When I first came across young Armagh metallians Sentinel, opening a charity gig in Belfast, I must admit that I wasn’t overly impressed: but then, as I said, they are young (drummer Jordie Kelly is still only 15!) and it was only their third ever live performance…
It does display many of the elements which I criticised their live show about – particularly a lack of stylistic singularity and identity: it lies somewhere between classic, death, thrash and goth, and oft-times veers too radically (within each song) between each sub-genre too quickly and without fluidity. And, they do rip off so many Iron Maiden riffs – the bass line from ‘Run To The Hills’, for example, runs [sic] all the way through ‘Welcome To The Thunderdome’ – that they almost verge on A7X territory….
But – and that is one of the biggest words in the English language – one thing you find hard to fault is the musicianship. Young Kelly is a solid drummer, with his youthfulness reminding me in a way of the late Tommy McManus, and rhythm partner Ryan Maguire (the oldest member of the band at 22) is as solid as they come (and also contributes some neat bass runs in the mid sections). Joe Connolly, meanwhile, is an assured guitarist with a lot of potential. However, the star of the show is Rebecca Feeney: while at times her voice sounds out of place against the thrashier backdrop of the likes of ‘Testament’ and ‘Nation Of Husks’, her incredible range brings an acerbic edge to the likes of ‘The Sentinel’ and especially the venomous ‘Deadline’.
The raw edges around ‘MAD’ means that it sounds more like an elongated demo than a finished album, but this nonetheless is a very positive statement of intent from a young band who seem determined to move forward with equal positivity.
The Sentinel / Testament / Til’ Death Do Us Part / Forbidden Fruits / Nation Of Husks / Deadline / Welcome To The Thunderdome / Road To Revenge
Recommended listening: Deadline