On Saturday August 2nd, HEAVY Music Magazine held their second instalment of BREWTALITY – A Celebration of Metal Rock and Beer.
Launched last year to much nervous anticipation, it succeeded in showcasing Australian music, so much so that they just HAD to run it again.
The venues remained the same, with the iconic Tote hosting bands on 2 stages, and just 100 metres up the road, The Bendigo Hotel was jammed all day long with punters.
I got there just after 3pm to catch up with a few of the guys from Headbore and Se Bon Ki Ra, two Adelaide bands that made the trip over and that I was lucky enough to meet when I headed to the ‘laide for the New Dead Fest a few weeks back.
The challenge for Brewtaility, just like any other festival, is clashes, so I had to quickly decide on who I would see out of the 33 bands featured across 3 stages, so Headbore were the band for me to kick it off, and there were bloody great, on point and gave it everything.
* listen to Headbore – Trenches
From there I headed to The Tote to check out Lizzard Wizzard, a sludgy, fuzzy, stoner rock vibe with screamy vocals, not really what I was after, but they had a great crowd who were really into them, so you kinda get sucked into the groove.
* listen to Lizzard Wizzard – Reptile Dysfunction
Then it was upstairs at the Tote to the tiny band room to see a bunch of young fellas called, The Underhanded who announced, “Our singer hasn’t turned up so we’re just gunna jam” and jam they did. I have no idea how old these guys are, but they are polished and free formed a tune that was bloody excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that their bassist was using an old Rickenbacker bass and playing with fingers, he had great feel and great lines. Their singer did turn up whilst this jam was happening, and their set continued to shine, very fuzzy, riffy, groovy tunes ensued. Definitely one to check out.
* listen to The Underhanded – I Don’t Mind
I headed back down stairs to see Melbourne stalwarts Don Fernando on the main stage, these guys a great live and produced a thoroughly entertaining set as always. They’ve toured with Clutch, and more recently supported Monster Magnet on their Australian tour, so if you like those bands, you’ll get their style. They’re about to record a new album, and after that you’ll see their name around Melbourne quite a bit.
* listen to Don Fernando – Take You
I headed back to the Bendigo stage to catch Motherslug, a band that’s been playing around for only a couple of years but seem to have a great hold on the doomy sludgy vibe, if you like Sabbath, Sleep and Kyuss, there’s a chance you’ll dig their show.
* listen to Motherslug – Symptoms of The Human Race
I stayed at that stage to catch their follow up in Whoretopsy. If you haven’t experienced Whoretopsy, get ready for some brutal brutal shit. I mean, I could try and describe it, but I think they do it best. “A sickening death metal outfit from Melbourne, Australia. With a punishing live performance and featuring some of the most disturbing lyrics of all time, Whoretopsy are offensively brutal and not for the faint of heart”. This is a perfect description. I love this band.
* listen to Whoretopsy – Nature’s Pocket (WARNING: lyric video, VERY OFFENSIVE )
I headed back to The Tote to catch a very very cool band I love watching live, Bugdust. They’ve been around seemingly forever, and they are pure rock n roll, straight up, tight as a fishes bunghole, brilliant riffs, seriously, there’s not enough superlatives to bestow on these guys. Seasoned professionals who just rock hard.
When you see their name pop up anywhere, GO AND SEE THEM.
* listen to Bugdust – God
Back to the Bendigo to catch the second half of In Malice’s Wake, a brilliant Melbourne thrash band who I hadn’t seen for a while due to them writing new stuff, and it was great to hear it. If you are a fan of thrash metal, you’re a fan of In Malice’s Wake, it’s that damn simple. Their last album, The Thrashening is still a favourite of mine. Melbourne is really sprouting some fine thrash lately, very proud of these guys. Love it.
