A few weeks ago, a handful medium sized, metal related Australian businesses and brands as well as a group of experienced and respected promoters got together and put together The Metal Heart Festival in Brisbane, Australia.

Featuring over 40 of the nations’ most talented metal and rock bands on 3 stages, numerous market stalls and extreme body art showcases, this was a day that I was looking forward to for a long, LONG time.  To top it off, all profits were being given away to The Heart Foundation and Astrid Erhnholm.

And I was elated to find that, overall, the day did not disappoint!

I arrived at the festival with a couple of friends and Rob, The Metal Review video tech, and headed straight to Stage 3 in anticipation of Brisbane Death-Core band, The Stratagem. I heard their EP a couple of months ago and was keen to see what they could do live! Unfortunately, the stage was having some technical issues and we were told that there would be some delays.

Slightly disappointed, but still eager, I headed over to the main room (Stage 1 and Stage 2), grabbed myself a beer and settled in to watch the acts in that room.  Upside Downside, a heavy 5-piece Brisbane metal band were finishing up their set.  I have seen these guys before and would highly recommend checking out their tunes!

While in this area, I managed to catch the fire-twirling, improv-metal band Demoniker  and a little bit of hard-rock stalwarts, Dead End Kings.  Both performed spectacularly with high energy sets that got a lot of the crowd prepped and ready for the day.

I slinked my way over to Stage 3 to find that Irukandji was ready to go! This qintet play rifftastic shreds and are truly convey how much it is to be in a metal band.  Playing tracks off their debut EP like ‘Irukandji Symptom’, ‘Groove Metal’ and my favorite, ‘Pretty Badass’,  Irukandji were tight, rhythmic and, most of all, having a blast. They drew quite a crowd and all the inter-band-member grinding and ‘air kisses’, they played excellent music.

Quite relieved that I had a break between Irukandji and the next band I was keen on checking out, I walked around the market stalls, grabbed some food and mingled with my friends from the scene.  We managed to catchup with Brisbane Pirate Metal pioneers, Lagerstein and laughed long and hard listening to tales from their 30 day tour, which included walking in inch deep snow in slippers, more beer bongs than they could care to remember and epic times sharing the stage with European acts.

It wasn’t much longer before Eternal Rest took over Stage 1. The band recently dropped their EP, Prophetic, and is a must-have for any Death Metal fan.  Playing their brand of Death Metal with, dare I say slight Egyptian themes, Eternal Rest was as good as I last remembered them. The band combines extreme rhythms with some beautiful second guitar licks and, to top it all off, it reconfirmed my opinion that their bassist, Jannico, is one of the best Queensland, if not Australia, has seen.

After a little more mingling and another beer, Ignite The Chamber started off on Stage 2.  Since these guys recently took Scott Niblock (ex-Down Royale, ex-TriaMera) on board as their new vocalist and can finally play as a solid 5-piece, their sound has improved leaps and bounds.  The band plays a nice mix of groove and melody and comes highly recommended for fans of Chimaira, Slipknot, Parkway Drive, Trivium and DevilDriver. Their live show was tight, packed with energy and did not fail to get my head-banging. They’re currently in the process of recording their debut EP and I for one cannot wait until it’s ready!

A few more chats, good hangs, some good acts in the background and a couple of seal parties later, Dead Letter Opener took the stage. For the uninitiated, this is a 3-piece Groove metal band that actually sounds like they have 6 members every time they hit the stage. For reasons that I chalked up to more unfortunate technical difficulties, they only had time for 4 songs. But those 4 songs packed a wallop of a punch and set everyone in the area off!

Down Royale, one of my favorite Brisbane acts, were on almost immediately in the same room. This quintet features crushing riffs, an epic presence and an even more epic stage show.  The band hadn’t played a Brisbane gig for a while and I was comforted to know that they were picking up just where they left off.  It didn’t take long for the masses to join in the massive movement.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end.  After an epic day, my sore feet and strained neck gave way and I decided to slowly make my way out of the festival. I’m sure that those that stuck around for bands like Lynchmada, Medusas Mirror, State of Integrity, The Schoenberg Automaton, and A Breach of Silence were not disappointed!

At the end of it all, despite the technical difficulties, it was a fantastic event. It’s easily one of the best ‘smaller/local’ festivals I have been to and it’s at gatherings like this that the local metal community unites and where one can truly see what a close knit brotherhood it is.

And it’s days like this that I feel truly lucky and extremely pleased to be involved and deeply entrenched in such a wonderful scene.