Sonic Forge Festival Live At The Espy

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Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. The apathy of Australian metal fans never ceases to amaze. This was just about the perfect night to actually come out and throw your support behind the local scene.

Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. The apathy of Australian metal fans never ceases to amaze. This was just about the perfect night to actually come out and throw your support behind the local scene.

30 plus high quality Aussie metal bands in the one reasonably centrally located venue, at a ridiculously low cost, with the proceeds going to a very worthy cause (Haitian earthquake relief). It was a beautiful night. No excuses whatsoever. The crowd that showed up on this night was quite solid, the venue and organisers would probably be reasonably happy with the turnout. But it could have been better. A lot better.

Where were you? Sitting on your arse at home, smoking bongs, watching your worn out Metallica and Motorhead DVDs from the ‘80s and telling yourself, “I don’t like any of the new stuff, I only like the old stuff’? If it was Iron Maiden at Rod Laver there would have been 13,000 of you there. Shame on you. Our local scene could quite possibly collapse, and it’d be your fault.

We have some incredible bands here Down Under, and many of them were on display in their full glory at The Espy on this occasion. Arcane from Queensland have a very interesting sound. Dynamic and controlled, they intersperse the heavy moments between the quiet parts, as opposed to the vast majority of metal bands who do the opposite. Long and progressive songs, with tasteful keyboards stylings and Jeff Buckley-esque vocals at times – it’s almost psychedelic. This all made for something quite unique and different. I would like to hear more of these guys.

I love how there is such contrast in this genre as well, even at a local level. Frankenbok were next up. The difference between these two bands could make your neck snap. The ‘Bok are an all-out thrash assault, but shitloads of fun at the same time, as they always are. They have a sense of humour and don’t take themselves too seriously, but when they get down to business they are utterly ferocious and as tight as a fist clenched in agony. Their sound is enormous. These guys are, without overstatement, one of the best thrash metal bands on the planet. They deserve greater recognition, and hopefully with their next album, apparently due out early next year, they will receive it.

Double Dragon from South Australia are an excellent old school melodic thrash band, with excellent guitar harmonies. In fact, their musicianship in general is top notch.

Next on the bill were Ne Obliviscaris, of whom organiser Tim Charles is a member. They also have a massive sound, but one that’s more progressive and eclectic. The violin adds a very nice touch and it’s great to see a local band put a little extra effort into their visual effects; they put on an excellent progressive metal show. Apparently they’re having difficulties getting a permanent visa for their French guitarist. Hopefully they sort this out soon.

Dreadnaught came out and did what they have done so well for more than a decade and a half. That is, absolute rip shit up onstage. Very loud and very proud, there’s no nonsense and no bullshit with this band, just high voltage, adrenaline-charged traditional metal. But they’re actually a bit underrated as to how well they actually play. Another underrated gem of the Aussie heavy music scene. Five Star Prison Cell were their usual weird and wonderful selves, replete with crazy time signatures and changes, and forays into funk and other general idiosyncrasy.

Headliners Be’Lakor seemed to have some sound issues before they finally emerged from behind the curtain and started their set 20-odd minutes late. This may have put them off a little as they seemed not quite ‘on it’ this night. Still, they have a huge wall of sound, are very progressive and different and I’d love to see them on a night when they’re on fire. That would be a sight to behold.

All up, a very satisfying evening’s heavy entertainment. Hopefully the crowd was strong enough to warrant doing this again soon. These things have to be built up over time to give them real momentum. The concept is strong. It just needs you, the metal fan, to help support it.