Rabid Bitch Of The North – ‘Nothing But A Bitter Taste’ (Hostile Media) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by David O'Neill   
Friday, 21 July 2017 04:00

RBOTN artworkRabid Bitch Of The North are a three piece heavy metal band from Belfast. This is their first full album, and is being followed with a short tour later in the year which takes in Fuel Rock Club in Cardiff in September, along with another Belfast band (and labelmates) Overoth. Having been asked to review the gig, I thought it useful to see what I was letting myself in for, as full on metal is not usually my thing. 


The music I found on Spotify confirmed my lack of enthusiasm for this genre of music, as it was full of screaming, difficult to understand vocals.  However, the new album departs significantly from this style of music. Whilst the tracks are heavily drum and bass guitar driven, the vocals have left the continual spawn of Satan’s loins screaming I associated with this genre. 


It's an eight-track album scattered with heavy rocking drumming and the usual low to mid range guitar riffs and power chords that are associated with metal.  The vocals, however, surprised me.  I wasn't ready for the high range that lead singer Joe McDonnell sprang on me from the opening of the first track, lead single ‘The Missionary’.  It was a bit like expecting the low ranges of bass singers and being confronted by a contralto. On playing it to my son, he said it was a bit like Myles Kennedy’s upper range, and after multiple listens I find myself agreeing with him. However, while I like Alter Bridge, I find it difficult to get on with this style of music, but recognise the throngs who flood to the likes of Bloodstock will absolutely get this and form a huge mosh pit full of  black eyes and broken noses to boot.


Chris Condie’s drumming is solid, and the mix on the album is well put together, with each part sitting in the right range without overpowering any of the others.  There are some nice guitar riffs in parts that had me pursing my lips and nodding my head along. 


It does make a change to be able to understand the vocals in this style of music, and track three “Nothing But A Bitter Taste” could be a crowd pleaser in the right venue.   There is a very nice clean riff in one part which shows guitarist Gerry Mulholland’s ability beyond low range thrashing. ‘Gilded Men’ returns to the low range guitar riffs that perpetuate throughout, driving the track along underneath the vocals.  It reminds me a bit of some of Marillion’s later heavy tracks.  The high range guitar riff later shows its roots in Irish music.


Track five, ‘God of Punishment’ gives a different sound with McDonnell showing his rang,e from tenor to the contralto style he uses predominantly.  Much of the track is almost spoken rather than sung, as it is slower and played much lower in the range, and it seems to use a harmoniser in the main guitar solo. ‘Demon Mind’ is the only track that appears to use an intro to lead into the main track which has an Middle-Eastern feel to the rhythm.  It continues in the power chord style that dominates the album throughout, with a bit of early Bon Scott styling in the vocals at points. ‘Defending Two Castles’ is really the only track on the album I kind of like: with a catchy hook and lyrics that could possibly have some of the crowd singing along to the chorus, it rumbles and rocks along between the singing, with an energy that I like.


‘Help I'm Trapped In 1999’ is the last track, and follows the style of the previous ones, with the addition of more backing vocals than any of the others, and at some points feels a bit like there's a choir going on. 


None of the tracks are overly self-indulgent, which is one of my dislikes of this genre, and they are all relatively short much of the guitar work is relatively simplistic being just a single guitar.  Whilst this is easy to replicate live, many of the intricate solos could have been added to by overdubbing other layers to add more body to them. Although they are a three-piece band, you only have to listen to what the likes of Muse and Royal Blood are achieving with only a few band members and novel ideas. 


I can now go to the gig and give a reasonably informed review of the style and music that is definitely different to what I’m used to. 


‘Nothing But A Bitter Taste’ is released on 19 August.  You can get your copy HERE.


Rabid Bitch Of The North play the following dates:


Friday 18 August – Limerick, Dolan’s (with Twisted Autocracy and We Come In Pieces)

Saturday 19 August – Belfast, Limelight 2

Thursday 28 September – Cardiff, Fuel Club (with Overoth, Mordrake, Isolation and Incursion)

Friday 29 September – Luton, Castlefest

Saturday 30 September – Dundee, Hordes Of Belial


Watch our chat with Chris and Joe from RBOTN on the most recent edition of the Über Rock Sunday Brunch HERE.




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