According to those who know about such things (in this case Wikipedia), ‘metal fatigue’ refers to repeated progressive and localized structural damage that occurs when a material is subjected to cyclic loadings. In the case of tonight’s gig, it could equally refer to the damage caused to the local metal communities ears, muscles and wallets by this being the fourth show in as many days – and following three consecutive nights of Slayer (performing back-to-back exclusive UK club shows) and Anthrax (doing likewise, but for one night only) demolishing the city’s main live venue just half a mile or so down the road, as the turnout was somewhat lower than what might have been expected, even for a midweek show…
It’s also a remarkably relaxed atmosphere, with no barriers at the front of the stage and even the bar and security staff almost immediately headbanging along to openers Lantern For A Gale and their brand of infectious, melodic hardcore.
With Hornets bassist Craig deputising on guitar, vocalist Paul is on the floor quicker than a ferret down a burrow, mixing it up and throwing it down with the crowd who make up in enthusiasm what they lack in numbers. The rhythm section keeps the bottom end together solidly, and the melodic interaction between the guitars adds a valuable depth to the band’s sound, which in turn is accentuated by a nigh-on pristine mix in a venue notorious for its poor acoustics.
It’s an emotional night for By Any Means: not only is it drummer (and band founder) Dave Byers’ last Belfast gig with the hardcore crew, but guitarist Paul Anthony had lost his mum just a few days’ earlier. But, with the band holding ‘family’ as one of their cornerstone virtues – alongside ‘honour’, ‘loyalty’ and ‘respect’, in all their forms – the show goes on and opener ‘On These Streets’ serves as a hard and furious statement of intent from the four-piece’s forthcoming EP.
The vocal heavy mix brings out the unrepentant aggression of CC’s delivery, while also pushing to the fore Paul’s rich guitar tone – which in itself is one of the best aspects of the aforesaid new EP: despite the big man himself being somewhat more subdued than usual, his riffs surge through and captivate the room, while Dave’s drumming – complemented by Chris McDowell’s pummelling bass lines – is perhaps the most manic this reviewer has seen from him in a while, as he obviously intends to say ‘goodbye’ on an intense and venue-levelling high.
After a performance of such tenfold intensity, Canuck headliners Comeback Kid really do have to hit the Belfast stage for the first time with furious intent – and indeed they do, opening up a small pit right away and inducing adrenalin-pumping throwdowns.
Vocalist Goose doesn’t really need to appeal to security to allow the pits to progress – the venue normally frowns upon such activities but, as noted above, tonight a more relaxed attitude is prevalent – and everyone is respectful of his request to “keep it cool and peaceful”: in fact, apart from the few hardened moshers immediately at the front of the stage, most of those present seem content to just stand and watch, with only the occasional scattered head nodding in appreciation.
Nevertheless, the onstage performance is intense and passionate metalcore, characterised by thoughtful melodies meshed with brutal beatdowns and some spectacular high speed double kick drumming from Kyle Profeta. During the intro to ‘The Concept Says’, Goose asks about people being respectful – and that summarizes the evening as far as the headliners’ set is concerned: a band and an audience respectful of each other without pushing the limits of either…
Comeback Kid’s current album, ‘Die Knowing’, is available now via Victory Records.
Photographs by Marc Leach.