Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, December 30, 2013

Power, passion and professionalism and pounding from Stormzone and Maverick

TWO of Northern Ireland's finest joined forces for the last gig of 2013 at Diamond Rock Club and delivered an exhibition of power, passion and professionalism that delighted the packed Ahoghill venue on Saturday (28th December).

Stormzone and Maverick are bands at the top of their game, with the memories of the heyday of hard rock and metal in the 80s transformed into a rage ready for the vagaries of 21st Century.

While politicians were wringing their hands trying to pull a deal from the disaster that passes for contemporary diatribe this was a display of sheer glory in rock.

Maverick were born in the wrong age -they should have been striding the streets of LA in the 80s. Opening up with their title song it was a statement of intent, a rousing introduction backed by ready made fanbase at the front who travelled from Ballyclare for the event.

The twin guitar attack of Ryan and Chris laid down riffs and solos harkening back to the best days of big hair, while Richie (bass) and Mike (drums) clearly were re
velling in the opportunity afforded to them on this night.

Frontman David Balfour orchestrated the Maverick mayhem, and despite struggling with the lurgy - which at times affected his delivery - he more than made up for any slight straining with a power and commitment that heralded unanimous acclaim. It was the front man of Stormzone Harv who added to the acclaim by later urging the audience to back Maverick.

Selecting from their existing ep Maverick also unveiled a new track - Last Addiction - set for inclusion in their forthcoming album. They are a band on the upslope, rising towards further success they surely deserve.

While Harv offered Maverick his best, Stormzone, when on this form, are a force of metallic nature. Sheer power, professional from start to finish.

Like all good football managers know a successful team has a strong spine. With Davey laying down devilish drum lines, Graham playing like a midfield general on bass, and with Harv the on-form striker, wingmen Stevie and Dave were able to provide the axe pace.

Drawing on 2013 release Three Kings, and previous releases Zero to Rage and Death Dealer Stormzone are now at a stage that whatever is on the set list all tracks seem to hit the right nerve on the audience's pleasure glands.

Pass Loaning, Spectre, Fear Hotel and Death Dealer all featured, with Fear Hotel infectious invitation to take the "Exit to The Right" resounding throughout the Ahoghill night.

On the stage is literally Where Stormzone Belong. From Night of the Storm to Three Kings, throughout the set Harv led the fans a merry dance; with the metal only tempered by the more tender Beware In Time - a moment that showed the talent of the band in a delivering a diverse songscape.

While Maverick are the young pretenders brimming with passion Stormzone have taken that passion and pounded it remorselessly into a professional powerhouse of live old school metal glory.

The Diamond Rock Club has become a benchmark for local bands - if they can make it on the proving ground built by Derwin, Fiona, Paul, Tony et al then they can move on to take on any stage with confidence; Maverick are ready to do that; Stormzone are already there.

Power, passion and professionalism epitomise the ethos of metal. They were there in abundance on Saturday night.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Even superlatives aren't enough when Pat McManus plays

THERE are those of a certain vintage for whom the Pat McManus song The Oldest Rocker is not only appropriate but places us in a similar age range to the guitarist. Those of that vintage can not only appreciate, but also revel in the County Fermanagh axe man's development and excellence.

Playing the Diamond Rock Club on Sunday (21st December) the Pat McManus Band shone not only as a showcase for Pat's talent, but as a coherent three-piece that pull off the trick of being both laid back performers and tight as musicians.

Familiarity can breed contempt for some bands when they play a venue where they have treaded the boards before: not so Pat and his co-conspirators on rock 'n' roll exuberance.

Exuberance is sometimes a term associated with the over-the-top, big light show, heavy made-up bands who play every song like robots. But exuberance can also come from an artist who takes the stage with intent, who makes adjustments and improvises to both please themselves and to please the audience through exuberant playing.
Pic courtesy of Paul Verner

Those who have experienced Pat's playing before know that superlatives are not enough to describe his talent with a six-string slung around his shoulders. From delicate, heart-rending pieces through to hard and raging riffs, and to solos that explore the full toolbox of guitar techniques - hammer-ons, trills, tapping, sweep picking, you name it and Pat deploys it.

