Thrash Metal. One of the more extreme sub-genres of heavy music. This is the type of music designed to piss off parents around the world. At its best, it’s fast, loud and utterly uncompromising. Tonight’s pumped crowd were treated to a night of four bands putting on excellent sets of the different variants and strains of this type of metal, made famous by the likes of bands such as  Motörhead, Venom and, most famously, Slayer and Metallica.

Local boys Desecrator, not to be confused with an American band of the same name, were up first to warm up the crowd. The four piece put on a solid, if unexceptional set, of very well played thrash, or speed metal as it is also known. Their set went down well with those arriving to see the headline act, and was a strong indication that the mosh pit was only for those brave or crazy enough to go in.

Next up were Nocturnal Graves. The Bendigo three piece had a significantly better sound mix than the previous act, whose vocals were, at times, somewhat lost in the sound mix. They impressed with their crunching take on thrash undercut with a really interesting, almost funk-like groove, especially in relation to drummer Nuclear Exterminator’s playing and vocals.

Looking like a weird pollination of a wrestler, the homeless guy up the back of the train and someone that would make you call Crimestoppers if you saw him walking down a dark alley, he is a great player and gives singing drummers a good name after all the untold damage Phil Collins has done to that profession over the years. A great set, featuring some solid tracks like “Whore Of Sodom” and “Skullthrone”.

Kromoson basically smacked the crowd over the head with their physical and aural assault of the stage during their ferocious half hour set. Playing a great take on thrash with a more punk edge to it, the four piece, featuring ex-members of Pisschrist and Nuclear Death Terror, really impressed the gathering crowd with an unpretentious, straight up, no bullshit sound.Ripping out some great tracks like “Force Fed Lies” and “Live Forever”, the band really impressed and totally geared up the crowd for the headline act.

Starting half an hour earlier than advertised Portland Oregon’s Toxic Holocaust proceeded to basically tear the Hi Fi Bar a new arse with their utterly uncompromising, incredibly tight and unrelentingly brutal sound over the next hour. This was no kiddie metal, wave your arms in the air, jump and clap metal which has been infesting the scene over the past two years – Devil Wears Prada, we’re looking at you! This was the real deal and totally what heavy music of this variety should be all about.

The brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Joel Grind, who initially played all the instruments in the studio and hired musicians for touring, since the 2008 album An Overdose Of Death, Toxic Holocaust has mutated into a proper band with the permanent additions of drummer Nick Bellmore (not looking unlike Animal from The Muppets behind the kit) and bassist Phil Zeller. The band have really discovered a stronger sense of connection and tightness that comes from playing music together constantly. Tonight’s hour long set was incredibly tight, without an ounce of musical flab on it.

Track highlights came thick and fast. The one-two punch of “War Is Hell”, followed by “666”, sent the already intimidating mosh pit into absolute overdrive. This was about the point where things got interesting and more than a little bit confronting for some. Grind let loose at security, especially the guard at the front of the stage herding the stage divers, saying they were being too heavy handed with the crowd surfers and the stage divers, and that he welcomed and encouraged both. Those in the mosh took this as a free for all invitation.

It was a mere matter of minutes, after the utterly annihilating version of “Nuke The Cross”, that the crowd started to get out of hand. A stage diver was smashed into the P.A. desk on stage by a security guard while being removed off the stage. Those in the mosh pretty much took this as a declaration of war by the Hi Fi guards. Next thing you know, the centre guard was literally pushed off stage by a stage diver and greeted with punches and kicks by those below.

Looking like he was going to beat the living shit out of the next punter that got in his way, the guard thought better of it, realising it was a fight he would lose. He again took up his post centre of stage, only to be tackled by another stage diver running at him from back of stage, who managed to do a face plant on the guard into the nearest sound wedge. After regaining his senses, the guard, seeing how out of control the situation could get, took up a post side of stage, as did the other stage guard, and watched while all and sundry in the crowd threw themselves off the stage with reckless abandon. This was definitely a retreat move, as this has the potential to get spectacularly ugly fast.

There was definitely fault with the attitudes and actions of both the crowd and security in regards to this. Grind’s comments basically added fuel to the fire. That happy middle ground that exists between security and crowd at gigs, metal or otherwise, seem to go out the window in the latter part of the set. The band played on, with great tracks like “Bitch”, “Wild Dogs” and “Wasteland”. A fantastic set from a band who is really taking thrash back to its roots in the best way possible.

After the set had concluded, Hi Fi Management and security reacted swiftly, with one of the most aggressive and outright hostile venue evacuations this scribe has seen post-gig in a long time, including telling the merchandise people to cease trading immediately after the gig. The bar also shut the nanosecond the set concluded.

This was a brutal night in all senses of the word.

– Neil Evans