Saturday afternoon saw the convergence upon The Evelyn Hotel, Fitzroy for Buried In Verona’s ‘Vultures Above, Lions Below’ tour. Nodding to a new chapter for the band, the tour also marked the final chapter for Sydney’s own Hand Of Mercy, who, after 9 years in, are calling it quits. Like an omniscient presence, the day offered the chance to welcome in the new and sadly, to come to terms with grudgingly saying goodbye to what was.

With a venue fuelled with a certain intimacy, the ensemble-crowds were invited to feel as though they were engaging in a personal conversation with first band to grace the stage. Ambleside, making the trek from Adelaide, upheld their set with a certain connection with the audience, strengthened by ‘Retrospectand brought to an absolute peak by ‘Tired Eyes’. Their set worked fluidly, building on the audience and the song arrangement to amount to what felt like a raw expedition embarked on by both audience and the band alike.

First struck with an unmistakable intimacy, the sets of each band connected and drew upon the last, simultaneously infusing it with their own likeness. Utilising an already present intimacy, Pridelands erupted to the stage in an energetic fury. While having to work with an awkward and invisibly enforced distance between the stage and the crowd, vocalist Mason Bunt overcame this with ease, delivering a performance reflective their maturity as a band. With infectiously energising tracks such as ‘Gaia’ and ‘Devils Snare’, audience engagement was cultivated to a new level. ‘Coffinbound’ pulled the set together, and left an energetic vibe ringing across the entire venue.

Bringing a certain brutality to the table Sydney’s Polaris tore through the stage, simultaneously combining intensity, with infectious melodies shaking the audience to their core. Cemented further by the energy floating throughout the venue, Polaris was quickly embraced; delivering a performance that demanded undivided attention for its entirety. With intense sweeps that combined with variant vocal tones and dominate drums, they proved to captivate audience’s track after track. Polaris attributed an unrivalled brutality to the soundscape without sacrificing any intimacy with the audience.

Melbourne’s baseball jersey doting Void of Vision emphasised this through their performance and their large cult following within the Australian heavy music scene. Encapsulating maturity gained with such an extensive touring schedule, on stage antics saw vocalist Jack Bergin hanging from the roof in a moment of absolute intensity; their set concluding with ‘Persist // Perceive’ to encapsulate the brutality, intimacy and energy fashioned by all the supporting artists prior. Featuring duet vocals from Mason Bunt, the set ended in an overarching solidarity; fittingly in wake of what was set to be Hand Of Mercy’s last ever Melbourne show.

With nine years of being a collective under their belts, making the decision to call it a day came as a surprise to many fans of the Sydney based Hand Of Mercy. Their last ever Melbourne show saw them welcome back to the stage original vocalist Scott Bird. Their set saw to it that they and their impact upon the music scene would not soon be forgotten. Fan favourite ‘Mr Nasty Time’ saw the crowd up in arms, joining together fuelled by the ferocity you would expect to come with it being the last time Melbourne would hear the song. With harmony flowing throughout the show as a whole, Hand Of Mercy brought together a set that stimulated everyone in attendance; solidifying how grateful they all were for the support from fans over the years. Concluding their performance with ‘Last Lights’, the final notes rung out resonating throughout the venue, a thunderous applause was given reflectively.

With the closing of a chapter, the stage erupted with the start of a new one. Welcoming their set in with a new and refreshed sound in ‘Letting Go’, Buried In Verona boasted their reworked sound in Vultures Above, Lions Below. With a set focussed around showcasing their new material, audiences played host to a band whose determination and dedication rung through. ‘Extractions’ infectious line, “I’ve got this noose around my neck. Reminds me of the time I have left,” inviting audiences further into a set that testified their growth as a band. Brett Anderson’s transition away from coarse vocals worked to their advantage; delivering a vocally diverse set that expertly utilised the relationship between clean and coarse tones to emphasise the raw themes explored within their lyrics. Demanded to return to the stage for an encore, Buried In Verona exhibited their rebirth as a collective as a result of their absolute hard work and dedication; the energy fuelled afternoon closing with an overarching solidarity.