Necrofest II – Belfast, Voodoo – 22 April 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Saturday, 29 April 2017 04:30

With a severe gig clash this past weekend, with a number of quality gigs on both in Belfast and within easy striking distance, the Über Rock team once again was forced to split up to divide and conquer, with HRH The Dark Queen heading into the hills of County Antrim and myself opting to remain in Belfast city centre for what was definitely the heaviest bill of the evening…


Eight bands from both side of the Irish border, and including one from over the shuck in bonnie Scotland, were originally supposed to appear, but on the evening the bill was reduced to just the six acts: Dubliners Horrenda had been forced to pull out a few days earlier, after their drummer was savagely beaten in an horrific street attack (obviously we wish him a full and speedy recovery), while personal circumstances (also, ironically, involving their drummer) forced local lads Cursed Sun to cancel at the last minute (although it was great to see Jones and Ciaran down supporting the event anyway…


Indominus 1


Openers Indominus initially suffer from an atrocious sound mix – something which is very rare for this tiny venue! The vocals are virtually incoherent, and the guitars, bass and drums are all muddier than the newly dredged River Lagan, with only the snare and hi-hats having any form of snap or snarl to them. Slowly the sound starts to improve, and we can start to make out the winding melodies built over taut, precise rhythms, couple with some good double kick work, which underpins the ferocious aural assault that makes up the front end of this panzer division’s full metal assault. They dedicate a new song, ‘Antagonist’ to the members of the two missing bands, to produce what is overall a tight and measured performance, and starts the evening off with a statement of intent – even its spark was almost extinguished even before it had a chance to catch fire.


Scimitar 1


Scimitar, with their brand of high quality darkened thrash, are a band who have evolved immensely over the years, and now find themselves on the verge of releasing their debut album. They have a brash bravura in the innate confidence of their ability and delivery, which is so tight a welder on the nearby shipyard would struggle to attain any better. Their hard and heavy death-edged thrash is delivered at a fast and furious pace, and they are one of the few bands operating at this end of the metal genre who can get away with having just the one guitar doubling up on both rhythm and lead duties, while Ryan’s double kick work is so far off the radar the local airport is put on red alert… Watch out for these guys when they hit this weekend’s Thrashersaurus festival: they’ll quite possibly sink East Anglia into the North Sea!


Jenova 2


The first of the bands from south of the border, Jenova impress right from the off, their heavy, bottom-ended bass-propelled melodic death metal sound dense and energetic. Fuelled by the dynamics of southern blues, but overtopped with massive slabs of hardcore-edged metal groove, they sprint along a road that takes them somewhere between the Swedish DM/NC scene and the swamps of NOLA, with elements of black metal at its most acerbic and progressive metal at its most nu-wave. It’s dark and taut, with Brian Harrington’s vocal confrontational yet absorbing – and his story about meeting some Mormons and telling them “we’re in a Satanic metal band” is priceless in its typically dour Irish humour. This was the first time I had heard these guys – and on the evidence of tonight’s tight performance, it won’t be the last…


Disposable 1


The crowd has inexplicably thinned out a fair bit by the time Edinburgh bruisers Disposable answer the call to arms, and it’s a real shame as these lads deliver a battering ram of aural pleasure right from the very start. With a new guitarist in the line-up – it’s only his second gig, not that you can tell, as there’s no sign of nervousness, unless it’s bundled up in their collective energy – they deliver brash beatdowns of nu-metal tinged progressiveness amid its focused thrash foundation. Regular readers will know that I love a finger-picked bass, and William Robertson’s rich tone (in addition to his wicked sense of humour) adds the appropriate level of depth and agility to the overall sound, as they shred both their instruments and every neck muscle in sight. A highly mature performance from a band with loads of potential – and the ability (and, on the evidence of tonight, the hunger) to fulfill it.


Legion Of Wolves 2


Legion Of Wolves are something of an anomaly… not only are they the only band with more than one word in their name, but they take the theatricality of what they do very seriously – from the timbre of their social media posts to the fact that vocalist Chris wears a fake Roman legionnaire’s uniform (well, at least the top half of it)! And what the fuck is it with the pulpit in the middle of the stage? OK, it’s got a bit of plastic wire wrapped around it, but other than serving as a needless distraction (or possibly keeping the frontman erect?) it seems to serve no useful purpose! And, it is indeed a distraction from the band’s hard-hitting traditional Nordic-inspired death metal, which is packed with intensity and a dark sobriety, with the dark riffs assuaged by melodies which are equally so.


Psykosis 1


One thing is always guaranteed when Dublin loons Psykosis are in the house – and that is that there will be fun, with a capital ‘F’, aplenty. After all, when they played Bloodstock back in 2014, vocalist Grant Walsh spent most of the day before their performance wandering around the site stark bollock naked except for a sandwich board with their set time written on one side and the words “Free Beer” on the other… Their madcap Anthrax-meets-Acid Reign style thrashcore is ripped from the old school book, but delivered with cheeky but affectionate aplomb and a genuine energy.


Psykosis 2


Unfortunately, the crowd has really thinned out by this stage, and the earlier technical issues have returned, with the mix a bit muddy on the guitars, but they battle on with a tight and precise set of thrash that doesn’t show any pretensions other than to have fun and keep the party going as long as possible. It’s madcap mayhem; it’s shambolic, in the best possible sense; it wants to make you want to throw up in your underpants and then hurl them at the band (nope, I don’t know where that one came from either!); and, above all, it’s FUN. And, of course, it helps that they are also insanely talented musicians, capable of delivering on every level in that regard as well.


All in all, this was a terrific showcase of some damn fine heavy metal talents, and proof that quality will almost inevitably shine through adversity. As I said above, all the best to Cruxx from Horrenda on his road to recovery – hopefully we’ll see you in this part of the Überverse soon – and well done to Jonny from Black Castle Promotions for organizing this nifty little gig. Let’s do it again soon \m/


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Darren McVeigh/Metalplanet Belfast/ Über Rock.


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