With most true-blooded Belfast metal fans away across the schuk for Bloodstock, there was a somewhat understandably disappointing turn out for this rare live invasion by Armagh pagans Waylander.
Openers Whitby Bay seem something of an anomaly, it must be admitted. Drummer/vocalist Patrick Moran looks like he would be more at home in the spide-filled club night which follows the gig, but proves to be a damn fine percussionist, while he spits particles of noise more than sings. The two guitarists – one of whom, strangely, is feeding his instrument through the bass rig – produce some neat progressive elements within their overall aural bombardment, but their performance is extremely static and impersonal, and they possess absolutely zero stage presence, not even taking the time to acknowledge the presence of the albeit diminutive audience.
By total contrast, Sorrowfall don’t fuck about – setting up in double quick time and ripping into their set of melodic death metal-tinged classic metal. Built on the solid foundation of drummer Conor Edgar and bassist/vocalist Steve ‘Sleeve’ Reynolds, the quartet are confident and assured in their no frills, no nonsense approach. Lead guitarist Chris Polin (pictured left) delivers a series of blinding solos, combining massive melodies and huge harmonics with a fierce display of passionate and highly technical shredding of supreme stature. The band’s new material, which dominates the set, possesses a darkly infectious groove combined with a sense of progression, which is more than clearly demonstrated in the elongated instrumental passages.
Technical difficulties with the microphones lead to a false start for the clan from the Way Lands and band leader ArdChieftain O’Hagan declaring “fuck the intro” as the band finally launch into the ferocious ‘Echoes Of The Sidhe’. Huge swirling melodies are underpinned by ferocious blastbeats and lifted by the bittersweet harmonies of Dave Briggs’ whistle. O’Hagan presents an imposing figure, in every way, as he sounds his battlecries for fallen warriors to re-emerge and reclaim their birth rights. The band’s professionalism shines through when Saul McMichael breaks a string on ‘Kindred Spirits’ but changes it so seemlessly mid-song that not even his singer notices, while Briggs (pictured right) bounds around the stage on acid before traditional jig of ‘King Of The Fairies’ finally brings the dance floor to life.
Waylander gigs may be few and far between but, by the gods of metal, they are always worth the wait, and this was one of the most electric and entertaining shows the PM Belfast team has seen in their local venue so far this year.
- Photographs by The Dark Queen
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