Cryptopsy, Whoretopsy, I Valiance, Wretch, The Newtown Social Club, Sydney 2/9/2016

Things got topsy turvy at the Newtown Social

The brutal end of the death metal spectrum is a funny one. The bands that occupy it frequently walk a knifes edge between being forward thinking technical masterminds and hilariously meat-headed stereotypes that wear basketball shorts on stage. Some bands even manage to do both at the same time. Tech death legends Cryptopsy is just such a band. On the one hand they have the genre masterpiece that is None So Vile under their belts, but they also put out the stinking pile of The Unspoken King. In any case, getting to see them play in Sydney would definitely be an experience.

Unfortunately due to train delays (an unavoidable hazard sometimes when you work 2+ hours away from the gig), I got to the venue rather late and only managed to catch the closing moments of opening band Wretch’s set. This is rather a shame, as although I didn’t hear enough to have a proper opinion, they seemed like a decent death metal band. 

However, I can’t quite say the same for I Valiance from Melbourne. When you mix deathcore and electronic music, you’re already going to have a very hard time winning me over, so they might have been doomed from the start. Now to be fair to the band, from a performance and technical perspective they were doing a perfectly fine job. They were energetic on stage and I’m sure they were hitting all the notes exactly as they were intended when they wrote the songs. It just happened that all those notes really weren’t very good at all. The generic death metal riffs mixed with the occasional electro dancebeat and breakdown left me absolutely cold and looking around the room, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. It could just be that we were the wrong audience for them, but I can safely file I Valiance away in my “bands I don’t really need to hear again” folder. 

Next up is Whoretopsy, who proceeded to show everyone just how it’s done. They’ve always been a band that has displayed a sick sense of humour without tipping into tastelessness but they’re also deadly serious about their music as we see here tonight. They have a commanding presence on stage and an aptitude for inciting violence amongst the crowd, who erupted in an intense pit to the band’s great riffs and breakdowns. Judging by tonight’s performance, Whoretopsy has well deserved its reputation as one of Australia’s best brutal bands. 

Finally it was time for Cryptopsy, who upped the ante yet again. Each band of the night had been gradually getting more technical and as forefathers of the genre, naturally, no one else could compete. With ripped as vocalist Matt McGachy leading the proceedings, the band ripped through a set of classic material as well as some stuff culled from their latest EP The Book Of Suffering. Their technical skills are absolute and it was astounding to see how they could sound so brutal yet play so intricately and precisely. 

Despite how intense and brutal things were on stage, the Sydney crowd couldn’t resist having a little fun. In the back there were a few individuals inflating balloons and throwing them out over the crowd and pretty soon they were all over the place. A few even managed to wind up on stage, but Cryptopsy is such a well-oiled machine, they didn’t break from their performance for one second. The juxtaposition of the ridiculous situation of a bunch of balloons flying about, and the band’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge the situation made for quite a hilarious sight.

With that said, their set was really something to behold. If you’re a death metal fan and missed this tour, you should be pretty sore about that for the rest of the year.