After being cancelled due to COVID-19 last year, Stormrider Heavy Metal Festival returned in 2021 with a dose of hard and heavy sounds local metalheads needed to feed long-felt cravings for live music gigs. The festival has featured several local bands of different hard-hitting genres since 2014, thanks to Stu McGill from Silent Knight, and this year did not disappoint.
The night began hard and heavy with Harvest Trail, almost giving the unprepared crowd a heart attack. Just as it began, the band continued their stampede into the opening set with no signs of slowing down. Despite being early in the festival, they gave the crowd exactly what they wanted; fast-paced music, throat-wrenching vocals, and wickedly dark lyrics.
Next on the stage was Midnight Furnace, who built up tension for the audience with a soft long start, then hit hard. The deep guitar and drums were like a dose of adrenaline for the crowd who edged closer to the stage.
Although highly anticipated, some might have been unsure what to expect from Icarus Lives’ performance after the recent departure of their lead vocalist. But the band still has it; with Aria Scarlett on the mic, a melodic style echoed by deathly vocals, and enough poise to pose for photographers on stage.
Legacy Alive is definitely a band to look out for future live shows. Embracing eighties and classic Aussie vibes, they knew how to work a crowd, having so much fun on stage it was infectious in the audience. Behind the sculled beers and the crowd throwing off shirts, they showed a softer side, playing Lucid in honour of a band member lost to cancer.
When Woewarden got on stage, that’s when the headbangers came out and hair went flying, in an almost cult-like performance. Vocalist John Pescod immersed himself in the music, belting out agonised screams and pouring beer over himself.
Returning to Stormrider, Cold Fate showed anger and passion with fast lyrics and guitar riffs, as thrash metal announced itself proudly at the festival. Despite missing a guitarist due to scheduling issues, their performance was unhindered as the hair flew and heads swung wildly.
Silent Knight brought the power with high octane rhythms, epic guitar riffs, and harmonised vocals that pumped up the crowd; making it the perfect recipe for a night of heavy metal. Every band member was having fun, dancing across the stage, joking around with each other, and interacting with individual festival goers. While they played many great songs, Masterplan, Power Metal Supreme, and their cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance were definite highlights.
Chaos Divine was the final band to play and ended the festival on a high note. David Anderton, the vocalist, gave an outstanding performance, instantly switching from divine melodic and chaotic death styles that melded perfectly with the instrumentals for a unique blend of metal that can only truly be appreciated live. Highlights from the night included Instincts from their album Legacies, One Door from their album The Human Connection, and their cover of Toto’s Africa.
The festival ended late but with enough energy in the air to power the lights. The crowd walked away with their ears ringing and their heads aching, but clearly pumped to have finally filled the void in their metal hearts with loud local sounds.
Photos by Adrian Thomson