Metal Heart Festival 2 (Brisbane, QLD)

26 April 2014 at Tivoli
The second Metal Heart Festival edition seemed worth a trip North. So we packed our stuff and made our way to Brisvegas. A lot balmier than the rainy Sydney we left, the trip was very pleasant. Taking place in Art Deco palace theatre, Tivoli, in Brissie's Fortitude Valley, the organizers had put together an interesting line-up. Headliners were Frankenbok and 8 Foot Sativa – the festival was part of the Kiwi's tour through Oz. A broad variety of genres was presented to us, ranging from Hard Rock over Thrash, Power, Death to Black Metal with some very technical bands.

    Female fronted rock band Smoking Martha made the start. Singer Tasha D with her effortless voice eased us into the 12 hour festival. The 5 piece from Brisbane had just recorded their self-titled EP with Ian Haug (Powderfinger) which had been officially launched in March and their single "Sweet As Honey" got good attention.
    This four piece from the Sunshine Coast came out wearing Metallica Kill em All and Kreator Pleasure to Kill shirts with flying v guitars. They left little doubt to their influences as they erupted into seriously heavy thrash to get the heads banging early in the day. Some folks up the front even knew the words and were singing along, and I am told that we sold a CD or two of theirs. Their song slaughterhouse created some real action up the front and they closed with an Exodus cover.
    Therein describe themselves as Progressive Mental Disability which seemed right to me. They are mostly instrumental with 2 guitars, bass & drums. Their music ranges from blackened progressive to surprises like jazzy bits. Their first song reminds me of waves in the ocean with a storm coming up. Later I can hear animal voices and can only hope that Therein really are imitating nature sounds and I didn't catch their mental disability. They have a new EP, Nobelium, out… maybe you want to check for me.
    Stonechimp are a very polished hard rock style band, and opened with I feel which had one of the more prominent bass sounds on the day. Many people knew these songs already and they received a good audience reaction. The singer worked hard and the wah drenched solo finished the set off well. A standout in a genre that Australia is known for doing well in.
    Amicable Treason very much remind me of Amon Amarth. Their singer does not have the age or height of the viking singer but I can't stop wondering if they forgot Amon Amarth in their list of influences (Lamb of God, Machine Head, Messhugga etc.). Their thrash death with the thundering voice and the fast guitars make my head quickly going from a nod into a bang.
  6. FUC
    Ok, first naked band of the day. Forests Under Construction are a two piece (guitar/drums) that play thrash metal infused with a more than average dose of humour. I confess to not knowing their material but the first song was about dolphins, then there was the "dolphin with a hairy cock" song. Another song called the statement had a backstage volunteer (clothed) offering to strip. Songwriting appears to be a very efficient process in FUC with the song about elephants main words being "this is a song about elephants" (with audience participation) plus a very short song about dead fish. If you get past the nakedness, dick jokes and silly songs, they could actually play by the way. The humour fell a little flat at one point, but overall an interesting and diverse addition to Metal Heart.
    Evil Eye is an interesting group… more a supergroup. Not only does the band consist of members of other bands, they are also from all over Australia; the drummer is from Perth (Reaper's Riddle) and the singer from Melbourne (Abreact). The rest is made up of local Brissie D9 and Sausage Chopper members. The sound is groove/post-thrash/melodic metal, the vocals are Phil Anselmo. Aggressive and energy loaded. Singer Simon gets and keeps the attention while he lets out all frustration against everything. Very powerful. EP can be preordered.
  8. 308
    Three piece thrash black metal from Brisbane (who had the best T shirt in the merchandise I saw today, by the way). The audience warmed to this uptempo and fairly intense metal style, and were all getting into it. The guitarist even pulled his lead out in one song and managed to run back and plug it in just in time for the solo (much faster than the last time I unplugged myself…). They showed their musicality in their last song which began with a quiet guitar intro and played a very professional set.
    One of the first bands sending their profile to our Metal-Roos website. The 4 piece is very much Black Metal. When they play, dark armies are marching and vicious storms are soaring. There might be a moment of piece but don't be a fool – the nightmare will be back. The music is distress at the highest level. The sound is manufactured with great musical skills. New album Geo will be out in July.
    These guys have quite a resume, supporting Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom and Carcass. They are on their second album also, so I was expecting big things as we cross the halfway point of the festival. They had a very big kick sound and are seasoned campaigners. The crowd seemed to be getting their second wind also and started some head banging action.
    Chronolyth have developed with incredible speed since we got them onto our website in the middle of last year. After their album Sovereign has been released and they've extensively toured the East Coast with an excursion to Perth, they now have the attention of major labels. They play an angry Groove/Melodic Death metal. Singer Hamish gives everything expressing anger and aggression while Alex and Ben play their guitars very fast with just a couple of slower melodic breaks. There is no question why they got a Soundwave slot. It will be interesting to watch their next developments.
    This was the third Demonfire show I have seen but they have not failed to impress me yet. The combination of didgeridoo, atmospheric jams, onstage dancing girl, visuals and playing with fire are always a welcome change after six hours of metal, but the new drummer and violin added a new and interesting edge with a focus on the music and composition. The blastbeats during breathing fire and dragging the flame across both the topless dancer and the singers bodies created some intensity and show them to be a band continuing to push the boundaries of a metal show.
    Next we got a 5 piece partly from Cairns originally (but now fully based in Brisbane) and I have to say that Tria Mera – three days in Greek – are awesome! Groove/Progressive Metal at its best. The guys had a good start as a band in 2011 with lots of attention and a Soundwave slot. Unfortunately they had to part with their singer and it took time to find replacement. I don't know the former singer but I thought their current singer Ben is a very good choice. They play this kind of fast, somehow aggressive, metal which is not so much an attack but just enjoyable. Their EP Extinction is out.
    Metal Heart dug deep this year, and found a female fronted orchestral war themed metal band, complete with full stage costumes that concealed/disfigured their faces. The show began with the vocalist kneeling in what appeared to be armour before launching into some epic metal. The singer had an unusual range and could sing high as well as the more guttural styles. This all combined to create some mesmerising and foreboding soundscapes without losing its heavy edge. A very ambitious undertaking which they pulled off going by the audience reaction.
    The guys from Canberra get a straight WOW. They are very very technical and very very good. The guitarist and bassist look like students without the touch of anything metal but they can play metal, oh yes! Singer/keyboarder Andy together with the rest of the band crafts a complex sound of ambient, electric, symphonic, progressive… and metal. They have been around for a while, starting 2006. Their newest album Existence was released in March.
    These guys are a technical death metal group from Tasmania with many stop start changes. The crowd are starting to stop hovering around the bar and merchandise stalls as much now, and are congregating up to the stage. The many shifts in tempo get the audience going and the alcohol appreciation survey conducted by the singer is greeted favourably. This is a great band and you can expect to see more of them in the future.
    What can I say about Frankenbok? Most people probably know the guys from Melbourne. They've been around since the 1990s so they are a little older than most Metal Heart's artists but they were the best ones to entertain, party, get the audience to move. They start their show right away with full power and keep that energy up for the whole time. With all of them sporting the most interesting beards, their latest album Cheers, Beers & Beards makes sense. During their show they encourage people to provide them with beer pointing out that throwing it on stage is not helping their request. After playing a good load of Thrash/Death… Heavy Metal with a curious style of party and brutality, attack & aggression while having a great time. Towards the end of their show most of the band is somewhere in the audience while parts of the audience are on stage equipped with mics and instruments and the party is full on. Great band!
    The headlining act from NZ open with The Shadow Master, the lead single from their album. They are met with enthusiasm by the audience, who surprisingly still have a lot of energy left after Frankenbok. The stage diving starts in earnest and it gets pretty wild. You can see why they are headlining, and the singer has the audience in the palm of his hand. The muscular riffing and intense drumming continue to drive the pit late into the night. An epic end to an epic night (though the after party at The Underdog continued some hours into the morning apparently).

This review is teamwork: Matt and Anja joined writing forces and Ricky Daly from the metalreview provided the photos.

Line-up: 8 Foot Sativa, Frankenbok, Mephistopheles, Aeon Of Horus, Demodocus, Tria Mera, Demonfire, Chronolyth, Defamer, Vyrion, 308, Evil Eye, FUC, Amicable Treason, Stonechimp, Therein, Asylum, Smoking Martha

Reviewer: Matt & Anja