The latest instalment of the weekly RocKD’s epic 13-year odyssey brought together another damn fine trio of bands who once again demonstrated the extremely rude state of health which the Northern Ireland metal scene is enjoying at the moment (as anyone who attended the recent Highway To Hell event in Glasgow will attest…).
St Hellfire opened proceedings with a brand of classic rock as fiercesome as the brimstone the second half of their name is usually paired with. The band played with a flair and panache so many acts fail to master, with frontman Mark Fanjo simply oozing charisma, his drawling vocal delivery matching the band’s sleazy, sludge-edged stoned blues sound, and bassist Decky prowling the stage like a cross between Steve Harris and Angus Young, while Micky Moon’s drumming was as solid as the rock of Gibraltar and Ian Cobain’s lead guitar work was delivered with a crunching grittiness. ‘Porn Star Rock Star’, at the centre of their set, just perfectly summed up their approach.
Cutter ratchet up the heaviness of the bill somewhat with their passionate, groove-infused doom, played with a huge bottom end dragged straight from the darkest corners of their collective souls, with grinding riffs, crunchy rhythms and beautiful harmonic solos. It’s another impressive set from the Belfast trio, who sound like the bastard children of The Cult and Kyuss copulating in a seedy back alley.
Headliners Baleful Creed – who will be familiar to those who attended the abovementioned HTH – deliver a huge, deep sound that is rooted in the peat bogs that keep the island of Ireland afloat, with riffs that curl around your manly parts and squeeze them dry before attaching themselves to the innermost parts of your unholy being and refusing to let go. They are the sort of band I have banned my pregnant 19-year old daughter from going to see for at least the six months, for fear that the heaviness of Stephen Fleming’s bass lines alone inducing premature birth pangs.
It’s yet another impressive set, with the likes of ‘Forgiven’, ‘Misanthrope’ – with its thumping rhythm coupled with a dark, melodic solo – ‘Illiminati’, ‘Frozen’ – with its almost lullaby-like psychedelic interlude – ‘Autumn Leaves’ (which sounds very like early Pearl Jam – and not in a bad way) and set closer ‘Suffer In Silence’ played with an intensity that would threaten the foundations of even the most earthquake-proofed building.
Photographs courtesy of St Hellfire and Baleful Creed.