Gig review – Sun Burn Festival 2019 at the Tote – Melbourne – November 30, 2019 By PERRY GRAYSON, Photos by Tanya Catelli
The road to Sun Burn was paved with good intentions, although a bit on the one-dimensional side. I was hoping to see a diverse blend of bands, but the lineup was primarily rooted in doom/death metal, chock full of Cookie Monster vocals and guitars tuned ultra-low. I suppose you can’t please everybody in a festival crowd, and I suppose my age is getting the best of me. Some bands have such catchy tunes that I can look past the guttural vocals and lose myself in the pursuit of the almighty riff. (This was always the case for me with Chuck Schuldiner’s Death, for example.)
Sloven, a typical doom/death outfit, opened the fest. A few double-picked black metal sections were as far they ventured outside of doom/death territory. Sloven’s set was a bit too early for most of the punters who ventured out to the Tote. Sydney’s Yanomamo were second, purveying more doom/death meanderings. The difference being a few dashes of groove, largely provided by bassist Paul Attard (Mother Mars, Frozen Planet 1969). Sydneysiders Potion livened things up with semi-clean vocal shadings and some wah-drenched guitar histrionics. Melbourne-based Peeping Tom rocked things up a notch, jettisoning the death grunts for the rest of the night.
A reunited Pod People were the first of two Sun Burn headliners. Though mostly on the growly side, Brad Nicholson’s vocals go well with Pod People’s rot ‘n’ roll sound. They belong in the metal pantheon right next to Carcass, Autopsy, Cathedral, Entombed and Saint Vitus. Lead guitarist Josh Nixon’s tasty solos elevate the Podsters to heights most of the Sun Burn fest bands never dreamed of. Replacing axewoman Mel Walker was Roy Torkington, previously of proggy metallers Alchemist. Standout songs included “In the End”, “Liar” and Speaking in Tongues”.
The Sun Burn Fest closers were Canberra’s Witchskull, featuring Aussie metal stalwarts Marcus De Pasquale from Looking Glass on guitar/vocals and drummer Joel Green from Armoured Angel. Marcus stalks the stage like a man possessed, making his Les Paul scream. Rock-solid New York bassist Tony McMahon rounds out the trio. Their set list included “Cassandra’s Curse”, “Harvest of the Druid”, “Raven” and “Son of the Snake”, along with a new track from their upcoming third full-length, which they’re recording in Melbourne, as I finish off this here review.