With bass and drums in ample support the set on Saturday night flowed with too many highlights...that may be an oxymoron, but it makes redundant the inclusion of a track-by-track analysis of the set, other to mentions some notable songs that stood-out.

Recent album Dark Emerald Highway was showcased appropriately with S Before X, Fallen Angel and Belfast Boy all coming to life on the stage, the latter track dedicated to the late Gary Moore.
Pic courtesy of Paul Verner

With the likes of Juggernaut stretching their legs on stage Pat took the audience on a six-string journey, with diversions along the way to fiddle playing and slide guitar played on the floor.

Being so close to Christmas Pat and Co made sure their fans left with smiles, throwing a few covers to keep all happy - Sharp Dressed Man and Christmas Number One contender Highway to Hell included. However, adapting the chorus Sweet Home Alabama to Merry Christmas Ballymena was also a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. But, it should be noted that where many bands throw in tracks like this to keep the punters happy for those watching Pat and his band it feels like it is a partnership in rock rather than a contrived encore.

As a reviewer one tries to convey a sense of a concert to reflect their own opinions of the performance for those who were there; and to outline what is was like for those who did not attend. Therefore, it is right to conclude by saying: "You had to be there," but you weren't and you missed a superb penultimate show for the 2013 gigging season with Derwin and Fiona and the Diamond Rock Club audience.

Great show, great band, great solos, great crowd.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Calling for some thrash metal blood from Death Angel

EMERGING from the Bay Area of San Francisco on the crest of the thrash metal wave that threatened to engulf all as it crashed across the tepid aftermath of the NWOBHM Death Angel enjoyed a spurt of success until they broke-up in 1990.

However, emerging Phoenix-like in 2002 the band proved that they still had the chops to cut it. But as many of the so-called thrash originals fell by the wayside Death Angel have averted that fate by the simple expedient of producing damn fine records, none more so than the release just a few weeks back of The Dream Calls for Blood.

Taking off from where Relentless Retribution left off, and building upon it, this is an album with thrash credentials firmly pinned to its chest like battle honours, but also with subtlety lurking in its tracks.

Of course we can expect the tortured angry attack of Mark Osqueda's vocals, and we can rely on Rob Cavestany (both founders of the band) to intertwine with Ted Aguilar. And we know that Damien Sisson (bass) and Will Carroll (drums) meld together as a rhythm section. But with this release the alchemy that is Death Angel has produced something well worth banging your heads to.

To take but one track - Succubus - all the ingredients are present, all following the template sure to please thrash fans. And on Execution/Don't Save Me the intervening years since 1982 are stripped away, with no pretence to be something other than what Death Angel is.

However, on Fallen and Detonate there are more varied - and enjoyable - approaches on display. The band have taken on board what is happening in the contemporary metal scene and twisted it into a suitably sick Death Angel vision. Detonate would sit comfortably in the Five Finger Death Punch playlist, just with a bit more aggression than the Las Vegas band can muster.

And Fallen has a chorus catchier than chlamydia and a song structure moving at breakneck pace.

Of course, there are times when the band play it all a little too 'thrash by numbers', such as on Empty; which owes more than a little to Slayer and Testament. But no band is totally removed from its roots.

Bracketing the contents are opener Left for Dead and closer Territorial Instinct/Bloodlust. Both of which showcase what Death Angel can achieve, especially as the closer moves into its second minute with guitar solos and runs underpinning all the parts of the song, while the structure remains intact.

What Death Angel have achieved on The Dream Calls For Blood is a contemporary take on thrash metal that many so-called metal acts should sit down and listen to with a notebook and an open mind. It's not perfect, and sometimes clichés creep in, but overall only the churlish would deny that this is a damn fine album.

