HEAVY S.A FESTIVAL 2019 at the Lion Arts Factory Theatre. METAL HIGHLIGHTS.

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As I landed in Adelaide, dubbed the “City of Churches” I had a little sadistic grin at the irony of it. I was there to attend  Heavy S.A Festival and my initial main mission was to watch some of the best Australian black metal bands on offer.

The bill: An impressive 24 South Australian-grown metal bands and of all sorts of extreme genres, from death to sludge punk, to metallic hardcore, to stoner, avant-garde black, thrash, symphonic blackened death, kvlt black and just about every extreme sub-metal- genre in between.

As a stranger to this city, I caught an Uber to a destination I could have just as easily walked to and I see a sea of black, recognisable death and black metal band shirts and battle vests. I know I’ve arrived at the right venue. Lions Art Factory Theatre, with two stages in two rooms side by side and bars where drinks were plentiful and efficiently served (an important footnote). Immediately, a good vibe was projected from this venue and the crowd who had gathered early to support the bands already menacing the stage.

It is here, I’m introduced to the death metal sounds of Dead Sun. I was immediately taken by the imposing presence of frontman, Pat Malone as he demanded our attention with his big guttural vocals, intimidating stature and neck breaking headbangs. Hooked, I wasn’t leaving this area and watched intently as they savaged the stage with their big sound and big death metal performance.

Warpath’s set was insane and encouraged a pit resembling that of the late 80s “thrasher” style of arm swims and leg kicks (even a Brazilian cartwheel or two) in front of the stage as they belted out their metallic hardcore sound. Liam with his exhausting and large vocals together with the band, created a hype in the crowd that had us all smiling and banging our heads.

Enter Dirty Pagans and their obscurity, charisma, humour and oh so very seriously excellent stoner metal sound. These guys were intriguing to the eyes and ears. Lead vocalist Matty Dee demonstrated exceptional vocal range, hitting the high notes like a boss and throwing me back to Justin Hawkins (The Darkness) when he soared his voice to incredible heights. A band to watch out for, like all 24 bands on this bill.

Iron Worzel was one band I wasn’t going to miss and as expected I was completely in awe of Danny’s powerhouse vocals and super cool presence up on stage. As the band sludged it out to “How’s Get Fucked Sound”, among other great tracks it was evident that the crowd appreciate their sludge, stoner, and violent sound just as much as I did. Iron Worzel really did penetrate an intense feeling and gave us a deadly performance.

As I moved across to the main stage, I was smashed by Deadlock, with this being their 25th Anniversary show and these gentlemen were clearly in celebration mode. A no holds barred set, they held their own, showing us how thrashers do. Their set was full of aggression, comradery, nostalgia, and pride and we all took the ride with them and loved every moment of it. A big thrashing finale from the boys left the crowd exhilarated as we showed huge appreciation to these veteran metalheads of the scene. Well-deserved appreciation.

Showing off some death/thrash/sludge was Shatter Brain with their hard-hitting riffs and drum tracks, not to mention vocal cords from Tom Santamaria that I’m sure were bleeding at the end of their set! Talk about 110%. A big crowd pleaser, these fellas did their home State proud.

Next, the main stage fired up with Truth Corroded, fronted by the organiser of Heavy S.A Festival and ruthless headbanger, Jason North. These guys brought the fury with their metalcore/thrash fusion, and launch of their album; Bloodlands. Fuelled with their notorious relentless riffs and hard-hitting bass, drums, and vocals it was a stellar heavy set. These men were dynamic on stage and extremely entertaining, evident by the huge circle pit and crowd surfers that put their bodies on the line through each track.

Abstract The Light were gearing up for their set and me, feeling super excited, made my way down front and centre stage. This is why I was here; BLACK METAL and this avant-garde black metal band were a mysteriously dark force on stage. As I looked around at the fans appreciating them as much as I was, I took the entire set in with intense watch to retain the memory of it all. Frontman Ben Sheehan gave everything in a powerhouse vocal performance, together with Matt Brown on guitar, the two were joined by new members on drums and bass, yet the synergy was as if they had been jamming together for years. As they blacked out the crowd to a set of epic proportions, they surprised their fans with a debut performance of H.U.N.T.E.R and 3 other grand scale tracks from their soon to be released new album. A fantastically heavy, intense and ambient set by the boys!

To the main stage we head, once again, and enter the much anticipated In The Burial, launching their newly released album; Lamentations: Of Deceit & Redemption. I had been told not to miss this six-piece band and I certainly was in pole position to properly experience this and take them all in. In The Burial are a band of Epic proportions in sound and stage presence. Frontwoman Mel is a force, captivating and mesmerising as she thrashes her head and fiercely shrieks blackened death lyrics that sent shivers through the crowd. Every element of this band was impressive, unable to take my eyes off all five of them, I truly was in my element with their heavy and backbiting blackened sound. To say I was impressed doesn’t cut it.

Danny (Iron Worzel) complete with a change of shirt and without his cap, plagued the stage with his black metal band; Diabolic Rites and brutishly smashed out a set showcasing their recently released secular album; Litanies Of The Lecherous. The ruthlessness brought by this 3-piece band was commendable. Relentless, raw, unholy and vicious black metal sounds placed the crowd in all sorts of terrific hell. Impeccable drums were smashed out by the incredible and crowd-pleasing Demoninacht as bassist Blodgris looked as if he was going to break his neck, he was in the moment so hard! These guys were fantastic to watch and brought the callousness home.

To close what had been an amazing homegrown South Australian Metal festival, over a brilliant 12-hour day/night was Christ  Dismembered. The Mount Gambier boys know how to soil the stage, rot the floor and blow up the speakers with their true kvlt black metal composition and imagery and it’s a given they are always going to be a spiteful and sacrilegious presence on stage. Jack and the chaps always create an infinitely heavy and frantic experience and this night they did not disappoint. Fans gathered, some with their own corpse paint trashing their heads while throwing horns in the lad’s direction. Playing tracks from their self-titled Album, they created such an unnerving atmosphere, full of disdain, contempt, and aggression and surprised us with “Riddled With Sin” a track the boys have never played live before. Christ Dismembered was an exemplary way to end what was a sensational heavy metal festival.

I will admit, initially, I was attending the Heavy SA Festival for black metal in particular. However, I was completely in awe of and extremely impressed by the high calibre of talent displayed by all the bands I had time to witness plaguing the stages at Heavy S.A from all metal genres. I encourage you to check all  24 bands out at some stage on the Heavy SA Festival Spotify playlist.

No wonder South Australia is a proud metal State. What a solid metal community they have, one which is evidently very supportive of one and other.

Well done Heavy S.A I will most certainly be back next year! What a Festival this was.