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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

More thrashing Feast from Annihilator

WHEN Annihilator released Feast last year the Canadian thrashers rightly received critical acclaim for delivering a contemporary thrash album, with all the bells and whistles thrown in. But now on its second bonus version is this flogging a dead horse?

Well in this case you take that dead horse, skin it and throw the worn leather and entrails to the zombies while you flee into the heart of the pit.

Within the sumptuous packaging - including 3-D cover art - you'll find not only the original Feast album, but a 15-track original recording of classic Annihilator songs and a DVD of Annihilator at Wacken in 2013.

If you haven't heard Feast yet, then rest assured this may be the Canuck's 14th studio album, but it is still fresh and relevant.

In writing and recording it they have thrown in everything you would associate with thrash, added fusion, a dark ballad and some outrageous punk/thrash as well as classic metal stylings. Had there been a kitchen sink in the studio it probably would have been tossed in as well.

Opening up with a triple thrash assault - highlighted by Smear Campaign - it takes an eclectic turn with the jazz/funk No Surrender which melds into a dark roustabout including an homage to Slayer with the cry "Please, God Help Me" before a wild solo outing from founder member Jeff Waters.

Then, with Danjo Jones backing the punk speed metal fury of Wrapped it takes a left turn with the darkly tender Perfect Angel Eyes.

Demon Code is a return to the thrash template, while Fight the World throws in the obligatory soft opening before heads down charge.

However, the real secret of Annihilator's ongoing success is summed up in the album closer One Fails, Two Rise, which has an epic feel in both production and arrangement, subsuming into its grooves the best of classic metal as well as thrash sensibilities.

Re-Kill, as the main bonus feature is a fresh take on many Annihilator's stellar tracks, with Dave Padden taking the vocal duties on all bar 21.

King of the Kill, Fun Palace, No Zone and Clown Parade are all on there. If you haven't yet experienced Annihilator this is a perfect way to get a 'best of...' collection.

Throw in the Wacken DVD and this is something for both those newly inducted into the Annihilator zombie collective and a worthy collector's edition.

This multi-featured release of Feast is now out on UDR.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Triple terror from Spittin' Teeth, Defyed and By Conquest or Consent

SATURDAY evening - that time when the beige and vanilla people settle down to get ready, don their glad rags, watch crap television and sup their pre-drinks. But on the Ormeau Avenue in the dark recesses of Limelight2 The Distortion Project unleashed a triple terror hardcore and metal attack.

And, the beige and vanilla people will never know the joy of the all-out, balls out musical assault from Spittin' Teeth, Defyed and By Conquest or Consent; all three of which produced an evening of deep passion and smiles all round.

Spittin' Teeth opened up proceedings like the bastard sons of Stormtroopers of Death, Hatebreed and DRI. They managed to be both loose and enjoyable.

Flinging riffs and anger to the audience each interlude produced laughter as Dom confessed to being under the influence. Despite that there is an attitude here well worth cultivating further. Of particular note was the rhythm section, with drumming that pounded and splashed to add aural colour to the set

Defyed have grown up as a band in a relatively short period of time and they appreciate the need to be professional in how they approach their music. From the intro through to the closer this is a tight unit, mixing hardcore aggression with a precise musical approach reminiscent of mid-period Soulfly.

Wayne poured real passion into his singing. He's mobile and stamps out each beat, sweat oozing and his soul bared as the likes of Parasites (dedicated to all politicians and Vladimir Putin in particular on this evening).

Steve and Trev are beginning to have the telepathic understanding of each other that comes with rehearsal and live performances, while Kerian locks it all down.

Spit the Lies and Stick Tight had a real resonance amidst the noise.

This was the first time we have encountered By Conquest or Consent and it was a joy to see such a mélange of hardcore and metal, with the metallic edge being the most prominent.

Pete is a compelling frontman, and Michael looks like a full on metal guitarist, locked on to his Jackson, but the tracksuit bottoms revealing other influences.