Scores on the doors: 4 out of 5.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Black Star Riders frontman talks name change, lyrics and Northern Ireland in 2013, while Dead Daisies man recounts crocodile attack

WHEN Black Star Riders tore apart Belfast's Limelight1 last week with Dead Daisies and Western Sand no-one could fail to be impressed by the three bands. [Review here]

Before the evening's festivities got underway we caught up with Ricky Warwick and John Stevens to chat about how things had been going on during the tour, and thoughts in general.

In a surreal atmosphere of members of Guns 'n' Roses walking around, the session live bass player of the Rolling Stones sitting signing CDs and Marco Mendoza casually walking by it was clear that all the bands were relaxed heading into the last night of the 15-date tour.

From Rocky we learned about the decision to change the name, the lyrical approach and what he thinks of his hometown in 2013.

From John Stevens we learn about how to pull together a rock supergroup and why being attacked by a crocodile didn't stop him from turning up to rehearsals...and playing in casts from a wheelchair.

Listen to both interviews below:

Ricky Warwick Interview

John Stevens Interview

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Clutch Belfast date tickets on sale this Friday

AMERICAN rock icons and influential musos, Clutch will play Belfast's Limelight1 on May 8th, 2014.

With support from Lionize tickets cost the princely sum of £14.50 and are available from all the usual outlets.

The blurb accompanying the announcement reads: Forget whatever you thought about Clutch. The new album, Earth Rocker, crumples up the 'bad' categories that have miscast them for years - stoner rock, post-hardcore, metal, grunge - and leaves no question about what they are: a damn good rock 'n' roll band."

For once we agree with the hyperbole - Clutch have grown as an underground force, with increasing acknowledgement of their hard-headed approach to playing what they want and when they want it.

Yet another 2014 show that could be a shoe in for tickets as a Christmas present for any rocker you know with a desire to see these seminal rockers. Here's a wee taster for you in advance...

Rock Royalty raise the roof as Black Star Riders shine

THERE are sometimes when past glories can overshadow individuals and bands, but there are other instances when those past glories are synthesised by a rare alchemy into a heady mixture of fine rock and finer still stage performances.

Black Star Riders and Dead Daisies proved on Sunday, December 15th at Belfast's Limelight1 that nothing can stop rockers when they show up with great tunes and a great attitude.

Faced with opening for a galaxy of star rockers many bands would be intimidated, but Hampshire's Western Sand took the stage with a swagger and style that shone through in songs rooted in straightforward, heads down rockin' out.

Despite being hampered by having drummer Nathan being isolated from the rest of the band the honest professionalism and energy evoked a positive response from the gradually filling venue.

Findlay on bass was a bundle of energy, while Jimmy and Tyler led from the front; solid stylish vocals and a twin guitar attack to flay. Western Sand showed not only potential but a clear intent to develop and grow as a band.

Dead Daisies are on paper the archetypal rock supergroup, with a collective CV that includes INXS, the Rolling Stones and Guns 'n' Roses and Disney....

With an impressive album [review here] under their belts it would have been an easy task to turn up and just ride the wave of that album's critical acclaim - but not Dead Daisies; they came to Belfast intent on raising the roof.

Jon Stevens has a helluva set of pipes and they were deployed to good use. And a killer combination of being a strong frontman and appearing relaxed in the role won the crowd over from the off.

With Dizzy Reed adding keyboard flourishes his Gunners colleague Richard Fortus delivered stunning solo after stunning solo; a truly par excellence performance.

Tracks like Washington and Miles in Front of Me emerging from the album invigorated in the live environment, the band also - in the words of Stevens - road tested new songs; all of which resonated with solid rock credentials firmly established by the time each chorus arrived.

Bassist Darryl Jones (unusually using a music stand and notation for each song) and David Lowry on rhythm guitarist were locked in tight with Charlie Drayton on drums; this trio forming a solid basis for other band members to allow each song to grow stage legs.

Concluding with a stormer cover of The Beatles Helter Skelter Dead Daisies have all the elements that both win a crowd's backing and also to have that same crowd baying for more.

