House vs Hurricane @ The Hi-Fi, Sydney (28/7/2012)

Dave Grohl once said that you should never let a band open for you that’s better than you are. That said, it seems incredible that Northlane has managed to secure themself so many supporting slots of late. Tight, technical and savage, the Blacktown natives have quickly cemented themselves a reputation as one of the premier acts in the Australian hardcore scene. Witnessing them in action, it’s really not hard to see why. Between the melodic undergrowth of Abrasumente, the crushing djent oriented riffs of Dispossession and the sheer number of adoring teen fans hurling themselves at the barricade, one can’t help but gaze in awe at how far these lads have come in a few short years.

While She Sleeps quickly followed on, keeping up the ferocious pace with an added tinge of hardcore punk. Exercising a total disregard for OH+S, the sanctity of eardrums and general order, the recently crowned Best British newcomers hit the ground running, launching into a chug laden rendition of their new single, Dead Behind the Eyes. With an ensuing stage presence featuring an almost unparalled intensity, the underlying reason for the band’s recent meteoric rise became clear.

Jumping back and forth between material from their debut and upcoming release, the relentless onslaught of guitar driven carnage was only to be bought to an end with Crows. Layering elaborate fills over typical yet destructive breakdowns, the true highlight came with the majority of the band launching themselves into the audience, instruments and all, sparking a feeding frenzy amongst fans desperately trying to claw their way towards the exasperated musos.

For promoters, dragging a British band with a rapidly appreciating fanbase Down Under serves as a great way to move tickets, however it’s somewhat embarrassing when a large part of the audience clears out before the headliner takes to the stage. That said however, expectations were certainly high amongst the remaining contingent of red faced teens crowding the stage, most of whom evidently hadn’t seen House vs Hurricane since their recent jaunt in the US recording Crooked Teeth.

With the lights finally springing to life a solid forty five minutes after the band was due on, it swiftly became apparent that recent line-up changes had taken a toll upon the band. To his credit, former Nazerite Vow vocalist Dan Casey found his feet on stage, hitting the right notes in all the right places. Yet it was hard to get past the lack of presence and aggression that the now five piece had wielded with former and long time front man Chris Dicker at the helm.

Only exacerbating the bands woes was the distinct lack of synth lines, which have been replacd with backing tracks since the departure of keyboardist Joey Fagione, resulting in a sparse and particularly unfulfilling take on one of the bands biggest tracks to date, Off the Wall.

Despite this however, shining moments still presented themself in the set, particularly in the band’s recent single Blood Knuckles. Firmly led by now Antiskeptic vocalist Ryan Mclerie, the balance between the brutal mentality of hardcore and expressive cleans of post-hardcore was masterfully navigated, yielding one of House vs Hurricane’s finest compositions to date.

Flaws aside, the reality is that few complaints transpired from punters, who’d gotten the chance to witness a line up of stellar local and imported hardcore talent for a meager $28 in the midst of a week dominated by the immense alternative shadow of Splendour in the Grass.