Dom on bass (after six-string duties earlier for Spittin' Death) has it tightly bound and is a foil for Pete to play upon, while Jay and Pete bolster the sound.

This is a band with loads of potential and are really enjoyable to watch and listen to.

This Distortion Project offering showed that hardcore with a metallic twist is proof of the diversity of music Northern Ireland is producing and producing well.

One day the beige and vanilla people will walk away from their mass-produced nonsense of The Voice, X-Factor and the rest of the drivel and enjoy the release of pure locally produced passionate music.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pain, tragedy and people in Lamb of Gods As The Palaces Burn

MARCH 6th. Put that date in your diary. You will want to make your way to the Queen's Film Theatre to see As The Palaces Burn, the Lamb of God documentary filmed by Don Argott.

On the surface this is just a metal documentary, but it is much more. This is a film about people, people's reaction to music and what happens to people when faced with personal tragedy and real life challenges.

We all know that Randy Blythe was acquitted of the manslaughter of Daniel Nosek, but that doesn't lesson the power of this film, or the tension as Blythe and his legal team prepare for court.

However, this isn't just a documentary about that incident. It is about the impact God have made, and the redemption that exists within the unifying force of heavy metal.

We see Randy Blythe by a river in Richmond confessing that he spent time with the homeless there; we see the humbleness of the band as they prepare for the Resolution tour.

And then the focus shifts and Argott's lens draws us to unlikely parts of the globe to find fans in Colombia; one fan - a taxi driver - who brings Argott to the grave of drug lord Pablo Escoban and the graves of his brothers and friends who were killed in the drug and gang wars.

The implication is clear: heavy metal and Lamb of God in particular saved him from a similar fate.

Then in the heart of traditional Indian culture Argott lets a female fan tell her story of social ostracism because of her tattoos and the fact that she is a singer in a metal band.

Argott captures the excited fans as they tell of 24 hour journeys; journeys of days and devotion across the sub-continent to see Lamb of God. With flashes of the band meeting fans and their relatively 'normal' home lives, so far it is a pretty unique documentary.

Then the arrest as their flight to Prague touches down.

With Blythe on remand and bail being set ever higher it would have been understandable if the shutters had come down on the filming, but no - Argott's given access to the most intimate proceedings in court and behind the scenes.

To see the band going through their rehearsal room to find items to sell to pay soaring legal fees is a reminder that the majority of metal bands don't have millions in the bank to throw around the place.

It has already been stated that Blythe showed conviction and courage to return to Prague to face the charges, when he could have hid behind legal machinations in the US to avoid the case.

The court room images are harrowing - watching the uncle of Nosek in court is painful, and Blythe's demeanour is no coached witness, but it is of a man who feels the pain of the Nosek family despite his innocence.

To say that the return of Lamb of God after the case echoes perfectly the title of Resolution is one of those clichéd journalistic phrases that rings true for a change.

Lamb of God and Argott have captured in film power: power in its portrayal of people; people in the band baring their souls; people in the crowd brought to life from the anonymity of the audience; people in pain; people facing a panel of judges; and, ultimately the fact that music unifies people.

March 6th, Queen's Film Theatre. Be there, it will be worth your time.

More information available at  http://asthepalacesburn.com.

Winners of Eric Church competition

CONGRATULATIONS to James and Finlay who have won tickets to see Eric Church at the Ulster Hall on February 25th.

After an exhaustive draw process (numbering the entries, putting them into a baseball cap and getting the metal mutt, a.k.a. the dog, to sniff out the winners) it now means that if you haven't got an email now then you're not a winner and will have to pay to see Mr Church.

Thanks to MCD who provided the winners and look out for more competitions in coming days on Belfastmetalheadsreunited and Rockradioni.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Masterful Scots Man Must Die nail it on their latest release

IF you like crushing, technically superior death metal, with its roots in classic metal, and with a dystopian view of current affairs and tormented hatred at betrayals then you need not look further than Man  Must Die.

