Pick Your Rock and Metal

Friday, February 24, 2017

NEWS: Metal Church add Belfast date

METAL originals, formative thrashers Metal Church will play Belfast on June 22nd in Limelight2.

With Kurdt Vanderhoof and Mike Howe partnership have 11 albums to their name, with the latest unleashed on the unwary just last year.

Tickets, priced £20, go on sale from all usual outlets next Wednesday, March 1st from all usual outlets or direct from The Distortion Project.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

NEWS: Alter Bridge set for summer Belfast date on The Last Hero tour

ALTER Bridge are set to play Belfast's Ulster Hall on June 21st as part of their tour backing their phenomenal album 'The Last Hero'.

Myles Kennedy, Mark Tremonti and crew will be hitting the city with their fifth album (Ivor's review is here).

Tickets, priced at £29.50 (+bking fee) go on sale tomorrow (24th February)


NEWS: The Dillinger Escape Plan set for Belfast and Dublin shows

NEW Jersey mathcore legends The Dillinger Escape Plan will play Belfast's Limelight on June 8th, with a date in the Academy, Dublin the following night.

They are on a tour backing last year's 'Disassociation' release, with Ben Weinman saying it will be the last album and tour for The Dillinger Escape Plan, with the band probably calling it a day after festival dates.

The band were recently involved in a road traffic accident in Poland, resulting in injuries and some tour dates being cancelled but the Belfast show in June was today (23/02/17) confirmed.

Tickets for the Limelight2 show, priced at £20, go on sale tomorrow.



Monday, February 20, 2017

NEWS: Foo Fighters star to release country album...

WELL, everyone’s going country… First we learn that Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin is heading down the county road and now the Foo Fighters Chis Shiflett is preparing to release one too.


‘West Coast Town’ will be released on 14th April on SideOneDummy Records.

Here’s the blurb:
Although he's known worldwide as the Foo Fighters’ lead guitarist, Chris’ solo country work has also made him a hit in the Alt Country scene, where his signature vocals and killer guitar work serve up a heady brew of raw barroom honky tonk, hi-octane rockabilly, and here-and-now Americana.


Chris interviewed Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb for his weekly podcast at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A (shortly after Cobb moved his recording operations into the iconic room). There, amidst vintage gear and the ghosts of country music's finest, Cobb and Shiflett formed a genuine friendship. “When I left the studio," Chris remembers,  "I thought, I have to make a record with that dude. I was already a big fan of the records Cobb produces, and his setup was just so amazing.”

West Coast Town is a product of that creative partnership. Working with Dave Cobb and Grammy Award-winning engineer/mixer Matt Ross-Spang, Chris recorded his latest album at RCA Studio A over a three-week period, during the Summer of 2016. With every song captured in just two or three takes, this album often sounds more like the work of a live band than a studio creation.

Joining Chris Shiflett (on electric guitar) and Dave Cobb (on acoustic guitar and percussion) are an A-List collection of studio musicians, including Robby Turner (Waylon Jennings, Chris Stapleton) on pedal steel, Chris Powell (Brent Cobb, Jamey Johnson) on drums and percussion, Adam Gardner (Southern Family) on bass and Michael Webb (Southern Family) on keyboards.

Rolling Stone premiered West Coast Town's title track this week and have been impressed by previews of the album. They acknowledge what working with Dave Cobb in his legendary studio has added to the mix “...Working in such a historic setting with one of the genre's most forward-leaning producers clearly rubbed off on Shiflett, as West Coast Town authentically straddles the line between vintage country cool and the boundary-blurring spirit of modern Americana.”

West Coast Town is Chris’ third solo album: an autobiographical, ten track release that finds him pulling triple-duty as singer, songwriter and bandleader. It follows 2010’s Chris Shiflett and The Dead Peasants and 2013’s classic collection of honky-tonk covers, All Hat and No Cattle.


Chris Shiflett comments “Getting out of town and working in Nashville with Cobb was the best thing I could have done and was one of my favourite recording experiences of my life. I spent a few months woodshedding my songs and got them as far as I could take them but Dave took them even further, and his crew of musicians were a joy to work with. I can’t wait to take these tunes out on the road and play them live.”


