glad to say they were my first band at Sydney’s Crowbar! Kaskeid do not disappoint!
- Watchtowers -
I’ll admit that Watchtowers are a band that I had been previously unaware of, but if you ask me, the best part of the live gigging experience is discovering brand new music, and this act in particular had me quite intrigued. Whilst maintaining the heaviness, they brought a tad more of a melodic touch to the table with an interesting spoken word element. This doesn’t however deter the fact that they still frequently served up a dead-set punch.
Frontman Jarrod Anthony Martin is a vocalist who can seamlessly transition between softer cleans, rhythmic spoken word, and piercing growls with a dynamic range that he proves doesn’t need a mic to be heard within a room of hardcore intensity. Now whilst I’m on the topic of intensity, Watchtowers’ guitar tone is massive, and together with tight, albeit straightforward drum work, serves the songs appropriately and effectively. For example, the second song began with a slow, half time groove that quickly elevated into a sonic burst of rhythmic heaviness that ran circles around my mind, and I couldn’t get enough of it!
There were plenty of rhythmic cues in which the band gloriously locked together in visual synergy (e.g. sudden pauses), but outside of these cues, the band could sometimes become a little disconnected in this regard. Sonically, Watchtowers are masters of dynamic contrast; transitioning between clean guitars and energetically melodic, yet fiercely grotesque walls of sound; Martin making use of his diverse vocal dimensions to convey emotion within all realms of their sound.
As the set ran along, they continued to allow their melodic side to shine, Martin’s spoken word lyricism becoming the front and centre focal point during Watchtowers’ most poignant of moments. Although I was impressed with their performance thus far, the crowd didn’t seem very energetic, but Watchtowers were on the verge of bringing it back up for a climactic close. Martin jumped into the crowd for some maniacally intense yelling alongside a fast-paced barrage of riffs before returning to centre stage, sending off their set with a final, monolithic scream and a well-deserved cup of water.
In summary, I quite enjoyed my first experience with Watchtowers! Their dynamically diverse and structurally interesting sonic direction was a point of great intriguing, and I fully intend to witness them sometime again in the near future! A fine addition to spice up the line-up!
Another band which I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing in the past, Isotopes are a crushing four-piece that I’m certain require no introduction to the Sydney hardcore scene, and for good reason! As anticipation brewed up, frontman Justin ‘Millsy’ Miller kicks things off, deploying an assault of shrieks alongside an insanely heavy groove, beginning the set in a way that grabs your attention immediately!
I was honestly beside myself in awe at how intense they were straight out of the door. And it did not halt, not even when they shifted into more melodically directed sections; no doubt due to Justin’s excellently executed clean vocals, almost as untouchable as his screams. Needless to say, Justin is a masterful frontman, and he makes his message clear with the help of his fellow bandmates, who are just as effective in their communication as they are in their presence; Isotopes know how to move! At almost all times, the band were visually synchronised, cohesively nailing each cue and hit and just overall presenting themselves as badass professionals that own the stage.
I will say, however, that the audience’s engagement with Isotopes seemed to climb on quite a gradual slope during the earlier portions of their set. That was until about half way, when a circle pit erupted at Justin’s request. You could tell hype was starting to brew up rapidly, with more and more concert goers expeditiously relocating themselves toward the front of house with each breakdown. One song in particular that caught my attention was the fierce yet melodic ‘Picking Up the Pieces’, beginning with a chord progression that channelled huge alternative metal-esque vibes before quickly transitioning into absolute crushing brutality.
Another clear Isotopes essential was ‘Insomnia’, a song that was met with remarkable audience participation; such as crowd-wide chanting and row boating. I could not refrain myself from head banging! Tonally, Isotopes are absolutely on point, with huge, heavy guitar tones and a massively thick low end that all moulds together excellently, held down by a tight rhythmic backbone to deliver a complete package that is essential to any top notch hardcore outfit! As well as that, an effective use of subtle backing tracks kept each song connected, holding down a consistent vibe that flowed throughout the sets’ entirety.
Blistering through the latter portions of their set, Isotopes and their audience were all in, and the room was abundant in energy. As Isotopes' set came to a close, chants of “one more song” filled the room, a clear indication of the audience’s overall enjoyment!
All in all, I was deeply impressed with almost every aspect of Isotopes’ performance, from their sound to their effervescent energy. Solid set boys, a definite highlight!
