Absolva @ Voodoo, Belfast – Friday November 30th

It confounds me. No, it really annoys me. Actually, it makes me really fucking angry. OK, I know there’s a recession on and all that, but for four damn fine bands – including one who have travelled since the wee small hours to play the gig – to play to an empty venue (and especially one in the city centre and therefore accessible to all) is a downright disgrace…

However, it also says much for the bands in question – and especially Absolva, who had left Manchester at 3am in order to make the ferry across to Belfast – that they soldiered on and performed with balls of steel.

Openers Cursed Sun basically performed for the other bands and your reviewer, but nevertheless delivered another blistering set of hard-hitting hardcore mixed with punk and thrash, with vocalist Andrew ‘Jones’ Cassidy once again proving he is one most charismatic and energetic frontmen on the local scene.

This being only their second ever gig, Terminus may a new name in town (PM reviewed their debut back at the beginning of September) but its various members are all highly experienced, being drawn from various other local outfits, including War Iron (in the form of PM’s own David McCallum) and Lesshelp among others. This shows in their efficient and effective set of thrashy classic metal, sort of like a cross between Maiden and Exodus: again, my only criticism is the comparative lightness of James Beattie’s vocals, but his stagework is more confident and I’m sure there are plenty of good things to come from this local ‘supergroup’.

The crowd has grown slightly – well, at least one other person has paid in, doubling the number of punters in that regard – by the time the mighty Sinocence take to the stage.

Again, like true professionals, they throw themselves into their set as if the room is actually packed to the rafters, delivering fiercesome renditions of their new ‘No Gods No Masters’ opus – and even taking the PA wanking out during ‘Making A Monster’ in their stride.

It must have been truly disheartening for Absolva to open their short Irish tour to such a small crowd, but they don’t seem to care if they’re playing to one person, ten, 100 or 10,000 as they are here to enjoy themselves and deliver some blistering classic heavy metal – and that’s exactly what they do.

Opening with the title track of their debut ‘Flames Of Justice’ album, they show no sign of the tiredness of the 14 hour journey from Manchester to Belfast as they deliver a high energy performance.

‘Code Red’ features a stunning solo from Chris Appleton, who handles both lead guitar and vocal duties with aplomb, while ‘It Is What It Is’ reminds of a more melodic Judas Priest, particularly in Appleton’s interaction with second guitarist Tom Atkinson.

‘Free’ is soaring and catchy with its huge melody, while the suitably feisty ‘From Beyond The Light’ is dedicated to the thrashers in the diminutive crowd.

A powerful set, it demonstrated the professionalism not only of Absolva in delivering the goods with passion and commitment, but also of each of the other bands – and of promoter James Loveday, of The Distortion Project, a man who oozes devotion to the cause from every pore of his being.

• ‘Premonition’ by Cursed Sun is available from the band’s website: http://www.cursedsun.com/
• ‘No Gods, No Masters’ by Sinocence is available from the band’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/sinocence?ref=ts&fref=ts
• ‘Flames Of Justice’ by Absolva is available from Rocksector Records: www.absolva.com
• Absolva headline the Winter Fuel festival at NQ Live, Manchester on Saturday December 15th: http://www.facebook.com/events/492585670775138/

Photogaphs by Marc Leach: http://www.marcleachphotography.com/

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff