By Mark Snedden, Photos By MickG Photography
The Vault in Newcastle has been the epicentre of a resurgence of the metal scene for Novocastrians. Over the last few years more and more bands have established themselves on the live scene here in Newcastle, PurEnvy, being at the forefront of the local outfits. The venue has also hosted national metal bands such as Elm Street, Taberah, King Parrot and more. Tonight the venue is the platform for Pegazus, Temtris and PurEnvy. Battlegod Productions, a Sydney based promoter and label, have brought this gig together and this company is a bastion for local and international acts. We spent some time focussing on the three acts tonight with a brief interview and a review of each set.
PureEnvy, as mentioned earlier are from “Newy” homeland. They are a band who are definitely metal, but who have flavours of hard rock, old school metal but also overtones of hardcore and early Pantera. The have a double melodic attack (Adam Kiefel & Josip Malkoc), that is balanced above the rhythm section of Dave Lewsam on bass and Zac Swan on drums. They are one of the tightest outfits to have come out of Newcastle, and have secured a number of high profile gigs in Sydney such as Mr Dave Balfour’s Steel Assassins. They are on the verge of releasing their sophomore album, following As the Light Fades released in 2012.
I caught up with Adam for a chat before their set –
How did PurEnvy come about?
“It came about back in 2010, where I literally started talking and put an ad on Facebook for band members really. I had a drummer that I was mucking around with and we had a few jams and wrote a few songs and went from there. It was a real natural thing, just people who loved the same music and wanted to play”
What gigs, in your career stand out to date?
“Steel Assassins was amazing and the best we have done. We had a great experience and it worked very well for us we went over so well. The whole atmosphere of that festival is amazing and we were stoked to be on the bill alongside other great Aussie acts. We did a gig an hour and half north of Brisbane in Maryborough in 50-degree heat and that stands out! There were over one hundred people there and it went off. It was an outside beer garden and stage. We got this gig through some friends in Kold Kreature. We also did a gig with them in Lismore. We have actually been friends ever since and so that was a great experience and great to pick up some mates from it along the way.”
Focussing on As the Light Fades, how did the band write its material for this album?
“Usually it starts with either Jo or I with an idea. With the latest album, most are Jo’s riffs and then we sit down and just piece it together. There is no one who actually write a complete song, it is like jigsaw puzzle, and so we piece things together like that. After we have this structure we nut it out through rehearsals and arrange the songs that way. So an initial idea that is just explored through jamming and then arranged.”
I know that the band is on the verge of its second release, can you tell us when this album is coming out and what we can expect?
“The new album has been a huge project with so much going on. We are hoping to release it soon, you know, it comes down to other commitments and time. We have a lot of layers of guitars and vocals and it has been a huge project. We are very happy with it and can’t wait for it to be released. A lot of heart and soul has gone in to it and you know it has paid off. We can’t wait to get it out there!”
Where is PurEnvy headed?
“There is a definite game plan. We have short term goals, medium term goals and long term. The long term goal is longevity and we still want to be around at this time establishing that name, and we would really love to go overseas and really to become professional, this is the ultimate goal. So in thirty years’ time we are like Iron Maiden and still rocking out, you know. These are the type of bands who we all look up to and this is what they are doing, putting out great records and making it happen. You know short term is to release the new album and then to try and get on to a European tour. In between it is to try and do another record every three years.”
PurEnvy are such a reliable live act these days and have become so tight over the last twelve months or so from constant gigging. But I have never seen these guys on a bad day actually! Tonight, as the opening act they hit the floor and immediately had the punters in their hands. They have built their following on the backbone of tight, in your face and powerful sets. The energy tonight of their rhythm section really shone through, and with such an established bass player as Dave Lewsam, they can’t really go wrong. I need to mention Adam’s vocals, he has a really solid and powerful voice that resonates with strength and melody. His no nonsense approach to the lead role of the band is a breath of fresh air with no ego, no grace, just sincerity and conviction. Highlights for me tonight were the twin guitar melodies that navigate throughout so many tracks and they lift the darker, heavier pieces and provide a dynamic balance. The forty-five-minute set went extremely quickly and they really left the place hungry for more. What an awesome way to start the evening as on so many levels PurEnvy are now far from an opening act, in musicianship, song strength and performance.
Temtris, hailing from the South Coast of NSW, was formed through the evolution of the heavy rock band Labyrinth. The band has released four albums to date, their latest being Enter the Asylum, being released in 2016. Temtris have established themselves as a heavy metal band with extreme versatility, with straight ahead metal songs, to more epic and narrative pieces. Temtris’ vocalist Genevieve Rodda, is an amazing vocalist, bringing both elements of power and melody to the sound of the band.
How has Enter the Asylum been received since its release last year?
“It is either been hot or cold. People are loving it in Australia. A lot of people in Europe are in to the Symphonic vocals and so there are some people who don’t know how to take it. The images of the band, for some fans portray an image, and then the music in some respects is much harder than they expect. We have literally made the album with grit and so some have struggled with that. So we just play what we play and write what feels right, but we are happy with how it has been received, for sure.”
You have played some amazing supports in Australia which one stands out for you and why?
“Definitely Accept! It was our first major support and it was a hell of a lot of fun. We were nervous about how the audience would take us and it was an amazing night. It was a really cool atmosphere and everyone got in to it. Accept actually wanted us to come to Melbourne but unfortunately supports were already secured down there so it couldn’t happen. But this was an amazing gig for us!”
I know you have struggled with line-ups throughout your career, as most bands do, but tell me about the current line-up and how it compares to the past?
“Now we have five musicians, and five committed people, and that it is not just about rehearsing and putting on a complete show, its everything. Everyone is now on the same page and are willing to put in the time, energy and dedication that is required to move Temtris forward. So it feels really good at the moment and it feels right.”
Temtris is all about live performance, how do you prepare for a show?
“We rehearse very heavily three to four weeks beforehand and we also work through the set and make sure the songs connect. I have a routine where I stretch my vocal chords and the others have their routines before we actually go on. We are all passionate about what we do and we do what it takes to put the performance together and be right for the gig.”
Finally, what is the next major step for Temtris, is it an album, overseas touring…?
“We would love to go overseas but this is just beyond us at present. We have had a few offers but they haven’t been decent enough as we have bills to pay and the offer has to be right and balanced. We are on the Battlegod label but as distribution, so we have a good business relationship that is mutually beneficial, with no pressure, and this does give us a fair amount of freedom; this way we are supporting each other. The next album is on its way, six songs down with more to come. But we really would love to get overseas and play and start to work in those markets.”
Temtris hit the stage tonight with a real sense of purpose, they turned up to play. This outfit has become so professional over the course of the last few years. Every time I have seen them play they have taken their live show to a new level. It is hard to say what is in store for this outfit because in 2017 it seems like the sky is the limit. The band opened with Mind Games followed by Summoning and then Enter the Asylum in quick succession, and they immediately had the Newcastle punters eating out of their hands. The bands energy and pace has definitely benefited from the addition of Taso Vamiadakis on drums who commanded the songs from the back of the stage and set the upbeat pace of the set, he is an amazing musician at such a young age! The guitar duo of Anthony Hoffman and Anthony Fox have become so tight and their melodies, and even lead work, seem to complement each other as musicians so well; which is the benefit of playing together for so long. Genevieve was on fire, she commanded the stage, hit the notes and played to the punters all set. For me her highlights were Empty Room, Your Time Has Come and the rendition of Iron Maiden’s The Evil That Men Do. Ultimately there was no downtime in the set and tonight was proof that Temtris are here to stay and that they are not only a formidable national metal act, but an act who are poised and ready to take on the international metal stage.
Pegazus are one of the forefathers of the Australian metal scene forming in 1993 in Melbourne, and releasing over six Albums to date. The band was formed around Johnny Stoj (guitar and principle song writer) and his brother Robbie On drums. The band have always been received well and in 1998 they really started to impact on the international market with the release of Wings of Destiny, and then Breaking the Chains, which was distributed across all continents. On the back of this album the band toured in Europe with the likes of Hammerfall and cemented their place in the international metal world. The band’s latest offering, In Metal We Trust continues the bands tradition of true metal and I am hoping we don’t have to wait too long for the next release.