-Awaken I Am-
Adding further variety to the line-up, Brisbane post-hardcore outfit and tour support act, Awaken I Am, brought a much more melodic flavour to the mix whilst still managing to fit themselves into the night without a problem. Before they had even begun their set, the crowd quickly populated the front floor in anticipation of whatever was to come. Now we’ve seen some incredibly competent screamers tonight, but I must say that Awaken I Am frontman Jimmy Alexander is undoubtedly the strongest clean singer thus far. He is extremely emotive, not just in his voice, but also in his overall presentation on stage and this is not a trait exclusive to Alexander. The musicians in Awaken I Am really know how to deliver great stage presence and performance professionalism. For example, there was a little bit of a mishap at the beginning of ‘Dissolution’ involving an issue with the backing track, but Alexander and his contemporaries managed to use this time effectively, filling the room with hype and applause. If you ask me, this only served to excite furthermore.
Speaking of ‘Dissolution’, I must say, those bass grooves are absolutely fucking tight and that track was an absolute treat to witness live. Undoubtedly one of my favourite tunes of the night!
Despite a predominately melodic focus, Awaken I Am’s set was nothing short of mind blowingly heavy instrumentals. Albeit, these heavy moments were not as frequent as the rest of the bands on the bill, but much like Watchtowers, Awaken I Am proved to be masters of this contrast. Their ability to completely switch up the band’s dynamics despite Alexander’s consistently melodic focus is simply a spectacle; and their live sound does this contrast a great justice. Nothing short of great hooks and catchy choruses, Awaken I Am’s set was met with plentiful crowd engagement, whether it be jumping, clapping, dancing or moshing.
Another thing I quite liked that I think is often very under appreciated in live music, is when other band members are absolutely aware of the lyrical content within their material. I know it might be a minor detail to pick up on, but I thought it was pretty cool that guitarist Ned Jankovic and Bassist Ryan Oxford could be seen miming along to the words at times. In my opinion, it’s a definite sign of not only one’s awareness of the material, but also their overall investment and connection to it!
I thoroughly enjoyed Awaken I Am’s set and their dynamic flavour of melodic post-hardcore. Now, excuse me while I binge their discography.
And thus, we reach the headliner. Straight from California, metalcore monolith Secrets bring the charge for the Fifth Anniversary Tour of their 2013 sophomore LP ‘Fragile Figures’, and oh boy, was it beautiful.
As soon as they began, they made it known immediately that they intended to be the heaviest band of the night, and rightfully so. Wade Walters’ powerhouse aggression quite literally shook the room with screams of an unbelievably incredible range that just absolutely blew my mind. In addition, guitarist and vocalist Richard Rogers regularly provided strong clean vocals that effectively merged with Walters’ screams in more melodic sections. One moment that particularly grasped my complete adoration was during ‘Heartbreak Kids’ when Walters screamed the ‘woah’s alongside Rogers, not only matching the range of his high cleans, but doing so without any evident loss of intensity.
From the start, the audience reacted appropriately; each violent breakdown sent the room into a chaotic moshing frenzy. Crowd engagement was imperishable, and it only got better the more the set went onwards. Walters continued to demonstrate his ability to connect with the audience in a peremptory manner.
As the song ‘Wild’ began, he proclaimed “Y’all motherfuckers ready to go wild?”; and needless to say, they went wild. “Jump, Jump”, he commanded; and they jumped. Secrets’ wanted chanting, they got chanting. Throw in some rad stage presence full of sick spins and drumstick flips, and it goes without saying that the energy here was off the charts! Chaotic circle pits ensued, and I made my way to the front just in time to get amongst it!
As the set drew near to a conclusion, Secrets’ performance became interestingly calmer and melodically centred, showing a side of the band that almost entirely contrasts to their usual, frantic sound. And it was simply amazing, dare I say charming even.
For the final song, ‘Sleep Well, Darling’, Walters jumped behind the drum kit and Rogers took to centre stage, proving that he’s got pipes worthy of leading the night into a slow, soothing conclusion. The vibes were simply incredible, and every single audience member in the room sung along. Simply put, it was a touching moment, and an emotional send off to the entire show.
What an incredible end to an incredible night! An absolute joy to witness! I don’t think anyone, whether it be the audience or Secrets themselves were left in disappointment, and I certainly won’t forget this one for quite some time!
Best of luck for the rest of the tour!
- Full Gallery -