LIVE REPORTWHITE STAGE8/21 SAT
Furious Nightmarish Metal at its Best
Under a tropical hail of rain, envy took the stage; perhaps it was weather befitting their brand of extreme metal. A mix of electronic music and heavy metal guitar boomed over the PA, as a message in white characters scrolled in Japanese against a black background . As the band took their places on stage, the blackness of the screen was replaced by black and white clouds. And then, a tarot-like card with the inscription “envy” took the place of the background, and the band assaulted the audience with metal.
envy then mellowed momentarily to a quieter breakdown, while the vocalist on center stage addressed the crowd about the challenges facing us in this era, before delivering his first vocal clues. Then, the whole band, decked out in pitch black, returned to pelting those in attendance with some of the most nightmarish metal around; befitting the rain that had just stopped falling, and the puddles of water under the crowd’s feet.
After the song ended, the lead singer seemed to stare at the ground, before delivering something of a prayer which might have been a poem. When he was done, the drummer countered the band in, and envy continued to deliver their assault; delivering anger and frustration – which was probably already there – but which must have been distilled by the recent pandemic. The hundred in attendance, nodding in their raincoats, seemed to get every single word; with a spiritual kind of resonance.
The band continued to deliver their nightmarish ordeal as one song blended into the next, but which must have seemed like catharsis for the rain-drenched masses in attendance. When one song ended, and the singer gently thanked the crowd, the whole audience clapped with arms above their heads.
For lovers of hard metal, it couldn’t get much better than this; blistering riffing and hellish darkness; like a rain of brimstone that only lets up long enough for you to feel the next wave. And, those who waited over a year for this kind of release savored it to the last drop. A large Japanese man in a black raincoat threw his fist in the air at a few strong angergasms. And, some fans – like a young lady in a grey poncho with pink highlights in her hair – shot their fingers repeatedly in the air towards the stage, as if to say, “yes, yes, you are correct in every bit of your fury!”. As another track came to a halt, the grateful masses applauded with arms stretched out above their heads.
After a short instrumental, mostly consisting of gentle down strumming from the guitarist on stage left, envy were back to their darkness; like a hybrid of MONO and screamo, giving anyone pretending to be heavy a terrifyingly deadly run for their money. Once again, as another track ended, their adoring fans clapped over their heads.
With half an hour left in their set time, envy tried something a bit more melodic, but with chorus vocals like Napalm Death’s first album, and verses like Nirvana’s “Endless Nameless”. The next song ended quite violently with all guitarists flailing like Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood in a nightmarish scene, as the vocalist crouched and screamed on the ground, and the rain-soaked crowd once again applauded gratefully.
In a gentle voice, in between songs, the lead singer stated, “I’m grateful that the rain stopped. We’re now going to play a duet,” for which he introduced a female co-vocalist. As she delivered Enya-like gentleness, the drummer played a tribal rhythm on a few of his toms, and the guitarists delivered gentle chiming picking phrases. After a few minutes, the band built up the track into an apocalyptic anthem, and the contrasts they delivered seemed even more beautiful. As the song wound down to a slow ending resembling its introduction, the audience applauded with great appreciation.
envy’s last song started off like a gentle pop song – maybe “Nothing Compares to You”. And, after a few minutes of gentle monologue, the nightmarish screamo came rushing back in. We were carried to the ninth plane of hell, where someone’s suffering was clearly unbearable, with an everlasting absence of reprieve. The golden lights above the band’s heads seemed to allude to Heaven above that the protagonist could never reach. Many rabid fans in attendance raised their hands and swayed from side to side, as if this catharsis was something they could not live without. And, as the ending got heavier and all so much darker, hundreds of heads in raincoats nodded their approval. The crowd then clapped with vigor as envy said “thank you,” and “goodnight,” before delivering one last sonic assault, to which all in attendance provided punctuation with their fists. All hands then reached for the sky and applauded as the band swung their guitars and placed them before their amps to end their set on a hail of feedback.
[Photo: 3 All photo]