Sunday, September 6, 2009

GIG: Lord...Almighty!

Full moon. Freezing cold. Great night for druids.
After some conjecture I actually forced myself out into the cold, and steeling myself against the bitter winds, took myself, albeit with a slightly starched stride, to the Arthouse ( colloquially known as 'Arty' ) in North Melbourne; home of punk, hard-core, metal, placky pots, bareboards and a open fire giving the place the place a perculiar rustic feel, a welcome roof top for the faggers, karsies from hell and a reservoir of memories of gigs of ages past.

It had been over a year since I last saw my beloved Dungeon, sorry Lord, and if memory serves me correctly the last show was the support for Saxon at Billboards, and that was early 2008. Not only was I anticipating seeing them again, but also the chance to finally pick up the new album, 'Set in Stone', which I hadn't managed to spot around the traps. I've maintained a tradition of picking up all of their releases from the gigs; something that always gives me a thrill, and something to read in the cab, or tram on the way home. Admittedly 'reading' is relative to cider consumption. ( As are most things )
In-extremis I tend to look at the pictures.

Self-annointed 'Lord' Tim Grose, lead singer/ song-writer and guitarist extraordinaire, may never choose to, or be able to, shake free of the shackles of the previous incarnation of his band Dungeon, for in many ways Lord is ostensibly the same band which means that in spite of the clash of nomenclature, Tim and company are still delivering some of the best power/thrash metal in this country, if not standing toe-to-toe, with many of the established greats on the world stage. It was August 2002 when I first experienced Dungeon ( as well as my local faves Crimsonfire ) at a show on the Espy's Gershwin Room stage. While the mighty Dreadnaught were rocking the front room, a number of domestic and local power-metal bands performed throughout the night, opening my eyes to the fact that not only were these bands in existence in Oz, but they were pretty good to boot. For so long death-metal, grind, black, and hard-core seemed predominant, and the power/thrash genre was utterly eclipsed, if non existent. Dungeon struck such a chord with me; they seemed to be inspired by all my faves: Iron Maiden, early Testament, early Helloween, Kreator, and so on; and it was love at first listen, literally, with Dungeon filling a void in my life, and listening. There have only been a few times, as far as music goes, that I can think of equivalent epiphanies: discovering Overkill, hearing Maiden's 'Live after Death' for the time and the joy Bruce Dickinson's 'Chemical Wedding', the serendipity of Nightwish and Within Temptation; and that night at the Espy so long ago. It was the first time ever I had put myself on a band's mailing list.

With a rapid rotation of members, from the departure of long time collaborator and guitar wizard Stu Marshall, and several other guitarists ( including a curious Slash lookalike ), drummers, bass players, a considerable number of international band supports, tours overseas ( Japan, and the European campaign with Megadeth ) and the transition from Dungeon to Lord, the last few years have certainly seemed turbulent, yet throughout all of this mainman Tim Grose has managed to continue producing albums of a consistently high standard, production and performance-wise.

After seeing Dungeon almost fill The Corner years back it's disappointing, to say the least, to report about fifty or so punters gathered for the show. The old axiom 'Quality versus quantity' prevailed though, for those that attended proved to be die-hards, mostly younger punters, with a fair number of metalassies, who knew the songs inside out, the throng 'woh-oh-wohing' in unison. Now, there's nothing I love more than a good woh-oh-woh. 'Tis true that a band's greatness can be measured by its 'woh-oh-wohs'. Surely Maiden are the undisputed kings-of-the-woh, and I my humble opinion Dungeon/Lord aren't far behind them. The Dungeon classic 'Insanity's fall' is a perfect example of woh-ness; full of prolonged wohs that turned the audience into a shadowy gallery of those clown heads from the carnivals and sideshows that you pop ping-pong balls into the mouths of. How we woh wide and long, loud and proud. Lord Tim with his Dicksinson-esque voice also has the same stage manner, and control over his crowd, whatever size, actively prompting and conducting the eager audience into accompaniment. A guy in front of me has a Lord T-shirt with the back sporting the slogan "no bullshit, just play" and that is very much the mentality manifested, with only a tuning mishap leading to a pause, Lord tear through a near ninety minute frenzy of rapid-fire rockers: from 'Walk through fire' to tracks from the new album 'Redemption' with its' astoundingly frenetic riff, 'Eternal Storm', the most recent title track 'Set in Stone', 'Limb from Limb' from the previous album, a personal fave in the tune 'Resurrection' and closing out with 'I am Death', which was interrupted by a brief passage of their cover of Kylie Mingue's 'On a night like this'. Hilarious. Dungeon/ Lord have a long history of great covers, their rendition of 'Playing to win' was a doozy as well, and hearing Kylie made metal, however briefly, was hilarious.
[ This track was recorded and can be found on the band's 'Hear no Evil' EP ]

I'm not sure what the impact of the departure of long-time drummer, and song-writing collaborator Tim Yatras will be on the band, and whether the new drummer Damo ( looking like he should be 80's band Ratt ) will last, but it was pleasing to see that at least Lord Tim's string contingent are consitent and strong with Andy Dowling still on bass and Mark Furtner proving a match for the frantic fingers of his Lordship. Watching this pair, Mark and Tim, fingers flying, lightning legato and thrilling with their trilling, is a joy to behold. Lord Tim truly is one of the great metal guitarists, up there with the likes of Mustaine, Skolnick, Murray & Smith, Tipton & Downing, and tonight both playing, and singing, he seems stronger than ever. Even on a miniscule stage, the confidence and excellence of Lord's musicianship and music is enough to leave me feeling that I'd experienced a far bigger show, something far more significant that a Friday night at the Arty.

Hopefully it wont be too long before the boys make the trip down from Sydney again, and perhaps this time a bigger crowd will turn out to behold in the majesty of Lord almighty!


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