AS we move merrily towards the last month of the 2013, Trucker Diablo rounded up a tremendous year of development and success with a storming show at Belfast's Pavillion on the Ormeau Road with three hard rockin' compadres as a top supporting cast.
This SO:NI event saw a four-way phenomenon of rock that teetered gloriously towards the metallic edge, such was the ferocity of the performances; performances that displayed some of the diverse nature of hard rock in this wee country.
Opening proceedings with a low-down and dirty riff assault were Baleful Creed who delivered a deliciously tight rendering of Sabbath inspired songs, with more than taste of Down and other deep south groove merchants.
Thorazine teased and terrorised in equal quantities and the dark Autumn Leaves wove its spell around the evening, like a dark mist ensnaring the unsuspecting and a chorus that makes it presence felt when least expecting it.
From thence came St Hellfire, providing an up-tempo rock party showing, infused with a punk-ish rhythm attack. At times this contrast jarred, but when it melded it caught the mood of the 80s that many post Gunners acts on the other side of the Atlantic strove to achieve but failed.
It was a particularly impressive set from Mark Fanjo and his colleagues given that stand-in guitarist Dean had only played two shows yet still managed to lay down solos as if his life depended on it.
Where St Hellfire declared their attitude to be about the usual suspects (sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll), NASA Assassin where pretty clear about the source of all their tunes...Carrickfergus!
Part performance art, part rockin' rap, part metallic assault and part sheer lunacy NASA Assassin penetrated cynicism and alcohol-infused delirium to shake off the cobwebs and challenge musical conceptions.
Despite the on-stage antics and carefully constructed chaos NASA Assassin are conundrum wrapped up in a mystery. The music they deliver is not easy listening, yet live, that self-same music just works....weird but good.
Then came the Big Truck. What a year it has been for Trucker Diablo, with a superb album released, tours in England and France and rave reviews from the USA to the Far East and Australasia all notched up.
This was Trucker's last show of 2013 before they re-group for yet more Diabolic rock. Superlatives abound in a crowd watching Trucker, and they are justified. Managing to capture that elixir of rock that is a mix between loose and tight Tom and Simon lead a merry dance, while Glenn and Terry lay it down as if they were still fresh-faced youths in their teens determined to tear down the walls.
Songs of Iron outstanding out-pouring of singalong anthems were all delivered with a pounding precision and generated an electric charge to the audience.
From Rebel to Drive, from Voodoo to Year of the Truck, from When's It Gonna Rain to Juggernaut the songs are familiar now to fans who know each word and inflection.
But that is not to say that there is over-familiarity from the band themselves: take the headlong rush of the party anthem Drink Beer, Destroy. What was a straightforward ode to drinking has on stage become a overdriven beast, as if the Dead Kennedys and AC/DC got together with a load of crystal meth and a case of Special Brew. And that is not a criticism, that is a complement.
Rounding things off with an encore of Black and Blue this was a fitting Coda for Trucker's 2013, and a sure sign that they stand ready for a global assault that really could lift them to the proverbial next level of international recognition.
Following on from Friday's six-band metal display for The Distortion Project this weekend proved ghat hard rock and heavy metal in Northern Ireland are growing in success and stature - as Tom Harte said about their album "We should have called it Songs of Norn Iron" rather than Songs of Iron. We heartily agree because for such a small 'market' from such a small population 'Norn Iron' punches well above its weight, and we love it!