Still hungover and bleary eyed from the previous evening’s final of the Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses competition, the PlanetMosh team were up and about at a ridiculously early hour to catch the mid-afternoon train for one of our all-too-rare forays out of the big smoke for a ten band extravaganza billed as “Lisburn’s only thrash and death fest”. Now, it’s not really that hard to make such an assertion as (a) the place in question is not exactly renowned as a hotbed of metallic talent – although hopefully today’s event was going to prove otherwise – and (b) despite being granted ‘city’ status a decade or so back, Lisburn is basically a glorified suburb of Belfast!
So, having successfully found our way to the venue – which turns out to be the upstairs room of a corner bar on one of the main roads out of town – we then find that, even though we have arrived in the teeth of the the advertised starting time, gear – mostly in the form of guitar combos – is still being lugged up the stairs; so there’s nothing for it but to settle down with a quiet pint and a quick catch up chat with some old friends who have had the same pre-gig idea.
When the action does kick off, it is the youngest band on the bill who do so… Introduced as being “a bunch of 12 year olds” but afterwards swearing they are a few years older, Imperium nevertheless appear positively pre-pubescent – although they obviously have been studying their artform and know what they are doing (vocalist Turlough Flanagan, for example, knows when to ease back so as not to destroy his young voice) and, although still very wet behind the ears, the teenage quartet prove energetic and certainly display the right attitude to impress even a oul hack like yours truly.
Even at this early stage, the sound techs are struggling to cope with the amount of incompatible and badly set up gear, with the result that Shrouded arrive in a crackling of feedback, before heralding the ‘Reckoning Of Days’. The band are tight – and certainly much more so than during their Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses heat a few weeks previously – and display a practised ease, with decent harmonics mixed with growling vocals, which in turn display the right degree of passion to show that they mean business.
Eviserator haven’t played live in more than a year – but you wouldn’t know it by their tight and efficient delivery of classic-influenced thrash. Frontman Chris does spend a little too much time apologizing for their lack of rehearsal (although he does use this to cover overt the ongoing technical difficulties, especially in relation to ongoing repairs to the drum set-up) – and Team PM don’t quite get the point of the karmatic dude perched cross-legged in front of (what passes for) the backline. Playing their first ever set, Dubliners Catastrophe have “come to kick the shite outta the place”, and they make a bloody decent fist of doing just that with their punky grindcore edge and tonnes of positive attitude. The horrible top end on the guitar makes listening painful at times, but its nevertheless an impressively energetic debut.
Saint Slaughter are another band determined to start as they mean to go on, with their opener ‘Born To Drink, Fuck And Rock N Roll’ – and that just about sums up their attitude and their set of punky thrash in the classic vein. While somewhat derivative in places – ‘Run Like Hell’ sounds almost note-for-note like ‘Ace Of Spades’ – they successfully capture the classic Big Four sound with precision, and to the best response of the evening, and their use of dual vocals, especially on the likes of ‘Resist The System’, is effective and efficient. Disconnect – another band who haven’t played live in a while – are a complete contrast, especially as they utilize electronics to augment their crushing disharmonics and darkly mystical, avant garde gothicism. Huge amounts of echo send the vocals bouncing around the room, while the long instrumental passages evoke comparisons to the likes of Triptykon and Sunn(((O))).
The arrival of The Crawling signals the “big boys coming out to play”. Their dark, grooving death metal is built on dense hypnotic rhythms and huge harmonic melodies, mixed with dark intensity and topped with positively evil vocal growls. Nearly everyone in the room has moved forward, entranced by the new pretenders on the NI DM scene, who lay down a concrete firm marker with a hugely technical performance which is played with ease and professional efficiency – and not a hint of feedback or any of the issues which had dominated so many of the earlier sets. The technical problems return, however, with Wardomized, who again suffer issues with both their guitar and drum sounds; by now, the tech guys at the back of the room are tearing out what little hair they have left in frustration at the continuing chaos around them. The first song is just as chaotic as the sound, and is met by an equally out of control crowd – albeit a tiny minority – who display absolutely no regard or respect for the rules of the pit. Things calm down a little as the set progresses but the amount of feedback – which is not the fault of anyone or anything outside the band’s control – again makes listening quite painful, and this is not helped by the band’s amalgam of different styles.
Acid Age normally can be relied upon to deliver old-fashioned fast and furious thrash very much in the vein of countrymen Gama Bomb and the renascent Acid Reign – and they do retain something of their hardcore edge, but their set is not quite the blasting “hyper thrash” we would expect of them as the newer songs seem slower and broodier. Nevertheless, its another efficient performance – if slightly impressive than the last time I experienced them live – during which they manage to not only lose their T shirts but to encourage as close as the event is going to get to a stage invasion!
It’s well past the advertised curfew when Zombified take to the same “stage” (only the drum kit and backline actually fit onto it), but that doesn’t bother the band one little bit as they blast through their guttural death metal with their usual determination to destroy every brain cell present – which they succeed in doing (again!). They are tight and acidic, with frontman Pete Clarke (pictured right) in fine form, and provide a suitably neck-snapping end to the evening.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon and the subsequent evening. It was somewhat disjointedly organised, and could have benefitted from a proper PA system and backline (as well as a few decent lights later on in the evening), and perhaps some more forceful stage management, but the hearts of all involved were most definitely in the right places, it did introduce Team PM to some new bands to look out for in the future and it would be good to see this event, or something similar, return next year. Respect due.
Photographs by The Dark Queen (c) PlanetMosh 2015
- Shrouded play Belfast’s The Bar With No Name this coming Friday (May 15), with War Iron, Astralnaut and Cursed Sun.