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Live Reviews : Havok, King Parrot, Desecrator, Party Vibez and Mason @ The Hi-Fi, Melbourne 07/02/2014

By on February 11, 2014

I first discovered Havok early in 2012 when I came across their single, ‘Covering Fire’. I loved it and soon got the whole Time Is Up album, which I enjoyed just as much. Needless to say, when news first arose that Havok would soon be hitting Australia to promote their latest release, Unnatural Selection, I was damned excited. And one way or another, I was going to the gig. Widely regarded as being at the vanguard of the ‘New Wave of Thrash Metal’, by the end of the night, it’s an honour I can say Havok have deservedly achieved.

Havok Australian Tour

The crowds that congregated at the Hi-Fi bar were a mix of all ages and ethnicities, and it was great seeing the wealth and diversity of metalheads down there on the 7th in the sweltering heat, donning shirts from not only classic thrash metal bands like Exodus, Anthrax and Slayer, but also from the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Bathory showing the obvious wide appeal of the band on show tonight.

Beginning their set at 8.30, Melbourne’s own Mason took to the stage as the night’s opener. Opening with what’s one of my personal favourite tracks off their debut album, Warhead, “Product of Hate” tore open the heart of the Hi-Fi and the let the ensuing chaos of thrash that would come to consume the bar for the next few hours take over.

I’ve got to hand it to Mason. Being the opening act of the night, and the band essentially being the ones to try and rouse the crowd for the night is never easy. And despite the absolutely solid and kickass set that they put on, unfortunately, it just couldn’t capture everyone’s attention as it deserved. Regardless, Mason didn’t let that hold them astray. They still tore it up on stage throughout their entire set, and even if I was one of the only ones at the time singing along and headbanging to their music, you couldn’t help but get caught up in their simply infectious stage presence. Not to mention their clear adoration and respect for the thrash metal community as a whole, but equally, if not more so, of their own fans. Spotting a couple guys in the crowd wearing their shirts with the tagline ‘Product of Hate’ boldly written in white on their backs, Mason smiled and pointed out to the guys, and Steve Montalto even fist-bumped a dude calling out to him on the side and thrashing along to his beat. It was an awesome thing to watch, and it’s honestly one of the best things going to a metal show and seeing how much a band really love what they do and the fans who make it all possible for them.

One of the many highlights of Mason’s short but great set was when they called out to the crowd, “Who the fuck likes Metallica?!” and then invited out onto stage no less than Reece Scruggs himself to play a cover of “Seek and Destroy”. It really got the crowd pumped and even forged its own mini circle pit, not to mention the sheer entertainment value in watching Jimmy Benson (who absolutely killed it on the night, mind you, and went on to fill in for one of the members of Party Vibez afterwards, and stole the performance in my opinion) do a bit of air guitar while Scruggs ripped into the solo. They served as a great opener to the night.

Following in their stead was Party Vibez, a bit on an interesting transition, playing more of a crossover/groove style as opposed to just balls-up thrash. With Jimmy and Nonda Tsatsoulis filling in for guitarist and drummer spots respectively, Party Vibez rather eccentric frontman, simply named Mike, took to the stage, cracking jokes and jumping around. Known for their fondness for partying and the many antics involved, Party Vibez managed to secure a pretty decent line of headbangers in the front row, no doubt in part due to Mike’s unwavering stage presence, constantly darting about the stage, jumping up and bopping around like Bruce Dickinson. Mike and the rest of the Party Vibez gang were clearly enjoying themselves and while a couple of his odd jokes fell a little flat at times, the group nonetheless earned themselves a decent applause. While there was a slight mishap at one stage when Jimmy got his hair caught up in the headstock of Jackson’s bass, the two just laughed it off (without missing a note, either) and kept on rocking.

Next up on the bill was a band many were looking forward to, and a group who are steadily making a solid name for themselves in the local arena: Desecrator. With the crowd well filling out the Hi-Fi by this stage, Desecrator exploded onto the stage with an absolute bang, shredding up a storm! With Riley Strong’s compelling stage performance garnering the attention of all there, he cried out to the crowd, ‘You alright, Melbourne?!’ followed by what’s one of the coolest intro’s to a set I’ve heard: ‘It’s good to be back among you sweaty, long haired, heavy metal mother fuckers. Let’s show Havok we can thrash, and we’ll thrash til death!’ Suddenly, and not surprisingly, the Hi-Fi blew up and was engulfed by a sea of spinning, long hair and horns being thrown up. It was quite a sight.

