Live Review: Make Them Suffer – Factory Theatre, Sydney (16/8/2018)

The darkness and atmospherics of Perth heavy stalwarts Make Them Suffer have always afforded them the best chance to stand out from the pack. Which was more apparent than ever with the release of last year’s magnificent third LP, ‘Worlds Apart’. Crammed full of larger-than-life moments, it’s a record that was made for the live stage; fully opening the door for the band to become truly a world-class act. This was all clearly evident when Make Them Suffer spear-headed an internationally stacked bill of punishing heavy sounds into Sydney this week; proving why they deserve to be traversing the clubs and festivals around the world. 

Melbourne rising stars, Thornhill, opened proceedings, drawing a surprisingly strong crowd for their opener level. Having spent much of 2018 honing their live craft on tour, this is an up-and-coming band with everything to prove yet nothing to lose. The conviction and energy which they put into performing newer tracks off their ‘Butterfly’ EP were simply infectious, with cuts like ‘Reptile’ and ‘Parasite’ drawing an enthusiastic response from the early birds. Perhaps the best thing about Thornhill is their age, as the still-young band will grow and develop within the public’s eye, so to speak, thus making their future trajectory all the more exciting, interesting and plottable as time goes on.

Representing the U.K. crowd was Oceans Ate Alaska, who were always going to be tough to consume live given the technical intensity and how many ideas are injected into each song. Lead by drumming extraordinaire Chris Turner (the best thing about this band, truly), the five-piece delivered half an hour of pure mayhem, leading with ‘Benzantein’ and tearing through a seven-song set of technical wizardry that concluded with ‘Escapist‘. It was admittedly hard at times to appreciate what was being played on the stage, given the sheer domination of the drums in the mix, leaving much of the crowd slightly deflated, but people were awestruck by the musical chops all the same.

If this was maybe the wrong package for Oceans Ate Alaska to be showcased down-under, the opposite could not be truer for the highly anticipated live debut of Silent Planet. With the dark atmospherics of fresh-cut ‘The New Eternity’ (taken from the upcoming album, ‘When The End Began‘) opening their immense set, frontman Garrett Russell and co. delivered an honest and artistically wonderful set of forward-thinking metalcore; reminding all in attendance that it takes much more than just some good breakdowns and stage moves to produce top-tier, engaging content. Channeling his inner Aaron Weiss (mewithoutyou), Russell prowled the whole stage, delivering his abstract and confronting lyrical lines with pure conviction and passion. Massive standout ‘Panic Room‘ was always going to be the highlight of this set, and while it delivered (nothing will ever beat those first few drops), the entire performance was a real testament to what years on the road can produce between a group of powerhouse musicians. Silent Planet were a wonderful, impressive main support for this tour, and hopefully, we’ll see their faces down here again for a headline run soon enough!

With the room swelling to well-near capacity, and with Sydney crowds always suffering from slow starts, Make Them Suffer received a more reserved response than expected. Yet the opening combo of new single ‘27’ and the bangin’ ‘Vortex’ kicked things into high gear. By the time the time the vicious ‘Fake’ and crowd favourite anthem ‘Let Me In’ dropped, this party was in full swing

It was clear that eight months on the road has done nothing to slow this band down. Guitarist Nick McLernon (who sounded so clean and clear) seemed to be pulling out every gymnastic trick in the book, slinging his riff-axe around his body like a member of Norma Jean. Whilst rhythm section combo of bassist Jaya Jeffrey and drummer Jordan Mather locked wonderfully on monsters like ‘Grinding Teeth‘ and the death-metalish ‘Weeping Wastelands’. However, what the WA band only suffered from was ultimately a poor mix, with the keys and ethereal vocals of Booka Nile getting largely drowned out. Thankfully, this issue lessened rapidly in the final quarter of the show. Speaking of, ‘Uncharted’ was particularly epic, filling the room out with dense colour and vibrancy, as Booka’s vocals soared over the churning chaos of heavy guitars, guttural vocals, and crashing cymbals.

If there’s one thing that struck me about Make Them Suffer’s set, it’s the dedication of frontman Sean Harmanis that puts this band’s live shows in a league of their own. With three records of varied, and at times otherworldly vocal territory to cover, Harmanis didn’t miss a beat, maintaining his enunciated shrieks, powerful growls and hefty roars with perfection throughout the set. Closing tracks ‘The First Movement’and ‘Ether’ were particularly effective vocally, with Harmanis refusing to let the at times sluggish crowd disengage with what he and his friends were offering up. It’s all well and good when the audience is throwing energy at you on-stage, but it takes a special performer to take what limited energy there is from punters and cultivate it throughout an entire set. Harmanis achieved this and proved exactly why he is one of the better yet sadly criminally underrated frontmen in the country.

This show really was a triumphant homecoming for Perth’s finest; a band who have constantly stayed true to themselves and refused to just follow the rest of the heavy music crowd blindly. With a healthy focus on their newest material, yet a non-nostalgic appreciation of their older ‘Neverbloom‘era, Make Them Suffer are no doubt one of the most creative band’s doing the heavy grind currently. And when they can bring it in a live sense, even for a record as sprawling as ‘Worlds Apart‘, the sky is the limit!

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