Sunday, November 11, 2012


Toowoomba, Australia (pop. 100,000) - boring & cold (in more ways than one)
This was a great metal show I attended in the back beer garden of the Norville Hotel in Toowoomba, Australia on 9 November 2012. Overall a crowd of around 100 people enjoyed five bands with a big mix of ages and genres in a good atmosphere on a foggy and cool November night (ah yes the cold November rain!)

First up at 7pm was THERE'S NO SNAKES IN ALASKA, three young guys from Toowoomba playing covers. The crowd was still small this early in the night. First soing played was the great metal classic "Breaking the Law" by JUDAS PRIEST (1980) from the British Steel album. The vocalist is a tall somewhat fat guy with a mop of brown hair and he did a great job. He knew the words to this great song (I do too and I was watching him) and he sang it with the angst and frustration that the song deserves. This guy has the necessary strength and roughness in the voice but also the self-confidence to be a great metal frontman. He told a long joke about "illegal firearms" which could have gone wrong but he told it well. He also read out a great poem starting out with "roses are gay and`violets are gayer" and ending with "so you better listen to Slayer!" Again, no complaints there. This guy has great potential as a metal frontman as too many guys are too shy and just say "f***" over and over again. The other two guys played loose but tight - accurately but still with a sense of fun and passion. I think this band has promise. OK, I'm interested now - are there snakes in Alaska? Normally I hate trendy band names of more than two words but this name is interesting.

Next up was CORRUPTION OF THE INNOCENTS and I didn't pay much attention to this band because I sat down and drank my beer after headbanging for the first band. They were energetic and full of passion, and the young guitar player played some cool solos, jumping off the stage and running round in front (the front was quite empty at this point).

ZENITH was next and they are an older group of three guys and two chicks. The vocalist Sarah's son is in my daughter's class in school so we know each other. A married couple play guitars and there is a male bass player and male drummer making up five in total. The female guitarist has a Union Jack Flying V guitar so that pretty much won me over before a note was played in anger. A good crowd had built up and the headbanging and circle pit were started up by the teenagers up front. This band plays covers but they play them well - first song up was a powerful and passionate rendition of MAIDEN'S "The Trooper" from 1983. This band has the potential to get on the pub circuit down south as a MAIDEN or METALLICA tribute band but jobs and families may keep them in Toowoomba. They played an ANTHRAX song "Medusa" as well as "Wherever I May Roam" and "The Four Horsemen" by METALLICA, "Ace of Spades" by MOTORHEAD, "Am I Evil?" by DIAMOND HEAD, "Flight of Icarus" by MAIDEN, and a brilliant and powerful "Hallowed be Thy Name" (MAIDEN also). Guitar player Steve was cheering the crowd on and the circle pit was really enjoying it including all the younger guys. This band took me back to the 1980s. We all had a great time. I was reminded of watching PEGAZUS at a Melbourne pub and AC/DC tribute band HIGHWAY TO HELL at the Kooringal Hotel in Wagga Wagga several times in 05-06. The band played the complex guitar stuff of MAIDEN and METALLICA very well but with the relaxed and enthusiastic playing style. The encore was "Enter Sandman" and I think the younger ones in the crowd enjoyed the METALLICA songs from`the 1990s whereas for me the highlight was the MAIDEN songs. This band took me back to my high-school years of 1984-85 and I thank them for that. Too much modern metal is too stone-faced and serious. This band reminded us of the fun old-school metal daze of the 1980s when MAIDEN, PRIEST, SAXON, AC/DC, THE SCORPS, and TWISTED SISTER were kings. Sarah ended the set by shouting "I love James Hetfield!" In my head I mentally added: "And I hate Lars!"

Next up was young local metalcore band AS OCEANS DIE. This band has some talent and ability and they have already released an EP. The inside CD picture shows the band at a lookout in the Toowoomba ranges, a local landmark. I was taken back to the 1980s by ZENITH and was then taken forward to 2012 by this young band`which was a very confusing experience. The crowd was a little slow to embrace this band but by the end everyone was enjoying it. The guys wear coloured tee-shirts and board shorts and have short hair. They scream into the microphone. Although the style was so very different to ZENITH I did enjoy this band because style is not vital in metal. More important are honesty, humility, respect for others and self, and being true to yourself. This band certainly met these criteria, that was very obvious. The lyrtics are all the personal struggle lyrics you expect from metalcore with emphasis on honour, courage, integrity, and revenge. Lyrics are all the "I, I, I" stuff which is typical for metalcore but much better than lyrics such as "it's easy for you to say / your heart has never been broken" etc etc (hehe). The drummer just bashed the kit totally with heaps of aggression like Don Tardy of OBITUARY or Mike Smith of SUFFOCATION (but with no blast-beats). The drummer was the only dude with the old-school metal look as well (long hair, black tee-shirt). Overall this band is very impressive. The guitar work was interesting and varied with plenty of melodic sections and I don't think anyone could be disappointed by this band. They deserve whatever success the world is willing to give them but - ah yes - "it's a long way to the top".

The next band to play was SKULLPHUCK from Toowoomba. I chatted to the singer before the show. It was the band's first ever gig together but the guys already have eight original songs. This band was enjoyable and again it was a different style from the previous bands. How best to describe this band? The musicians laid down a good heavy and consistent groove reminding me even of PANTERA, SABBATH, and AC/DC. The singer was something else altogether - mostly black-metal type shrieks in my opinion. He did well as he was not just doing his own thing but the vocals fitted in nicely with the backing grooves so neither the vocals nor the instruments dominated. The drummer in the BODOM tee-shirt and beany was a totally relaxed dude, quite gentle with the kit and just laying down the (back-seat) rhythms with great timing like Phil Rudd of AC/DC. The songs tended to sound much the same but I admit to being somewhat drunk by this point in the evening. It was coming close to "living after midnight" by the end of SKULLPHUCK'S set. Onstage they had an interesting thing going with the singer being a little hesitant and shy at times and the very self-confident bass player taking over the mic at times to exhort the crowd to get off the chairs and headbang. I agree that it was a little disappointing that over half the crowd was sitting down quietly on the chairs up the back like it was a primary school pantomime. The band could not quite decide whether to do an encore or not but in the end they decided to give us one more song. A great band but it seems that the musicians are experienced from other bands and this band still has not yet found its style or image or look. I don't believe bands must adhere to strict sub-genre boundaries (BM bands must wear corpse paint, DM bands must wear gory band shirts, etc.) However this band may need to refine its image and decide exactly what it wants to be and then refine and focus the look, the sound, and the style (like PANTERA was doing in the 1980s in their experimentation stage).

The last band was TREPIDATION up from Brisbane but I couldn't stay to watch as it was after midnight and I wasn't "riding on Cupid's train". I had to get home to get up early the next day and also to avoid a scolding from my nearest and dearest friend. The venue at NORVILLE was excellent and cosy and comfortable as well as being very centrally located. I feel there was too long breaks between bands but this always happens. If you have mates or a girl to talk to it's fine but if you are there alone the breaks do drag between bands. Perhaps there was one band too many on`the bill this night or the first band could have started off at 6pm instead of 7pm. I'm guessing the show ended around 2am. Nonetheless it was a great night and we need more frequent metal shows up here on the range in right-wing conservative Toowoomba.

[By Jack Frost, 12 & 13 November 2012]


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