Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, May 26, 2014

Three fives roar as AeSect, By Conquest or Consent and Katabolisis level the Limelight

THE Distortion Project - in the safe hands of James Loveday - has the knack of picking just the right line-up, with just the right balance, for Saturday evenings. Gathered together last Saturday (May 24th) in a state of unholy metal for the launch of Katabolisis ep launch was just such a day.

Three acts took to the stage at Limelight2 for a feast of metal that was consistent, prescient and powerful - all-in-all another darkly delightful day.

While across Europe pundits played with numbers in the electoral battles, and in Northern Ireland the fate of council seats was being determined, the bands and those attending The Distortion Project for a few hours were the middle finger thrust into the besuited bores that promise all and deliver little; as the votes lurched towards ever more right-wing politics we, the disaffected, the disenfranchised and the discontented were dedicated to defy the conventional accepted pact of societal norms.

We were there for three five-piece metal acts who do not fit into neat political and cultural boxes. We were there for metal, nothing more and nothing less. And, it turned out we were to get more than we expected.

Opening were a band new to the editorial team; all the way from Dublin Aesect awed those present, and our extreme metal correspondent, Zakk, was quickly giving nods of approval as guttural growls and tight playing combined in AeSect's aural attack.

The five-piece have a precision about them that augurs well for their future. The selection of songs for their set was well chosen, both in terms of brutality and balance. Too often extreme metal acts of all shades can be monotonous, but the variations in tempo and tone justified their selection.

While a few refinements are still needed to some parts of the songs, AeSect are nevertheless a powerful band, with Shane Kiernan leading from the front as all members produced the sort of presence that only bands with the inclination to incite metal fury can achieve.

Presence is something that By Conquest or Consent have developed since they first arrived kicking and spitting out venomous anthems of anarchy; featuring a naked hatred for the illiterate electorate who chose numpties over intelligence,

Pete's invective is ably backed by band members who are tight and coherent, closely following a pattern of pure metal; powerful and pounding.

Jay's backing vocals are the perfect foil for Pete, especially when he occasionally varies his vocal style. Airing tracks from the forthcoming album Pete, Michael, Dom, Jay and Andrew are capturing sonic sophistication in their sinister songs from the darkside.

Headliners were Kataolisis - and it was healthy to see that they had brought along many of their fans from the mid-Ulster region of roundabouts that is Portadown, Lurgan and Craigavon.

Their ep, available now from the band, Atrocity, is a showcase of the band's chest beating bravura - battering their message into the aural tracts of those who care to venture down its dark alleyways.

Naturally the band were keen to get songs from Atrocity aired, and they used their time well on the Limelight2 stage. Mark is a strong frontman, while Matt (lead) and Derek (rhythm) ground out metallic guitar nirvana, wrestling melody and riffage from their instrunents.

However, like all the five-pieces on display the solid backing are an enabling influence - Sean and Timothy are the lead weights which can hold down the act's rampage.

And rampage was the order of the day all round; and encouraging to see members of other bands taking the time to attend to see these three five-piece acts.

As the audience and bands emerged into the Belfast air they emerged with smiles of satisfaction.

Next week (May 31st ) The Distortion Project presents A Sinister Occult Ritual In Three Parts as Zlantera, Cutter and Bad Boat descend on the unwary.

Written by Jonny with support from Zakk
Photos by Paul Wharton

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Belfast's summer of metal just got better - Soulfly announce July Limelight date

THIS summer, of the year of 2014 is turning out to be 'The Summer of Metal' after another band announced a Belfast date - the mighty Soulfly are playing Limelight2 on July 10th.

Yep, it is turning into a summer of neck-snapping, headbanging brilliance!

Tickets for Soulfly - priced £18.50 (+booking fee) go on sale this Friday.

So, to recap (and we're only talking metal in this post - there's plenty of hard rock and classic rock at venues like the Diamond Rock Club and others) we have so far:
  • Slayer,
  • Anthrax,
  • Onslaught/Artillery/Hatriot,
  • Prong,
  • Tim 'Ripper' Owens,
  • Amon Amarth
  • Mordred/FuryOn,
  • The Architects...and in September
  • Dragonforce and Carcass/Coldwar.

Remember to be nifty on your feet to grab your Soulfly tickets on Friday - while there you may be able to snap up one or two of the very few available tickets to see Slayer on their second date in boomtown.

We know that you're all familiar with Soulfly...and if you're reading this site you really should be familiar with Max Cavalera and the mighty force he has brought to metal, from his days in Sepultura right through to Soulfly and side projects such as the Cavalera Conspiracy and the recently released Killer Be Killed album.

With Soulfly he has his son 21-year-old son behind the drums and Tony Campos on bass (StaticX, Ministry and Prong are all on his CV).

Max Cavalera is quite probably one of the real metal icons and living legends: from family man to revolutionary, from shaman to the man on stage who has street cred Cavalera has grown up in the limelight in his native Brazil to a worldwide presence for metal fans and all who support the underdog, the disenfranchised, and just causes.

Do yourself a favour, listen to some Soulfly - and we mean really listen to the depths in what appears straightforward extreme metal...

In the meantime the Belfastmetalheads team are limbering up with some exercises and neck stretches for The Summer of Metal right here in Belfast.

Now, dear leaders of the Executive at Stormont, you stumped up millions for men on bikes and badly dressed golfers. How about the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister do the same for 'The Summer of Metal'. And, while ministers are considering this, I'm sure that Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness will extend a warm welcome to Max Cavalera, and will be buying their tickets on Friday to make sure they can stand right in the middle of the pit on July 10th...wouldn't that be a sight!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Alive and kicking for Dublin - Stillroom produce radio-friendly rock that all can enjoy

HAILING from deepest darkest Dublin, Stillroom have been knocking around the scene for a good few years, honing and refining their brand of hook infused hard rock. And now finally on Good To Be Alive they have an album that combines all the elements of their take on rock 'n' feckin' roll.

This is a poised and well balanced release - no need to beat about the bush - and this group of friends have delivered.

It has been five years since their début release - the ep A Lick and A Promise - and therefore this set of songs has been long overdue for listeners. For those that wonder about Stillroom's rock groove's success, don't forget they've had a song ('Your Love') used in a Microsoft ad campaign and have had songs used in feature films.

Therefore there is a lot of expectation with Good To Be Alive...

James uses his languid and effective power to great effect, particularly on the power balladish 'The Wake', while Scottie and Dehna keep the guitar lines flowing, with some of Scottie's tight solos well worth a listen.

However, the core of the band's sound lies with John (bass) and Dave (drums), particularly notable on 'That's What You Get''.

Overall this is nothing short of enjoyable hard rock, with radio-friendly sensibilities in the hooks and riffs. That is not a criticism, it is instead a compliment: the many AM stations and sat-radio stations in the US will lap this up.

'Now You're Gone' is the perfect example, with an opening riff that has a dirt-edged tone, before the vocal line delves into pop tones, before focussing on a chorus underpinned by guitar's rolling through runs and riffs.

The band also are acutely aware of pacing and arrangement, slowing things down at the right times on 'Now You're Gone' and the stand-out track on the album 'Beautiful Bitch'.

Arranging a good hard rock song is not as easy as some people assume - the mid-paced stomp of 'All Flash' is a track that could have descended into cliché, but by measuring the tempo and lyrical wit they have produced a song many a headlining band in the US or these isles would be proud to release.

The bluesy touches on 'Keep on Walking' demonstrates the versatility of Stillroom, with James once again delivering a fine vocal style while the band develop the track with the balance of restraint and flourish at just the right level.

Stillroom are long overdue taking their place in the pantheon of hard rockers at the minute: on Good To Be Alive they have produced a life affirming album that will have fans of the genre raising a glass and pumping a fist, which is all you can hope for.

When a review is not a review...Dare, Crash and Worldsend

Written by Jonny

ONE of the first things I learned as a trainee journalist many moons ago was that as soon as you use the first person you make yourself the centre of the story/feature/review and that can only be the case if you are a columnist or top notch journo á la John Simpson.

That may be out of fashion now, but as you know all the reviewers on this site don't write in the first person, except when I'm having a rant...