The Scottish technocrats of controlled chaos platter, Peace Was Never An Option, is currently available on Grindscene Records and is a furious expression of death metal as a cause for cathartic celebration in anger.

Throughout this album there is a flavour of finesse to the musicianship as can be heard on some of the guitar work on The Hell I Fear, which also has a clean, spoken section that serves to focus the menace of the song and a coda that works to close the song in a manner appropriate to concluding such a fierce psalm.

It would be pretty much easy to pick out individual tracks on Peace Was Never An Option as there is not a weak song. Indeed, what this album shows is that the genre of death metal need not be a straightjacket. The so-called formula for death metal can be tweaked - just a little - and the result is a more rounded experience.

The album title comes from a song whose lyrical theme resonates in Northern Ireland and Glasgow - it is simply called Sectarian. A double bass rumble powers through the track, while guitars and base weave around the angry refutation of the sectarian culture that divides us.

Lines such as: "Why don't you open your eyes; this is destroying your life" and "You are shaped by your elder's flaws" show the passion expressed in this track.

To help listeners take a breath there is the instrumental Dissolution sitting midway through this 12- track triumphant march through hellish metal.

Despite the liberal theme of Sectarian, there is a reactionary lyric in the tearaway Abuser Friendly, which casts a cynical eye on the 'rights' of offenders - the only uncomfortable moment on then album as a point that can be made with some validity, it also strays a little close to 'Daily Mail' territory.

But it is least a eloquent expression of anger. And, there lies the secret of the album's power. Against the death metal drive there is intelligence on show;  the musical prowess is a counterpoint to the intelligibly presented vocals. This is given full rein on  Absence Makes The Heart Grows Stronger and The Price You Pay.

The eight and a half minute closer The Day That I Died is the distillation of the album's theme using an alchemy that pulls together a mid-paced track backed by drum flourishes, controlled guitar expressions and a sense of timing that few have met in recent years.

Peace Was Never An Option is out now on Grindscene Records and with our 8.5 out of 10 rating we suggest you invest in Man Must Die.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Quare craic with The Quireboys and the Ajenda in Ahoghil

FOR those not familiar with the Northern Irish and north Antrim vernacular 'quare craic' can be loosely interpreted from the bastardised Ulster Scots and Gaelic as 'a good time' - and a good time was seemingly had by all at the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill as The Quireboys and Ajenda rocked acoustically.

Attitude is everything when it comes to rock 'n' roll, and with stacked amplifiers and bass amps removed stripped down acoustic sets means it is songs and attitude that carry a band through - both local heroes Ajenda and The Quireboys proved they have attitude to spare.

Ajenda are riding high on the crest of a wave with a successful 2013 now dawning into a promising 2014 as they told us when they were preparing for this gig. (Hear the interview here.)

The four-piece quickly hit rhythm with an impressive selection from their previously released eps and début album Unrecognisable.

While the instrumental Olympus Monz showcased the musical spine in the band, the songs proved their resilience when Jenny's voice was given full rein with Gav's flourishes flowing easily around the tracks.

Stand-out songs - which were already well-known to many of the crowd - were Tattoo, Heaven's Tears and the most recent release from Unrecognisable, Hatred and Greed.

The Ajenda sound adapted well to the acoustic setting, coming across as a delicate blend of laid-back and powerful.

And, when The Quireboys hit the stage it was an equally delicate blend: teetering on the edge of chaos and outstanding performance. Case in point is the focus of the band, Jonathan Gray - better known as Spike. Despite being clearly 'under the weather' this was a pure professional performance.

Routine banter was interspersed with local references to keyboardist Keith Weir's Tandragee, County Armagh roots...and potatoes.

But when the songs flowed this was aural honey. The Quireboys performed with the looseness of a band playing as if they were resident house act and the tightness only achieved by touring and the intricate interplay of professionals.

