Review: Sunk Loto @ The Tivoli (Brisbane)

Sunk Loto played The Tivoli (Brisbane) on 4 November, 2023 - image © Clea-marie Thorne
With an insatiable passion for live music and photography adventures, this mistress of gig chronicles loves the realms of metal and blues but wanders all musical frontiers and paints you vibrant landscapes through words and pics (@lilmissterror) that share the very essence of her sonic journeys with you.

Sunk Loto have a new album coming at us and if the new single 'The Gallows Wait' – their first in 20 years – is any indication of what to expect, I'm frothing for it.

Last Saturday (4 November), fans gathered at The Tivoli to drool over a live performance of their 2003 album, 'Between Birth And Death', from woe to go.

No doubt this nu-metal, post-hardcore gem is going to be played louder than a rocket launch and I've come prepared for the audible onslaught with superior quality earplugs – something I didn't wear back in 2003, while enjoying my dirty 30s.

In saying that, I still had plenty of party life in me and I recall my discovery of 'Between Birth And Death' was like an invigorating shot that revitalised my music collection and fuelled my enthusiasm to get out and get some live Sunk in my veins.

Twenty years on and I am at it again! The only change is the year, some kilos, grey hairs, oh and a new guitarist for the band, Rohan 'Ro' Stevenson who has joined brothers Jason (vocals) and Dane Brown (drums) and Sean Van Gennip (bass).

Stevenson caught my attention a couple of years ago killing it live with his I Built The Sky performances. I'm intrigued to see how this goes down tonight. I mean his technical chops are more than adequate, so I am thinking with this chemistry and cocktail of talent we are in for one hell of an alternative-metal ride.

Starting us off on this musical escapade are RED BEE, the first of two supports. The three piece hit hard from the get-go smashing us in our faces with 'Gutter Christ' and 'Dead Inside'.

RED BEE - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Their fusion of dense, heavy rock genres keeps our energy up throughout their set, not to mention that it's hard to take your eyes off the animated bass player, Jim Silk. You can tell he eats thick chunky pulses and rhythmic grooves for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Lead vocalist and guitarist, Daniel Silk is showing us how he can portray emotion through his visceral intonations on 'Killing Time' while the drums and guitars come together and suckers you right into this unsuspecting rip of scrumptious chugging grooves.

Daniel is tuning his guitar (again) and cracks a joke about not having money to bring a guitar tech and having travelled all the way from the Blue Mountains. He later half-heartedly encourages us to help them get home through some merch purchases after their set.

With three albums already under their belt and a killer new tune in 'Assassin', Australia needs to be booking more live RED BEE. I for one hope so. I mean even their final song of the eight-song set list, an oldie 'Through To You', with its sledgehammered groove, sounds just as tasty today as their scorching new banger.

Victoria's Ocean Sleeper are next to primp and prime us for our headliners. Their opener, 'Forever Sinking' has them stepping it out with a crushing breakdown and infectious chorus. Fans in the room are taking it all in.

Ocean Sleeper deliver up brutal doses of metalcore mayhem and melodic feels with a set list that boasts tracks like 'Worthless No Purpose' that has a killer opening breakdown, badass banger 'Hate Me Like You Mean It' is a simple recipe that's big on kicking flavour, and 'King Of Nothing' is a slower melodic, catchy banger that translates even better live.

Ocean Sleeper
Ocean Sleeper - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Fans have been singing along to the catchy choruses and some even screaming their tonsils out of their throats on the dirties with Karl Spiessl. All the while heads about the place are banging with the relentless time, tight battering that keeps coming from the drums – there's no bass in this band.

Finishing their nine-song set list with two thumpers. One newer track 'Never The One' receives a huge roar that shows just how well Spiessl, using his clean vocals, can work with Ionei Heckenberg's (guitarist) vocals that have really matured since I first heard him sing live.

In saying that Heckenberg continues to shine in the vox department with his melodious voice through their finale song 'Light In My Dark', while sweaty fans in the pit get amongst it and mosh the sh.t out of it.

I should also mention that Spiessl was a total ball of energy throughout, he is truly discovering his frontman groove. He even got himself out on the barrier to reach out to fans towards the end of the set. Up close and personal wins the hearts of punters, that's for sure.

With a shoutout to us to come meet them at the merch booth, I see many fans in the room doing just that during the interval – what down to earth musical troopers! You should catch some of their metal core waves at the Good Things Festival in a few weeks.

The headliner's name, Sunk Loto, is projected on the dropped velvet curtain of the Tivoli stage. The sight builds even more anticipation. Random whistles and "yeahs" are heard all about.

Sunk Loto.4
Sunk Loto - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Little whisps of manufactured fog are escaping under the curtain and floating toward the three-step risers on the stage before us. Hold on tight, the curtains are moving!

Breaking the silence with '5 Years Of Silence' the room is erupting with sound from the band, and for a split second even louder were the fans losing it with utter glee.

The set seems to follow the track listing with 'Fall Apart', 'Empty And Alone', album favourite 'Help' and 'Starved' kicking us in the feels, keeping our hearts pumping, raising our blood pressure and making our throats hoarse as hell.

The band are playing as tight as and Jason Browns vox are, dare I say better than ever – on fire! 'Everything Everyway' – the album's major ear worm with mass appeal that has compelled many an uninitiated punter to explore more of Sunk Loto's funk dappled and heavy nu-metalesque catalogue.

It still works in the '20s as a tantalising introduction to seduce new fans not so familiar with those harder, crushing Sunk Loto sounds.

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Sunk Loto - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Punters chant the intro to 'Burning Bridges', which is of course followed by 'Inside', 'Past Tense Existence' and 'Public Imagery'. More punters decide to live on the edge and are getting a little crowd surfing happening while unrelenting mosh merriment is continuing in the middle of the pit through 'Erased' and big banger 'Soul Worn Thin'.

Our encore is called for but not begged for. It starts with new track on the block, 'The Gallows Wait', which is deliciously heavy.

There is no disputing Luke McDonald is a killer guitarist and an integral part to Sunk Loto's sound and reformation, and his absence meant there were huge guitarist boots to fill.

Well, tonight Sunk fans are witness to Stevenson putting his magical stank on old tunes with proficiency and feeling but on this song, he is proving beyond reasonable doubt that he has more than got the goods moving forward and will bring his own flavour to the mix. I mean this dude must be putting burn marks on the fretboard for this one! I can't wait for the new album; I feel it's going to be black hole heavy!

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Sunk Loto - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Long-time fans are soaking up 'Vinegar Stroke' (from the 'Society Anxiety' EP) like drawing a nice warm bath of nostalgia to bathe in before emerging to participate in a very raucous sing-along to another nostalgia classic, 'Sunken Eyes' (from debut album 'Big Picture Lies').

We know this third one must be the last, and it is 'Lift'. This has us belting it out even louder than for the other songs. Mosh pit maniacs are going hard using up the very last energy conserves they have left to thrash to the last minutes of this blistering, banging show.

Sunk Loto brought it home here at the Tiv, rocking us to our core. Sunk Loto are nowhere near done – there's so much energy, so much talent and so much more fun to be had with this band. Bring on that new album and tour that baby for us, sooner rather than later lads, so we can party some more.

More photos from the show.

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