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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Armored Saint precise pounding batters Belfast's Limelight into glorious submission

FOR more than 30 years Armored Saint have carved a sometimes lonely path as one of those acts that were in the thrash vanguardthat swept all in its path in the mid-80s, a style of music that combined with the pure metal thrust with the pulse of a punk-like attitude.

And, in 2017 as they undertake a mini-tour backing their live release 'Carpe Noctrum' the energy and drive of the band is undiminished, showing sheer joy at being on the stage.

Before they took to the stage Northern Ireland's Sinocence battered the growing audience with 40-plus minutes with a set that displayed considerable weight and balance from the moment 'Long Way Down' opened the evening.

Noticeable was the heavy nature of the songs, some of the older tracks given slight tweaks live and benefiting from a rhythm section in the shape of Ben and Jim that had more heft than many so-called headline acts can manage - something John Bush mentioned later.

Moro and Anto were in top form as they weaved their way through guitar lines that were punchy and almost telepathic in the delivery. 'A Coda To Self Slaughter' and 'Ascension Code' were among the highlights with the speedy and mighty 'Metalbox' melting all in its path.

Armored Saint declare at the end of their set that we will get a 'Left Hook From Right Field' but it was the one two combination of 'Win Hands Down' and 'March of the Saint' that set the tone for their 90-minute set.

John Bush a bundle of smiles, cajoling all to join in with every chorus, wiping sweat from his head as Joey prowled pounding out basslines as if his life depended on it.

Plundering songs from the start of their career to their latest release this was a precise pounding from a happy band to a happy audience. Whether it was 'An Exercise in Debauchery' or 'Can U Deliver' the energy was contagious.

Jeff and Phil manoeuvre axes and stage presence with a deft touch of a battering ram with a silk tip to the tonnage thrusting from the stage.

Their work on 'Aftermath' and 'In An Instant' was remarkable, which given the circumstances was pure mastery. Those circumstances were explained by Bush when he revealed that the Dublin and Belfast shows would not have happened without Sinocence lending Armored Saint their backline; dedicating a song to them and saying the Saint was "a mess" and Belfast must back the Sinners.

That statement of them being a mess was part of the self-deprecating humour the band displayed, with a knowing wink.

'Last Train Home' induced a mass-singalong that was matched by 'Reign In Fire' before Bush declared that under normal circumstances they wouldn't be going back to their changing area for the crowd to chant as there was only dirty clothes in the curtained area. Nevertheless the crowd chanted...

The final blows of 'Left Hook From The Right Field' concluded their second visit to Belfast...a visit that we can but hope will be repeated soon...

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh

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