Words by Rangi White
All photos by Brodie Ramsay – Poet and Muse Media – Formerly Viephex // IG : @_poetandmuse
Full Gallery HERE
The Queensland metal scene was shaking in its leather boots in December last year, when the talented Simon Russell-White (Vocalist of Brissy-bred band MASSIC) suffered an exploded aorta that led to emergency open heart surgery. Against all odds, he miraculously survived to tell the tale, but as you would expect, recovery is long and expensive and thereby ‘Si-Fest’ was created.
Put together by the legends from HEAVY Mag, our very own Colourful Writer, and the Mansfield Tavern, Si-Fest was the product of an amazingly supportive music loving community that delighted in coming together to help one of their own. With a line-up that exceeded expectations (mine, anyway) the stage was graced by Brissy Alt-punkers A Somerset Parade a re-formed Elephant, the mighty PistonFist, the prolific Nu-Metallers Diskust, the promiscuous F.U.C, the all-out shred-tacular Azreal, and the industrial metal crushers Adriatic.
Kicking off with A Somerset Parade I was immediately impressed by the vocal performance. Between the two vocalists, their synchronisation of both clean harmonies during the punkier verses and the dual screaming in the breakdowns was awesome to hear. I enjoyed the way that their major chord progressions during the verses morphed into half time breakdown grooves and back again in many of their songs, a brilliant song-writing technique that made space to emphasise the quality of the cleaner vocal parts.
Elephant were up next with a plethora of musical tools I have not heard incorporated into metal tunes before. With early death metal/groove metal influences, I was blown away by the Randy Blythe-esque fry screams, and the dissonant atonal guitar work, however I was most impressed by the rhythm section – can’t say I’ve ever heard a swing-beat or Ska beat section in the middle of a death metal song. F*cken cool.
Up next were Piston Fist furiously brandishing their 80s heavy metal sound (not the glam side of the 80’s, the other stuff..) Loved the straight heavy drum beats crunching through the mix front and centre…easy to head-bang to, none of that proggy stuff that’ll give you spinal problems if you try move in time to it…and not to mention some shit-hot guitar solos. Highlight of their set for me was their triple Black Sabbath cover – didn’t know I needed it ‘til I heard it, but their Symptom of the Universe/War Pigs/Sabbath Bloody Sabbath mashup was a sight for sore ears.
Brissys masked mannequins of metal Diskust came up after, with their brand of nu-metal loosening a few roof screws as they launched into their set. The mosh finally started to get going (clearly needed a bit of a warm up, everyone’s a bit out of practice) and the band reacted appropriately… Joey Jordison like drum parts paired with elements of groove, thrash and hard-core all mixed into a nu-metal cocktail of brutality. Also, love a metal drum solo. Let those double kicks rip, motherf*cker.
Not gonna lie, I was not ready for what the F.U.C I was about to see but I’m glad I did. Mad metal mankini-clad two-piece thrashers sharing vocal parts and DNA onstage was as visceral a sonic experience as it was visual. In saying that, screaming while playing blast beats on the drums at the same time is no easy task, so kudos. One must have appreciation for the community they are involved in, especially when two blokes clad in nothing but string and sweat are successfully auctioning off their pubic hair to fans for a charitable cause…amongst all the prizes of last night’s fundraiser, their contribution was certainly the most uh…organic.
Next up was Azreal and I knew these f*ckers meant business when both amp cabs on each side of the stage (Guitar and Bass) doubled in size…a buffet of brutality poised under the leaning tower of Marshall. Very much enjoyed the pitched screaming, gave a little Pantera/Anselmo flavoured edge to the mixture of black/death metal grooves that these guys are so proficient at. Loving the thrashy Cavalera-esque jungle beats on the drums, alongside effortless blast beats that set the scene for some serious solo shred action…you try screaming mid guitar solo…I’d like to fucken see ya… loved every moment of it.
Last but verily not least were long time hardcore/prog metallers Adriatic With more strings onstage than in a Nike sweatshop, they blew me away with f*cking mind boggling breakdowns, polyrhythmic drum beats and intensely intricate riffs. Their industrial sound was an eerie but captivating one, with dissonant atonal guitar solos and awesome use of effects for atmospheric emphasis. To top the night off with a bit of crowd participation, 10 or so enthusiastic fans onstage sang along with Simon himself who got up for a verse or two, and encore after encore ensued.
It was heart-warming to see such support from so many people, all of whom were thrilled to be a part of the night and to see their friend alive and well enjoying it alongside them. Raffles were held with awesome prize donations from many, the turnout was huge and I’m sure Simon was overwhelmed by the love and generosity exhibited by all who attended. You can’t tell the bands and the fans apart in this scene, which to me shows how much the bands constitute for the community, the connectivity between them being the mutual adoration for heavy metal and hearing loss. I wish the best of luck to Si, and I hope to see Massic back up the top of line-ups such as these as soon as possible.
With huge thanks to Heavy Mag, The Colourful Writer + Mansfield Tavern