‘We’ve travelled over 22 hours,’ Riley went on to say, ‘But we’re stoked to be back in Melbourne. Let’s go down to hell!’ ushering in the eponymous song. The pit filled out as the front row became dominated by frantic headbangers. And holy fuck, the decibel-level of the bass in the bar on the night was insane! It literally thundered throughout the Hi-Fi, being challenged by guitar solo’s shredding away with ferocious beauty. “Balancing on a Blade” was a highlight of their set, serving a powerful performance. I doubt anyone would deny Desecrator has one of the strongest rhythm sections of any local band today or that these guys are talented, born performers.

King Parrot. I hear people talk about this band a lot, but I’d never experienced them for myself. Whoa, was I in for a shock. King Parrot hit with about the force and insanity of a mental patient on a combination of PCP and steroids. If you weren’t really paying attention to any of the bands beforehand, you had to sit up and listen to these guys, if only to avoid getting knocked out at any point by the frantic, mental nature of their set and the sheer brutality it brought forth in the crowd. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a metal gig that nuts before. There was a whole wall of people who suddenly backed away from the moshpit. Youngy is one of the craziest frontmen I’ve seen on stage but that being said the crowd completely lapped it up. And I can’t blame them. While for most of their set, I was thinking to myself with awkward laughter, ‘what is happening right now?’ I do understand the appeal. For anyone in the crowd wanting to let loose and literally just fuck shit up in the pit, this was the band to do it with. Like Pantera on amphetamine, Youngy and the boys never once let up, and just engulfed the entire Hi-Fi bar with their heavily distorted, insane stage presence. And I mean that as a compliment. Wearing only a pair of shorts and exposing his arse, Youngy strutted around stage like a parrot either constipated or on an acid high, or maybe both. Whatever it is though, it clearly works. They soon birthed one of the most insane and equally hilarious moshpits I’ve ever seen. Youngy would screech right in the faces of the people in the pit, spittle and sweat flying everywhere, with the crowd just as quickly returning the gesture. Before long, Youngy was hoisted up onto the shoulders of about eight guys who proceeded to carry him around the venue like a battering ram while Youngy continued to wail into the mic. Me and many others were cracking up and cheering all at the same time. It can’t be denied that King Parrot knows how to create solid entertainment, and the way he and the others engaged with the crowd was great. Cracking jokes, the spontaneity of the set, and Youngy’s sheer onstage persona (of the highlights include Youngy being piggybacked around the venue by an enormous fellow, and later dancing with this one woman screaming every lyric to their songs). It was fucking mental! And the uproarious applause that was met by the band confirmed this. Never once slowing down, they were continually trying to coax everyone into the pit; at one stage, hilariously condemning a couple guys wearing Morbid Angel and Cattle Decapitation shirts for not joining in on the riot. But it was all in good fun.

Finally, after the many incredibly entertaining opening acts, the main Titans themselves, Havok, took to the stage. As David Sanchez yelled out, ‘Melbourne, what the fuck is up?!’ the band ripped into “Covering Fire” and once more the pit exploded. While they played through “Point of No Return” the crowd just soaked in the atmosphere. ‘This is our first tour of Australia,’ Sanchez went on to say, ‘Thank you for coming down and making it a special night. We hope to leave you tonight with sore necks and no voice!’

Havok were in top form, shredding away with sheer ferocity as Scruggs got down on one knee at one stage and threw up the claw, heralding in his solo. It was great stuff. The crowd and the band just bounced off each other continually, chanting away and crying out in harmony ‘Havok!’ to which David would respond, ‘You guys are seriously great. Thank you so much!’ The interaction between the band and the crowd was a definite highlight and Havok continually engaged with everyone in the Hi-Fi throughout their set. In what is one of my personal favourites of theirs, it has to be said that Havok absolutely nailed their live version of “Scumbag Is Disguise”, and as they thrashed about, the pit was nothing more than a blanket of hair, windmilling, chants and screams of ‘fuck yeah!’ serving up a rapturous atmosphere. It felt fantastic to be a part of and it made for a wild night!

As an opener to “Unnatural Selection”, Sanchez gave a rather amusing anecdote about that one guy in metal shows we all love to hate. ‘You know how there’s always that one asshole in the pit doing karate kicks and shit, fuck that guy! You don’t come to a gig to get your face kicked in, you cunt!’ to which was met by boisterous applause and laughter.

Finishing their set on a high, Havok closed with “Time Is Up” before leading into their encore. To cap off what was already an awesome night, David stated, ‘Thanks, you guys have been fucking amazing. We’ll see you again soon!”

Certainly a gig I won’t be soon forgetting.

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.