Despite there now being a thriving Heavy Metal scene in Australia, with recent standouts being bands such as Parkway Drive, I Killed The Prom Queen and older bands like Karnivool, Heavy Metal was very much an underground scene in Australia until as late as the mid 90’s. Despite the worldwide success of AC/DC, and it’s influence on the heavier side of music, few Heavy Metal bands came out of Australia in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, with most labels feeling it was too risky to take on a Metal band with a very small fan base in their home country. This was added to the fact that only Iron Maiden and Twister Sister toured the country during the first half of the 1980s’s. However despite this a handful of bands were still able to find some success and generate a large amount of interest abroad in the US and the UK. Sydney band Buffalo are considered to be one of the country’s first exponents of the style. Originally formed under the name Head in 1967, Buffalo began playing a very similar style to that of Black Sabbath and became the first non-British act to be signed to Vertigo. They went on to release three albums between 1972 and 1975 however they never found mainstream success in Australia. Frustrated with this, the group’s bass guitarist Peter Wells would later form Rose Tattoo in 1976, another band often cited as being pioneers of Australian metal. Like Buffalo, Rose Tattoo’s music was ignored by Australian radio stations but they managed to build a strong cult following internationally.
A number of other metal bands in Australia found success, Almost Human were an Adelaide band that formed in the late 1970s and went on to support bands such as Whitesnake, Sweet and Slade, eventually releasing a self-financed single. Other bands found more success, fellow Adelaide band Boss formed in 1979 and after moving to Sydney built up a following on the pub circuit, eventually signing to RCA Records for worldwide release in 1983. The album was somewhat successful in Europe and the group supported Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister and Dio during their career, but disbanded after a US tour.
Bengal Tigers formed in Melbourne in 1979 and by 1982 had been signed to Mushroom Records in Australia and Heavy Metal Records in the UK, releasing an EP called ‘Metal Fetish’. However unfortunately neither this release nor two later singles met with much success. Due to the metal scene in Australia still being largely underground the band soon split up. However they would reform in 1995 and released another EP, entitled ‘Pain Clinic’, and a full length album in 1997, called ‘In the Blood’. The band still tour to the date, playing clubs and on the pub circuit throughout Australia.