When the census did its rounds last year, I filled in the section marked ‘Religion’ with two very simple words – Heavy Metal. For that’s what metal is… a lifestyle choice, at times a religious experience. And, so it is that, for the second time in a little over 24 hours, I find myself climbing the narrow stairs to Belfast’s newest temple of rock, this time for the second of the two local heats in the nationwide ‘Battle Of The Band’ competition currently being run by NI-based Molten magazine.
Openers Cursed Sun make light of the fact they only had a few hours’ notice (having stepped in to replace Bakken earlier in the afternoon), but there is nothing lightweight about this five piece, as they produce an unholy amalgam of hardcore, punk, classic metal and thrash in a hard-hitting collection of songs and stageshow. Frontman Andrew ‘Jones’ Cassidy is highly charismatic, stalking the stage like a caged panther on heat, urging the crowd onto the dancefloor (and then taking to it himself) and possessive of one of the best hardcore screams in the business.
I’ve always liked Stand With Heretics – well, apart from that incident with the guitar but I think we’ve all moved past that particular experience – and tonight once again shows why, as they deliver an efficient and proficient set of doom-encrusted, swampy hardcore. Frontman Donal isn’t quite his usual boundless bundle of non-stop energy, but his vocal performance is still good, as he spits his lyrics with his usual pent-up fury: Sean’s bass sounds particularly heavy and doomy this evening, but maybe that’s just the nature of the venue, while Gerard delivers a mean line in southern-inspired riffs and precise solos.
The Obscene Machine certainly know how to make an impression, taking the stage amid a pall of strobe-lighting pierced smoke, which clears to find all four members hidden behind adapted welders’ masks. Yes, there’s a bit of a Slipknot thing going on here – even down to the members being referred to by numbers – but that’s where the similarities end, as TOM proceed to demolish the venue with their brutal sado-masochistic industrial death thrash grind metal. The first (and only) band of the night to use sound as well as visual effects, they clearly are on a mission… and they succeed with stunning effect!
Like TOM, this is my first time seeing Gargantuan, a band with a growing reputation – and I can see why. Their music is highly technical old school death metal, highlighted by some very progressive, almost jazz-inspired bass work from frontman Aidy Reihill, who also handles vocal duties admirably, in a cross between Lemmy and Mustaine in both delivery and attitude. The guitar work of both Rony Reihill and Chris Duffy is equally impressive, while Craig Stockman’s drumming is efficient and effective in underpinning the more complex aspects of the band’s sound. My only quibble, however, is that all the songs started to sound the same after about the halfway mark. Nevertheless, I would look forward to catching them again in the not too distant future.
For more information on the Molten magazine ‘Battle Of The Bands’, which is taking place across the UK and Ireland, visit http://www.facebook.com/MoltenBattleOfTheBands
And the winners were….
Not surprisingly, The Obscene Machine qualified from tonight’s heat, along with Gargantuan, joining Red Six and Zombified from the previous evening’s first heat (reviewed here: http://planetmosh.com/7-days-dead-red-six-zombified-warcrux-voodoo-belfast-september-5th-2012/). All four bands will reconvene at Voodoo on October 19th for the regional semi-final.