The Black Star Riders have emerged phoenix like from the remnants of a post-Lynott Thin Lizzy. An album, originally intended to be released under the Lizzy monicker, balanced the heritage of Thin Lizzy and a new intent to produced songs that have a unique identity. [Review here]

But on stage is the real test. Can a fine line be trod that links the past and the present? Achieving that Black Star Riders have an ace in the pack - singer Ricky Warwick. Appearing as part punk-cowboy desperado and part hellbound rocker Warwick dominates the stage, oozing charisma and performing with well-executed stage routines. Whether with mic stand held aloft or with guitar strapped on his frame Warwick proved why he is becoming one of the top frontmen in hard rock.

With a setlist drawing on BSR material and well-executed Lizzy tracks Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson delivered harmony pieces and solos that were note perfect when required and fluid when they took on adventurous six-string work.

BSR songs Bound for Glory and the excellent Kingdom of the Lost shone through, with new breath on stage and an energy  most acts would struggle to match.

Bassist Marco Mendoza laid down a solid performance, while at the same time showing himself as a performer for the audience - while all the time locked into Jimmy DeGrasso's drum lines.

Classic Lizzy tracks were delivered faithfully, and at times new twits were introduced such as in the Cowboy Song intro. Southbound, Don't Believe A Word, The Boys Are Back in Town, Emerald and Jailbreak delivered the crowd into the hands of the band members.

All Hell Breaks Loose and Hey Judas were also notable moments, but to try and analyse each track and each performance would be a disservice to BSR. The sum of the parts are a tsunami of rock; a masterclass for aspiring hard rock acts.

Rock royalty is sometimes perceived as a lazy bunch, re-treading the past. Such perceptions were blown aside in the Limelight1 on Sunday as aspirants Western Sand showed swagger need not be about arrogance when you deliver; Dead Daisies showcased how rock can meld together Antipodean power and US-style; while Black Star Riders just laid down sheer rock 'n' roll joy. Joy through hard rock - you just can't beat it!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rockin' our RockD with a feast of thrash and down-laden deep groove

SATURDAY (14th December) was the last offering from The Distortion Project's RockD of 2013, and the Limelight2 reverberated with a feast of thrashing and some series groove.

As a result of work and personal commitments Sinocence were not able to land up for the show, but Donum Dei, Bakken and the awesome Astralnaut laid down tracks and attitudes to give 2013 a great send off for RockD.

Donum Dei are relatively new in terms of the metal gigging circuit, but they put on a fearsome set of straight forward thrash, with flurries and time changes. Stuart and Thomas stuck close on guitars with Stuart's lead work impressive and energetic.

As far as energy is concerned Dean on bass provided the stage presence of the night, bounding across the small stage - the band has the right attitude; play as if you were in front of an Odyssey audience.

The sound was nailed down Alastair in a set that nodded to early Metallica, with a dash of Testament and even at times a flavour of Tank - which no doubt given the age of the players is 'before their time'.

Bakken have added their own unique take on the thrash template with an album chockful of tracks that are given extra legs in the live setting.

Mystic Moghul and Sasquatch are especially impressive on stage, even though Simon suffered equipment problems with leads and sound drop outs. Still, as any band worth their salt knows, you just got to keep playing and Bakken are more than worth any amount of Sodium Chloride....

With Simon leading the line, Mark-Antony worked the sound textures in perfect synch as Niall and Adrian kept it all tight all of the time.

With this consistency and considerable talent we are thinking that album number two should be underway to capture that intensity imbued in the band with their live shows.

Astralnaut are awkward buggers at the best of the time when it comes to reviewers struggling with the setlist. Last time we saw them one of the songs was just called 'New Song'...

To make matters more complicated this time they débuted yet more tracks, which thankfully they later provided the titles of - with the proviso that these titles may change...if the music wasn't so good we could have got really frustrated.