WEST COAST TOWN TRACK LIST

1. Sticks & Stones (Chris Shiflett)
2. West Coast Town (Chris Shiflett)
3. Goodnight Little Rock (Chris Shiflett)
4. Room 102 (Chris Shiflett, Brian Whelan)
5. The Girl’s Already Gone (Chris Shiflett)
6. Blow Out The Candles (Chris Shiflett, Brian Whelan)
7. I’m Still Drunk (Chris Shiflett)
8. Cherry (Chris Shiflett)
9. Tonight’s Not Over (Chris Shiflett, Brian Whelan)
10. Still Better Days (Chris Shiflett, Brian Whelan)

LIVE REVIEW: Setting the Diamond afire - Blaze Bayley rocks Ahoghill

TO many the time Blaze Bayley spent in Iron Maiden came at a most inopportune moment in rock music: the labels weren't backing metal bands to the extent they used to, and the tides of fortune had yet to see the return of heavier music's heyday.

However, they were still albums treasured in many people's collections, as well as the Wolfsbane releases. When Blaze Bayley left Maiden he shook off any disappointment, gathered himself and began a solo career that has not only earned plaudits, but see him battle back from personal tragedy and an indifferent mainstream metal media.

The fans, however, are ever loyal to a man who epitomises the no nonsense approach.

Before Mr Bayley took to the Diamond Rock Club stage local sc-fi/fantasy-tinged metal crew Terminus more than warmed up the heaving venue with a 45-minute no nonsense set. From the opener 'Reaper's Spiral' it was clear that they were intent on winning over new fans.

Indeed many Diamond newbies could be overheard muttering approval at the style of metal Terminus were pushing out. All of which is helped by the fact that the band are tight and deliver their set with precision and an obvious excess of energy.

James Beattie commands the front, his singing throughout spot on, as Paul and Gavin wove guitar lines to match the lyrics. 'Fortress Titan' was a highlight and the well earned response to closer 'Centaurean' raised the bar.

With all points near the stage packed, Blaze Bayley received what is easily understood as a rapturous response. Not only were there many fans there it was notable that many local musos were out in force.

Opening with 'Endure and Survive' from the forthcoming album of the same name the men backing Blaze seemed to be enjoying the experience as much as the audience.

Indeed the band has a feel of a real unit - compact, flourishing and a force to be reckoned with. Naturally the temperature soared when after 'A Thousand Years' they launched into 'Futurereal', and from then on it was a helter skelter ride that took the Diamond through songs were familiar to all; plus a bonus.

The first live outing for 'Escape Velocity' was as well received as any of the tracks, but most-of-all it was the way the set list was balanced throughout, with the back catalogue of his own material melding with Maiden songs.

Bracketing 'Lord of the Flies' with 'Speed of Light' and 'Stare at the Sun' gave all a chance to see how he has grown as a songwriter and performer, without losing that sense of where he came from.

Closing with the Wolfsbane track 'Manhunt' and 'Man On the Edge' had the crowd ecstatic, however, the show was only 95% of the success. The remaining five per cent came from the man's attitude on stage, his willingness to engage in banter, warmth oozing from his every pore.

Sure, the Diamond Rock Club may be a seeming million miles from Maiden, but that does not make it any less of a valid place to see a man who should be a rock icon held in high esteem. Whether with his own material or Blaze's venerable past he achieved a par excellence show in Ahoghill and gave the club a sense of belonging to a metal history that is no longer of the past, but sits in the present.

Blaze Bayley - a survivor, a singer and a superb live performer.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh






  

LIVE REVIEW: Close call between four acts in Heat two of Metal2TheMasses

THE court was in session - judges ready to preside, the public gallery ready with their voting slips and Ormeau Avenue's Limelight2 was about to rumble with the sound of competition to win through to the semi-finals of Metal2TheMasses and a shot at securing a slot at Bloodstock 2017.

Lining up were four bands who had the grit and determination to earn their slot in this event, laid on by The Distortion Project.

First into the ring were Neamhni - down a man, but ready for the fray. The blackened death metal crew mounted the stage with attitude and barely restrained anger.

