Pick Your Rock and Metal

Sunday, June 08, 2014

This is metal; this is Belfast, this was Donum Dei, September Cross, Astralnaut and Conjuring Fate

OKAY, let's get this straight, heavy metal comes in many flavours, many forms and many variations in quality: but put four bands such as Donum Dei, September Cross, Astranaut and Conjuring Fate on stage and you end up with the glorious mayhem that only pure metal can bring to an audience.

On Saturday (June 7th), gathered for The Distortion Project's majestic RockD presentation, the skies cleared as James Loveday welcomed growing numbers to the altar of metal in the Limelight2 to toast the launch Conjuring Fate's 'House on Haunted Hill' ep.

And, with the whiff of joy pulsing through the audience, Donum Dei ripped into their set, proving they have previously untapped resources of talent and songwriting in what was perhaps one of the tightest sets they have produced.
Donum Dei - a celebratory
collision of metal and youth

From the animated Dean Kane (bass) running around like an Energizer bunny on Red Bull and speed, to a masterful lesson in harmony guitar playing from Thomas Marshall (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Stuart McLoughlin (lead guitar) while Alastair Marshall (drums) weaved majestic patterns and threw in shrewd blastbeats to complement the intense set.

McLoughlin proved himself as a six-string master, while Marshall was commanding, taking the point as the Donum Dei patrol seared all in the room. Despite being relatively youthful, Donum Dei played what was probably the best opening set in the Limelight2 for some time. If Carlsberg did opening sets...

Eamon Killen leads
the Cross charge 

With Eamon Killen now taking over vocal duties September Cross have a new dynamic; from earlier NWOBHM influences, they now have a contemporary edge to their sound as Alex Mihail and Ricki Hewitt wove spellbinding patterns.

Again harmony guitars were to the fore, and no bad thing when played with such precision, while Jago (bass) and Boyce (drums) nailed down the rhythm.

The time spent rehearsing and playing more regularly has paid off for the Cross, as they more and more hone their sound and add an identity to their work.

As for Astralnaut...they are a beast on stage, a ten-limbed stalking doom groove from the depths of Armagh; their sound would waken the ancient kings and CĂș Chullainn from their graves to once more stalk the hills and valleys with intent.

With the tracks from their recent ep, Thieves, Beggars and Swine merging seamlessly with earlier material they are maturing ever more on stage, and like all bands on display they were enjoying their slot.
Mallon's spiritual singing:
 the Astralnaut's groove

Mallon's vocals deep in resonance, while Gaz and Pearse proved that dynamics are key when playing their unique style of southern groove - and as such JonJoe and Todd proved that when it comes to laying it down, do it right and all will bow before the Astralnaut aural aura of maginifence.

Main attraction of the night was Conjuring Fate, making a long awaited return to the boards.

New members, Gibson (guitar), Legear (bass) and Walczak (drums) have boosted the depth of the sound, while Daly has managed to stretch his voice yet further, and Horner worked magic with Gibson.

Phil Horner - Fate conjuring
metal majesty 
You could easily say that this was a great performance from Conjuring Fate, but it was so much more than that. This was not a night of parochial chest beating, this was a world class set. Put it against the dross so many PR and label based acts are polluting the airwaves and TV 'metal' channels and Fate stand proud.

Tommy in the midst of a
rapturous crowd chants the
Conjuring Fate odes of metal
Focussing on some classic material and tracks from the new ep they produced a slick, but emotionally grounded performance, as grins on audience and band grew wider and heads once more banged, and horns were aloft as Stormzone's Steve Moore joined the band on stage for more axe delight.

Keep this type of gig going and Fate will reach further into the consciousness of wider listeners.

Never mind your genre splitting, never mind your typecasting of bands, never mind any metal snobbery, never mind the style police, June 7th was a triumphant invasion of metal. Nothing less than metal from four fantastic acts who ripped into their performances with gusto.

It was also good to see so many turn out for the evening's delights, from members of other bands through to fans both young and old.

Heavy metal - as TenaciousD said: "You cannot kill the metal", but no tongue in cheek codology is necessary when the pure heart of metal beats so strong in the hearts of Donum Dei, September Cross, Astalnaut and Conjuring Fate.

Review by Jonny
Additional contributions by Zakk
Photos courtesy of Paul Wharton.

Words and photos are exclusive copyright and retain intellectual property. The named bands and non-profit sites are free to use any or all of the above with attribution. All other uses are available with the written permission of the site owner and with appropriate recompense

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