But as said the music is really sound and really grounded. The new tracks have been soaked in the deep southern groove; given a dose of poteen and they're now an Armagh groove mash-up of southern US groove with a Norn Iron twist ofdelight; down-tuned and doomy glory amidst the twisting sounds of metaphorical lows and literal highs.

Opening with four-tracks that look set to make it on to a forthcoming e.p. Egocentric, Neopium, Mac Tire and Parasitic take the Astralnaut sound and add depth, at times slowed down and as heavy as a Coca Cola Christmas truck rolling over baskets of puppies...you know it's wrong, but somehow it works....not the puppy deaths of course, just the sheer weight of these new tracks.

With Emerald Lord of Pleasure and Back to The Bog rounding things off this was a perfect way to wrap up another year of RockD with Thomas roaring out, Gaz leading the guitar attack, backed up by Pearse's intense rhythm work, tight in time with Jon Joe's bass rumble and Stephen's pounding of the tubs - it all rocked the foundations of The Limelight.

Astralnaut continue to grow in live stature and with more recorded material due in 2014 should be a truly promising year for the band.

All in all the Saturday gig was a great closer to RockD 2013.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Laying it down the old school way - hard and heavy

WHEN it comes to metal there are sometimes when you've just got to ditch the over-thinking and just get on with it; just plug in and play from the heart - and that is exactly what Terminus and Ravensire have done on a split 7" release that has its heart and soul in 'traditional' metal.

Of course, there are those who take that tag as suggesting that it is just something that bands do when they are out of ideas - not here. Both bands are brimming with ideas in these two tracks

Both bands take the template and roll it out into a series of dynamics that stretch from the pre-NWOBHM days through to the likes of Saxon and even Mercyful Fate.

Ravensire's Drawing the Sword is a tidy, pacy track, designed with one thing in mind, playing heavy and playing it well, with some nice twists. It makes a perfect complement for the work of Terminus.

Centaurean from the Terminus lads has a romp that powers the track, and a ridiculously catchy chorus. Clocking in at just over seven minutes it flies by as you listen, with nice dynamic changes in both pace and guitar work. This spaced out metal, with a lyrical nod to Blue Oyster Cult and a rhythm that calls to mind the likes of early White Spirit, Maiden with a dash of Tank and a smidgeon of Exciter. It all makes for a heady mix of excellence.

Both bands should stand proud of this release, but more importantly this split 7" serves as a perfect taster for hearing more tracks and should encourage more impetus for full length releases.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Befuddled and bemused by the brilliance of Black Sabbath

THIS is not a review. There is no way we here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited (and our colleagues at www.rockradni.co.uk) could ever produce an unbiased, detached review of Black Sabbath.

Ahead of Zeppelin and Purple even, Sabbath defined heavy metal. All else that went before was proto-metal, and none produced the glorious sense of evil perpetuated by that single diminished fifth on the opening track of the eponymous début album.

Thence came to an end the Californian dreams of an illusory Age of Aquarius, stomped down by Brummies who told tales of darkness, Lucifer and a doom-laden planet.

But more than 40 years on would the triumvirate from the original line-up be able to deliver the power and potency that defined a music style that refuses to die? The test was at the MCD-promoted event in Belfast's Odyssey Arena yesterday evening (12th December).

As we noted we cannot be unbiased or detached - the power, the infernal majesty, the very ridiculousness of it all beat down doubters, battered the scenester folks, kicked into submission the shoe gazers and reminded us all that this Black Fucking Sabbath, poseurs and preened pop princes and princesses need not apply.

Photo courtesy of Paul Verner
Sure there were a few moments when it seemed that Ozzy's voice was over-topped to keep it right, and sure there was a song dropped from the set-list to keep the obviously ailing frontman from collapsing, but this was a night when these were minor niggles.

Iommi was masterful, the riffmeister general, played runs and riffs that resounded with the power of a musical tsunami; Butler's bass lines flourished and flew around as his fingers slapped, rode and flayed booming runs under-scoring the sheer low-end resonance of early Sabbath material.