However, on this occasion I'm writing my comments on the Dare, Crash and Worldsend gig (Friday 16th May) because I was the centre of the story....making a complete prat of myself and consuming way too much alcohol...the centre of attention was not what I wanted to be...

But, more of that later...suffice to say this isn't the usual detailed commentary and application of the art of reviewing...I hadn't even intended on reviewing this gig for reasons that will become clear...

First up on the bill were the wonderful Worldsend, who despite the paucity of the initial crowd, by the midway point of the set more and more were being tempted in to see the poignant dark tales from the dark side of classic rock.

Lost souls were receiving the musical letters willingly in this fine display of musicianship and sheer talent.

Crash were a bit of a surprise for all concerned, with few in the audience having either heard of them, or heard any of their tracks. However, they quickly won over the room. This female-fronted four-piece delivered on every level, classic hard rock with a few nice twists...
Crash at Limelight1 for their Belfast début
Photo courtesy of Metalplanet

As said previously I had not intended to review this gig, as this was the weekend I marked my 47th year on this planet...I was there to toast to my beleaguered body.

Hence I was there to cheer along Darren Wharton's Dare and have a few beverages...

As it turned out it was way too many beverages, something I sort of regret, as recall of the full Dare set would be almost impossible.

But that is to miss the point. Dare were simply fantastic. Wharton is a passionate frontman for this band, one he appears to delight in fronting and occasionally returning to his keyboards.

Of course, many have followed Wharton's career because of his time in Thin Lizzy, but this is not a retro-pension tour: it is instead a band that appear to enjoy doing their job in rockin' like their lives depended on it.
The tremendous Darren
Wharton on stage in Belfast
Photo courtesy of

Despite lacking a bassist at the moment, until Nigel Clutterbuck played on the latter part of the set, this was a hugely impressive set, with highlights including 'Beneath The Shining Water', 'Silent Thunder', and 'I Will Return'.

What was clear, even in my befuddled state was that Wharton and his cohorts are adored by the Belfast audience. Having been the first time I had seen Dare in a couple of decades I was asked to review the gig on Friday night. Had I been in a more sober state I would not have agreed to it....

Unfortunately, as stated previously I was considerably plastered by the close of the show, and post gig beverages (as if I hadn't consumed enough as it was) contributed to the increasing mess I was in.

Therefore I have apologies to tender...first and foremost to the bands. If I am there to review a show I enjoy a few pints but no more. I was unprofessional, and hence this is not a standard regular readers know is delivered on this site.

Next to my friends and acquaintances - I was in an appalling state and an embarassment. Apologies to the kindly lensman and the Dark Queen for delivering me to my place of abode - you know who you are and I am indebted to you.

Also, the door staff at the Limelight for the tolerance and patience (that hasn't stopped them slagging me off mercilessly!).

And finally - to you the readers. You are the people I write for (as do all the other contributors) and I failed on this occasion. I have delivered a written warning to myself as site owner/editor/writer and I have no argument about the written warning....

Having slapped myself soundly I have now entered my 47th year on this rock and pledge to y'all that the site will return to normal service....

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Heroic tales and massive musical muscular landscapes from Sabaton

HISTORIAN Peter Hart tells the historic sweep of battles such as the Somme and Gallipoli, interspersing each tome with the words of the individuals caught up in the horror and turmoil of the battlefield.

Through their words, their tales, their fears and their raw courage a reader can gauge a sense of what it is like for the ordinary citizen, civilian or solider, when bullets are rending flesh and bombs tearing limbs apart.

In the past Sabaton have recounted the broad sweep of history through mighty muscular music, even going so far on their last album, Carolus Rex, to relate the Swedish Empire's rise and fall from 1561 to 1721, helped by an historian to ensure accuracy.

One this, the band's seventh full-length album Sabaton have turned, like Peter Hart, to the stories of the individual caught in apocalyptic conflicts.

Joakim Broden's vocals are as robust as ever, an edge to each melody, with sing-alongs on the likes of 'To Hell and Back' as if he had a Viking horde chanting behind him. Indeed the template of Sabaton's success has been built on with Joakim's distinctive sound, replete with multi-layered production and well arranged songs.

