The future is bright - the future is metal...ok, hands up; that's a pretty tired attempt to flog an ad cliché in a manner designed to raise familiarity of phrase. But familiarity of phrase came to the fore when the Distortion Project's latest Saturday show brought new heights of familiarity - in the best sense of the word. Not in terms of familiarity breeding contempt - rather the familiarity of seeing two local acts primed for new releases and the return of the awesome Panic Cell for their first headling show in the city.
Interrogate have been through a variety of phases in their time. On stage first tonight, their hardcore shaped metal sound presented both a challenge and an invitation to the patrons of The Limelight. Arriving with their usual stomp attack, the band unveiled two tracks from their soon-to-be-released new CD.
Despite occassionally muddy sound for the guitar parts Interrogate delivered an invigorating set. New tracks Victim and Losing it All swaggered forth with precision. Further live outings will strengethen these yet further.
Andy also chose to tonight to demonstrate a versatility in his vocals that has in the past been too often hidden. With the rest of the guys he proved that Interrogate have groove as well as balls.
Sinocence are also gearing up for an album release, and their thrash tinged metallic assault was peppered with new twists to their ever reliable sound.
Alongside old faves, new riffage was unveiled- it doffed a cap to Bay Area influences without being slavish to an eighties vibe. At times Morro's voice flagged under the strain, but with being away from the boards for a while it was a forgivable flaw, which didn't detract from the impressive attack. Like Interrogate some of the more detailed guitar parts were occassionally lost in the otherwise fine sound mix.
Restricted to an hour-long set, this was Panic Cell's first headlining appearance in Belfast, although with previous gigs on the Ormeau Road they are all familiar and welcome faces.
Catching up with Luke shortly before the show he expressed his pleasure of being back in boomtown (interview to follow later). But for all the band's amiability and all-round niceness off stage, once on the boards all bets are off...quite simply they produced a blistering set of ferocity and feral brilliance.
Smattered with favourites from the soon to be re-issued 'Bitter Part of Me' and a healthy dose of anthemic tracks from last year's follow-up 'What Doesn't Kill Us...' the truncated set was delivered with aplomb and stagecraft that many wannabes could do well to learn from.
As always Luke's presence dominated, with walkabouts into the crowd, singalong Belfast moments and joining a brief, if small pit.
Feature moments included the rousing 'Calm', the tuneful but heavy Fallen, and crowd fave Save Me.
Of course, Panic Cell have an assurity and deploy their craft well that only comes from constant touring. But this was not a set by numbers. Forced to whittle down, they blitzed with the deciptively melodic thrash of Stare into Oblivion and the power of Shallow.
Dead to Me proved to be even more impressive this time around - as an album closer it has epitomised the Cell's ethos of classic metal with a twist. Live it is an aural assault few could equal.
But what impressed most was that depite the clichéd, but welcome moments (share the Jager anyone?) this wasn't a set that drew on familiar shapes and well-worn chant and clapalongs. Instead it was five people on stage having a great time - which meant the crowd fed off Panic Cell's vibe, who in turn fed off the crowd, creating a virtuous circle that contributed to a great early evening entertainment.
Panic Cell, as noted previously, are vastly under-rated. They deserve a much bigger break, not because of hard work, or a reward for persistence. Not even for persuading a jaded old hack like me down to the front to headbang. No, they deserve to have greater exposure and a major break simply because of what they do - deliver damn fine music, bang on the money every time.
So, in lazy hack style summary...
Interrogate and Sinocence warmed up the crowd by proving potential can translate into power, before the punters received a pumelling by Panic Cell...ah the future is metal; old shit, new shit, it's all good shit!