Thrash Blast Grind Fest ensured there are still great heavy music festivals to look forward to

While the collapse of Soundwave left a sizable gap in the Australian heavy music festival calendar, the good news is new mini festivals including Thrash Blast Grind fest are slowly filling the void.
Sydney groove metal kings Black Rheno kicked off the Melbourne leg of the tour. “Melbourne, this is the place to be,” commanded vocalist Ryan Miller, gesturing to the front of stage. “Move right in.” The band may lack a bassist but their sound still stampedes: deep fried southern grooves are smeared against bursts of sludge and punk. Nu-metal may be a dirty word to some, but it too creeps into the Black Rheno mix. No Time for Numb Nuts closes a crushing set.
Next, the most jarring transition of the night: the sax solo in George Michael’s Careless Whisper is mercilessly slayed by Melbourne death metal lunatics Whoretopsy. White Men Can’t Blump and Fiddler in the Roof are profanity-riddled, experiments in extremity: seething messes of metal that delight in their ability to revolt. The band’s sound is devastating albeit repetitious. But who needs diversity when you can pulverize skulls into dust with breakdowns, ey?
The only international act on the bill, Boston’s Revocation brought a tight, thrash-packed set that was played with technical precision: not a drum fill or lead break was missed throughout. But there’s a missing x-factor to their show– there’s no danger; everything runs like clockwork, like they’re churning out the same set they do every night. “You guys want a fast one?” asked guitarist David Davidson, before launching into Scorched Earth Policy. Technically spot-on, but ultimately outshone by the charisma of the night’s other acts.
“We feel like this is our home away from home,” Psycroptic vocalist Jason Peppiatt admitted mid set. “It’s hard to look all evil and shit when you can’t wipe the smile off your face.” Indeed, the crowd embraced the Tasmanian tech death metal luminaries during Echoes to Come and Carriers of the Plague. Brothers Dave and Joe Haley form a fierce partnership: years of jamming together evident in their watertight guitar and drum syncopation. Joe doesn’t miss a beat – even when his hair becomes tangled in the bass headstock, which a roadie quickly fixes. True heroes of the Australian heavy music scene, Psycroptic are still leaders of the pack.
Headliners King Parrot are about as Aussie as slamming Vegemite sandwiches on your work smoko. They let their beer bellies hang out, proudly on display, as they tear through a set of hardcore pub thrash that wallows around in its own poxy imperfections. Youngy and Slatts wisecrack like your seedy uncles while stirring the mosh into a revolting, sweaty mess. Bozo and Shit on the Liver confirm King Pazz deserve their crown. 
Words by Jack Pilven
Image by Anna Madden
Highlight: A value-for-money lineup.
Lowlight: Blood splattered bathrooms.
Crowd Favourite: King Pazz.