Malichor play blackened thrash at the Reverence Hotel | Awesome gigs I should have said something about at the time

I usually try to snap at least one photo when I’m at a good gig. It’s normally on my phone so the images are inevitably dark (because it’s a dark gig venue) and blurry (because it’s a dark gig venue, and dark gig venues sell beer). I do this to have something to refer to later when I feel compelled to share with my friends and acquaintances this tale of a great band they should totally check out. Then I end up forgetting about it and over the years I end up with an ever-accumulating collection of dark and blurry gig photos.
Today I decided to do something about it. I’ve got some awesome anecdotes, you know. You’re going to love them. So here is the first of…

Awesome gigs I should have said something about at the time

Blackened thrash metallers Malichor rocking out at the Reverence Hotel.

Malichor at the Reverence Hotel, November 14, 2015 was a good gig. And I’ll start by pointing out that what got me here in the first place wasn’t entirely the music.
I came to this conclusion after I caught up with a mate the other night. He’s into punk, making noise, Napalm Death, synths, and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Naturally we got talking about music and during this conversation we agreed that music, like art, is ostensibly something you’re meant to appreciate on its merits alone. You’re not meant to buy into an image or a faux portrayal of an artist’s persona because the things you like about the music are meant to be the qualities that make it intrinsically artistic.

Or are they?

The music you love — just like the art — has an inescapable emotive side that may very well be about something other than the way it sounds. It could be a front-person’s likeable and magnetic personality. It could be an intellectual view, found in the lyrics or in the concept that ‘defines’ what an artist stands for. Indeed, the main attraction might even be a moral or political principle that the band ‘stands for’ — whatever that means these days.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with loving an artist because of something that is not strictly about the music. We all do it to some extent. It’s just that it can be hard to pinpoint precisely where your love for an artist because they make great tunes ends, and where that love begins because their music embodies something beyond or other than the mere sounds they create.
This is especially so where the interaction between artist and fan is up-close and personal — such as at the bar after a gig.

Heavy metal in Melbourne

This is how I found myself seeing Melbourne blackened thrash metallers Malichor at the Reverence Hotel on November 14, 2015. My reason for being there was something that (strictly speaking) had less to do with the way a certain bit of music sounds.
It started in late 2014 when I was enjoying a drink at The Cabal, an inner-city Melbourne bar that once a month played (pre-recorded) awesome heavy metal all night, at a civilised volume that allows you to talk without shredding your throat. Great music and superb playlists aside, the venue also offers a magnificent 100-plus beer selection. Why oh why will Cabal not return as a monthly event?
There I was, enjoying an obscure beer with a mate, when this tall fellow walks up to us and politely, but confidently and sincerely, hands us a flyer. Dean is his name and his band is playing a gig. If we like Celtic Frost and other solid black, death and thrash names, he says, we might be keen.
We start talking about bands we like (what else?) and the venue’s voluminous beer selection. I should point out that I’ve been frequenting seedy venues places that play good music for many years and I’ve been approached countless times by people whose sole motive is to distribute flyers, because shoving a flyer in someone’s face while you’re in the toilet line is guaranteed to get more payers to your gig.
But not this chap. Far from it. No one in our party got such a vibe. In fact, it seems like a small and at best trivial encounter, hardly worth the brain room it occupies in one’s beer-corroded memory. Yet perhaps this small exchange resonated in the cynic in us all.
Once upon a time, promoting an event involved spending a lot of time getting to know people face-to-face, hanging out in shops and record stores, doing the rounds with flyers and event posters. Now it comes down to how many people you (probably don’t) know online and, more recently, how much you’re prepared to pay Facebook — to reach the vast majority of people who wouldn’t otherwise see your posts despite being your ‘friend’.
In fact, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way that night. A sludge-and-blues-loving guitarist virtuoso friend at our table who also works professionally on sets and stages (‘roadie’ is so 1985, right?) made this point: “Because of that I am going to see your band”.
A few months later I was again at The Cabal, where I bumped into Dean once more. This time he was nice enough to give me a physical promo copy of his band’s latest release, Malichor: Ride As One (because you know, I'm such a super-influential blogger, yes?). Again, instead of talking about his next gig we had a good, honest talk about metal (and beer probably). Then I randomly started seeing ads from local distributor Infernal Devastation Records who just happened to have the Malichor: The Lost City release (a compilation of earlier Malichor EPs) and so I got my hands on a copy.

Malichor: The Lost City

Malichor: The Lost City is fun, honest, sometimes rocking blackened thrash metal, or whatever the kids call it these days. The Malichor Reverb Nation promotional page isn’t too far off when it says they sort of sound like Desaster, Destroyer 666, Celtic Frost, Venom, and Kreator.
It’s not going to get them headlining Wacken but it’s good, honest, fun heavy metal that pays tribute to an era when extreme metal hadn’t been done before and was a raw force that had only just begun to figure out its identity.
So this is how, one year on, more or less, is how I found myself seeing Malichor at the Reverence Hotel in Footscray, Melbourne, basically off the strength of a couple of friendly conversations at an awesome bar, plus a creepy (you have no idea just how much) Facebook algorithm that knows exactly when to serve me advertising for things that I may want to end up buying.
Melbourne is blessed with a lot of death metal and black metal gigs. “Filthy disgusting music for filthy disgusting venues” is how I like to call it, except that the Reverence Hotel is not filthy and disgusting. On the contrary, it’s a big venue that regularly puts on extreme music with a very respectable band room, a wonderful Mexican kitchen menu, and a spacious beer garden. As I’ve said before, any suburb worth living in should have its own little rock pub.
I never thought I’d say this, and I’ll probably upset someone by saying so, but Melbourne is almost spoilt for choice when it comes to local death metal gigs (international names are a different set altogether). No doubt it will change one day, but there are a surprisingly many local, unknown bands vying for your attention.
As mentioned, so much of promotion nowadays has become indirect and faceless. Sure, making your art available for free on Bandcamp and Spotify is now mandatory, but in true first-world-problem style, for many would-be-punters (who themselves know they’re so spoilt for choice) that would require genuine additional effort. What an age we live in…

It’s the small things that sometimes count when presented with the possibility of seeing one blackened thrash metal band I’ve never heard of compared to that other blackened thrash metal band that I’ve never heard of.

Sure, innovate and find clever new ways to get people to come to your gig. But at the same time, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. To use an old adage… keep it real.

 Back to blog homepage

No comments:

Post a Comment