School night gigs in this part of the world have a reputation for being poorly attended, even when four quality acts come together on a superb value-for-money bill. Having said that, by the end of this evening there is a respectable enough crowd gathered to support the first of two heats in the national ‘Battle Of The Bands’ competition currently being run by NI-based Molten magazine.
With slots having been drawn by lots, WarCrux have the uneviable task of opening proceedings in front of what is mostly members of the other three bands. Having stepped up to the mark following the last minute withdrawal of tech metallers Fragments, the quartet battle through injury, a broken guitar and ailing vocal chords to blast through their allocated 25 minutes with their trademark panache, reflecting their growing confidence.
Zombified are the most experienced band on the bill and it shows, as their progressive death metal is highly technical and its delivery is highly polished, its precision almost defying the speed at which it tears along. Vocalist Pete does his best to cajole the still relatively miniscule audience into starting a moshpit as the quintet rip through ten songs, drawn mostly from their brilliant ‘Outbreak’ and ‘Backroom Eugenics’ EPs, with the undoubted highlight of their set being the awesome guitar work, which is supported by a rock solid rhythm section.
The crowd, thankfully, has grown quite a bit by the time Red Six invade the stage: this ten-legged groove machine delivers metal that is as heavy as a tank but also rammed with melodies and delicious hooks. Lead guitarist Steve Martin has recently taking on more of a vocal role, giving them an increased depth in that department, while Laura Downing more than ably supports him with a battering ram barrage of rhythm work: Robert Morgan is a complete animal behind the kit (yet maintaining the precision of his superb drum work at all times), Robert Paul’s bass work is exemplary and frontman Gerard Torbitt totally commands the stage.
Last act of the evening, 7 Days Dead play with a heavy classic metal meets stoner vibe, built on huge chunky riffs. Despite having only come together less than a year, the collective experience of the four members in outfits such as Interrogate and Sinocence definitely shows through, as they are an extremely tight working unit, with Mark Johnston laying down a mean line in riffs over the top of the concrete solid rhythms of Stephen Brown and Chris Cassidy, while frontman Ryan McManus counterpoints the heaviness of the music with his slightly higher range but entirely suitable vocal delivery.