Words: Tim Charles
There has been something happening in the Australian heavy music scene for quite some time, and finally it seems the world is starting to take notice.
This has been a crazy year for my band, Ne Obliviscaris. The success of our album Citadel has seen us offered opportunities to tour all throughout the world just like we have always dreamed of doing, as a matter of fact, I am writing this from the road as we tour throughout Europe with Cradle of Filth, just one of the many tours we have done so far this year. In mid 2015 we played, amongst other things, a dozen of the biggest metal festivals in Europe and one of the things that really struck me was how many Australian heavy bands were part of these major festivals and how well our heavy music scene stacks up when compared to scenes all across the world.
We started the biggest leg of our world tour in June playing in Hong Kong and Japan alongside Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse. Straight away the Australian vibe kicked in, as two other fantastic Australian metal bands Psycroptic and Eye of the Enemy were the two other supports.
A couple weeks after that we played our first European festival, Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium, which is one of the biggest metal festivals in Europe. This year there were no less than five Australian bands on the bill. And the Aussie bands were not just making up the numbers either, they were significant acts on the bill: Parkway Drive, Airbourne, Northlane and In Hearts Wake in addition to ourselves.
To compare, we also had the pleasure of playing Soundwave Festival 2015, Australia’s biggest alternative music festival, and there were a total of five Aussie bands on that bill. So there were just as many bands playing Graspop in Belgium as there were at Soundwave. That blew my mind.
But it wasn’t just Graspop, we kept running into Australian bands all summer. We met up with Be’lakor and Psycroptic at Brutal Assault in Czech Republic, then with Psycroptic again at Motocultor in France. We also shared the stage with Be’lakor again at Rockstadt in Romania and found out at the end of the festival the two highest sellers at the festival merch stand were the two Aussie bands!
Resurrection in Spain saw us join forces with Deez Nuts and Summer Breeze saw us play alongside Thy Art Is Murder, Be’lakor & Troldhaugen. At a sideshow in Germany we chatted with the local fans about how big Karnivool were there and they mentioned they had played to over 1,000 people at a show in Germany recently. At Hellfest we were hanging out with Max Cavelera who happened to be wearing a King Parrot t-shirt, and then at Summer Breeze we saw someone backstage wearing a King Parrot t-shirt as well. Those guys really are everywhere right now.
Everywhere we went everyone knew who Parkway Drive was, and beyond those names already listed above there was also a lot of awareness of a range of other Aussie bands as well.
Our hardcore scene is led internationally by a range of acts such as Parkway Drive, Thy Art Is Murder, The Amity Affliction, Northlane, In Hearts Wake, Dream On Dreamer and more. The international contingency of our metal scene is led by King Parrot, Psycroptic, Portal and Be’lakor but we also have a number of other bands touring internationally and getting the opportunity to show they can match it alongside the worlds best.
Then to top if off our prog scene is just exploding.
Led by Karnivool, a band so courageous as to actually get more experimental and less commercial with each album, our prog scene has managed to forge a sound for ourselves in progressive heavy rock that is not common elsewhere in the world. Our local scene is filled with bands influenced by fathers of our alternative scene, COG, The Butterfly Effect and Karnivool and a range of great bands have since followed such as Dead Letter Circus, Twelve Foot Ninja, Caligula’s Horse, Circles and more. But bands like this that fit half way between the worlds of rock and metal are nowhere near as common elsewhere so fans of this type of music are now very aware that Australia is the place to watch.
But beyond those progressive/heavy rock bands we also have one of the worlds best instrumental post rock bands in Sleepmakeswaves, who did a co-headline European tour earlier this year with Skyharbor and tour regularly around the world. We have one of the most entertaining live progressive metal bands going around in Voyager who just finished a US tour with Evergrey. We have a young Sydney guitarist in Plini who has suddenly become the talk of the underground prog scene worldwide with his incredible mix of virtuosity and melody.
And then we have a whole bunch of amazing prog acts that may not be household names overseas yet, but are undoubtedly worthy of much attention such as The Helix Nebula, Chaos Divine, James Ivanyi, Branch Arterial, Dumbsaint, Meniscus, Toehider, Alithia, Arcane and many more.
Honestly, I think our prog scene is the best in the world right now and I have told many people that in my travels this year.
But it’s not just prog, metal, or hardcore. Australia is represented across the world in a big way in all genres of heavy music. For a long time Australians looked overseas to find their new favourites bands, but we should feel extremely lucky that some of the best bands in the world are right here amongst us. It seems our scene is getting more and more attention from here in Australia and across the world. Hopefully this is a trend that continues, as right now it definitely seems like there is something in the water.Ne Obliviscaris will tour Australia for the ‘Return To the Citadel’ tour this December.
Tour Dates with Plini and local supports
3 December The Zoo, Brisbane (18+)
w/ Dark Symphonica
4 December The Small Ballroom, Newcastle (18+)
w/ The Helix Nebula
5 December Oxford Art Factory, Sydney (18+)
w/ Daemon Pyre
6 December The Basement, Canberra 18+
w/ Claret Ash
10 December Max Watts, Melbourne 18+
w/ Hollow World
11 December Fowlers Live, Adelaide Lic AA
12 December Amplifier Bar, Perth 18+
Tickets available from http://bit.ly/15NeOTix