Dead Label! – Auntie Annie’s, Belfast – Thursday 17 May 2012

Tonight’s headliners became the envy of every metal band in Ireland – and beyond – when they managed to secure the opening slot at Machine Head’s forthcoming only two headline dates outside Download.

To get themselves fighting fit for the challenge of the brace of shows in Belfast and Dublin, the DL! crew of Claire, Dan and Danny have been undertaking a pretty punishing round of warm-up gigs, which has seen them traverse the (literally) length and breadth of the Emerald Isle – the morning after this return to the Northern Ireland capital sees them driving to Cork, right at the other end of the country, to do it all over again.

Opening tonight’s triple bill, however, are one of Belfast’s heaviest outfits, Stand With Heretics. The last time I saw SWH in this particular venue, their set was plagued with technical problems, but there are no such difficulties tonight, as they hit the stage hard and aggressively with the fast and furious throwdown riffs of ‘Suck My Glock’, with drummer Darren Kearney and bassist Sean Og laying down battering ram beats from which guitarist Gerard Ritchie builds a huge hardcore-edged groove, while vocalist Donal Curran snarls, spits and generally fucks shit up in serious style with his uncompromising delivery.

DL! labelmates By Conquest Or Consent demonstrate a very Machine Head influence in their sound, with swirling guitar riifs over pumping bass lines, intense, angry and brutal even in their more subtle moments. Although at times they threaten to stray into dreaded metalcore territory, it is when they retain their groove and heaviness that they are most impressive, especially when they concentrate on the thrashier elements of their material, on which lead guitarist Jay Stevenson especially comes to the fore.

Right from the off, Dead Label! demonstrate exactly the qualities that earned them the MH slot: opener ‘Sense Of Slaughter’ – the title track to their recently-released debut album – sums up their style with its melodic brutality. The trio are tighter than tight and, despite the appallingly – and, quite frankly, insultingly – small crowd, they are having fun, building layers of complexity as they seamlessly blend thrash with groove, but with traditional sensibilities, in a set which is unrelenting in its aggression and impressive skill. Standout tracks of the evening including the majestic ‘Rest In Pieces’ – a song dedicated to Sophie Lancaster – and the punishing single ‘Self Immolation’.

It will be interesting to see how this young trio perform on the bigger stages in front of Machine Head’s rabid and notoriously loyal fanbase: on the strength of this performance, they certainly have the aplomb and confidence to survive the experience and come out the other side stronger – and, hopefully, with a few new fans.

Check out Stand With Heretics at

Check out By Conquest Or Consent at

Check out Dead Label! at and watch the video to ‘Self-Immolation’ at  ‘Sense Of Slaughter’ was released on Rising Records in February and is available from

Check out our exclusive interview with Claire Percival here:

Dead Label! support Machine Head and Evile at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, on Monday May 28 (tickets, costing £27.50, are still available from and the Olympia Theatre in Dublin on Wednesday May 30 (tickets, costing 25.90 – 29.50, are still available from They also support The Dead Lay Waiting on their forthcoming Irish tour, playing The Stables in Mullingar on Friday July 20, The Mezz in Dublin on Saturday July 21 and the Dun Mhuire Theatre in Wexford on Sunday July 22. Further details are available from

Machine Head play the renamed Jim Marshall Stage at Download on Friday June 8, with The Prodigy, Chase And Status, Billy Talent, NOFX, Fear Factory, Cancer Bats and Rise To Remain. Day tickets, costing £82.50, are still available from

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff