Metal Heart 2015 (Brisbane, QLD)

18 April 2015 at The Triffid
This year it was held at The Triffid in the Valley. A short history on the venue may be in order. Powderfinger's bassist wanted to give something back to Brisbane, and has provided what used to be a commercial hangar as a fantastic and unique venue. The airconditioning was generous too which was welcome on this hot day.

1. Antichrists Anonymous – "Come see AA" the bloke outside told me. "Beer for breakfast, beer for lunch" calls the mohawked singer to set the tone of the day. The irony indeed. They were enthusiastic, up tempo punk but not in any traditional sense and could still produce some swift changes and heavy riffs. This great Ipswich punk band four piece had the unenviable job of opening for a 12 hour metal fest. Playing to a respectable sized crowd as it trickled in, they produced an entertaining set. The bunny ears and pants composed nearly entirely of stuffed animals (like fleas in higher ground – remember??) on the bassist were a ruse, as this gentleman could certainly play. One of their songs had more swear words than I am probably allowed to use here, but rest assured, they performed their job with zest and got the day started on the right foot.

2. Cactus Dill Dos – How to describe this band? A sort of rock/funk four piece complete with their own blow up cactus on stage, ninja outfit, and a very large pink dildo bouncing around on the bass. And trumpet at a metal festival, why not? Despite clearly providing some comic relief, they were all capable musicians as they changed between a variety of genres with ease and I heard a few laughs up the front at their onstage banter. The cover of "so what" was rousing, and a song I can only presume was "Gotta have big balls" finished the set in notable fashion.

3. The Unprettier – A female fronted punk band was next. This is already a distinct change from last year's line-up. I really like what Nathon has put together this year, a bit more light and shade, which always makes it more interesting, for both reviewers and punters. So, the chirpy singer came to the floor very quickly and rolled about energetically imploring the punters to come closer but perhaps the audience were trying to pace themselves at this point. The crowd did eventually warm to the show and got into their hard rocking style.

4. Misguided – Things start to get more serious with this 5 piece metal core unit as the singer stalked the stage and the audience are starting to wake up. There was plenty of angst from the singer as he comes to the floor. While they had an aggressive sound, they still changed it up with some melody and some spoken breakdowns to keep things unpredictable. The head banging had began in earnest as a result.

5. Inhailed – This is a Sunshine Coast five piece. I listened to their free (yes free!!! on bandcamp) Four Walls of Hell CD and there is some batshit crazy awesome guitar playing on this. I was quite keen to hear amputated entity live when I got there. Some super heavy tremolo picking began when I walked in, which can only take you to a dark place and the singer flicked his dreads about like a madman. The pounding double kick combined with unearthly vocals brought us into some of the darkest metal of the day. The precision musicality with spidery guitar work made it so much more of a crafted assault, and you could not look away. I think it was the first time in the day when people actually stopped playing with their phones for a while which I would take as a solid KPI. Some great extreme metal from the sunny coast and Metal Heart has begun to hit its pace.

6. Holistic – Another five piece from the Sunshine Coast. The thrash led the way to some heavy as hell changes that the crowd were clearly feeling. There's a real urgency to the way these guys play, especially in their blastbeats, and they have a lot of dynamic playing and changes. I did not know one song of this band, and it did not matter at all. This is one tight unit who could start and stop an enormous amount of noise when required. Also well received and the punters were starting to really settle into the rhythm of the festival by this point.

7. Evil Eye – This is the second time I have seen this power unit and while I loved their recording, they always demonstrate their impact most in the live arena. Halfwit is one of my faves with its relentless aggression and crushing pantera-esque riffs. The singer cut thru the crowd repeatedly, and believe me when I say these guys have got the riffs plus intensity. Even the new songs were devastating, and the singer made the interesting point that some of these bands were doing shows when he was growing up, no doubt a nod of respect to legends like Segression. Surely it's only a matter of time until these guys are headlining festivals themselves. One of the days best.

8. Daemon Pyre – This is a Sydney five piece who I and a few others I spoke to that day were looking forward to finally seeing live. As expected, they were exceptional live and lived up to their reputation of on stage presence and power. Those guitar sounds were no joke, and there was no doubting the conviction in every note. That drummer was a machine, nailing all the crazy changes and the singer, man what a voice. They were some of the angriest, tormented vocals I had ever heard. Tainted by the shadow was a stand out. Apparently they backed up to do an all ages at Beenleigh the next day too, which you have to respect if you remember being a little metal dude unable to get in the venues. No rock star BS or attitudes, just a killer band and doing it for all the right reasons.

9. Undermine the Supremacy – This Sunshine Coast death core five piece take us to the halfway mark. Apologies to the band but I missed most of it as I was interviewing Heaven the Axe but the bonus extra vocalist attack made what I heard into a titanic song. Some incredible shredding guitar work led the way as they created a Wall of Death.