The core of the band (Joakim and bassist/manager Par Sundstrom) have been added to with guitarists Chris Rorland and Thobbe Englund and drummer Hannes van Daal, which keeps faithfully to the Sabaton sound while adding touches that enhance but don't exaggerate. Indeed, Chris and Thobbe's twin attack (such as on 'Resist and Bite') add to the subtleties many miss amid the strident stomp of Sabaton.

The opening of 'Soldiers of Three Armies' has a Priest like flourish before Hannes powers the pass along with Par's precision playing nailing the tempo down.

It is this musical precision that works together - perhaps better than before - for Sabaton. The entire feel of the band is flamboyant in their 'epic' power metal sound, and as such precision in playing matters more than individual playing. When it suits that flamboyance is there; when it does not the sum of the parts more than exceed that which one could hope to expect.

Lyrically, this is where 'Heroes' stands out. On Inmate 4859 the mid-tempo story of Witold Pilecki, a Polish soldier who walked into Auschwitz voluntarily to ensure the horrors and atrocities could be told to the world, captures the listener through the music as much as the tale, both woven together appropriately and sensitively.

Equally the 'Ballad of Bull' is the story of Corporal Leslie Charles 'Bull' Allen. This piano heavy song is about an Australian stretcher bearer who behaved with unselfish courage in recovering the injured in campaigns from Libya to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and on to New Guinea, walking six miles in one case to ensure transport was available to the injured, and carrying wounded comrades through disease infested jungle. He earned the US Silver Star amongst other citations. He paid through ill-health, what we would now call PTSD and many other issues in later life until his death in May 1982. What Sabaton do with this tale of raw courage is to highlight that it is not just killing that makes heroes, sometime saving men is just as heroic.

Producer Peter Tagtgren manages to balance the tapestry of sound across all the songs, from the delicacy on the 'Ballad of Bull' and the more straightforward 'No Bullets Fly'.

In releasing this album Sabaton have stuck to their own sound, enhanced it, and recorded thought provoking lyrics and a musical landscape worthy of challenging themes.

To assume that battle or power metal is all one-dimensional has always been a mistake, but the Swedes from Falun have once more proved that they can produce powerful sounds and powerful themes; again on Heroes they have set their own agenda and it is one that we can happily join in with.

Come, let us gather round the mid-summer fires and listen to the tales of Heroes!

Heroes is now available on Nuclear Blast Records

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thieving your soul, begging for your ears & overall swinish rock behaviour - Astralnaut's latest aural assault

WE all love Astralnaut, don't we? If you don't prepare to re-evaluate as the Armagh-based five-piece release today (May 14th) their latest five-track ep, Thieves, Beggars and Swine - a monstrously dense slab of groove, stoner metal.

Easy listening? Not a bit of it! This is an intense journey through fuzzed-up, down-tuned guitars, rolling rhythms and just the right quantity of meandering around themes of past, present and future.

Following the release of the ep "In the Gaze of The Gods" it was always going to be a difficult task to top it's rolling intensity. But, on "Thieves...." Astralnaut have not only achieved that level of excellence they have extended their reach to achieve a maturity in their soundscape.

Thomas' vocals sound more impassioned, Gaz seems more prepared to wander around the traditional stoner lead guitar paths, while Pearse weaves rhythm guitar patterns atop JonJoe's solid bass thump and Stephen's drum stylings.

From opener 'Ego Eccentric'  to eco rallying cry of 'Mac Tire' it is immediately a compelling listen. The last chords of 'Mac Tire' echo classic Sabbath riffing, leading neatly into 'Neopium' and its devilish drone.

In many ways what Astralnaut have achieved on this release is a double linkage: reaching back to the ancient bogs of Ulster's dark spiritual days and bringing them up to relate to the modern techo-age; and, musically stretching the proto-metal of Iron Butterfly through Sabbath, via Cathedral, to today's  doom and groove rock.

Clark Phillips (Great Northern Productions) has mixed and mastered the right amount of aural backdrop to overpower the sound without overbearing vocals, guitars etc when necessary: a contemporary take on the drone/doom/stoner sound.
Bringing the metal!

