Review: Sunk Loto at Freo.Social

Sunk Loto at Freo.Social
w/ Ocean Sleeper, Amberdown
Friday, October 20, 2023

Just a few years after bursting onto the music scene as teenagers with their Gold Coast brand of nu-metal, Sunk Loto forwent the turntables and raps synonymous with the genre and leant into a heavier sound. Their album Between Birth and Death saw a sonic change that won over metal audiences, and 20 years later, they toured around the country to celebrate the LP’s anniversary.

On Friday night, a sea of black t-shirts descended on Freo.Social. Among the crowd, kids were accompanied by parents who wanted to share the music they grew up with. It’s hard to believe it’s been long enough that the kids in the mosh pit twenty years ago have their own kids! This was clearly going to be a night of nostalgia for the majority, and the house music absolutely solidified that: cue Deftones, Testeagles, and even a bit of Limp Bizkit.

Ocean Sleeper

Local trio Amberdown pop up on loads of local metal line-ups, and rightly so. They are incredibly polished, have the stage presence of a headline act, and can absolutely shred. Their sound wouldn’t have been amiss back in 2003, and that is meant in the most complimentary way. Willow had heads nodding, with its impressive double-kick and brutal guitar riff. The tempo changes in tracks like Hole in The Flaw were faultless, with the bass player frenetically wandering up and down his fretboard. They were the perfect act to open the night.

Victorian band Ocean Sleeper have been doing the whole tour, and it’s easy to see why. They are the part of the new (nu) wave of nu-metal influenced metalcore that’s been gaining popularity in the last couple of years. A backing track provides the electronic elements, while standing on the risers in a boiler suit, frontman Karl Spiessl screams like a victim of a slasher flick. You would have been forgiven for thinking they were the headline act the way they could command the crowd. Circle pits were attempted as the band thrashed through tracks like King of Nothing and Never The One. These guys are actually really fun live, a welcome assault on the ears and plenty of high kicks for the eyes. They rounded out their set with the hugely popular track Light In My Dark.

Sunk Loto

The minute Sunk Loto hit the stage we were taken back to 2003 and the singalongs and air punching began. Playing Between Birth and Death in order means the crowd get to experience the album just like they did when popping it in their CD players all those years ago. This music may not win over new fans, but it certainly satiates the old ones.

Apart from a recent change in line-up after a much publicised spat with their original guitarist, the band has stuck together and it’s almost weird to see them as adults, not the awkward teens they were when they began releasing music. Vocalist Jason Brown is flawless. His voice is a bit more mature but still inimitable. New guitarist Rohan Stevenson also makes music under the moniker I Built The Sky, and is well known for his incredible noodling. Certainly many fans were sad not to see OG member Luke McDonald, but Stevenson is a more than worthy replacement.

Sunk Loto

Every track was watertight, and a frisson of excitement swept through the venue as the band played Everything Everyway, the hit single off the album. Brown spent a lot of time on the risers pulling Jesus poses with the confidence of a cult leader. Crowd surfers made their way above the crowd, while strobe lights punctuated the thunderous drums on Soul Worn Thin. The momentum never let up during the entire set, throughout which die hard fans were wailing along. While banter was at a minimum, the band let it be known how much they appreciated the crowd and wanted to visit the west coast again. And perhaps it won’t be long until they do, given they are releasing new music.

Once they had wrapped up the album, Sunk Loto launched into the brand new single The Gallows Wait. It definitely leans into their heavier side, and makes good use of guitarist Stevenson’s fast fretwork. Then it was time to wind back to 1999 with their classic Vinegar Stroke, an absolute highlight for the early fans, as was Sunken Eyes which followed. The latter a single off their debut album, it elicited a big response from the crowd who just about drowned out Brown’s vox. Lift was the final track in a trifecta of early songs, its soaring chorus the perfect way to round out the set.

As the house lights went up it was like seeing a bunch of time travellers re-enter their twenty year older bodies, albeit with a spring in their step and a week of ringing ears to come.


Photos by Linda Dunjey