Sunday, November 17, 2013

Six of the best, despite absent friends

THIS was heavy metal, and this was the six of the best Northern Ireland heavy metal on display, this was Belfast Music Week, this was The Distortion Project 13th Birthday and this was the Ulster Hall rocked to its very core.

Despite a thin crowd six bands came on to the vast stage of the Bedford Street venue with verve, vigour and no need for Viagra as they stood erect in the name of metal.

To the obvious delight of those that got off their backsides to attend this was six bands fulfilling dreams of playing in one of the metal meccas; and playing it as if the hall was filled to the rafters.

Opening proceedings at an obscenely early hour Rabid Bitch of the North delivered it old school metal style, three musicians leaning into a meaty slab of monster riffs and punchy rhythms; it was if the 80s hadn't gone away.

Skypilot's considered, yet heavy riffage merged into a melange of Clutch and Tool; all pretence that prog metal might bring dispelled by the entrancing weaves of musical metal collages.

Representing the dark side of the metal family Zombified brought the extreme death metal on stage in a flurry of right and left combinations of neck breaking, thorough and precise death as it should be played...as if blood-splattered corpses littered the floor of this venerable venue.

With barely a pause the riff then held sway as groove monsters and maestros of all-round Legenderry cool Triggerman brought summoned the river gods and bought thon strange brew to Belfast - total excellent personified.

Sinocence brought a dash of thrash and old school to the hall with their usual pananche; from Long Way Down to having Raymie Haller of Sweet Savage joining them for a blast of Killing Time, this was a band flexing their collective biceps built up with touring and playing wherever and whenever was appropriate.

Stormzone have become a force of nature; a conjuration of the weather gods brought this five piece together to rain thunder upon us; from Davey Bates and Graham McNulty's rumbling of elemental terror, to Davey Shields and Steve Moore's riffs and manic soloing and held together by charismatic Harv Stormzone know that the big stage is where they belong.

To say it was a fitting closer to six acts of all round 'immenseness' would be an understatement.

However, two things were to put a dampener on the night, otherwise lit up by six bands giving their all, illuminated by a tremendous lighting rig and set-up.

Firstly the sound was appalling - at times too muddy, and other times bright and sparky; and usually getting it the wrong way round.

A bigger crowd may have helped dampen down the reverb that was killing a lot of bands' dynamics. Where was this crowd? Lost on the back streets of Belfast? Too lazy? Too self-absorbed? Washing their hair?

Wherever they were: the thousands who have enjoyed the smallest to the largest gigs The Distortion Project has laid on over the last 13 years; the hundreds of bands that The Distortion Project have given an opportunity to ply their trade; and the thousands who had the chance to show that metal is alive - they were the ones who missed out. They are the ones who this weekend should hang their heads in collective shame.

To James Loveday and each and every band and fan who were in the Ulster Hall we raise the horns and a pint - for those who brought the metal, we salute you!

11 comments:

Maurice Nixon said...

Spoken like a true Metal Prophet! What a privilege indeed to be counted amongst the only one who counted and showed their metal that night! DP13 you rock!

Steve Martin said...

Some people have jobs that, unfortunately, they do not have the liberty of dropping for an early gig on a Friday night. You'd do well to remember that before you go on a tirade about people being lazy or washing their hair.

Jonny said...

Fair point Steve and last night I heard some genuine reasons why people could not attend (and I'm not slagging those like yourself off). My point is that when I came home on Friday night I saw a lot of people posting on Facebook about watching Children in Need with a few beers, and people posting about how Friday night was boring sitting in. (Some of those who had said they'd be there). A lot of times I can't make it to gigs due to family commitments and health, but this was one that I felt was important. I apologise if you felt this was targetting people like you who had genuine reasons not to be there, however, for a lot of people they owe James a lot and could have made the effort. Again I apologise

Dave said...

I wasnt there due to the time i would have got there, i would gave missed the bands i wanted to see. I have no interest in the rest of the bill. Some of the people that werent there support and go to gigs , buy merch etc... All year round. Where are the majority of these metal warriors the rest of the year?

Jonny said...

Fair point Dave - as you know from reading this blog (and its syndicated copy on rockradioni) that we go out of our way to get to as many as possible local gigs and support local acts with reviews and interviews. Some people only turn out when 'international' acts come here without taking the time to see the local excellent bands across all genres. There are about three journalists bloggers out there backing local bands and promoters while some so-called rock 'reporters' don't bother their arse to go and see local acts and give them the space they deserve.

Dave said...

Any support for local acts is appreciated and I know you are one of the few that can be relied to give a non biased opinion on these things.However broad brush strokes can get heckles up and when you have people like Maurice Nixon self congratulatory statements I have to say something. I know guys that were not there simply due to not wanting to be there due to the billing, others that attend more gigs in a year than a lot of these folk have ever been at. I think folk show their appreciation all year round at DP shows and have throughout the years. Local reporters that dont go to local shows are as bad as the bands that only appear at their own shows - always find that a little suspicious. Anyway see you over the next while at gigs!! Cheers

baggy said...

Must admit, the crowd size was exactly as I'd expected, possibly slightly more to be honest...
I found the sound to be very good especially for the first two bands, in fact it was good for all the bands... I was actually pleasantly surprised at that. Decent night out for a tenner. The bands wouldn't all have been to everyone's tastes I suppose, so that might have had a bearing on the attendance. Hope The DP get the chance to do it again, maybe the 15th or 20th?

Jonny said...

Might have been where I was circulating Baggy. As to the line-up...well I have diverse tastes :)

Steve Martin said...

To be fair, I'm bitter because I really wanted to be there but I couldn't just leave work ya know?
Thanks for the reply, given that I ended up just watching football in work, I was pretty pissed off that I couldn't get 2 hours leave to watch the local gig of the year.
incidentally, a lineup repeat at limelight rockd wouldn't go amiss!

Paul Wharton said...

Great review Jonny. I knew about this gig from the beginning of summer so had Friday booked off (the gig was originally supposed to be Thursday) The official gig announcement from Belfast Music Week wasn't until a few weeks before the date so lots couldn't plan ahead.I would love to have seen the hall full but in truth I didn't expect it. The fact there were so many other events around the city including a free Van Morrison gig wouldn't have helped. I know the other events wouldn't be to the liking of the crowd expected at the hall but when you consider friends, relatives potential babysitters etc might be going to one of the events a lot of people probably had no choice but to sit in. Saying that it was an awesome night and all the bands were fantastic even if one or two weren't exactly my taste.

Anonymous said...

Get a major headliner for the likes of these gigs....that would draw a crowd for the local acts to showcase their music.