Behind the corpse paint smouldered a band that have obviously been putting in the hours as they prepped for their 'Vermin' EP launch in March.

Noticeably this was a better balanced set in terms of the pacing of the songs across their allotted time. Even short of a guitarist they managed to lay down a set filled with aural dynamics.

The room bled into doom as sludge filled So Much For The Sun slayed the sunlight and added fuzz and to the darkened venue. The three-piece played a set filled with resounding celebration of the darker side.

With two varying vocal styles and an impressive set of fx from the guitar all tracks held the interest, however at times the energy levels dropped a little. That did not diminish from what was an impressive set of songs.

Once more doom-infested the room when Elder Druid drew forth sounds from the other side, with much of the second set from the recently released 'Magicka' ep.

The two guitars were particularly well linked on the riffs with solos placed well in each song. The five piece have presence on the stage and provide a black treat with no trickery.

What is noticeable is that Elder Druid's recent run of dates has placed them well for their upcoming English dates next month.

Without a drummer Disconnect have nevertheless programmed it not to sound too robotic. But that also puts them under pressure to keep their playing tight.

Verging from extreme to industrial sounds the two-piece are visually engaging as well as precise with almost every note.

While getting the right drummer can be a challenge for any band perhaps it is time to hunt for a sticks man that may allow the excellent playing to a little more fluidity to the otherwise solid performance.

After the dust settled this was in the words of organiser, James Loveday, it was a close call between the four acts.

Neamhni and Elder Druid were voted through to the semi-finals

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Photographs by Darren McVeigh















Saturday, February 18, 2017

NEWS: Ramblin Man adds Glenn Hughes, Supersonic Blues Machine in another tranche of bands for the burgeoning bill

WELL Ramblin Man Fair have been added bands like crazy recently. First there was the added night with Saxon, Y&T, Last in Line and the Graham Bonnet Band. Now, they have announced Glenn Hughes and the Supersonic Blues Machine in the latest tranche of acts announced.

And, the modest man of Tenancious D is making an appearance with the self-explanatory The Kyle Gass Band. Also added are Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash and Steve 'N' Seagulls.

And let's not forget Northern Ireland's hard rockin' Trucker Diablo and Screaming Eagles on the Rising Stage.

This will be the Supersonic Blues Machine's only UK appearance. For those that don't know of the band it features Eric Gales and is described as "one of the most exciting blues acts of recent years" and the RMFwill be the bands first UK show.

Based around singer/songwriter Lance Lopez, producer/bassist Fabrizio Grossi (Alife Cooper, Joe Bonamassa, Slash, Paul Stanley) and drummer Kenny Aronoff (Meat Loaf, John Fogerty, Red Hot Chili Peppers) the band released their debut album ”West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco” in 2016. The album featured guests such as Billy F. Gibbons, Walter Trout, Warren Haynes, Robben Ford, Eric Gales and Chris Duarte. And the bands are famous for featuring many special guests live. The Ramblin’ Man Fair show will feature Eric Gales and many more.

“We are extremely excited to play for the first time in the UK, it means so much for all of us. The amount of love and requests from the fans has been a solid one since before “West of Flushing, South of Frisco “ was released, and knowing that our invitation to the Ramblin’ Man Festival was largely motivated by the fans submissions, it makes it a dream come true !!!” – Fabrizio Grossi


Glenn Hughes also welcomed his appearance at the Maidstone festival: "Looking forward to returning to the UK to play at Ramblin' Man Fair with a selection of songs from my new album Resonate and from the deep well of my musical history. It's gonna be a rock show.”