Johnny how does it feel to have Pegazus alive and strong in 2017, twenty-four years after you started?
“Feels good that we are still around. People still appreciate the music and that is all that matters really. We are happy to be here and still relevant. This is a difficult industry to survive in and so we don’t take that for granted. We still love what we do and have something to say and that’s great. You know it still feels right.”
What keeps things fresh for you, writing wise, how do you put songs together?
“By not playing too many gigs to be honest, in Australia you can’t overdo it for shows. You know we have our rehearsal regime and we know what we are doing. But also playing with different crowds and interacting with new people this also helps. But we are still passionate about what we do and we are doing what we love, so that keeps it fresh and sincere ultimately.”
To the latest album, In Metal We Trust, how do you see it fitting in to the bands back catalogue?
“Probably about three of the songs we still play live and they fit perfectly well with the classic songs. So we are very happy with it and how it turned out. It is a definite Pegazus album, it has all of our hall marks and it went over well on release.”
How has Jo fitted into the band as vocalist? And how did you come across him?
“Jo and I have bumped into each other for fifteen years or so. He is a quiet guy and he was always popping up at Pegazus gigs and when we made the transition Jo was in the right spot at the right time. I knew of his ability with his work in a Judas Priest concept band. To me the band actually now is probably the best it’s been as a whole unit, in more than fifteen years. The band had its peak time in the late nineties when Danny [Cecati, vocalist on Wings of Steel and Breaking the Chains] was in the band, but we have still had some great vocalists over the years. Jo sits between Rob [Thompson, vocalist on The Headless Horseman and Live! Thunder Down Under] and Danny, he is the first singer that we have had in a while who can sing those classic songs. Jo pulls it all off and allows us to access all of the material. It is really refreshing to hear the songs we haven’t played for so long, doing them justice, and how they originally were.”
Looking back over your career in Pegazus what stands out for you?
“The fact that we are doing what we love doing, musically. We might be independent, but there is no pressure for us, we are in charge of everything that we do and that is great. We still have the normal issues as all bands do, but we have stuck to what we have played from the beginning and this is what is important for me.”
Finally, before you go on, what does the future hold for Pegazus?
“It’s been lazy for a while and I like to move at snail’s pace. The moons have to align for us, to move on to something new. There is a new album in embryo stage, we are jamming riffs and just ideas. We do plan on recording later this year and we will hopefully take it overseas. The band is still yet to travel to certain places like Japan, the US and South America they are places that we would like to get to next year. We really want to keep moving up north to Sydney, Brisbane and other places. In the past other line-ups couldn’t commit to travel interstate and it could only be one show, we could only leave for one day at a time. This line-up has the freedom to string shows together and we haven’t had that for over fifteen years. We do plan to venture off to other cities you know, like Adelaide, Perth and even New Zealand.”
To see Pegazus live in Newcastle was a real treat for me and a set to remember. The band hit the stage as pure professionals, and they looked like a line-up who has been together for a long time, rather than just a year. The band opened the set with intensity, passion and sincerity. You know you are seeing a well-oiled machine in action as they play, the synchronicity and the band-audience connection is seamless, and this is what happened at The Vault tonight. Songs such as Cry Out, The Patriot, Dragon Slayer and The Crusade really stood out for me. Johnny was a pure professional, and is as engaging on stage as in person, and he plays with a passion as fresh as any international musician. He commands the stage and looks the audience in the eye, no ego, and no separation between performer and punter. Jo, to me, stole the show, he fits so well in to the mould of Pegazus and his fronting of classics such as Breaking the Chains, Metal Forever and, of course, Wings of Steel, were as if they were written for him. The band left the stage with heads held high and the punters went away very happy.
Tonight was such a successful metal event, and one that I hope is repeated again and again over the coming months and years. The Australian metal scene is strong and in good hands with the like of tonight’s bands and I am looking forward to their respective futures over the coming years. Thank you to Battlegod Productions for making this event happen and thank you to the bands and Novocastrian metal heads for making this gig one to remember.