Review by Zakk
WITH the boss away reviewing this for Metal-Rules.com [read it here] it has been left to me to sum up Metalfest IV on Monday 21st April at County Antrim's rock mecca, the Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill.
Easter Monday it might have been but there was a seismic shift in the tectonic plates under Northern Ireland when four slabs of metal landed - and within were four distinct flavours of metallic ferocity.
In a slightly surreal event there were even cross-dressing bearded Easter/Playboy bunnies present...but then you had to be there to really appreciate it...if appreciation is the correct response!
Opening up proceedings were extreme metal act Altus. Propelled by Matt Cordner's roar, Altus are improving constantly on their live performances and closing duo of songs Beast and Born To Exist summing up the Altus wild ride. Some of the slower, more doom-laden tracks hint at a future sound that mixes the extreme with the atmospheric.
They where a great growling, monstrous start to a great metal night.
Under-rated, not appreciated are some of the phrases that have always sprung to mind with A Little Bitter despite their musical prowess. Their combination of powerful songs, huge melodies, metal riffage and lyrical excellence have always been something all the contributors to Belfastmetalheadsreunited have enjoyed.
For this reviewer it was the first time seeing the three-piece and they left a massive impression of just what can be achieved through hard work, great playing and super songs in a live environment.
Jonny Armstrong's guitar work soared and swooped, while Darren Pilkington's drums were an awesome aural accompaniment to Seamy Donnelly's bass work; as he used all six-strings on his instrument to provide a dynamic, while both he and Jonny used the length and breadth of their fretboards to good effect.
Whether it be Further I Crawl, Jebus, Genghis or Dark Tide the strength of each song also hides lots of subtleties as well as choruses many a so-called mainstream band would want to have in their locker.
Sinocence have really upped their game of late, and although having seen them on occasion it seems that the band have gelled to a greater degree than ever. Moro seems more confident than ever spearheading the band; and despite feedback and cable issues Anto's lead sections were coherent and concise - a sign that you can been a guitar widdler and be capable of making solos appropriate to the structure of a song.
Long Way Down is a tremendous opener, and the wealth of their material was bracketed by the closing storm of Metal Box. Highlights also included Coda and the cover of Prong's Snap You Fingers, Snap Your Neck.
The growth of Sinocence is apparent and they deserve to be atop a pile across the UK.
Stormzone have grown and developed over the past two years, with latest release Three Kings a tribute to persistence of power metal played well.
Harv's engaging presence and powerful range kept the show rolling in a set including favourites such as opener Where We Belong and Death Dealer. An impressive The Pass Loning showcased all the talent in the band, while the slower Beware in Time only served to help empahsise the stomp of Spectre. Of particular note among this excellent set of musicians was the pounding of Davey Bates on drums and Steve Moore's lead sections; both complementing the overall range of the band.
Stormzone's ongoing success should, as with all the acts on display at Metalfest IV reach a wider audience.
Derwin and all connected with the Diamond Rock Club deserve a pat in the back for putting on shows like this, and despite not packing out the room it is a sure sign that future events like this will draw more and more punters through the Ahoghill venue.
Sub-editing by Jonny