The line-up, not including the Rising Stage, is as follows:

Friday 28th July
Planet Rock Main Stage Saxon (Main Stage Headliner)
Y&T
Last in Line
Graham Bonnet Band

Saturday 29th / Sunday 30th July

Planet Rock Main Stage
ZZ Top (Main Stage Headliner / UK Festival exclusive)

Extreme (Main Stage Headliner / UK Festival exclusive)
Dokken (UK Exclusive)
Black Star Riders (Special Guests)
Supersonic Blues Machine (First Ever UK Show)
Glenn Hughes
Blues Pills
Monster Truck
Danny Worsnop
British Lion
Jared James Nichols
Colour Of Noise

Prog in the Park Stage Kansas (Prog in the Park Stage Headliner)
Magnum
Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash
Focus
I Am The Morning
The Gift

Blues Stage Joanne Shaw Taylor (Blues Stage Headliner)
The Quireboys (Blues set)
Tyler Bryant
Aaron Keylock
Big Boy Bloater

Outlaw Country Stage The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band (Headliner)
Dan Baird & Homemade Sin
Steve “N” Seagulls
Ghoultown
Whiskey Dick
Jessica Lynn

Grooverider Stage Rival Sons (Headliner)
Vintage Caravan
The Kyle Gass Band
The Picture Books
Lionize
Dirty Thrills

Thursday, February 16, 2017

NEWS: They didn't make it to Belfast but Anthrax are set to release Glasgow live DVD

WELL they didn't make it to Belfast this time but you can still see what Anthrax were up to when they played Glasgow.

Yes, the thrash pioneers, now armed with six dynamic tour dates under their belt - ‘Among The Kings’, their first UK/European headline tour in more than a decade, already earning over-the-top rave press reviews and hundreds of effusive social posts from fans who have attended the shows - will chronicle the frenzy with a live DVD expected to be released later this year (Megaforce).

With the energy level through the roof, ANTHRAX's show was filmed last night at Glasgow’s historic venue Barrowland. Seventeen cameras, including five Go-Pros and a full-size camera crane, captured more than two hours of ANTHRAX favourites that were voted onto the evening's set list by fans (see below) and included 'Madhouse', 'Be All, End All', 'Breathing Lightning' and 'A.I.R.', followed by ANTHRAX’s classic 1987 album ‘Among The Living’ performed from start to finish ('Caught In A Mosh', 'I Am the Law', 'Indians', 'N.F.L.').

In addition to the live footage, the DVD will include "fly-on-the-wall” interviews and other B-roll shot on the band’s tour bus, backstage, in hotels and elsewhere.

The DVD is being produced and directed by Paul Green of the Manchester, UK-based Paul Green Productions who has filmed concerts for Opeth, The Damned, Gary Numan, The Levellers, and many others.

In support of this trek, ANTHRAX will release a limited tour edition of their latest studio album ‘For All Kings’ on February 17th. As well as the regular album it will include 'Vice Of the People' (previously only available in Japan) as well as a bonus disc of demo versions.
Pre-order ‘For All Kings’ (Tour Edition) now: http://nblast.de/ANTHRAXForAllKings
Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JCJPuo8-QE
‘For All Kings’ - Tour Edition
Tracklisting:
CD1 – ‘For All Kings’
01. You Gotta Believe
02. A Monster At The End
03. For All Kings
04. Breathing Lightning
05. Suzerain
06. Evil Twin
07. Blood Eagle Wings
08. Defend/Avenge
09. All Of Them Thieves
10. This Battle Chose Us
11. Zero Tolerance
Bonus:
12. Vice Of The People
CD2 - Demos
01. Breathing Lightning
02. A Monster At The End
03. This Battle Chose Us
04. Soror Irrumator
05. Vice Of The People
More on ‘For All Kings’:
'Suzerain' OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3NJRZKvaic
'Evil Twin' OFFICIAL TRACK & LYRICS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO-qYEMGeK0
'Breathing Lightning' OFFICIAL TRACK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXYKpKWHxaI
'Blood Eagle Wings' OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwgclLTCzHc
'Monster At The End': http://www.vevo.com/watch/anthrax/Monster-at-the-End/USME31600498

NEWS: Bloodstock add Arch Enemy, Oni and Chelsea Grin to alreadt burgeoning line-up

By way of a late Valentines Day gift, BLOODSTOCK is thrilled to announce 3 more bands for 2017’s event!

ARCH ENEMY will be joining us as Sunday’s special guests.  Get a taste of their Swedish melodeath with the live video for ‘War Eternal’, shot at Wacken 2016 and check out what’s in store this August - https://youtu.be/p5etfIwlRbg.

