One complaint which is often articulated about many bands on the Northern Ireland scene is that they over-expose themselves – playing the same venues week in week out, so that the novelty (if there is any) quickly wears off. This is most certainly a criticism which cannot be levelled in the direction of Darkest Era: in fact, quite the opposite could be said to be true, in that they play their homesoil so infrequently – their last headline appearance was in this same venue more than two years’ ago – that their gigs do genuinely become occasions to be looked forward to…
Tasked with opening proceedings on this early doors show were Dublin newcomers Stereo Nasty (https://www.facebook.com/stereonastyire): a band so fresh that you could smell the varnish on their guitars… but, it the quartet quickly had many present – including the small press contingent camped, in their best Waldorf and Statler style, on the balcony in front of the stage – quickly questioning whether this was honestly their second ever gig. But, having fulfilled the same honour the previous evening, it was intend only their second performance in front of a live audience – not that it showed in the slightest, as they were obviously extremely well-practised, as they delivered their old school Euro metal (very much in the vein of Accept and Sabaton) with solidity and confidence.
Next up, we suppose we better declare an interest in relation to Terminus (https://www.facebook.com/terminusni), as they feature PM contributor David McCallum (pictured right) in their ranks: having said that, this five peice produce epic riffs on the scale of a battle scene from ‘Game Of Thrones’… over the past year or so, vocalist James Beattie has truly evolved into a powerful and confident frontman, dominating the stage and clearly enunciating his vocal lines (a simple delivery method which so many singers eschew) with equal effect, while the band hit hard and heavy and right between the legs with their punishing mixture of power and melody.
Talking of power and melody, these are qualities which Darkest Era (https://www.facebook.com/darkestera) possess by the spade load… because of their name, and the subject matter of their songs (which are mostly drawn from Irish mythology), the Fermanaghans tend to get categorized into the whole folk/pagan metal scene: but there is so much more to them than such a pat categorization, especially in relation to the use of huge, sweeping guitar harmonies, which many other acts working in this particular sub-genre tend to forsake in favour of downright power at the expense of the latter half of the equation referenced above – and that is not meant as a criticism of other acts operating in this field, as pure power does have it’s place and is equally as effective when delivered properly.
What sets DE apart is how they retain the classic metal sensibilities of bands such as Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden et al, while integrating just the right degree of black metal menace into the darkest corners of their grooves, in a combination which makes for captivating performances which, in turn, never fail to disappoint – and they certainly live up to that reputation this evening as they deliver a triumphant set which provides no more fitting finale for their most ambitious headline tour yet.
Photographs by Darren McVeigh.
Darkest Era return to the Limelight on Sunday March 15, when they support Angel Witch (with Rabid Bitch Of The North, Stereo Nasty and 1 TBC).