Guy and Keith managed to keep a boogie woogie 12-bar rock 'n' roll ethos resounding through what for many in the crowd were the mainstay rock themes of their younger years.

From earlier hits through to tracks from last year's Beautiful Curse (Mother Mary particularly noteworthy) The Quireboys have a back catalogue worthy of the international superstars they always deserved to be, and more recent songs that are as instantly memorable.

As Spike told us after the show Beautiful Curse is close to equalling, if not surpassing, sales of their first album, proving their relevance and the sustainability of rock.

Of course There She Goes Again, Hello, 27 Years, Whippin' Boy, 7 O'clock and I Don't Love You Anymore were among the most familiar and most well-received tracks.

But the strength of all aspects of the band was revealed by the poignant love song,  Beautiful Curse. Delivered with passion and with a chorus that resounded across the packed audience.

With a new album from The Quireboys with an expected release in June of this year he evidence is that the band will continue to deliver on that promise of chaos balanced with creative and musical excellence.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Cappella metal? Hear it the Van Canto way

OKAY - there are many types of metal lurking out there in the wilderness, from classic to industrial, from jazz to technical, from death to black, all shades of metal is there or thereabouts in our iTunes accounts or are CD collection. But A Cappella metal? That's just on the outer edge.

However, German sextet Van Canto have proved on this their fifth album Dawn of the Brave that the absence of guitar and bass is no hindrance to the development of this 'genre' of metal.

With only a drummer to add instruments this is frankly way, way out of our comfort zone, with only the familiar sounds of The Final Countdown and Paranoid keeping our sanity grounded.

Unfortunately the cover versions are the weakest part of this release from Van Canto (the less said about Holding Out For a Hero the better). Their own material has a more majestic sweep; the covers may work as live novelties, but on an album they are intrusive in this otherwise fine set of tunes.

Badaboom - the lead off release from Dawn of the Brave - is amongst the strongest of the tracks along with Unholy and My Utopia.

The album was mixed by Ronald Prent whose previous credits include Manowar and Rammstein. And, is perhaps through his efforts that there is something of the symphonic about this release apart from the obvious effect of the vocal efforts.  He provides a dynamic to the sound.

That symphonic effect is backed by artwork that is based on superhero concept and visual design.

The blurb that accompanies this release comes complete with the claim that you don't need electric guitars for heavy music. Somehow we'd like to see some guitars in the mix to add to the texture, but perhaps that may not distinguish the sound sufficiently in a crowded market.

Friday, February 14, 2014

On the cusp - after an impressive 2013 could 2014 be Ajenda's break out year

2013 proved to be a phenomenal year for Carrick-based Northern Ireland rockers Ajenda. It saw the release of début album Unrecognisable and tours across Europe.

This year they have already released a single off the album that is receiving global airplay.

We caught up with the four-piece as they got together for the final rehearsal ahead of an acoustic support slot with The Quireboys at the Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill - and in this interview they reveal that they have snagged a track on the cover-mount of the March Classic Rock and so much more.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

Saturday night's gig with The Quireboys is sold-out, but look out for more Ajenda gigs soon!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beautiful noise from Baleful Creed.

AFTER releasing three eps Belfast's Baleful Creed have pulled together 10 tracks from those releases to launch a full length album - and what a collection it is.

And the tracks as a collection all make even more sense pulled together as one release with the blend of Sabbath style riffs, southern metal groove and powerful choruses working as one.

Where before the Baleful Creed songs were all excellent - especially live - they sat often in isolation from each other coming as they did from disparate releases.

Now this album is a platform that they can build from to take this four-piece to the next level of success.

Kicking off with the driving self-titled song as a statement of the band's commitment, the following song - Autumn Leaves - is where the soul of the band lies: darkness and light as a contrast and a tale that would be spine-chilling if related as a film.

That contrast lies at the heart of Baleful Creed's unique selling-point: where some other bands across the UK, Europe and the USA sometimes slavishly draw on their influences Creed meld them together like demented musical welders.