The band, now fronted by Alissa White-Gluz, are set to release a new live DVD/Blu-Ray of their full Wacken set titled ‘As The Stages Burn!’ on 31st March via Century Media.  ARCH ENEMY guitarist Michael Amott tells us "We're very much looking forward to being a part of this year's edition of BLOODSTOCK, which actually takes place very close to where my father was born.  We'll be bringing our 'pure fucking metal' attack home... Hail to England!"  Stay clued up on all things ARCH ENEMY at www.facebook.com/archenemyoffi cial/.

Salt Lake City deathcore mob CHELSEA GRIN also land an early main stage slot on Friday. The band released their fourth studio album, ‘Self Inflicted’ via new label home Rise Records last summer and unveiled a video for ‘Broken Bonds’ - https://youtu.be/awa50gXnOdw.  Frontman Alex Koehler tells us “We are looking forward to heading back overseas this summer to be part of Bloodstock 2017.  When we were offered the show and we saw the lineup we were extremely excited.  We’ve seen tons of videos from BLOODSTOCK in the past and cannot wait to be there.” Get all the latest on CHELSEA GRIN over at www.facebook.com/ChelseaGrinMe tal.

Lastly, prog metallers ONI join the ranks on the Sophie stage on Saturday.  Signed to Metal Blade, these Canadians recently unveiled a creepy video for ‘The Only Cure’ from debut album ‘Ironshore’, featuring guest vocals from Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe.  Check it out at: https://youtu.be/ERFBmOtElKU.  Frontman Jake Oni says “In the past year, we’ve had the pleasure of playing the UK a few times, but being a part Bloodstock 2017 is a huge honour.  We are not only excited to show this festival what we’ve got, but also to see some of the masters that are playing!!!  You don't want to miss this!”  ONI warm up for their BLOODSTOCK debut by traversing Europe next month with Children of Bodom.

It’s nearly the ‘last chance saloon’ for the very popular ticket payment scheme!  BLOODSTOCK’s deposit plan helps ease the pain of paying for your standard weekend ticket by breaking it up into five smaller, more manageable sums.  Sign up in the ticket store before 28th Feb with your initial payment of £34.80.  Thereafter, four additional instalments of £27.80 will debit your bank account on 1st April, May, June and July respectively.  Job done, ticket purchased!  Get full info at http://bloodstock.seetickets.c om.

Already announced for 2017 are Friday’s headliners AMON AMARTH, Sunday’s headliners MEGADETH, plus BLIND GUARDIAN, HATEBREED, TESTAMENT, OBITUARY, BRUJERIA, WHITECHAPEL, SKINDRED, POSSESSED, ANNIHILATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, HELL, DECAPITATED, SOILWORK, MACABRE, SCARAB, and WINTERSUN.  Many more, including our Saturday headliner are still be announced!  Stay tuned to BLOODSTOCK’s social media for the latest!

BLOODSTOCK will take place at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 10th-13th August 2017.  Standard weekend camping tix are on sale at £139 (plus booking fee), plus limited VIP packages/upgrades and car parking tickets (at a cheaper price than ‘on the day’ purchase) from http://bloodstock.seetickets.c om.  Children’s weekend tickets are also available, priced £35 (+ booking fee) and under 4’s go free!  Camper van pitches have now SOLD OUT.

INTERVIEW: John Bush of Armored Saint on the new live album, the mini-tour including Belfast and Pledge Music

EARLIER this week we had a trans-Atlantic chat with John Bush of Armored Saint on the day that their new live album, 'Carpe Noctum' landed. (review is here)

During the interview he spoke about the recording of the album, the mini-tour including the Belfast and Hammerfest shows, Pledge Music and the next steps for the veteran  thrashers.

Armored Saint play Belfast on 21st March and then headline the opening night of HRH United Hammerfest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

NEWS: SLF comeback to Belfast, with The Stranglers, Ruts DC and The Outcasts

BACK  in 1977 something happened that changed the face of music in Northern Ireland. With the Clash and Pistols kicking up a punk storm four snotty nosed kids from north Belfast came together and birthed a monster that still rumbles on today.

