THE announcement of Pestilence's Belfast show created a palpable sense of excitement that was exceeded when the Dutch veterans emerged onto the Voodoo stage on Friday (February 23rd).
It was a night of intense technical death metal with just the right smatterings of thrash and death to flavour the mixture exuding from the PA.
Northern Ireland's own Drakonis devoured the early attendees, providing their usual visual spectacle to accompany their deathly precise set. Using their time wisely the five-piece packed a punch.
Having a selection of songs, especially from their recent EP 'The Great Miasma' that are concept driven can be a challenge when delivered live.
However, the atmosphere and the playing enabled them to convey the horrors, aided by some sublime guitar interplay and black metal touches
And, the skull of course...
Limerick's Zealot Cult have garnered significant interest since the release of 'Karmenian Crypt' amongst the death metal intelligentsia, and such interest is obviously well-deserved on the strength of this display.
Adorning the set in banners - in case anyone should forget who they were witnessing - there was obvious intent to show the Belfast audience their talent. A powerful rhythm section accentuated the menace of their music.
Definitely deserving of more listens as they have an inherent understanding of their art.
Pestilence - emerging from the Netherlands in the late 80s - have been on and off for decades, but their first four albums have always had a special place in certain a generation of fans.
Nevermind that there it's not the original line-up the fact that they were playing songs from those seminal releases was sure to have the stage front crammed with fans.
And, each and every one of those fans young and old were given a treat to treasure for some time.
From the opener of Malleus/Antropomorphia to Mind Reflections this was masterclass, and the evidence well remembered of their raw thrash evolution into even rawer, nasty death metal.]
But that rawness never once over-shadowed the playing. Patrick Mameli punished his guitar to wring every last bit of energy from it.
When the crowd chanted "Pestilence" over and over in between songs he appeared genuinely delighted. Then again with tracks like 'Dehydrated' and 'Chronic Infection' flaying the Voodoo the crowd was right to shower their adoration on the band.
The work rate of Mameli and co was impressive, and perhaps it is unfair to pick one track from the set, but 'Land of Tears' was sublime.
With new album 'Hadeon' the next phase of the tour cycle for Pestilence, the Belfast audience are hoping for an early return of these Dutch masters.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh