The Painted Progression Tour Sydney (Sydney, NSW)

11 May 2019 at Manning Bar

The metal fans of Sydney turned out in true force tonight for this powerful line-up, and it truly was a fantastic bill, headlined by two of Australia’s best technical exports. Every band was absolute quality, bringing their powerful sound and individual stage presence to rip the Manning Bar apart, and boy did they succeed.

It was very surprising to know that the mighty Rivers of Nihil (USA) were kicking things off tonight, but everyone was aware they were not to be missed and were not disappointed. While the sound wasn’t the best in the beginning it improved quickly. Even through the muddy sound Rivers of Nihil sounded gargantuan. A sheer wall of guitar and drums with the aural attack driven by the feet of Jared Klein. They stormed through five tracks sliced exclusively from their devastating 2018 masterpiece Where Owls Know My Name. The speed and ferocity of Old Nothing was truly awe-inspiring, the band seamless and tight, as vocalist Jake Dieffenbach raised his fist and stalked the stage while bathed in a cascade of red and yellow. The ending one-two of title track Where Owls Know My Name and album opener Silent Life to close the show left me shell-shocked, my brain pummelled into submission, and this from the first band!

Following this would be no easy task, but Allegaeon (USA) were up to the task. While the sound was still slightly muddy for the more technical parts, the intense performance of all on stage projected their message to the enthralled audience. Allegaeon consist of truly talented musicians, Brandon Michael absolutely destroys on bass, while the guitar team of Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel wreak melodic havoc, with Judas Priest like twin guitars levelling the churning crowd in front of them. While again only having a half an hour to impress they pulled no punches, the crowd clapping along to Grey Matter Mechanics, and Extremophiles lighting the Manning on fire. When they launched into the dominant closer 1,618, the floor of the Manning turned into turmoil. An absolutely crushing way to end one hell of a set.

The destruction did not end there, hell we were barely halfway through as Beyond Creation (CAN) took to the stage. The destructive technical progressive metal once again whipping up the crowd into a frenzy. Hugo Doyon-Karout was an absolute madman on bass, his fingers never seemed to stop working their way around his fretboard, if you listen to their studio output you can hear his ridiculous bass runs, he truly doesn’t stop. Philippe Boucher tore his drums apart as guitarists Simon Girard and Kevin Chartre played their asses off. A set heavy with tacks from their Juno award winning album The Algorythm, Beyond Creation were phenomenal, tight as hell, and supremely heavy, a fantastic addition to the line-up. Ending with fan favourite Omnipresent Perception the Manning crowd was sent once again into spirals of chaos.

Up next were QLD natives Caligula’s Horse. While still living inside the world of Technical Progressive Metal, the more melodic approach was a great palette cleanser, as the soaring vocals of Jim Grey filled the Manning with opening track Bloom. This was in no way a respite for the audience however as they quickly stirred up a wall of death during Marigold. The sound of the Manning was finally crystal clear as the lead guitar of Sam Vallen poured out melodies from the stage. The epic Dream the Dead carried the audience through quite a journey into the fantastic Will’s Song Let the Colours Run). The stage presence of the band keeping the audience engrossed, deathly silent through the soft parts and tearing up the floor on command, clapping along at every given opportunity. Closing out their set with monolithic Daughter of the Mountain Caligula’s Horse continue to prove that they deserve their spot among the best this genre has to offer.

Closing the night were headliners Ne Obliviscaris. The boys from Melbourne were every bit the consummate professionals, tight and efficient, energetic and powerful. They have been building their fanbase all across the globe and it’s easy to see and hear why. Kicking things off with a stirring rendition of Devour Me, Colossus (Pt.1) the audience at the Manning surged, injecting even more energy into the floor. The vocal interplay between Xenoyr and Tim Charles delivering something really unique, especially when Tim breaks out the violin during Libera (Pt.1): Saturnine Spheres. There is something so compelling about the violin being played over extreme/progressive metal. They sound and look fantastic and the Manning bar crowd kept cheering for more. The sound was fantastic, so you could really hear the intricacies of the music, while not losing out any of the power. Ne Obliviscaris’ song-writing prowess was on full display to close their set, with entrancing renditions of Urn (Pt.1) And Within the Void We Are Breathless and Urn (Pt.2) As Embers Dance In our Eyes, being performed back to back was simply astonishing to watch. Coming back to perform the celebrated And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope as the encore Ne Obliviscaris were truly magnificent, a well-polished performance closing out a night full to bursting of phenomenal musicianship and performance excellence.

Line-up: Ne Obliviscaris, Caligula’s Horse, Beyond Creation, Allegaeon, Rivers of Nihil

Reviewer: Jonathan Hurley
Photocredits: Mira Live Photography