It was a very big night with 3 different releases being launched. The first of which was Espionage. The Melbourne based band had a massive turn out to help them launch their debut self titled demo. The band has quite the established fan base for their thrash infused style of power metal and they were all very excited for the launch. For an opening act on such a big bill its pretty unheard of for them to get such a huge turn out for the start of the night.
The band may have been celebrating the night before the show very hard but it didn’t slow them down on stage. Lead guitarist Denis Sudzuka may have been at a point where he almost couldn’t stand up but his playing was a thing of beauty to watch. The man can shred like no other and doesn’t mind showing it off and bassist and vocalist Andrew ‘Frosty’ Morris soaring vocal range is really impressive. He he can hit the high notes and really hold them. Classic old school NWOBHM vocals that could easily be compared to a Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford. The band completely tore through their set playing fan favourites like “Fight For Your Life” and their self titled track. It did seem like their set was pretty short and I could have listened to them for much long but there was still a big bill of bands to get through
Up next is Adelaide’s Hidden Intent. Hitting the stage and quickly whipping things up by showing their thrash chops. Very reminiscent of Sacred Reich and Testament the band was very clearly heavily influenced by late 90s metal and weren’t afraid to show it. Playing through a ton of tracks their debut album Walking Through Hell which is heavy fast and extremely unrelenting. Vocalist and bassist Chris McEwen’s voice really is raw and barking reminding me of Phil Rind of Sacred Reich which is a great thing. Not all thrash bands need to ape Tom Araya’s screaming vocals.
The band also throws in an awesome cover of Annihilator’s “Alison Hell” which they dedicates to Harlott who just announced they will be supporting Annihilator on an up coming European tour. Again I felt that this set was short and sweet and I could have happily listened to this guys do a much longer set. Cannot wait to catch these guys again.
The album launches continue with Demonhead next to launch their brand new debut album “Bring On The Doom”.Being just on that metallic edge of hard rock Demonhead were a great change of pace. Once again these guys had a massive fan base there in the crowd and they we’re loving every second of it. Great heavy riffs similar to what you would expect if you combined AC/DC with Motorhead and threw some straight up NWOBHM on top. The crowd was singing along with all the songs which is pretty impressive considering the album was even out yet. One of the highlights of their set was the song “Leprechauns” which they got the crowd to do like a circle pit Irish jig. Was a wild as it was funny and the band seemed to be enjoying it as much as the crowd. Great set and really impressive as it was the first time I saw them live.
Now it was time for the main event that the crowd were there for. Current reigning thrash metal kings of Melbourne Harlott took to the stage and the crowd lost their collective minds. The band was on fire as they took the stage. Hot on the heels of the announcement of their upcoming European tour supporting Annihilator and now for the launch of their second full length album “Proliferation”. The crowd whipped themselves into a frenzy and their was probably some of the most intense moshing and stage diving i’ve seen at the Bendigo and I’ve seen international bands their. Frontman Andrew Hudson’s between song banter was hilarious as he made plenty of jokes, one about pirating the new album, and had the crowd eating out of his hand. The band technically were on point and lead guitarist Ryan Butler’s solo work is fantastic. Highlight of the set was the band being joined on stage by Chris Themelco from Orpheus Omega for some death metal growling that he does so well. This is some of the most intense thrash metal I’ve seen live in forever. It was fast, heavy and flat out destructive like all good thrash should be. At the end of their set the crowd was completely exhausted. This is the band they came to see on this night and they made the most of it.
By the time the next band Eye Of The Enemy were setting up the crowd had pretty much left, going home exhausted or moving to the front bar to for a quiet drink, which was pretty disappointing. Eye of the Enemy put on a great, energetic set really throwing out their style of brutal death metal but unfortunately they were just at the wrong part of the set. No one would be able to follow Harlott that night and this isn’t to take anything away from Eye Of The Enemy, they were great and I really enjoyed their set but there is no one that could out shine Harlott on that night. It was their crowd, their venue and their night. I’m still feeling it from Harlott’s set right now