Review: Heavy SA Fest – Fowlers, Adelaide

It’s the 7th of May in Adelaide, South Australia (SA), so that means that it’s time for the Heavy SA Fest, with eighteen bands playing throughout the day on a single stage. This is a showcase for both signed and unsigned bands from across the state to all come together in the name of metal. Things kicked off just after lunch, but I wander in some time later, as I’ve been watching some other band arrive in something called ‘Ed Force One’.

So first time I have seen ThirteenBlack, and it’s a solid outing. The first thing I noted on the way in is their merchandise It’s awesome. I have to get one of those Forbidden Planet Ts, and it’s a great way to have people remember you, as they stuck out like the proverbial dog’s anatomy. It’s stoner metal, or sludge, but a meaty sound, with lyrics about living life to its fullest, then waking up with no frickin’ idea what happened. They reminded me, a lot, of a more laid back Black Tusk.

It’s a quick swap over, and next up we have Hidden Intent, who I last saw supporting the mighty Helloween in October ’15. Hidden Intent is a three piece with bass also covering the main vocal. The band has that easy going ‘have a chat then thrash the shit out of it’ mentality that they share with Taberah and LORD. They’ve just returned from a tour of South-East Asia, where they seemed to have gone over well, although most of the photographs hint of potential international incidents! They pulled out the solo of the day with some magnificent power-stances, but their set was far too short. They should have had a double time slot, as they were on the money. If you like your metal just like it was in the good old days of NWOBHM then you should check these guys out.

Heavy SA Fest continued with Voros, who I hadn’t seen live, but knew of through their album, ‘Diseased Deity’. The title was enough for me to seek them out! Very much in the Mastodon and Lamb of God neck of the woods, Voros put on a high energy, honest, straight-up performance. Some parts reminded me very much of The Sword, with that deep, resonating sound that tries to separate and rearrange your internal organs. Again, the twenty-five minutes allotted just wasn’t enough.

As Voros left the stage, Mammoth joined the stage and they just kept coming. I think it might be six members, so it’s three guitars, bass, vocals, and drums. This was the first real genre change of the day, and they brought a sludgy blues feel, and a chance for the brain cells to regroup. Mammoth have a thick sound, in fact, a wall of sound, that was bluesy at its roots, but solid riffs that tugged towards stoner metal at times. I was standing watching the guys and thinking of Candlemass, in particular the ‘Nightfall’ album, but I’m not entirely sure why.

Gorlapse hit the Heavy SA Fest stage next with a CD to flog called, ‘Reanimated’. They played the first track from it today. ‘Eat Them Alive’ is a punchy number, but pick of the bunch from the CD is ‘Zombilocks’, which is plain awesome, and is music to let loose to. It’s part stoner, part thrash, and all doom, but they really punched it out. I’d say it was probably a tie between Gorlapse and SE BON KI RA for the ‘most animated band of the day’ award. I love a band that likes a mosh. I strongly encourage you to seek out the CD, as it’s a winner.

All change! It’s Dyssidia, and it’s progressive rock/metal. I last reviewed Dyssidia when they supported Between The Buried And Me in February, Then, they out-played Trivium, and they also played a blinder today. The best part was that the hardcore metal crowd pulled back to the bar and retreated for food, and from the recesses of the room the prog crowd came in and hugged the barrier. That was what the day was all about. Hard music, but covering many genres, and everyone just getting on with it.

Truth Corroded were up next and this five piece are just hard-hitting metal. Sharp and punchy, they are high energy and had the crowd moving. This band have toured extensively, so they worked the stage and pushed through a tight set, but again, the short allocation of time flew past. The death/speed/thrash set barely touched on the depth and experience that this band have, and after they left the stage, I had a flashback that I had first seen them many years ago support In Flames, but like many gigs that could be an alcohol affected memory.

Next up, the firecracker that is SE BON KI RA but they have been reviewed separately [HERE], as I’ve been on their trail for a while.

The penultimate band of the day was Alkira, who opened proceedings with a Metallica cover. Alkira are well known around town and beyond. The four piece have their roots in straight up metal, but thrash it out with a punk attitude. I had heard Alkira before as about a year ago, maybe a bit more, they launched their debut album, ‘Juggernaut’. Although that was an assault on the senses, their approach to playing live takes it up another few notches. The Alkira fan club had been chanting their name since I got here, and six hours later they were rewarded with a powerhouse performance.

Last up, we had Headbore,  who also have a new album in tow. ‘The Grey’ was released on the night, and it’s an exercise in shred, backed by a wall of sound. It had been a big day but those in the crowd, who were still standing, finished the night in style, rocking out to Headbore’s metal. The biggest problem of the day, apart from being late due to plane watching, was missing Wounded Pig. I wanted to see them, but it was a big day, and my ears are just starting to regain the mid and low range hearing ability again. Heavy SA Fest was well supported, with so much positive energy in the room that there was no way it was going to be a fizzer. Let’s hope that there is another, because Australia has so much metal talent that we just have to get behind these bands and let them be heard!

Review and Images: Craig Grant

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