On the drum stool was Tommy Clufetos, who not only played the drum lines with ferocity, but played a relatively entertaining drum solo - relatively entertaining as most drum solos can be tedious.
Photo courtesy of Paul Verner

Ozzy - mad as a hatter. Although hatter's mercury may not have been the only chemical additive in his veins.

Despite the Ozman's occasional interruptions on Iommi's soloing and phrasing to once again implores all to sing, chant, clap, throw our arms in the air, Ozzy's limited mobility and obvious pain was obviated by his commitment onstage.

The set list - yes with such a back catalogue of metal monster songs there are always going to be songs that individual fans would want; but this was a set comprised mainly from the first four albums with two tracks from '13' (one previously aired was dropped from the set).

War Pigs, NIB, Fairies Wear Boots, Children of the Grave, NIB, Under The Sun, Into the Void, Age  of Reason - we're not going to list them all; you either where there for the bone crushing heavy metal, or you were not.

All of which, as we filed out of the Odyssey Arena, were pored over not as critics, not as writers, not as journalists but as fans. Befuddled, bemused here today (13th December) we sit, stand and muse that this was not a band to tick off the bucket list. This was THE band that defined our music, that still defines each generation that discovers heavy metal.

A note on support band, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats. Sabbath meet Hawkwind in a dark alley meet-up only to be mugged by Cathedral. Potential may lie within, and as one of the Belfastmetalheadsreunited team commented "not the worst support act I've seen".

Scores on the doors:
Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats - 3 out of 5.
Black Sabbath - 10 out of 5....well we did say we couldn't be unbiased!

Monday, December 09, 2013

A live album, a 2014 UK Tour and plans for a new album - Millions of reasons for M$R future success

MILLION Dollar Reload have been putting hard rock from Northern Ireland out there live for all to admire and get their rocks out with two fine albums. And now they have a live album - As Real As It Gets - to show just how electric they can be on stage.

Recorded live at The Diamond Rock Club the album (our review is here) it is a statically charged tour de force, crackling with energy and rawness that bleeds like the heart of sacrifice on the altar of rock 'n' fucking roll.

With just two albums - albeit fantastic albums - under their belt, what in the blue blazes inspired Million Dollar Reload to deliver a live album?

"Honestly, it's just something we really wanted to do," said Phil [vocalist]. "Our manager also thought it would be a good idea and suggested that a lot of our friends online are from other territories and wouldn't necessarily have had an opportunity to hear us live or get a vibe for what M$R are all about live. So, this was the best way to, in some way, address that.

"Added to that, nobody at our level would ever expect a band like us to put out a live album at this point in their career - so that was another good reason to do it!"

At this point in their career...Many a band would be proud to have the notches in their belt that M$R have, and as Phil explains there have been many highlights a long the way so far.

"It's hard to pick one highlight to be honest, there have been so many" he said. "Touring in America on a proper tour bus, playing the Download festival a couple of times, playing the main stage at Bloodstock, playing a sold out Ulster Hall supporting The Darkness.

"It is really hard to pick one highlight, but if I had to pick one then it was would have to be opening for Alice Cooper in Vicar Street in Dublin - that was M$R's first really big show."

However, this is a band that does not focus on how they would 're-do' any part of their career.

"We would probably do everything exactly the same all over again - the high points and the low points," said Phil. "The low points you learn from and gain experience. The high points are bonuses."

With such a positive attitude it is perhaps no wonder that in As Real As It Gets is such a superb album, and is perhaps a lesson on how bands should go ahead and record their live output; but Phil says it was straightforward to capture such a fantastic 'raw' sound.

"That was the really easy part - our sound engineer took care of that," he said. "Everything was 'mic-ed' up as normal with a few audience mics too: the over-bleed from the mics helped with the true live feel we had that night.

"The Diamond is such a wonderful small club and the place was rammed, so the atmosphere was electric. We played our normal set and everything went great."

That is certainly reflected in the energy that courses on every song of the album.