Stiff Little Fingers took what they learned of rock, added a snarl and a wickedly accurate portrayal of life during the so-called 'Troubles'. Now, 40 years later Jake Burns and co are coming back to Belfast ready to show that they are still as musically and lyrically relevant as ever - and party harder than most.

On Saturday, August 26th at Custom House Square SLF will play their biggest ever hometown show as part of the Belsonic festival. And, they're bringing along some friends.

The Stranglers, Ruts DC, our own The Outcasts, with Terri Hooley will all be part of the bill...That is what could be called a killer line-up...nope, it is a killer line-up!

A couple of years back SLF released the superb 'No Going Back' a starkly honest album, filled with personal pain and looking with a caustic eye at the world as it is. It reached number one in the Official BBC Rock Album Chart and a DVD of their show in Glasgow's Barrowlands 'Best Served Loud' documented their 25th straight St Patrick's Day show in the legendary venue.

What is sure is many of the fans know every word of every song, something that Jake is all too aware of.

"You have to strike a balance," he said. "The difficulty with a band like ourselves is to try not make it sound like a cabaret band. Obviously, it’d be very easy to go, ‘Hey, here’s another old one you may remember.’ A lot of the old songs the audience greet like old friends.

"I suppose it’s the same as any band that’s been around for any length of time. And yes, there are nights that we don’t particularly want to play 'Alternative Ulster' or 'Suspect Device' because we’ve heard them ‘til they’re coming out our ears. But there’s always the possibility that somebody out there has never seen the band before, never heard them."

Whether it is newer material, or the classic SLF anthems, what is sure is that on August 25th there will be a loud and proud moment for fans and the band themselves. And, together we are all part of what is Alternative Ulster - our national anthem.

Monday, February 13, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Armored Saint head down the live album route again with Carpe Noctrum

ARMORED Saint have been on something of a resurgence in recent years as those old enough to remember the 1980s thrash are joined with newer fans of the thrash heyday discovering that these older acts can still outdo many of the young pretenders.

At Bloodstock 2015 they wowed the audience with a tight set that energised an early afternoon crowd. With memories of the live album 'Saints Will Conquer' from 1988 it must have been with somewhat trepidation that the band decided to record their shows at Wacken 2015 and Ashaffenburg for posterity.

Released tomorrow (February 14th) 'Carpe Noctum; stands well with the '88 release, material from their two most recent releases standing strong with older material.

Indeed what is worth remarking upon is that 'Left Hook from Right Field', 'Mess' and 'Win Hands Down' sit well with older, so-called classic material such as 'Aftermath' and, of course 'March of the Saint' and 'Reign Of Fire'.

As an be expected from such a talented bunch of musos the playing is excellent: Gonzo still goes...well gonzo on his kit; Joey does what he does best laying a mean bass line; Jeff and Phil have the licks and riffs nailed on; and, John still has the pipes to carry all the songs.

But, most of all the feeling is that the band seem to have retained the passion for live performances, and each track resonates with that desire.

In this age of live DVD/CD/Blu-Ray packages what makes this somewhat retro - in a good way - is that it is a simple straightforward live album: something worth cherishing.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Armored Saint play Voodoo Lounge, Dublin on March 20th, Belfast's Limelight the next night; HRH Hammerfest on March 23rd as well as selected UK and German dates before heading back to the US for a night in Chicago.

NEWS: Arcade Fire added to Belsonic line-up...and?

SO far Belsonic have yet to add anything remotely metal, but the Green Day/Rancid show looks like a nice one for retro punk fans. However those younger readers may fancy a wee tilt at the latest announcement.

Canuck act Arcade Fire will play at the new Ormeau Park venue in their first ever appearance on the island of Ireland.

Set for 13th June 13th, with tickets going on sale this Friday, and they have been described by,  the somewhat unreliable rock source of the Daily Telegraph as "the greatest live band in the world", which only goes to prove the Telegraph writers have never been to a Maiden show.

Nevertheless, Arcade Fire have garnered significant support from the curious to earn them chart-topping status in the UK, US and several other nations.

