Live: Free Your Mind 2014
Free Your Mind 2014 (Northlane, Thy Art Is Murder, Veil Of Maya, Volumes, Make Them Suffer)
The Hi-Fi, Melbourne 31/05/2014
Review: Dan Bonnici | Photos: Georgia Sassenfeld
A strikingly diverse crowd formed a line reaching just shy of an entire Melbourne city block ahead of one of this year’s most awaited heavy music soirées: Free Your Mind 2014. A tour curated by prized metalcore exports Northlane – and boasting a silver platter of some of the world’s most talked about bands currently populating the genre – this show was never going to disappoint.
Newcomers Exposures were given the daunting task of kicking off the evening’s proceedings, and unfortunately fell victim to an early time slot and late doors. However, the sea of stilettos (yes, really) and dapper haircuts had almost filled out The Hi-Fi just in time for Perth’s Make Them Suffer. Due to scheduling errors, the band had to make do with cranking out only four songs, but their valiantly executed brand of symphonic death-mosh combined with their collective energy and charisma quickly won the crowd over. Despite being the underdogs on the night, we’re thinking Make Them Suffer will soon hone their craft and be one of the next heavy gifts that this country offers to the world.
LA natives Volumes are one of those polarising bands that get thousands of disputing comments on their YouTube videos. From the moment vocalists Michael Barr and Gus Farias – dressed like rival contestants on So You Think You Can Dance and proving that bucket hats are apparently a thing again – walked on stage and offered praise to God and weed, it was evident that they’re an act you’ll either love or loathe. Irrespective, the five-piece called the crowd to action with explosive renditions of tracks from 2011’s Via as well as revisiting material from previous releases. Their music is aggressive and breakdown heavy, no doubt, but their left-of-centre hip hop influence, big alt-rock choruses, and general party vibes offered something fun and unique that will not soon be forgotten.
Volumes proved to be a hard act to follow for Veil Of Maya, who may well have been the evening’s most forgettable band. Despite being brutally heavy, the Chicago deathcore outfit are everything you’ve seen before save for a different personnel list. They pummelled their way through a catalogue-spanning set list and genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves, because hey, being generic can be fun too, right?
“Are you cunts ready for hell?!” were the first words spoken by Thy Art Is Murder frontman CJ McMahon as he made his way to the front of the stage. With face and flowing hair hidden under a hooded windbreaker, he offered the crowd the customary devil horns; a warning that indeed, hell was about to break loose. “There are some people here tonight that I don’t like… Don’t you ever talk to me again, you pieces of shit!” McMahon exclaimed. He has an arrogance about him, but it’s the kind that makes you shake your head and grin at the same time. The kind of arrogance that makes you a frontman. Taunts like this make it clear why Thy Art Is Murder are one of the most controversial bands in modern metal, yet their performances prove it’s more than just words that have allowed them to decapitate the majority of their contemporaries. The band proceeded to dish out 30 minutes of some of the most technically proficient, orchestrated chaos that many in the crowd would ever experience. They kept things much more organic than any other band on the bill and constant touring has rendered them a flawless live unit; they’re menacing and brutal, but ensure their admirers have the best time possible. Thy Art played a devastating mix of old and new, including staples like “Whore To A Chainsaw” (which turned the dance floor of The Hi-Fi into a prison riot) and the crushing fan favourite “Reign Of Darkness”, and every growl, riff and chug was lapped up by all patrons in the sold out room.
It’s always easy to be sceptical about a band who have found their way to the top of the world so quickly. But the truth is that after you walk out of your first encounter with Northlane and their cavalcade of followers, you realise that whether you like it or not, this band is a movement. They are not loved so much as they worshipped by their adoring faithful. When you see it in the flesh, it’s almost as terrifying as it is exhilarating. Their live show is nothing short of epic, and tonight, Northlane exemplified this. The band’s presence was next level, their musicality incomparable to almost anything that’s happening right now, and their unique brand of progressive metalcore was somehow pulled off in front of the capacity crowd with the power, urgency and prowess of a band 10 years their senior. Without the slightest break in energy, the band commanded and captivated the masses through songs from their two acclaimed full-lengths, Discoveries and Singularity, with highlights including “Masquerade” (featuring a guest vocal appearance from Volumes’ Gus Faria, as well as a wall of Northlane believers desperately competing for time on singer Adrian Fitipaldes’ mic), along with the mighty “Dispossession” and its pseudo nu metal intro riff. The night was capped off by the dreamy, crushing “Quantum Flux” leaving the band and audience to exit the building just as exhausted and fulfilled as one another.