Live albums have a proud tradition in the hard rock iconography, from Purple's Made in Japan, through Lizzy's Live And Dangerous, Molly Hatchet's Double Trouble Live and Iron Maiden's Live Evil and many more; the 70s, 80s and 90s are eras peppered with great recordings, but of these eras which would feel was the best one to stretch their rock legs in then - the answer may surprise some.

"This one," said Phil. "Why? Because there are so many ways and opportunities to get your music out there these days in the internet age.

"In the 70s, 80 and 90s for a band like us it would have taken a big record deal to 'get it out there' and the chances of us getting a big record deal to get our music out there would have been very slim.

"These days a small label can do a lot for a band like us and some bands don't even need a label to have a level of success. Yes, it's still challenging to get anywhere, but we love what we do and that's what it's all about.

"We do out best to make the most of our opportunities we get and we will continue to do that regardless."

With As Real As It Gets released on December 17th (ideal Christmas present?) the band are already looking forward to a happy rockin' New Year, with plans aplenty in the offing.

"We are working at the minute with our agent to ensure we tour in the UK and Europe next year," said Phil. "We only toured Europe this year and we really should have toured in the UK: for some reason that didn't really work out, so that has to happen in '14.

"We are also working hard on our next studio album too, so that should be out sometime in 2014."

So, 2013 is ending an appropriate cacophony for Million Dollar Reload with As Real As It Gets, and the New Year looks bright and filled with promise - and we for one can't wait to be reloaded with that hard rockin' vibe.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Don't hate me, but giver yer love to Trucker!

Right folks - going to be off the radar and social media for a while as myself and two other staffers here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited head to Dublin...

Now don't hate me, but we're going to see and review Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch to assess if the haters are right about A7X. (Some tickets if you fancy a last minute trip to Dub).

Obviously we'll enjoy ourselves, but at the same time try and give a balanced opinion...

When we come back we have reviews and interviews aplenty for you, but to get y'all into the Christmas spirit here's a festive tune from Trucker Diablo for you to listen to:


Click the link, enjoy, share and break out the mulled wine... \m/

Monday, December 02, 2013

Limelight properly fucked up by triple terror of Zombified, Ceseless Blight and Fuckhammer

LET'S face it, when the headline act is forced to cancel because of their van breaking down in the nether regions of nowhere, and one act down a member then Saturday's Distortion Project had all the recipes for a disaster.

Instead there was a glorious triple header trip into the dark regions of the psyche on Saturday (November 30th) evening at Limelight2.

Zombified, Ceasless Blight and Fuckhammer played like harbingers of coming Armageddon, horsemen of the apocalypse and just downright noisy bastards.

Fuckhammer took to the stage without their bassist, but still managed to deliver a relentless pounding with tracks from their Hammered to Fuck release standing out, especially Abortion Addict.

However, it would be remiss of us not to mention their hyper speed version of Sabbath's Symptom of the Universe. Stripped of acoustic sections and with a faithful rendition of Bill Ward's drum madness it was just a great take on this classic.

The black metal persistence of Ceaseless Blight then came forward, silhouetted on stage almost throughout their set; this was a full-on onslaught of riffing, with a particular emphasis on bass lines in the mix. However, the drums were off, with the snare beats completely missing at times. Fix that flaw, and add a bit more variety to the twin guitars and this could have been a great set rather than just a good one.

As to Zombified...Who doesn't like a wee bit of extreme metal now and then to help cope with a world gone mad; death metal extravagance to push away the worries and strains; total noise attack and full on assault always help...

By far this was the best Zombified set we have witnessed recently - killer from all parts, delivered with panache and power.

It's hard to pick up a stand-out track when so much was total grace in growls, gorefest guitars, bastard battering bass and drums beating out primal pounding. The Forgotten Art of Strangulation and Human Cull were awesome, however, along with Grind and Immolation.

So, no headliner, Fuckhammer a man down...did this deter any of the bands? No. Was it, nevertheless a great Distortion Project show? Yes, of course it was.