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.