Ballarat’s metalheads descended into the subsurface Karova Lounge on this icy winter Saturday night for an evening of some of the cream of the Aussie metal crop.
Kicking things off to a still filling venue, Mason’s early 90’s thrash vibe instantly recalled memories of Testament and Kreator. Duelling guitar solos and technical drumming combined with a solid head-bangable groove and shout along lyrics proved highly entertaining.
Next up with a massive three-piece sound, Sydney’s Black Rheno were a different beast altogether. Insane low end and a giant shirtless frontman taking up the entire stage and half the floor at times, the first pit of the night opened up for those brave enough to venture within striking distance of vocalist Milla’s flailing limbs.
Frankenbok needs no introduction to followers of the Australian metal scene. Touring since the ’90s, the countless shows have turned the ‘Bok into a machine with no fat to be trimmed from start to end. Confident, honed and precise, Frankenbok owns this little stage like so many before it.
After mingling with the punters most of the night during the supports, Ballarat regulars King Parrot wander onto the stage and launch hard into Piss Wreck from the current release Ugly Produce. Frontman Youngy is an antagonist, eyeballing and calling out members of the crowd foolish or drunk enough to trespass into his personal space with most dispatched over the front of the stage with more than one hitting the floor in unflattering circumstances.
Keeping with the theme of toughened road dog bands, we are treated to a crushing set of cult faves including ‘Shit on the Liver’ and ‘Ten Pounds of Shit in a Five Pound Bag’ smashed out intimately close, devoid of any excess production. The delivery is intense and brutally loud, confident and natural.
Visually the eye is drawn to two polar opposite characters. Centre stage is Youngie’s menacing and imposing presence pacing the stage, a hair-trigger of rage ready to unleash. Opposite him is Slatts, shirtless and thumping his trademark low slung Rickenbacker bass his delightful childlike facial expressions and moves defy the metal image completely, yet contribute to the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the show.
In the simplest of venues, with no light show or computer-controlled sequencing and amp modelling, this is pure old school performance and a snapshot of the current Aussie metal scene.
Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Saturday June 15
Supported by Mason, Black Rheno, Frankenbok.
Reviewed by Jason Meehan
Photographed by Matthew Dunne