10. Demonfire stage show – Demonfire step it up yet again with 3 D glasses for the visuals. They had a new drummer tonight, who after only a few rehearsals seemed to get the feel of what they Demonfire chemistry is about. With dancing, didgeridoo, fire breathing, hypnotic tribal rhythms, it's something you really need to see in person but the Here pussy pussy song is always welcome in a long day of metal just to break things up a bit. And in between some of the members were running the festival. This is the fourth time I've seen them, and they are always memorable.

11. Azreal – Another band I have wanted to see for a long time. This Gold Coast four piece had one of the more impressive sounds of the day in all departments, from guitar to drums. The carving riffs started the moshing immediately, and once you see them live, you can see they have written songs that are more than capable of making an audience move. Premonition is one of those songs that really sets a mood first and the drums build this piece carefully. Kill your fears has that great metal intro that just makes you want to start banging your head. However, they have the maturity to pull it back and not just blast away. Instead, they develop the song a little more first which just makes the chorus so much more explosive, especially the crazy change that gets soloed over, before they return perfectly back to the chorus. These guys are here to stay, and their two albums are well worth checking out.

12. The Black Swamp – What's going on at Gold Coast? The GC have always had some great bands but these two are stellar. I had heard the whispers of how good they were, but experiencing it live is always a different thing. They definitely have the southern groove/sludge thing happening and are one of the few bands who live up to it, and are not just drop D tuning playing rock. Opening with the contagious riff from Medal of Horror, it was hard to resist nodding away to this dark story that the singer smiled his way through most of. Needless to say, this band probably got the best audience reaction of the day. Cold Dead Hands is another unstoppable track. Stuff this dark normally does not have a groove this good. I had no hesitation in buying the CD of one of the best bands I got to see today.

13. Down Royale – This Brisbane five piece groove core outfit established themselves early as a strong presence and got the crowd moving. They seem very active on the touring front as well which showed in their delivery of their super tight set tonight. Their guitar sound was monstrous, as they alternated between jackhammer riff to exacting stops, and then back to more heaving riffs. Their song Inertia is a perfect example of how good they are. They had no shortage of musical ideas in their arsenal either, and were able to pull off that rare combination of technical prowess with the powerful sound you need to make this style of metal work.

14. Shifting the Paradigm – I have wanted to see their particular brand of dizzying progressive metal for some time, and they have shared stages with Cavalera Conspiracy and Cradle of Filth. It looked like the singer hurt himself early in the set, but it did not stop him from coming down to the floor repeatedly to keep the action happening. This band is more about punishing, precision rhythms than some of the more melodic metal styles, but the heads were banging with the respect this phenomenally difficult to play music deserved. Paradigm take some chances and take the songs to some strange places at times, but they always seem to pull it off. That's the sign of a great creative unit. A great addition to the festival.

15. Tria Mera – I have seen this Brisbane band before and they do not disappoint. It looked like there were some technical difficulties on guitar at one point but the drum solo covered while they worked on this, like the seasoned campaigners they are. They were back on track in no time however with their uptempo brand of metal as they worked the crowd. These guys bring some welcome melody to the metal end of things, and produce a remarkable set.

16. Chainsaw Hookers – This four piece punk band came all the way from Perth to play Metal Heart. At this point, the audience noticeably started to flounder and dissipate. Harden up Qld!! This is the reason why you have to have your strongest acts on last, to keep the audience motivated as you near the end of the marathon. "You'll never sleep again" brought some focus back, and the girls started leading the way dancing up the front. They closed off a convincing set with a Kiss cover "Love Gun"

17. Segression – One of Australia's institutions of metal with their 2000 album still being one of the highest selling metal albums released in Australia. Their career spans two decades and they picked up some of the heaviest support slots for bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide when they toured Australia. Their front man's distinctive vocals definitely had the attention of the very worn out audience at this point, and are an extraordinarily tight unit to this day. Fifth of the Fifth is still a jaw droppingly heavy song. In my opinion, the best guitar sound on the day, and a standout performance.

18. Heaven the Axe – This five piece female fronted metal band formed in Wagga Wagga but are now based in Melbourne. They have an album out, plus a few releases that are getting a lot of attention, and rightly so. The first thing that surprised me was how much heavier they were live than on their recordings. Azza was on 2nd guitar to add some more ferocity. He played Metal Heart last year with Frankenbok, so he must love it up here along with their bass player. Phoebe came out like a charismatic Chrissie Amphlett on speed though still incredibly polite for a metal lass who swore a bit. The Bogan Hunter was well received, along with the "Wall of life". I am not going to explain that, you just had to be there. Good things come to those who hate finished us off with a cameo from Evil Eye's singer.

Line-up: Heaven The Axe, Segression, Chainsaw Hookers, Tria Mera, Shifting The Paradigm, Down Royale, The Black Swamp, Azreal, Demonfire, Undermine the Supremacy, Daemon Pyre, Evil Eye, Holistic,Inhailed, Misguided, The Unprettier, Cactus Dill Dos, Anonymous Antichrist

Reviewer: Matt