* listen to In Malice’s Wake – Onslaught
Frankenbok at The Bendigo was up next, the joint had been packed most of the day and it just intensified when these guys hit the stage. They’ve got a big loyal fan base as you’d expect from a band that’s been around for as long as they have, and with the uncertainty of nudity from Yeti, it’s must viewing. Good to see Azza almost fully inverted in the crowd playing guitar with his feet on the ceiling. This is why you watch Frankenbok.
* listen to Frankenbok – Dine In Hell
I was now faced with a real conundrum.. Se Bon Ki Ra were up next at The Bendigo, and they are F**KING Great, their album In The Wake of Change is a MUST buy.
* listen to Se Bon Ki Ra – All You Can Be
But I had to head back to The Tote to see Hailmary from Perth, who until this point I hadn’t been able to see live despite them being here quite a bit, so that made up my mind, although I had some time, so I caught Alarum downstairs first. Alarum have been around since Jesus played fullback for Bethlehem. An institution in Aussie metal, as they call themselves “Jazz fusion based thrash/death metal” I’ve seen them play quite a bit, and if you like technically intense metal, and you’re a bit of a nerd for shredding, you’re gunna dig this.
* listen to Alarum – Non Linear Parallels
Upstairs to see Hailmary in the tiny band room at The Tote, they packed that out quick smart, and really, they need a bigger space, but it’s always gunna be tough fitting everyone in. They were still awesome, but I would have liked them to be on the main stage at either The Tote or The Bendigo. This is BIG hard rock that is world class and a band you should be checking out at your earliest convenience.
* listen to Hailmary – Liar in My Chair
I hoofed it back to The Bendigo to catch Desecrator, and I’m glad I did. I love seeing this band live. Lead singer Riley had been under the weather so dosed himself up on cold and flu meds and blasted through their set as if nothing was wrong. Make no mistake, Desecrator are probably Australia’s premiere thrash metal band at the minute with incredibly tight and powerful live shows, great songs, and Riley is forever pumping up the crowd and on Saturday night found himself getting a shoulder ride whilst playing guitar from one side of the venue to the other. He also sports one of the best skullets you’ll ever see. SEE THIS BAND IMMEDIATELY.
* listen to Desecrator – Balancing On A Blade
After that monster set, I went back to The Tote to see Toehider. Now, if you’re not familiar with Toehider, shame on you. These guys wail and their latest album What Kind Of Creature Am I is bloody brilliant. Lead singer and lefty guitarist Mike has a huge voice, reaching falsettos like only Roger Taylor from Queen can. I mention Queen because Mike is a huge fan and the influence is clear, but Toehider create magic, firstly on disc, then the ability to replicate it live, is something else. This band is hot. They have a MASSIVE catalogue to check out. Get on board.
* listen to Toehider – You And I Both Lose (but 5 wins)
Finally, I headed back to The Bendigo to catch one of Australia’s best bands, bar none. Psycroptic.
They’ve been around along time and have a huge following both here and overseas and for good reason. This is technical death metal at it’s best. I’ve often said Ouroboros is Australia best technical death metal band, but I’m swaying towards Psycroptic lately. They just keep blowing me away with their live shows. The playing IS.JUST.OUT. OF.THIS.WORLD. Seriously, if you like extreme music, and you love beautifully technical musicianship, give these guys a go. I think I especially love watching drummer Dave Haley play. Aussie drummers will understand this, Dave has the ability to make it look like he’s doing nothing when in reality the ferocious sound coming from his kit beggars belief.
This was, in my opinion, the best way to wrap up was and incredible day of Aussie music.
* listen to Psycroptic – Initiate
In all, a bloody fantastic day and huge congrats to Liv Reppas of Heavy Magazine for havinga dream to not only start an Australian heavy music magazine, but to then, with the help of her wonderful staff, create something like Brewtality, is something Australia so desperately needed. Australian heavy music is alive and well, and Brewtality proved that once again.
Go see gigs, support our great musos, keep Australian music alive, and keep it loud!
All photos by Matt Allan