24 May 2014 at Civic Hotel
Wow, finally! It's been so many months we have been looking forward to this festival! The flights had been booked for over half a year and there was a keen exchange with our Perth contacts. And now we are finally in the Civic Hotel and Stormrider Heavy Metal Festival starts.
Death Dependant opened the show and gave us the first taste what was about to come; high-quality metal bands and the finest steel. Death Dependant plays Thrash Metal and is from Bunbury – about 1.5 hours south of Perth. They sound a lot like old school Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and are the perfect warm-up. Marc Antonov, the singer and rhythm guitarist, has a good rock voice and gets the quickly filling first rows into an early afternoon light head bang.
Cold Fate from Perth and with Paul Di Scerni as singer changes the tone to a harder, more aggressive level but is still a definite thrash. Paul has a very deep full voice with a very charismatic appearance – I guess the Italian heritage cannot be denied here. Lead guitarist Cam Nicholas, who also plays in Silent Knight, is apparently the best guitarist in Perth. It's hard for me to decide if this is true as I can only see some guitarists today… but I am inclined to believe it. He is very very good although he has hard competition at this festival. Cold Fate is hardly giving us any break and when Paul announces "Let's get things moving as we all want to have a drink" we know that we are under full attack for this set.
With these bands it's no wonder that the Civic Hotel fills up quickly and Stormrider is the best visited festival I've been to in the local scene. My foot is already tapping the fast rhythms and a lot of light headbanging is happening. Up next are Psychonaut with just 4 people instead of 5 like the previous bands. They are also a local Perth band and have been around for quite some time – being founded by ex Voyager member, Mark De Vattimo, in 1999. They have supported Finntroll, Death Angel, Exodus and play an interesting mix across a lot of metal genres which they call on their website power speed thrash death rock metal… nailing pretty much all my favourite metal genres.
A storm is coming up at Stormrider when Enforce take the stage. A lot more brutal – from the Death side of Metal – Enforce turn this so far more Thrash/Power line up around and kick it in the backside. These guys are also veterans having been around for a long time and of course having supported a bunch of international acts. Singer and guitarist Guy Bell leads the aural attack grunting and growling at us backed by Rob Hartley at the lead guitar, Scott 'BoltZ' Bultitude-Paull (bass) and drummer Troy Watson. Nice one guys, and I hear you are planning to bring a new album out?
Gorefield from Brisbane was one of the first bands we saw when we started with Metal-Roos. That was before they had their album out and started their tour last year. I am personally very fond of those guys (Kurt, BJ and Danyn) who play this awesome old school heavy metal, so my review might be a bit one-sided. If that matters, go and buy their CD, watch their new video on youtube or – even better – see them live and make your own opinion. Seeing them here at Stormrider after about half a year since I saw them last at Steel Assassins in Sydney, I have to say that they have again evolved. I can't really say matured because they are quite young, enjoying their metal life (singer Kurt: Basically we didn't have any sleep since we left Brisbane yesterday and we live of beer and potato chips) and I guess it would be a pity if they would already come close to maturity. Let's say, there is a lot of potential and they show more of it every time I see them. Nice cover of Pink Floyd's Brick In The Wall!
Damnations Day from Geelong have a remarkable singer. Mark has this melodic and quite dramatic voice. It's thrashy power metal with a good bit of guitar shredding done by Jon King and singer Mark Kenedy while Luke Vinken and Dean Kennedy are responsible for the rhythm section on bass and drums respectively. Their debut album "Invisible, The Dead" has been produced by Dean Wells from Teramaze.
Mason… I love Mason. We saw them first at Bangers & Thrash in Sydney when they started their Australia tour last year. They were playing late in the evening and I was already full of all the festival's previous bands' sounds but these guys made me listen up. Such awesome thrash, it blew me away. They play this solid thrash – clearly old school Metallica & Megadeth influenced and as metal as it can be. I was very much looking forward to seeing them at Stormrider and once again positively surprised about Stu McGill's skills of putting together a first class line-up. And Mason really got everybody going and drew a good crowd of people. Singer Jimmy Benson has just the perfect voice for thrash and when he, Chris Czimmermann on the lead guitar and Steve Montalto on the bass are playing the instrumental parts, it's a show itself. All guys with really old school long hair, standing in a line and head banging or spreading all over the stage and thrashing their instruments while Nonda Tsatsoulis is working those drums. Their debut album is called Warhead and they are just starting their next tour with fellow Melbourne Thrashers Harlott.
And so we got to Darker Half. Being part of the Sydney scene, we have seen these guys a couple of times on stage. They have supported Paul Di'Anno and Queensryche and shared the stage with Edguy and Sonata Arctica. Darker Half play melodic thrash which is very strongly characterized by Vo Simpson's voice which has a remarkable range. Standing nothing behind the previous bands, their guitar work is just excellent. Vo Simpson, Brad Hickson and Simon Hamilton give it all, guitar soli, fast, slow… and always powerful. They play their songs Blinded by Darkness, Duality and "This song is about being strange – it's called Stranger". The drumming part is done by Vo's brother, Dominic Simpson, who used to be the guitar player but whose first instrument was drums which he got back to when the previous drummer left. They are just bringing their third album out – Never Surrender is scheduled for June.
When we started our Metal-Roos page, one of our first album reviews was self-picked by the reviewer. He reviewed Masterplan by Silent Knight which we then checked out, loved and bought. At that time, the guys had just toured with LORD and I was a bit sad that I missed them. Then we got in touch with Silent Knight's Stu McGill who was very supportive of Metal-Roos. We supported his festival Stormrider in return and now here we are, Silent Knight finally on stage in front of me. To make it more interesting they had a new (temporary) singer, Jesse, and a new drummer and member of several other Perth bands, Dan Grainger. Apparently they had got Jesse only 4 weeks ago on board and Dan had only 4 rehearsals with them. So, I'm guessing 4 is a good number then. I never saw their previous singer live but Jesse was great – hitting high tones and have a good range. For the second time that night, Cam Nicholls (also Cold Fate guitarist) showed his great skills on the guitar. Then of course Stu McGill on the rhythm guitar and also Cameron Daw on the bass, completing the 5 piece. My favourite song, the album's title track Masterplan, was even better live than the probably 5000 times I heard it in my living room before. This band is Power Metal with as much power in metal as it should be.
Last but surely not least came Black Majesty on stage. Internationally well known and a real majesty of power metal, these guys from Melbourne were the icing on this high quality festival. Their latest album is Stargazer and they were consisting that evening of singer Gio, guitarists Hanny and Steve, Evan on the bass and drummer Ben. There has been lots written about Black Majesty and I can confirm they are awesome, so I'm putting pen and paper away and just enjoy the show.
A big thanks to Rameriez Photography and Outback Bob Photography who shared their pictures with us!
Line-up: Black Majesty, Silent Knight, Darker Half, Mason, Damnations Day, Gorefield, Enforce, Psychonaut, Cold Fate, Death Dependant