Medieval stoner doom band Roundtable hit Sydney’s Factory Floor on the second date in their first East Coast Australian tour. With their debut release, Dread Marches Under Bloodied Regalia, Roundtable have created a concept album with a rich mythology and a strong sense of narrative – I was looking forward to seeing what they did with it in a live setting.
Netherhell kicked off the evening’s proceedings, with the drummer/guitarist duo trading vocal duties. There wasn’t anything particularly complicated or intricate about these doomy riffs, but that’s certainly not a negative – straightforward, pounding and bloody good.
DAWN were up next, getting into the Halloween spirit by going way above and beyond the required effort and arriving dressed in full, A+ horror costume. Full points to the band for putting in just as much effort into the tunes as they did their costumes, with DAWN mixing doom and perhaps even just a hint of psych with vocals that at times resembled chanting at a black mass.
Third band of the evening were Summonus. Featuring guttural growls and sludgy, tight riffs, the four-piece didn’t let up for their 30 minutes of sonic destruction. Great stuff.
Hawkmoth very much continued Summonus’ work in kicking a whole pile of arse, with riffs aplenty mixing with exquisite effects pedal manipulation to create some of the finest post-metal/sludge going around. Lurching from quiet moments of ambience to effect-laden guitar to crushingly heavy riffs, Hawkmoth turned in an almost flawless performance.
Finally Roundtable hit the stage. Touring the East Coast for the first time on the back of last year’s Dread Marches Under Bloodied Regalia, the band manage to combine nods to various genres (there’s more than a tinge of folk in the quieter moments, as well as the obvious prog influence, for example), while remaining firmly in the stoner/doom wheelhouse.
The first thing that strikes you about Roundtable in a live setting is that they lose none of the tightness of their record on stage. The trio are totally locked in, with a rock-solid rhythm section providing the bedrock for a couple of guitar excursions and a lot of bellowed vocals. With an amazingly crisp sound, Roundtable lay down some pummelling riffs, interspersed with a little bit of acoustic fingerpicking just to mix things up a bit.
Roundtable tread that delicate line between tapping into different influences and becoming a meandering mess of genre-hopping. One wrong step here can lead to a set that’s all over the place or, worse still, comically bad. Get it right and it means you can avoid the problem a lot of doom/heavier music in general have of just stacking riff upon riff and ending up with something completely static and dull. Roundtable definitely got things right tonight, keeping things interesting while at the same time not neglecting to rain crushing riffs upon the Factory Floor crowd.
With their arms twisted by the audience into an encore, Roundtable closed with a remarkable piece of noise that, while an unconventional choice for the final song of a set, proved both their genre depth as well as their willingness to take interesting risks that more often than not paid off.