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Live Reviews : Thrash Blast Grind Festival @ The Back Room, Brisbane 29/03/2019

By on March 31, 2019

The venerable Phil Anselmo graced suburban Brisbane headlining a weeknight of thrash, blast and grind according to promotional material. Sharing the bill with Phil’s recent musical incarnation known as Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals were Sydney’s Potion, Osaka’s Palm and Melbourne’s fantastic five, King Parrot.

Arriving in time to catch a few cuts from the trio that comprise Potion, they endeared themselves to the growing crowd with a few hardy punters headbanging near the crowd/ stage barrier. Bassist Stella Leung’s SG copy fattened the sound as guitarist/ vocalist Lee Jowono threw down some almighty Sabbath inspired licks. This tour should open the band up to a new and receptive fan base.

Palm issued a stern challenge to the headline artists. Having not heard the band prior to their performance they initially sounded like Cro-Mags mixed in with Xecutioner’s Return era (’07) Obituary, however they do possess their own sound beyond that comparison. The challenge for the listener is to keep up with the ferocious pace of the band’s material. A breathless performance for at least the first three cuts, the precision of guitarist Akira Inada is a marvel, and Kenta Nakanishi provided a mighty lesson in extreme metal drum and percussion performance. The musicians that I spoke to in the crowd were very impressed.

King Parrot sauntered on stage. Bassist Slatts swigged from a can of VB and antagonised the crowd with some comments about Melbourne’s superiority over Brisbane. The amped crowd duly responded with choice epithets defending our beloved River City. But regional rivalries be damned, King Parrot are surely Australia’s greatest underground heavy metal phenomenon. Frontman Youngy is an unlikely heavy metal icon and many bands would kill for his presence and vocal prowess. Tonight, he and his band mates delivered. If their near to headline performance on the Dogtooth stage at Download in 2018 announced their ambition to capture the imagination of as many subterranean metal fans as possible, then it’s performances such as the one tonight that offer the proof of consistency extreme metal fans need to adopt a band as their own. Bringing a strong merch presence, plenty of punters adorned King Parrot livery by the end of the night.

Now, for the main event, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals.

In an interview prior to the show, Anselmo spoke of his intention to bring a set favouring Pantera classics to honour the brothers Abbott (RIP). This is exactly what many punters anticipated and that is precisely what they got. The first few cuts were culled from The Illegals catalogue before the unmistakable groove of the opening stanza to “Mouth for War” (Vulgar Display of Power– ’92) enveloped the room.

Riotous? Almost. Rapturous? Yes! This was seriously life affirming stuff. Given the shows short notice and that it was a work day for many the next, what could only have been a hundred or so hardy souls were privy to an intimate concert from the greatest heavy metal frontman ever, performing cuts that many consider among the greatest heavy metal songs of all time.

“Becoming” from Far Beyond Driven (’94) segued into “I’m Broken” from the same album. I haven’t seen as many smiles on the faces of heavy metal fans as when the stadium shaking “Walk” commenced and the hardcore inspired “Fucking Hostile” (Vulgar Display of Power– ’92) followed suit. The brutal breakdown at the end of “Domination” (Cowboys from Hell– ’90) got the whole room head banging, sweat mingled with beer which baptised the enthusiastic pit in front of the stage. A few other cuts were offered from the Pantera catalogue, bringing the total number of Pantera classics to somewhere near the dozen with The Illegalsmaterial closing the set.

The Illegals are a tremendous outfit in their own right, each musician commands their instrument and special praise must go to Mike DeLeon whose role it is to play Dimebag’s leads. A mane of wild hair snapping against his red trimmed black Rhodes V, DeLeon offered a fitting tribute to the iconic Dime.

An epic night overall. Event staff and organisers, the bands, the bar staff, and the great Phil Anselmo are to be congratulated for pulling the show together at short notice. The fans really appreciated it. One that won’t be forgotten by those who attended.


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith