NORTHERN Ireland hard rock and heavy metal is riding high on the crest of the proverbial wave at the present, with bands slotted in for top support slots at Tenents Vital and at last count three finalists in the Total Biker FM talent contests, soon to be joined by at least another act.
And on Thursday one of the leading acts takes to the stage at Belfast's Empire on Thursday, 9th August, (for the Belfast launch of their album, A Sinner's Saint. [Review here.] [SEE BOTTOM FOR GIG LINE-UP UPDATE!]
A Million$Reload have been working their way steadily and surely to become real contenders, chock full of attitude and with just the right blend of Northern Ireland snarl and melod.
We caught up with vocalist Phil Conlane as they prepared for their headline slot in this SO:NI backed event as he reflected on what seems the inexorable march of the Northern Ireland rock scene.
"I don't know what the reason is," he said, "but long may it continue. There are so many great bands from Northern Ireland it's only a matter of time before we take over the world!"
And for Million$Reload it's been a year with many highlights, not least the release of A Sinner's Saint, and good reviews in the national media (Metal Hammer accorded them a credible 'seven').
Amongst those highlights for Phil: "Finally getting the album out because it took so long to get a good deal done with the label, and it was a highlight to play Dowload."
With that in mind the band are in high spirits going into Thursday's launch.
"We're looking forward to the Belfast gug," said Phil. "The SO:NI gigs are always good and it's been a while since we've played in Belfast. And we're all looking forward to playing the new songs [from A Sinner's Saint] to the city's audience.
And, after that, Phil says the band's plans can be encompassed in three words: "Touring, Touring, Touring!"
Million$Reload on stage will be the début set from Matt Fitzsimon fronted Rival Saints. Sweet Taste's new line-up complete the warm up before Million$Reload and in the midnight slot are Fermanagh's Filthy Angels: A night of Sins, Saints, Angels and damn fine hard rock. Doors are 8:30pm and pay yer dues of a measly £5 to gain entry!
A Sinner's Saint from Million$Reload is out now on Frontiers, and it's available in all good record stores - here's evidence of a few still available on HMV if you want to stock up in advance!
[And don't forget people to vote for Northern Ireland acts By Any Means and Warcrux in the latest Total Biker FM talent contests with Double Wide, Sinocence and Swanee River already through to the finals!]
GIG LINE-UP UPDATE:
Rival Saints will not now be appearing and their slot will be taken by The Screaming Eagles