A Very Metal Xmas: Live Review

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Christmas came early for a select group of metal bands and their fans on Saturday 04 December 2010. The Lucky Australian Tavern at St Marys in western Sydney was treated to a massive afternoon and evening of metal at A Very Metal Xmas, often in oppressing conditions. The humidity was high but so was the energy levels of the bands who saw heat, sweat, rain and fire throughout the 13 hour event.

The promoters Very Live Entertainment aimed to attract a crowd of western Sydney metal fans so they would not have to travel an hour or more to see quality metal and they did not disappoint. Starting the day early were Simulacra. Their early start enabled them to head off to headline a show later that night. Why any fans would want to leave an event such as this so early was puzzling as there was such a variety of styles on display and so many bands to come. Following Simulacra was The Cursing Stone. So far, there was a lot to like. 2 bands and both with female vocalists giving it their all.

Next up was Wintergaunt (sounding a lot hotter than their name suggests!)  followed by a group that has been featured on Insomnia Radio: Australia before, Foundry Road. The temperature of the day was starting to rise significantly at this point as the crowd was enjoying the music. At this stage, you could also see bands who had performed or were about to perform watching on with interest. Two more ticks for the like column. The white crowd control barriers at the front of the stage did not stop Foundry Road frontman eXplain from wandering around the crowd – at one point he was walking on oxygen!

Following Foundry Road came what turned out to a highlight of the event for bands and punters alike. Never Trust A Bunny saw eXplain’s leap off a table and raised it with a massive display of female fronted angst and raw power metal. If that was not impressive by itself, add to the mix that both female vocalists were a last minute replacement for an absent vocalist. Then you will be even more blown away.

As the afternoon grew older, the metal continued to grow. With each band that played, the crowd increased. Shadowmill had the un-enviable task of following Never Trust A Bunny. While their style was very different, the guitars wailed. The skies got darker and unleashed heavy rain during the set of My Hollowed Fantasy. The band were very happy about that! Safely undercover on stage, they kept the loud show on the road!

Day turned into night and the intensity of the sets increased with As Chaos Unfolds, Blackened They Rise, Jaded Empire, Syko Sapian & Ilcontent powered on towards the headlining spot. Apart from Foundry Road, Syko Sapian was the only other group that I had seen live before. Each band continued to tick the like column on my mental scorecard as they raised the bar. Syko Sapian had their volume at 15 – I’m pretty sure they only know one volume! It was great to see them on a bigger stage than the last time I saw them! Ilcontent broke with tradition of never wearing your own band shirts and wore their new merchandise on stage. It was not a bad luck charm for them in the end as they played a tight set. They were pleased to see punters and people from other bands wearing their stuff!

Jaded Empire were pleased to be on stage with a new guitarist and are looking forward to kicking on with this new lineup in 2011. As Chaos Unfolds & Blackened They Rise seem to be a great combination to follow one another as the stage heated up. The rain came back, people continued to sweat but they did not care. Despite the rain, despite the heat, despite the alcohol, there was no trouble in the crowd and few problems on stage.

Expectations were starting to rise.  Out of the later bands, Never Trust a Bunny and Foundry Road, they all could have had good reasons for headlining the night. Towards the end of the night, there was only one band’s name on everyone’s list – Daysend.

When A Very Metal Xmas started 12 months ago with 5 bands, the promoters wanted to make the show bigger (tick) and better (tick) with more bands (tick) with Daysend headlining (tick). All of the important boxes were ticked. After many hours and regular changes in band and style, it was time for Daysend to bring the show home in a flaming fireball of destruction to wrap up an awesome afternoon and evening of quality metal. No one present could have predicted that would actually come true at the tail end of the set as a spotlight caught fire and melted mid song. Unplugging the flaming spotlight to massive cheers from the crowd, things could have ended badly. Like a massive candle, the flame was extinguished by blowing on it, closely followed by a massive cloud of a CO2 fire extinguisher that could have both poisoned Daysend and kept their drinks cool for a week! But like the true professionals that they are, Daysend continued their set well past the allocated time.

Overall, A Very Metal Xmas an excellent event which was well enjoyed by musicians and punter alike. There was a massive range of style and presentation amongst the bands and it is great to see. There were a lot of very talented musicians and vocalists on stage. 13 bands, 1 stage. EPIC WIN!

Massive thanks to all of the bands, the promoters, venue staff, volunteers and support staff. It is going to be very hard to top this event in 2011. With a bit more promotion and word of mouth from those present this year, who knows what 2011 will bring. In addition to other local shows (including the one that Simulacra headlined later that night), international acts Guns n Roses and KoRn were in Sydney along with the final race of the V8 Supercar Championship series. All of these factors combined with Sydney’s (of late) strange weather did keep some people away from the event – they missed a great event!

Some of the bands will be featured on the next episode of Insomnia Radio: Australia with a massive Very Metal Xmas special to be featured on my other music podcast Erk FM. Every band was interviewed and these interviews and a section of music will be presented as a co-production between Erk FM & The Fuzz Radio on Xmas Eve (Australian time).