Furyon + Stormzone @ The Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill – Saturday November 24th 2012

Co-headline shows are awkward beasts.  And, personally, I’m not a huge fan of them… I mean, you either have a headline act or you don’t – right?  Running a bill with two headliners has inherent problems – who goes on first, what happens if the opening act are better than the closing one?  All sorts of quandaries and questions…

Which was exactly the position with this co-headline slot featuring Brighton’s Furyon and local heroes Stormzone – and, in this case, it was the Norn Iron boys who most definitely came out on top, despite having elected to open proceedings in deference to their visiting counterparts…

Opening with their traditional ‘Where We Belong’ Harv and the immediately launch into their usual, high-powered, crowd-pleasing and hugely enjoyable set.   With two PA systems set up on the cramped stage, they do have some severe limitiations – demonstrated most ably by bassist Graham McNulty being almost hidden from view behind the house speaker stack and then when guitarist Steve Moore sends the bass drums mics flying when he attempts to run across the stage to join Davy Shiels for a twin solo moment – but they cope with their usual aplomb and confidence, Harv in particular looking as much at home in front of a few dozen fans in a tiny bar as he does in front of thousands of festival-goers.

They take the opportunity to preview some new tracks from their forthcoming fourth album (currently in the early stages of production in a just a few miles down the road), with ‘Night Of The Storm’ – the possible title – built on a hard-hitting, crunching twin riff, and the vitriolic and venomous ‘Never Trust’ – definitely one of the angriest songs the ‘Zone have produced – particularly impressive and promising well for the new opus – although Harv promised me at the after-show party that ‘Bang Your Head’ is very much a working title for another other new track aired here for the first time…

Furyon were always going to struggle to follow Stormzone, especially in front of a highly partisan crowd – but, the latter are always highly receptive as well, especially as the Brighton quartet had played this same venue just a few short months ago.

Of course, in the interim, the band have stripped down to a four-piece, with the result that the material played from their debut album, the excellent ‘Gravitas’, sounds denser and edgier.  Like Stormzone, Furyon take the opportunity to preview some new material, which sees them moving more into a Soundgarden direction, especially with Mitchell’s vocals sounding like a cross between Jonathan Davies and Chris Cornell.

They seem acutely aware that they have their work cut out, and vocalist Matt Mitchell works particularly hard, but, to me, there’s just something missing – that killer touch is just not there – and their set is substantially shorter than their allotted 75 minutes.

About Mark Ashby

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