Neck Wreck Festival (Brisbane, QLD)

16 November 2013 at Transcontinental Hotel

West End Music Stage

Kunvuk – Headlining the West End Stage. Kunvuk are an unusual type of extreme metal that changes song structure very unpredictably. No drummer tonight, which disappointed me, as I was hoping to see how all this complexity actually worked live, so it was a three piece with a drum machine. They certainly worked the crowd and were intense as hell. Guitarist pulled off some monster riffs and that bass sound was subterranean distortion from another planet; a very menacing tone indeed. But very innovative band, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next. Check out their "teeth swallower" song if you want to get an idea of the kind of powerful music they make.

Synthetic Breed – Very tight thrash 4 piece from Victoria. Some very interesting sounds in their arsenal along with pulverising rhythms.
Killrazer – 4 piece from NSW. Their drummer is a machine, and this is clearly where we move from the undercard to the start of the main event. They are very tight especially considering the difficulty of some of their stop start arrangements. You can hear the effortless shift to a Metallica type groove and the crowd start chanting "oi oi oi" along with it. Is this one of Australia's most underrated metal bands? Definitely worth seeing.

Darker Half – This 4 piece play high speed metal with melodic vocals was refreshing to my ears at this point as were the occasional rock grooves in their set. A very refined sound.

Tempest Rising – 5 piece all the way from West Australia. Fast with lots of double kick to begin with, and the singer spent a little time in the crowd creating his own action. There were some very cool tempo changes and the clean and aggressive vocal style worked well. Some very, very heavy songs in their repertoire.

Hazmat – Opened with an upbeat rock number with harmonies. They are as their opening song states "ready to rock". Melodic vocals and some slick rhythmic changes made their set all the more enjoyable. I don't think any band played this style better tonight

Gorefield – First band banner of the evening, with great artwork. Distorted bass tone fitted in perfectly with their set. These guys can certainly play and there were some ambitious chops from this entire hard working three piece from Sunny Coast who had already been on the road for 3 weeks. It was more of a uptempo rock sound (or maybe that's just how it sounds after 4 hours of thrash bands) and while the singer could clearly sing, it was a pity both guitar and vocals were a little quiet in the mix. I really enjoyed their song Apathy, and I think you can expect to see more of these guys in the future.

Demonfire – A demonfire show is always an experience. They opened with a digeridoo and some drums after the smoke machines created some ambience. Eventually I am the animal starts with computer images playing in the background. Demonfire sure put on a great show and seem to have something for everyone, from the headbangers up the front, the compulsive iphone photographers in the middle and the unsocialites up the back of the room. Then Demoniker is played and their dancer comes out, wearing a mask and moving hypnotically as the groove develops. Here Pussy is next and a drummer goes into the audience encouraging people to hit the tom and participate in this unique jam. And for wings of fire, the singer and dancer begin to play with fire and fire breathing, after he informs us of how much it cost him to get insured for this particular stunt. The song structure is also quite different from typical metal, most feeling like jams, rather than the typical rigid metal song structure. This is the kind of unique performance you have right on your doorstep Brisbane.

Kyzer Soze – 5 piece that generated much headbanging. The drummer is a beast and nobody is sitting on their hands in this band. There are some killer lead breaks, and definitely a contender for hardest working band of the night.

Underground sounds stage

Psychroptic – 4 piece from Tasmania. What's in the water in Tasmania? So many great bands. Imploring the exhausted crowd to come down the front, you can see why they are headlining. This combination of intensity and musicianship is not easy to come by. It was all killer from where I was and a powerful set was delivered with unrelenting brutality.

King Parrot – Are you kidding me? I'm throwing my review template out the window for this one. Who cares how many members are in it, or where they are from, or how much two handed tapping the guitarists can do – these guys are extreme intensity in every sense of the words. I'm still excited writing it up from my notes the day after. I can't believe it took me so long to check them out. So what's a King Parrot show like? For a start the action in the pit increased tenfold, and they seemed to notch it up a little with each song. The singer spent more time in the pit than on the stage, and also received some unwanted attention to his nipples ("hands off my nipples!!!"). So as the singer very visibly works the crowd, and they work him at some points, the bass player is fighting for our attention admonishing us for our sweet haircuts. Even perched at the back of the room in my wallflower spot I wasn't safe and the singer ran past me twice, once on foot, the second time carried on the back of someone. Their music style has manic shifts and changes to intentionally induce the chaos. Shit on the liver kills whatever doubt there is in the room. I like bands who work hard, and I don't think anybody works harder than these lunatics. Go see these guys and see them soon.

Recoil Vor – I was looking forward to seeing this 4 piece from NSW based on their "and a hard place" song. They also received a free alcohol break thanks to the guys from "in death". The singer was having trouble chasing a certain item he was after, and the inevitable Campbell Newman jokes continued. Jokes aside, and there were a few, these guys were very good, and made excellent use of odd times and some super heavy riffing. Worth a look.

A breach of silence – 5 piece from WA. The audience was already a little tired after 7 hours of the metal beatdown that is neck wreck, then instead of the usual insipid 10-20 min wait for sound checking, the band just emerged from behind some screens to start playing. And they're a little different also, in that they have two vocalists. One guy does the aggressive end of things, and the other vocalist (as well as playing bass) has a wicked falsetto. Not what I was expecting. Solid stuff, very polished and you can see the hours and hours of rehearsals have paid off for these guys with a show like that.

Magnertron – 3 piece from Brisbane. These guys are well known in our town and the moshpit begins almost immediately. The pinch harmonics sound great, and you know all three pieces are working like madmen, as there's nowhere to hide your fudged notes. These guys are a great indicator of just how strong the Australian scene is. Insane game hammered and Magnertron had the audience in the palm of their hands.

Upside Downside – 6 piece. Huge guitar sound with three guitars and these guys are actually quite young. Let's just get this straight, these f*ckers make a lot of noise, even in the epic "song two" instrumental. They start calling the audience pussies for not moshing and these guys have a lot more experience than people twice their age. Spinal relocation, their best known song, begins slowly chugging away, sounding menacing as hell. They smashed it. There's also some serious musicianship happening here, and those guitar solo's are pure shredding. The future of metal looks bright.

Dead deities – 5 piece nsw. Very solid heavy band and I particularly enjoyed the Campbell Newman jokes that became a bit of theme later in the day. This was the beginning of when the bands volume truly began to increase.

In Death – 5 piece – Huge double kick sound on this stage – audience got into and were implored to drink a lot. Bury the hatchet was heavy as hell, and these guys were great!

Kablammo – Obviously fans of Pantera, these guys killed it as the singer stalked the stage with a great song about happy little vegemites. A great cover of Heresy was performed also, which was well received. Party, probably their best known song from youtube, also got the heads banging. Another great local band which we will definitely hear more of I am sure.

Line-up: Psycroptic, Synthetic Breed, King Parrot, Kunvuk, Killrazer, Darker Half, A Breach of Silence, Tempest Rising, Recoil V.O.R, Magnertron, Hazmat, Upside Downside, Kyzer Soze, In Death, Dead deities, Gorefield, Azreal, Demonfire, Acorea, Kablammo, Nemesystem

Reviewer: Matt