Bloodline Festival 2013 @ The Hi-Fi (Brisbane), 17 Mar 2013

Thirteen Australian Metal bands on one stage in support of Autism Queensland.

Contorting his body as he sings, Jason Peppiatt of Psycroptic rids his lungs of the lyrics as violently as possible for the Brisbane metalheads gathered in front of him at the Bloodline Festival. "We've got a lot of talent out here in Australia. Getting plenty of it in the one bill is really good," Peppiatt tells me afterwards once he's caught his breath.


On Sunday March 17, thirteen Australian Metal bands donated their time to raising money and awareness for Autism Queensland. The brains behind the Bloodline Festival, Maria Bloodline (pictured), brought an amazing line-up of Aussie Metal to the Hi-Fi Bar in Brisbane and kept the day running smoothly. Every band took the time to raise a thank-you to her while onstage, and throughout the day every band I talked to was grateful for the opportunity to play in such a line-up for a such a meaningful cause. Joel Harris from Gold Coast based Lynchmada summed this up well, "It's an awesome cause and there aren’t enough charity gigs going around. It's an added bonus when you've got something you can really support. I think everyone was stoked to be on the bill with so many good bands, and give their time for free to support something like Autism Queensland."


Leading out the attack from midday were I Shall Devour, Medusa's Mirror and Kyzer Soze. I will admit I didn't catch much of the first two bands as I sorted out my day, but I managed to see the whole Kyzer Soze set. A death metal band out of Northern Brisbane, I found they provided good solid riffage with a chugging black tinged melody, a strong stage presence (contacts included), throat ripping vocals and skilled synchronous windmilling from the guitarists. I had a chat to guitarist Alex Cabrera and drummer Daniel Rione afterwards, and was told that Adelaide and Perth can check them out in November.


Sending Artax presented a blend of melodic technical and progressive metal, strong use of scene setting FX and big contrasts of sound. They may look like the kids next door, but they sure packed a punch live. A Breach of Silence slammed in knocking people's socks off with the falsetto power metal scream of bassist and clean vocalist Blair Layt, layed over a good chugging metalcore sound. Guitarist Matt Cosgrove explained this strange mix to me afterwards, "It takes people by surprise because everyone has heard of metalcore and it's all the same shit, so we're just trying to branch off." Formed in 2009, this 'powercore' band have already played 20 shows this year, but are positive about the fast direction that Australian Metal is moving in. Their most recent album, Dead or Alive, has a very power metal theme about a criminal cowboy zombie who takes people off to hell, "It's a subtle way of saying you can be bad but you can turn yourself around, and if you don't you'll get shipped off underground. But it's not inspirational positive shit, it's more just us trying to be witty," Cosgrove explains.


Now a warning, when it comes to deathcore I am picky to the point of snobbishness and the next two bands, both from Sydney, were strongly within that genre. Absolution presented straight up volatile deathcore, and a full-on assault on your aural cavities. Nothing really grabbed me, but there were some audience members really getting into the music. Alice Through the Windshield Glass focused on heavy hitting low bass riffs and brutal vocals. Impressive sideburns, but could do with tightening their live act up a little.


Then Brisbane based The Schoenberg Automaton (aka. TSA) entered the stage, a band with not one but TWO epic beards. TSA have hardcore punk elements, but with a strong technical death foundation, experimental overtones, punching riffs and aggressive guttural vox. High fast guitar arpeggios flew over the heavy slogging guitar riffs, set against the relentless thrum of the raging drums. This band displayed good musicality, excellent use of melodic breakdowns, and brutally complex basslines. With a lot of positive feedback to their debut LP Vela, TSA recently played Soundwave 2013 and have more shows coming up in early April in Canberra and Sydney. "Extreme metal is not a very profitable thing," new vocalist Jake Gerstle admits after telling me that all the band members also work fulltime jobs. "But I'm here because this is what I fucking love to do. I moved cities to do this."


Another Brisbane band, Down Royale, presented aggressive technical groove metal, tight playing and ground shaking bass lines. Literally. Heavy and hard-hitting, these local boys provided good relentless metal without ignoring melody and threw everything behind their performance. Vocalist Clint Baker was red in the face from pushing every last gasp of air from his lungs out to the crowd. With a good crowd response, I even noticed a couple of the boys from Kyzer Soze start their own little circle pit near the front of the stage. Sydney based As Silence Breaks delivered quality melodic death metal with good harsh vocals. For me, this band were one of the stand-out acts for the day, with smooth melodic riffs and layers of brutal death metal against delicate arpeggios. "We took this show for two reasons," vocalist Sam Rilatt tells the audience between songs, "to support Autism, and to play with Psycroptic!"


Gold Coast hardhitting metalcore band Lynchmada delivered a high energy set with a strong response from the festival crowd.  "We've just got some new songs coming into the set, and we released a single a few months ago and we'll have another out in a few weeks," Joel Harris tells me after the show, still drenched in sweat and riding high on the adrenaline of a live show. Harris and I also talked about the development of the Aussie Metal scene in the last few years, "I reckon it's fucking cool. A lot of people say it's this and that, and you get a lot of bitching and griping, but I think it's just a product of so many bands competing for the same thing. The more bands out there the better, whether you like them or you don't. If there is a bunch of bands down the road and you don't like 3 out of 4, go see the one you like." He credits social media with opening up the local metal scene to the world, "Bands are generally learning to manage themselves better. If you know what you're doing you can get your stuff out there as much as a major band could fifteen years ago."


Now, Ne Obliviscaris. While based in Melbourne I saw many live shows, and I have to say that every time I see these guys live they get more passionate about what they do. Combining masterful ritardando and diminuendo into a violin solo at one point, Ne Obliviscaris then crashed back in with the passionate vocals of singer Xenoyr accented by the stunning guitar work of Benjamin Baret. For a band with only one full-length studio release, Ne Obliviscaris still manage to fill a set in a way that doesn't feel repetitive.


When it comes to Aussie Metal, Tasmanian Technical Death Metallers Psycroptic have earned their stripes. Brutal, punching, heavy and accented with stunning guitar work from Joe Haley, these guys are forging a path for Australian metal on the international scene and growing their home fanbase as well. With only four members to the band, Psycroptic sounds like a hell of a lot more. Punching through with a wall of solid noise, their belligerent metal has been honed to a knife's edge by many European tours. With five dollars from every merchandise sale from the night going directly to the cause, Psycroptic were donating more than their time to this benefit. 


"It was our first show for the year, and was good fun. I think the show went really well. Fucking good turnout, especially for a Sunday night," Peppiatt tells as he recovers afterwards with a beer.  "It's just insane. The amount of talent that's in this country, it's getting the point where people will have to start venturing outside the country to put us on the map in the worldwide metal scene." With so many overseas tours under Psycroptic's belt, playing home soil still feels good. "For me personally,  I always love the Australian tours the most, doing three four shows in a row then you have a week to recuperate so you're always fresh. Wherever in the world you go, metal audiences are generally pumped crowds. Different accents, different languages and different beer. "


As the venue clears, I find Maria Bloodline still working and ask her the obvious question. Will she be doing Bloodline Festival again next year? "Oh god, I dunno. I'm going to sleep for a year… no actually I've already started planning the next one. It's probably not going to be in as big a venue, but I've already worked out which charity it will be for and what the line-up will be like." And what does she want after giving Brisbane a crazy day of Australian metal? "I want to sleep. Desperately!"