When Darkest Era announced their headline tour around UK and Ireland in support of their album 'Severance' it was also certain that they would bring a stunning performance to the stage, as anyone who saw their support slot with Amon Amarth will testify.
What could not be predicted was that James Loveday's Distortion Project would bring together support acts that revel in the tag 'metal'.
Let's not split hairs about it - when metal is delivered like this then it is glorious.
Stereo Nasty were up from Dublin...and remarkably for only their second appearance as a band they laid it down as only true adherents of metal can.
Their experience in previous bands tells as they lay down licks that harken back to the glory days when Accept and their ilk were almost mainstream troubling the charts.
Adrian's guitar lays down a powerhouse of sound, while Fran and Rud nail down the rolling thunder that enables Mick to express his King Diamond/Udo inner self.
Revelatory in their straightforward power and precision -with a nice flavour of Grand Magus - stand out track was 'Black Widow'. We're not sure what was going on with the spiked shoulders of the cut-offs but the music was fine.
Terminus (NI) proved to have a stage presence that suits their blend of NWOBHM, Mercyful Fate and a liberal dash of Hell.
Tight as a shark's arse Gavin and Paul alternate licks and solos, while David (bass) and the other David on drums kept it nailed down tight - even if Mr McCallum revealed his metal chops outside his War Iron and Fuckhammer duties, pulling poses to accompany his playing.
James has enormous stage presence, and while he cajoled the audience throughout to join in familiar songs there was also threat of a new release....
Concluding with last year's split release 'Centaurean' it is obvious that the audience and band are feeding off each other and many down the front know each and every word.
Terminus have the opportunity now to extend their reach, as their appeal is apparent to all.
Darkest Era have nothing to prove any more. From the early days when they went by the name of Nemesis they screamed potential.
With growth and evolution the band have taken all the lessons of tours and time in the studio to consolidate their sound and approach.
With new album 'Severance' receiving critical acclaim the balanced set showcases new tracks and by now familiar songs from 'The Last Caress of Light'.
Daniel O'Toole's bass was an undercurrent of power, while Cameron Ahslund-Glass drumming veered from metronomic to runs filling all parts of the kit as required.
Indeed without Daniel and Cameron's powerful rhythms the ability of Ade, Sarah and Krum to entice the audience into their world of tales and wonderment. The nods to Thin Lizzy and Maiden are apparent, but the aroma of melodic death metal provides the powerful stomp to the overall sound.
Concluding with the duo of tracks 'The Last Caress of Light' and 'The Morrigan' the audience were enraptured, singing along, pumping fists and throwing horns Darkest Era are beginning to achieve the success they certainly deserve.
Review by Jonny
Photographs by MetalplanetBelfast
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