Even before the doors of the Voodoo in Belfast opened there was a palpable sense of excitement, for what was sure to be one of the first Distortion Project gigs of 2016.
To celebrate this the first 20 punters through the door were treated to a shot of Jack Daniels to warm the cockles of the metal heart on a chilly night.
Opening act, Erosion, were a late addition to the bill, and while they have many veterans of the Northern Ireland metal scene, this was one of their first public appearances.
With a meaty sound and a range of dynamics the band scream potential, but have some raw edges that will be ironed out with more appearances. Approved nods throughout the gathering audience that there is much more to come from Erosion.
Bracketing the openers and headliners was the monster from County Armagh that is Astralnaut, the beast of a band that rumbles with such a deep end that the very foundations of Belfast itself threatened to collapse.
Southern groove metal re-invented for the myths in the mists, where the footsteps of giants are brought to life with a bottom end that could liquidise internal organs.
As Erosion brought contemporary metal to the party and Astralnaut brought the deep groove, so Rabid Bitch of the North emerged on to the Voodoo stage with their 21st Century take on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
Blending the dexterity of Maiden and the ferocity of Motorhead, RBOTN are a three-piece that have grown in stature across the last number of years.
What that means is that the crowd that had assembled around the stage are familiar with the songs - indeed on sale together with 'Green Eyes' was the 2014 best of so far CD 'From the Kennel To The Castle' - that have seen them evolve.
Opening with the frantic 'Sisyphus' it was clear that Joe, Gerry and Chris were intent on not only entertaining the audience, but enjoying themselves on stage.
By the time 'Defending Two Castles' was complete the stage was enveloped by such a large amount of dry ice that seeing the band was a struggle and some members of the audience were visibly distressed.
It took a couple of songs for the 'fog' to dissipate, just as the 'star' song of the set 'Green Eyes' was unleashed and Joe's vocals reached improbable high notes.
His bass work is perhaps one of the under-estimated weapons in the Rabid Bitch arsenal. Gerry's complex riff patterns and solo forays steal the show as Chris batters his kit into submission.
Visually the band are the epitome of what a metal act should look like - beards, cut-off denims and pulling the 'shapes' without becoming clichéd.
There was, of course, a Motorhead song as a tribute to Lemmy, but it was the two closers that had the crowd and band enjoined in raucous riot of metal.
'Trapped in 1999' is simple good fun, with Joe's vocal gymnastics adding to the wit of the track. And, while we gathered together - with the rest of the population watching 'z-list' celebrities or reality crap - RBOTN ended with the rallying cry 'Us Against Them', a song of solidarity which most in the venue sang along with gusto.
On the surface this was just another gig, but in reality this was the way metal should be celebrated - minus the OTT dry ice next time please.
Review by Jonny
Pictures by Darren McVeigh