Illuminati, the afore-mentioned Autumn Leaves, Misanthrope, Double FS and Thorazine are stand-outs in this overall excellent collection.

It is the combination of musicianship and song-writing that has produced this album. Fin Finlay's vocals, supported by drummer Mark Stewart's singing on Misanthrope and backing vocals are the obvious sound that draw casual listeners; but dig beneath for a little longer and Fin and John Allen's guitars weave an aural soundscape, with Stephen Fleming's bass holding the tenuous grip that prevents it all from drifting apart.

Fin and John's inter-weaving guitars, riffing and superb solos are the outworking of the magic: they provide the atmosphere that make the songs come alive.

Simply called Baleful Creed this is an album that is worth the investment - whether from the four-piece's Bandcamp page -  or better still as a physical album to sit on your racks, where it will take a worthy place.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Win tickets to see Eric Church - the real country music man

TO all of you who queued to see the safe, clean cut Garth Brooks in a soulless, outdoor arena...you're missing out on the real contemporary country sound Eric Church - but we here at Belfastmetalheadsreunited and Rockradioni have teamed up with MCD to offer you the chance to win one of two pair of tickets.

So, what the hell are we on a metal, hard rock and punk site doing offering you tickets to see Eric Church? Well he is the real deal - no faux stetsons, no yee haws, simply a man with great songs and a drunk-ass attitude.

He's already had mainstream success and blew away the final night crowd at Metallica's Orion festival.

Aviator shades, baseball cap and odes to hard living and booze Church is like a redneck with talents, a metalhead playing country and a set of songs that have crossed-over from the Memphis halls to arenas.

Playing the Ulster Hall on 25th February you can expect songs like Jack Daniels (the bourbon he says is "both his savious and his executioner") I'm Gettin' Stones, Creepin', Homeboy, Guys Like Me, Smoke a Little Smoke, and his mega-hits Springsteen and Drink In My Hand this could be one of the defining gigs of 2014, which will see a mixture of country fans, rockers, metallers, punks and those with a generally outlaw attitude.

If you haven't already got your tickets (a snip of £27.50) you can win onetickets of a pair of by simply answering this simple question: What was the title of Church's last album?

Send yout entries here before midnight 19th February. Good luck and remember the usual terms and conditions apply...the first one being: if you're not in you can't win!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Secret Area 69 location revealed by NASA Assassin in début stormer release

AROUND the late fifth century conventional historians relate that a boat carrying Fergus, son of Erc of Armoy ran ashore on a volcanic dyke after establishing a kingdom in Scotland. The old name for this rock has since become known as Carrickfergus - or the Rock of Fergus.

What historical records don't say is that Fergus deliberately ran his boat ashore to stake claim to the biggest secret in the western world - what today we can reveal is known to secretive cabals as 'Area 69' - a dark alien presence in the bedrock....

Once the preserve of black ops teams and covered up for centuries by misinformation and outright lies, Northern Ireland band NASA Assassin have gambled their careers (and maybe their immortal souls) to lay bare the secret kept within the walls of the Norman castle which dominates the shoreline.

Built in 1177 by John de Courcy the middle ages saw the town and castle subject to fights over who would possess the secret within the volcanic bedrock.

While the town around the castle was sacked and captured by various factions the castle never fell, its duty as a bulwark against discovery always complete. Seemingly the force the castle guards only ever allowed people of pure lineage to take possession of it.

De Lacy, MacDonnell, Sir Arthur Chichester, William of Orange and most recently heir to the Windsor throne, Prince William are among them, and religious affiliation seems to matter to none of these. Its protectors have included US Rangers, who under cover of preparing for 1944's D-Day landings in Carrick added more defences to the ancient rock.

Selling power of raise customs to the upstart town Belfast in 1637 was another attempt to distract attention from the forces ebbing throughout the town. As was the 1711 attempt by a judge to acquit eight women in Ireland's last witchcraft trial - their lenient sentences an indication that the conspiracy to keep secret the ancient powers was known only to a select few.

