The first leg of the ‘Rabies Is Rising’ tour, featuring Northern Ireland’s Rabid Bitch Of The North and Sunderland classic metallers Risen Prophecy, had battered its way through Scotland and the north of England at the beginning of the month.
Now, as July prepares to fade into oblivion, the English quartet return the favour for a trio of dates on the island of Ireland, kicking off here in Belfast before besieging Limerick (sic) and assaulting Dublin over the weekend.
Openers Acid Age maintain their reputation for causing chaos wherever they go, by taking to the stage 20 minutes late – and then undertaking not one but two line checks!
What follows is the Lisburn hyper-thrash quartet’s usual manic in(s)anity, albeit marred by a very bass heavy mix, which nevertheless highlights that, amidst the mayhem, Jake is actually a damn fine player and has gelled very quickly with new drummer Aran, who is playing only his second gig with the band.
With the set concentrating very heavily on tracks from AA’s just-released ‘Like A Runaway Combine Harvester In A Field Of Crippled Rabbits’ (surely a contender for album title if nothing else?) – although, not yet having heard said opus, it’s hard to make out which song is which thanks to Eddie’s incomprehensible introductions (although I think I managed to decipher ‘Shotgun In Your Mouth’ and ‘Manifesto Of Hyper Thrash’) – the band who seem to thrive on being written off by some as “Ireland’s worst thrash band” managed to survive without any major damage, especially to ‘Limbs’!!
To be honest, your PM team knew nothing about Risen Prophecy prior to tonight’s gig: we deliberately hadn’t even checked them out on SoundCloud or YouTube or any of those sort of channels – because sometimes life is all the more rewarding for opening youself to new experiences.
And this truly was one of those extremely rewarding experiences, as what follows is truly exceptional.
Their classic British metal sound, mixed with massive elements of thrash and, particularly American-style, power metal – sort of Iron Maiden jamming with Iced Earth – places the emphasis on generating impressive aural atmospherics.
The most impressive aspect of their performance is the huge six-octave vocal range of Dan Tyrens, which draws out the massive power and dark passion of the epic songs, which are drawn largely from last year’s ‘Into The Valley Of Hinnom‘, as well as previewing a couple of tracks from their forthcoming third album, which they intend to enter the studio to record later this year.
Among the standout tracks are the aforementioned ‘Into The Valley…’, which almost invariably draws comparisons with ‘Powerslave’ in its Egyptian thematic (but, fortunately, that’s as far as it goes, especially as they introduce an Opeth-style density to its melody) and ‘To The Wolves’, the majestic middle section of which would make you swear there were two guitarists on stage and not just Ross Oliver, such is the blend of harmony and technicality.
The sound is underpinned by the tight-as-fuck bottom ended bass rolls of Oliver’s brother Ben and the masterful drumming of James Charlton, both of whom complement and highlight the huge melodic feel and sense of dramatic interpretation which characterizes these sweeping songs.
You always know exactly what to expect when Rabid Bitch Of The North take to the stage – and that is straightahead, no-nonsense, NWOBHM-influenced heavy fuckin’ metal – and that, yet again, is exactly what they deliver this evening.
‘Sisyphus’ gets things off to a suitably rousing start, its pounding rhythm coupled with Joe’s compulsively histrionic vocals immediately drawing the crowd – which, it must be said, is impressive in number for a Thursday night show – to the front of the stage.
The trio debut a new song, ‘Demon Mind’, which they introduce as being from their soon-to-be-recorded debut album – “about fucking time, you say” prefaces Joe, referring to the fact the band, despite being around for a little more than a decade, have only released a couple of demos, two singles and an EP (together with a compilation of same with a few rareties thrown in for good measure) – which is a typically frenetically-paced offering with a Vardis feel to it.
The boys are obviously having fun, as they prove when Gerry fakes the intro to ‘God Of Punishment’, which also sees the guitarist take a rare, if extremely brief, opportunity to talk to the crowd.
They also delve deep into their archive, with the rarely aired ‘Chance’, which Joe afterwards refers to as “a song about c*nts… but then, most of our songs about c*nts, and this is another one”, which leads into the appropriately hysterical ‘Trapped In 1999’, while closer ‘Us Against Them’ ends the evening on a suitably rebellious and triumphant note.
- Rabid Bitch Of The North play the Hobgoblin New Blood stage at Bloodstock on Sunday August 14.
- Risen Prophecy play The Retro Bar, Manchester (with Disposable, Beyond Salvation and Skelped) on Friday 5 August and the Northumberland Arms, Newcastle Upon Tyne,with Disposable and Midnight Force, on Saturday 6 August.
- Photographs by The Dark Queen.
- All content © PlanetMosh. Not to be reproduced in part or in whole without prior permission