Midway through 'Neopium' the doom-rock and slowed down section works as a counterpoint to the rest of the ep's groove heavy march, as Thomas lowers and lowers his voice with musical backing lowering and lowering ahead of a heavy rolling conclusion to the track, powered by Stephen and JonJoe, allowing Gaz and Pearse to hammer listeners into total submission.

Down will be casting look over their shoulder in the shape of 'Utopian Dawn', which might be the shortest track on the ep - clocking in at just under five minutes - but is by no means a track lacking in substance.

Concluding the set on this new release is the epic slab of 'Dethroned' in which there is 7 minutes 46 seconds showcasing the Astralnaut vision. Impassioned, virulent, challenging, and varied this is a defining track of the quintet's career so far. Merging the anti-war theme with such a sonically searing track is a perfect mélange of varying rhythms, musical excursions and vocal explorations.
Thomas explains to eager
audience why metal means
much more than X-Factor
Or something like that...

What makes 'Dethroned' and the rest of the ep so fitting is that the evolution of Astralnaut has not moved too far from the template of their previous releases, with even the artwork on this release harkening back to "In The Gaze Of Gods".

And, the evolution of the music is not so far removed that of "Gaze..." that the songs will not fit into a varied live setting,

Darwin's theory of evolution, and its further development by Dawkins et al dictates that evolution can be explained by gradual adaptations; incremental and appropriate steps in a 'journey'.

This is what Astralnaut have achieved on this release, an evolutionary step on the band's development, another increment that shows the talent in the five-piece.

"Thieves, Beggars and Swine" is not only a fine release from Astralnaut, it is a statement that the band are always ready for the next level, and we certainly can't wait to forthcoming tour dates to hear the songs from "Thieves..." emerge from the dank mists of the bogs like a primal beast to the sweaty, dank glory primitive live setting.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Brewing up a storm in County Antrim: The Brew & Baleful Creed

THERE are moments when reviewing gigs that you end up standing with mouth agape wondering just what the hell you are watching...and just how much you are enjoying the music. Such was the case when The Brew headlined The Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill on Saturday (May 10th).

A wonderful surprise, and a wonderful set of circumstances that aligned the rock 'n' roll stars when too few were there to witness it.

Opening musical proceedings were local heavy southern groove metal merchants with a penchant for a catchy hook and dark choruses, Baleful Creed.

Despite being a little ring rusty the band are still a musical mountain of guitar monstrosity. It's no surprise that they are finalists in TBFM Factor. (You can vote for Baleful Creed here.)

Baleful Creed's Fin Finlay
With strong material from their début album showcased the likes of Hex, Thorazine and Illuminati featuring all band members' talents it is evident that despite the rustiness there is the muscle to the music. And, with Autumn Leaves they have a song that is as catchy as the Bubonic Plague.

The only thing lacking from the Baleful Creed performance to date is at times a remoteness on stage of the three at the front. Fin, John and Stephen all play like masters, but are at times could manage some interaction - even crossing over at times could improve their stagecraft. Sabbath may not move from their spots, but then they are Sabbath.

When Sabs emerged from the dark depths of Brum to end the Age of Aquarius with the Devil's Chord, beside them were Led Zeppelin. At times the ghosts of Zep's live shows were haunting the stage at The Diamond during The Brew's set; not just the excellent cover version of 'Whole Lotta Love', a violin laced effects section and a drum solo ending up with Kurtis Smith using bare hands á la Bonham.

Jason Barwick of The Brew
But, this was not a set of slavish blues rock, this was a set laced with energy, sewn through with talent and all behind the astonishing six-string work of Jason Barwick, who's searing solos on his battered Strat and emotional Les Paul tones earned appreciation all round.

The Brew were not just about the playing; there was an embodiment of energy from the three-piece. Tim Smith on bass may be the elder member of the unit, but managed to keep bounding throughout, and with his son on drums, Kurtis were as tight a unit that has been seen for many a long time.

Barwick's bouncing and manic drive kept on throughout the set, all the while keeping the six-string going and singing like the bastard child of Robert Plant and Paul Rodgers.

With a set varying from straightforward hard rock, through to blues rock and psychedelic passages there were highlights throughout.

'Mute', 'Every Gig Has A Neighbour' and 'Million Dead Stars' were amongst the stand-out tracks in a lengthy set.
Barwick laying down the
rock The Brew style

The only downsides were the slightly - only slightly - overlong drum solo, which despite its peerless execution could have trimmed down to keep focus on the strong set and the violin effects section that perhaps was a little too like Page. However, these are niggles in a performance that was close to perfection as any hard rocking blues outfit could hope to deliver.

Closing with a brief rendition of Hawkwind's 'Silver Machine' The Brew proved that there is still a storm of rock rolling around the world: The eye of the storm was at The Diamond Rock Club on Saturday night - and what a storm of rock it was.

They say there is nothing new in rock and metal - but whoever they are they obviously do not know that the soul of rock and metal grows and evolves with each generation as proved by Baleful Creed and The Brew.

Photos courtesy of Paul Verner, words from Jonny

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Monte Pittman - the man behind Madonna and delivering the metal with his album The Power Of Three

ON his latest release Pittman give it the full Monte as the Power of Three (review here), and he's played with the 'Queen of Pop' in the shape of Madonna thanks to a chance meeting with her then husband Guy Ritchie.


With The Power of Three gaining rave reviews we caught up with Pittman to try and find out how this metal guitarist could trace the beginnings of the band in the long road since he began in his home town band Myra Mains...and it turns out there is a common linkage between Madonna and Prong, whom he also played with.
“There are more similarities than you might think,” he explained. “They both come from CBGB's in some way. Madonna played in a band that played CBGB's and Prong formed from working there. Tommy Victor was the soundman. These things didn't happen at the same time but part of that seed is there with both.
“Sometimes I think of Prong as heavy dance music. The music can be complicated but the tone is pretty straightforward. For Madonna, the song structures can be complicated.
“There is [sic] some genius songwriting techniques when you break some of them down. It's more about what you don't play rather than when you do play. Just like a painter doesn't just throw one color of paint all over the canvas.”
With that explanation it may not be 'metal' but what is Pittman's favourite Madonna track to play?
“ 'Hey You' might be my favorite,” said Pittman. “That was the very beginning of the "Hard Candy" sessions. There were quite a few acoustic tracks originally. Madonna and Pharrell left me in the studio and trusted me with what I would do with the acoustic.
“It was just me and Pharrell's engineer so I got to experiment with the mics and parts in a killer studio. I layed down an assortment of ideas for them to go through later."
Leaving aside his work with Madonna The Power Of Three saw Pittman hook up with the legendary producer of Metallica, Flemming Rasmussen.

“He gave me a lot of tips and advice when I was working on the demos. When it was time to start recording the album, I put him in complete control,” he said.
“He would always get us in the right frame of mind. There were times he pushed us. There were times you almost forgot he was there. It was wonderful having someone that I could completely trust with sound.
Amongst the collaborations on The Power Of Three were Alex Skolnick and Chris Barnes.

“I loved having those guys on the album. They are both friends of mine and people I also grew up listening to,” said Pittman. “Alex has played live with me as our fourth member a couple of times.
“Chris hasn't yet but Chris joined us during a Prong show one night when we were opening for Danzig on 'Whose Fist Is This Anyway?'.
“ It was awesome. Imagine the ending with him singing! Me, Chris, and Alex should start a side project or something!"
Given the people that Pittman has played with and recorded with we wanted to know which one was the most unlikely 'metal' fan.

“The only two main ones I've played with are Madonna and Prong so I guess Madonna. She's the kind of artist that appreciates a little bit of everything though,” he said. “Melanie C and Sophie Ellis Bextor were just studio sessions and weren't there when I recorded so I have no idea what they are into.

“Adam Lambert and I had a band together before he went on American Idol and he liked a little bit of everything too.”

Given the range of musicians Pittman has played with are there still collaborations he yearns to be part of?
“I have always wanted to collaborate with Ozzy. Kelle Rhoads and I have talked about writing some Ozzy type songs for fun,” he said.
“Kelle played piano on my last album, "Pain, Love, & Destiny". I have no idea why those two haven't done anything before.
“Kelle and Randy's mom, Delores, is a musical genius. She has a unique way of teaching and a unique way of how you perceive the notes like I've never seen before. Kelle has that information. I would love to see what all three of us could come up with.
“I would collaborate with just about anyone as long as they're cool personally. It would be cool to do something with Chris Cornell too. But then again, both of those guys are now back with their original bands, thankfully! Steve Vai would be cool.