Now in 2014, under the cover of a special forces team called the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service thousands of souls are scanned and captured from 'tourists' coming from across the globe enticed inside the castle walls, only to experience a brief moment of disorientation when the forces grab hold of their inner spirit. Thus a database of the inhabitants of the planet is being collated.

Only a select few in the space agency NASA, members of Stargate SG1 and a few key government departments know of this and it is only the courage of NASA Assassin that is now exposing the world to the danger through the messages within their album....

[At this point the owner/editor of the site wrestled himself to the floor, punched himself in the face and reminded himself he was meant to be reviewing the fucking album!]

Ahem....sorry about that, was just expressing my concern for the future of the human race being placed in the hands of the faceless bureaucrats...

Anyhow, NASA Assassin have been kicking around venues for a while now, led by the enigmatic Watcher, dropping their sonic attack on unwary souls across the land.

With the release of the album Area 69 (complete with cover art of an alien ship hovering over Carrickfergus Castle...) the NASA Assassin sound has been distilled into its most primal brutal form.

While some of the tracks have previously appeared on an e.p. this is 10-track tour de force of heaviness. Imagine an alleyway with Rage Against The Machine, The Mars Volta, QOTSA and Hawkwind being assaulted by a crowd of Belfast Punks...the resulting sound would be reminiscent of what NASA Assassin have produced.

In the grooves of Area 69 you will find apocalyptic visions ("The writings on the wall, the human race will fall" from the song NASA Assassin) and Lambeg drums (Mystified).

There is an elegant insanity in this set of recordings, effects laden guitars when necessary from StevieDog and Jeff Quargle (!) and rampant bass from Aidy Fudge, all barely kept in check by Rab Rokkett's drumming.

For all the wall of noise approach there is no doubt that amidst the madness there is real talent here musically and in the eclectic lyrics. Sexy Nervous Breakdown's chorus is a case in point, as is the closer to the album Super-Collider, which tails off with a subtle repetition and refrain..."If you've got this feeling, Fade Away"

The album is packed with stellar tracks, plundering genres and producing a sense of intensity that is strangely hypnotic draw (subliminal messages drawing us to Carrick Castle?) .

Yet, there is also a sense that the obvious musical wit and lyrical humour is a knowing nod to an audience that is in on 'joke'. (Not that we find the power within the volcanic bedrock of Carrick a joke!)

In the liner notes there is this offer "To be kept up to date on all NA activity or offer The Watcher a lift go to www.facebook.com/NASAASSASSIN." Yes - offer a lift....

At times there is a fine line between the insanity of NASA Assassin and the genius of their musical vision. We are erring on the side of genius...

In the meantime we'll be keeping a very close eye on the comings and goings at Carrick Castle....

NASA Assassin support Trucker Diablo at the Diamond Rock Club this Saturday, February 8th, and officially launch the album in Belfast at The Empire Music Hall on February 21st.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Viking onslaught in August as Amon Amarth set for Limelight date

SWEDISH metal monsters are set to appear at Belfast's Limelight1 on 12th August as part of their pillage across Europe in the summer of 2014.

Returning to these shores, tickets for the show, priced £25 are on sale this Friday.

And, in case you need reminding how good these Viking melodic death metallers really are, here's our review of their latest album.

No support announced as yet - but this one means horns held aloft...drinking horns that is!

And, trivia fans may wish to note that this gig will be exactly a year since Lamb of God played Limelight1....

And here's a wee treat for you - Amon Amarth's video for Father of the Wolf - other bands do a few wee clips here and there and some set-up...these Swedes produce a 10-minute epic with CGI undead armies...

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Rock storm at RockD with Screaming Eagles, Maverick and Baleful Creed.

WHEN it comes to hard rock Northern Ireland has a bonteous collection of bands that really are at the top of their game - and on the first RockD of 2014 a triple header shook the foundations of Limelight2 on Saturday February 1st.

This was a reunion of the bands who competed in Highway to Hell with Screaming Eagles, Maverick and Baleful Creed. Sinoncence were unable to join their hard rock compadres owing to an injury to their drummer.

Despite that disappointment this line-up, promoted by James Loveday's Distortion Project, showcased some of the tremendous talent that this small country offers.

Fin Finlay - Baleful Creed
Baleful Creed opened proceedings with a rousing balls out set - hard and heavy southern grooves and deep Sabbath style riffs.

From Hex to Autumn Leaves to self-titled Baleful Creed, this was a set that snarled like an alligator in the Lousiana swamps. Allen's soulful solos more than equalled by Finlay's riffing. Finlay's vocals were complemented by backing from drummer Stewart,while Fleming nailed each and every bass run.

There was a dark elegance to this collection of tunes, with Thorazine a stand-out.

Maverick demanding your presence
Maverick were playing their last gig before laying down their début album - and they set about their set with purpose and a joy in their art.

From the declaration that they are indeed Maverick the five-piece pounded the boards with Davey Balfour leading the crowd a merry dance like a hard rockin' pied piper trapped in the 80s but bursting into the 21st Century.

With new tracks and existing material off their existing e.p. this was a stormer - even new guitarist Richard Cardwell shredded despite only being with the band a short time.

Screaming set from Screaming Eagles
Successful Highway to Hell winners Screaming Eagles were fresh from their support slot with The Answer last week; and they have have honed their set to a fine edge.

Fry's vocals powerful and soulful throughout with McAlleenan's guitar work shredding and soloing throughout with Lily and Cruikshank anchoring the whole set.

Devil in the Dust tuned down southern vibe quickly rattled into Fight the Fire as mid-set highlights, while set closer Rock 'n' Roll Soul epitomised the effort the band put into their work.

All three bands on display are pure examples of what Northern Ireland can offer. With Million$Reload, Payola, Zombified and Terminus playing elsewhere in the city on Saturday night there is no clearer evidence that Northern Ireland, right here, right now is the heart and soul of rock and metal nirvana.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Grand Magus truly prove they have the Triumph and Power

SWEDISH and proud, loud and proud, Grand Magus have become a force to be reckoned with following the masterpiece The Hunt - but how do you follow that? Simple just unleash the Triumph and Power a riff nirvana par excellence.

Drawing from classic rock, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and their own Scandanavian roots this is a feast of tunes. While many of the fellow countrymen have become more and more intricate to the point they are disappearing up their arses, Grand Magus have proved that metal does not need the musical waffle.

JB Christofferon has masterminded another release in which the music is to the fore; no messing about just heads down hard working metal.

Title track Triumph and Power is anthem that will have fists pumping while closer Hammer Will Bite is a balls out metal track.

The Viking lyrical twist does not seem out of place amidst the songs - instead decidely appropriate in songs that would shatter Ice Giants...

Doffing the cap to their influences there is a reference to the Blue Oyster Classic Black Blade on Steel Versus Steel, and The Naked Dead has Judas Priest stamped over the riffs and the space

However, Grand Magus are about homage to the past, doffing their helmets to their forebears in music and adding a new, fresh interpretation to heavy metal.

There is not a weak track here as JB, Fox (bass) and Ludwig (drums) track by track produce a sensational ten tunes that compel the listener to bang their heads.

In Studio Sweetspot, with producer Nico Elgstrand and engineer Staffan Karlsson the fuss and then frills have been stripped away to conjure up a clean, powerful album. Even on the dramatic Ymer just the right amount of production has been added: to paraphrase the nursery rhyme, not too 'hot', not too 'cold' just righ as the snare drums merge the intrumental into the Hammer Will Bite.

Damn this album is good, very, very good. It's out now on Nuclear Blast - just buy it, buckle yourself and as Derry's finest Triggerman say let "The Riff Hold Sway"!