For nigh on three decades, Katy Daly’s has stood as a bastion of Belfast’s rock scene, the favoured watering hole of metallers young and not so young, the preferred stop off for a pre-gig imbibance or a meeting place just to chill out, knock back a few beers and JD chasers and annoy any spides who may venture within earshot by blasting Maiden and Metallica on constant repeat on the jukebox (annoyingly located right at the entrance to the gents, by the way…).
A little over ten years ago, local promoter James Loveday – Belfast’s very own ‘Mr Metal’ – teamed up with the then owners to launch Saturday afternoon live sessions, appropriately under the banner ‘RocKD’. Slowly, the promotion grew and soon moved next door to the larger Limelight: however, due to previously reported renovation works going on elsewhere in this landmark complex (http://planetmosh.com/belfast-venue-being-extended/), the sessions in recent weeks have returned to their more intimate spiritual home.
First up on this evening’s heavyweight bill are Astralnaut, and a fitting introduction to the rest of proceedings they are too, with their punchy stoner doom. The band are promoting their debut EP, ‘Back To The Bog’ (reviewed here: http://planetmosh.com/astralnaut-back-to-the-bog-ep/), and the four tracks which make up their set prove just as powerfully hypnotic live, especially with their psychedelic guitar ramblings and Thomas Mallon’s Glenn Danzig / Ian Astbury crossover vocal style.
Comply Or Die admit to not having played live in six months, but they are as tight as ever, with their sound built on pummelling bass riffs. The guitar sound is initially lost in the mix – a victim of the pub scenario – but it’s quickly rectified after the first track and COD deliver a highly pleasing and well-received set mixing elements of punk, doom, grunge and grindcore.
The last time War Iron played this particular venue, the bar staff had to tie the optics to the wall to prevent them falling off the shelves, and even though that precaution is not needed this time, the quartet are still ball-vibratingly loud. Their behemothic sound is driven by their use of twin basses and no guitars, which gives a brutal and dynamic edge to their sludgy psychedelic doom crossover: again, the pub setting presents some sound mix problems, particularly for the drums, but it doesn’t detract from the power of the Irons’ unique sound, played tonight with their usual passion and aplomb.