When Belfastmetalheadsreunited and Rockradioni reviewed the Power Of Three all the editorial team thought 'Blood, Hunger, Thirst' was the stand out track, and felt like a statement of intent for the three-piece; but how did the writing of the music and lyrics come about?
“That's one of those songs where I had different lyrics but then "Blood Hungry Thirst" came to me and made much more sense,” he said. “The music came from me jamming on the guitar. Sometimes you get in a certain zone where everything flows just right.
“It's kind of a fine line of being conscious and unconscious at the same time. That's the case with this song.”
What is sure to us, having had the glimpse into the range of musicality of Pittman, and his band on The Power Of Three his answers to these questions shows a man who has enjoyed a privileged break in the music business, but is grounded enough to keep on exploring his metal roots, his playing and ambitions to keep on growing.
The Power Of Three is available now on Metal Blade.

Killing all in their path NYC style with Defyed, Altus and By Any Means give a Belfast welcome for Ikillya

SETTING out for The Distortion Project Saturday show two of our editorial team were intent on some pints plus some hardcore and metal. Having reviewed two of the bands recently reviewing was not on the agenda. But after a stunning show from all there was no way we weren't going to review it.

Headlining at The Limelight were New York City metallers Ikillya, a band who were returning to Northern Ireland to promote their second release Vae Victus; it looked like a night to sit back and enjoy...

Nope - from Defyed's introduction to the final chords from Ikillya this was a neck-snapping, pint swallowing, headbanging, hardcore, metal feast that saw some of the finest aural performances from
the heaviest in Northern Ireland and a delightful heavy surprised from the US.

Defyed are a relatively new act, with their first ever performance in 2013, but they have grown up on stage and have developed into a hardcore, extreme metal act that epitomises the voice of the dispossessed, the angry and the fury of the disenfranchised. Man, they were furious on Saturday.

With Satan's personal singer in the shape of Matt it is impossible to ignore Altus, they dominate through controlled noise. The transition stage of their careers now long behind them, the subtleties of their playing, and their control of the metal has now developed to a point where all the elements are balanced and ready to show off doom, prog metal and controlled anger.

By Any Means have been for five years keeping the hardcore flag flying high in Belfast with energetic, hair standing on the back of your neck, flaying noise. Off-stage antics, interaction with the audience at a primal level, consistent riffing, tight rhythm and sheer force By Any Means deliver just the way they always do.

With three bands like Defyed, Altus and By Any Means it could be that audience and reviewers have a feeling that familiarity breeds contempt; that the bands are performing just another gig. This is neither true, nor do the audience seem in any way bored by the acts. All three consistently deliver, and always raise their own personal bar and personal levels of performance. More people deserve to be inculcated with the sheer talent and dedication they display.

On the subject of talent and dedication Ikillya have both in bucketloads - bringing the hammer of metal striking into hearts with musical excellence and lyrical challenges.

Strip off the west coast elements of Devildriver, throw in progressive metal, add in onstage presence, and a dash of sheer power and you'd be close to the Ikillya experience.

Seemingly genuinely to be enjoying themselves on stage, the earlier banter and bizarre nerf gun attacks were cast aside by a band that have the talent to thoughtfully terrify through their music.

Jason Lekberg is the focal point, controlled yet free-flowing singing ensuring that the aggression is matched with a pure sense of delivery.

Eric Jackson's guitar work is stunning, roaming over a tight rhythm section, riffs and solos perfectly capturing elements of Ikillya's varied attack.

Showcasing Vae Victus and Recon tracks Ikillya are a potentially greater act than their current exposure might suggest. They encapsulate what metal should be - aggressive, yet thoughtful, talented without showing off,. friendly off stage, furious on stage.

We look forward to their return.

Again James Loveday's Distortion Project delivered a Saturday evening of sheer enjoyment that should have attracted more of the Northern Ireland fans of heavy music. A five-star gig.