METAL MONDAY: 5 Amazing Metal Bands I Saw in Australia

Back in December, I took a trip to the land down under. I loved almost everything about Australia—the intensely hot weather, the accent, the creative cursing inserted into casual conversation. The only downside was the beer being twice as expensive. I spent most of my time in Melbourne, a city with wide-ranging arts scene. In many ways, it was like the Montreal of Australia. During my time in Melbourne, I was able to check out a handful of shows, where I fell in love with Australian’s heavy scene. Here are my picks of the best Australian metal bands that I saw live.

King Parrot

Prior to my trip, I was obsessed with King Parrot for their unique grind of black and thrash metal, and for their outrageous sense of humour. In many ways, they’re the ambassadors of Australian metal. Despite living on the other side of the planet, they’ve frequently toured in North America, even recording an album with Phil Anselmo. I’ve seen them twice before in Montreal and Toronto, but I was usually the only one at the front singing along. So it was a completely different experience being able to see them in the hometown, in a packed venue with hundreds of fans singing along. They mostly played songs from their third album Ugly Produce, which they had released a month before, but at one point, they broke out a cover of AC/DC in honour of the late Malcom Young. It was truly a magical night and I still won’t shut up about it.


Opening up for King Parrot, was a darkened hardcore band called Pagan. I hadn’t listened to them before, but I was completely taken by surprise. I was in awe of the stage presence of their singer Nikola Elizabeth, who couldn’t stand still for a second and resorted to jumping and kicking the air. Her energy was infectious, not to mention she had a gnarly growl. I suspect that she and her other bandmates have some Italian blood. Perhaps I got the impression from their song “Luigi Cherubini.”

Religious Observance

The next day, I attended an all-day festival featuring a wide variety of sludge, doom and psych bands. I was intrigued by bands with names like Black Jesus and Maggot Bath, but the highlight was seeing Religious Observance. The bassist, Campbell Stephens, organized the festival in honour of the first successful year of his art collective UMAC. His six-member strong band played long doomy songs, without being afraid to delve into the realm of the bizarre. One member was in charge on handling the sample and noise pedals, and somehow manipulated the sound by waving around a knife. Their album Boiling Excrement should give enough indication of their mental state.

Cosmic Kahuna

I was lucky to be staying on such a trendy street, because two blocks away from the sludge festival was another festival called Loudmouth. The bands playing at Loudmouth were more on the melodic punk side, with Guttermouth headlining. But the band that really stood out from the rest was a trio of headbangers called Cosmic Kahuna. The struck up a conversation with the bassists (why are bassists always the most approachable ones?) who described his sound has a mix of surf and Aussie-brand skate punk. But after seeing their performance, I’d describe it as surf riffs sped up to thrash metal speeds.


This band was very strange. It was like staring at something incomprehensible, yet being unable to look away. For starters, the frontman wore a Leatherface-esque mask, would scream into a microphone and fumble with noise pedals with one hand and in the other hand, he held a light, shining it in every direction. The light was blindingly bright, so I had to strategically stand behind a taller person to partially block my view of the stage. They didn’t use guitars at all, instead one guy would repeatedly wack a springboard box with a stick, which generated a guitar-like sound. The drummer would tie the noise together, alternating between cool jams and blast beats whilst pig squealing. They recently released their second album in January. Listen if you dare.