The Montreal natives have managed to earn themselves enough of a fan base to make sure that even the curious rockers may fancy a nibble on this one.

Hopefully Belsonic can also add some muscle as well as those already announced.


LIVE REVIEW: Terrific return from Trivium in Belfast barnstormer showcase

THE fact that so many of the crowd in Belfast's Limelight1 on Sunday (12th February) grew their metal stripes at the same time as Trivium were breaking through as a band were earning plaudits and packed venues.

The first time the band played in Belfast it resulted in a crush barrier collapsing under the weight of crowd enthusiasm, and the band have been loyal to the city ever since - and in return the fans deliver rapturous response upon each visit.

Shvpes provided an energetic opening act on the bill, however, apart from the few at the front familiar with their work their first few songs they received a polite response from the gathering crowd.

The post-hardcore sound was maybe a little too out there for many, but their energy won over many as the set progressed. Mismatched they may have been with the bill, but the Birmingham five-piece deserve Kudos for not wavering.

By the same measure Sikth didn't waver despite being a man down with Pin absent for personal reasons, leaving Dan Weller to fill in. Not that this affected the response from an audience who are devoted to the English prog/math masters.

Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser are like manic puppet masters pulling at the strings of the crowd as soon as they opened the set with 'Philistine Philosophies' and 'Part of the Friction'.

To be fair to Sikth they have evolved many miles since they were labelled, perhaps unfairly, as part of the djent movement in the early era of the 2000s. They include as many melodic elements, which comes to the fore just enough not to make them predictable. Nor are they complacent.

There is adulation for the band and they return it with humour and self-deprecation, including Mikee's spoken word intro to 'When Will The Forest Speak...?'

That so many of the audience know the words to each line is a tribute to the passion Sikth invoke. And, with the hint of a return to Belfast it seems they'll receive a warm welcome.

To say that the reception Trivium receives is warm is an under-statement as the Limelight roars out every line of the 'Run To The Hills' intro. From the opener of 'Rain' the adulation crackled like static, with pits and crowd surfing mere symbols to the feeling of almost all present.

They tear into 'Forsake Not The Dream' before Matt Heafy speaks to the audience and throughout he recalls the bands first visit to Belfast.

Paolo Gregoletto, like Heafy encourages ever more intense circle pits and as audience members surf above the rest sing every word of 'Down From The Sky'.

With an impressive assuredness they weave newer and older material together as Heafy and Corey Beaulieu trade licks and runs and manage a sublime version of 'Entrance of the Conflagration' among many of the higlights.

'Dying In Your Arms' may be steeped with the soul of In Flames, but Trivium's melodic take is their own crafting and excellence drawing more of the audience to risk life and limb in pits and surfing.

There is not a foot put wrong, nor a beat missed as they rolled the Limelight in their hands like malleable putty, a putty willingly taken and moulded through tracks such as 'Dusk Dismantled' and 'Throes of Perdition'.

'Silence In The Snow' maybe more recent, but is greeted like an old friend, and that is perhaps why Trivium have enjoyed continuous success. Their sound has evolved, they have experimented and some would say they have made mistakes, but each time they take any lessons and influences and carve their own path.

Sure, they have been through a few drummers over the past decade, but never compromised on wanting a dynamic drum sound and Alex Bent fits the bill behind the kit.

This was only the second night of the European tour but the band exude a tight, professional approach, but without the contrivances many acts fall prey to. All present know it will be pretty much the same set for those dates, but that doesn't mean it is metronomic.

Heafy and Beaulieu have sufficient looseness in their playing that is balanced with the execution of some stunning guitar work, while Gregoletto wields his bass like an instrument designed to torture the lower registers in the most exquisite of manners.

'Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation' snaps and snarls as if a fresh song, while the closing duo of 'Pull Harder On The Strings of Your Martyr' and 'In Waves' leave the crowd sated for now - but begging for a speedy return to these shores.

Trivium take their status and success to date seriously - that is why their performance, and its reception, is at a premier league level. Band and fans joined together elevated to another level on a Sunday night - smiles and aching necks.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh (MetalplanetBelfast)