I seriously think it says something about heavy metal gigs when there is one thing you notice which is conspicuous by it’s absence – and that is security! Apart from one guy nonchalantly leaning against the DJ booth, and another languidly lazing at the top of the steps leading to the merch area, this evening’s full thrash metal assault is marked by the venue’s trust in the Belfast metal family’s ability to look after each other in that only two staff are deployed inside the room (compared to the dozens employed to keep the lesser number of drugged-up ravers who attended one of its regular ‘club’ nights two evenings previously!).
Mind you, it was probably a good call on the part of the Limelight management as, apart from one lone female, stage diving and crowd surfing at this otherwise intense and furious feast of the finest feckin’ frashing was also notable by its truancy.
The onerous task of opening proceedings fell to fast rising young starlets Donum Dei. Regular PM readers will know we’re big fans of this wee band, and tonight they more than justified our faith in them, delivering a set which , while a bit ragged around the edges (and particularly between the songs), epitomizes their growing confidence, and they rise to the occasion with an aplomb for which they should be justifiably proud. Highlight of their set is the monstrous Metallica-esque ‘Justice Fails’, which just improves with every performance.
Despite having been formed more than 30 years ago, it’s hard to believe that this was the first night of Danish thrash veteran’s Artillery‘s first every full-blown UK tour, and so it is perhaps somewhat understandable that it takes them a while to blow off the cobwebs and get into their stride. But, when they do they deliver an energetic set which demonstrates the tightness of their three decades of experience – and especially in the relationship between the Stitzer brothers and bassist Peter Thorslund and the superb delivery of Seb Bach lookalike Michael Basholm Dahl (very much the band’s ‘new kid on the block’). It’s old-school thrash – complete with stunning old-school shredding solos from the aforementioned sibling guitar attack – delivered in a tight and cogent manner.
Onslaught‘s last visit to this part of the world came after a gap lasting almost 20 years: this time, however, they have left it a fraction of that time to return, with The Force bringing their Sound Of Violence to a city known for its brutal beatdowns at this time of year – and teach those less knowledgeable than the several hundred fans crammed into the sweat-soaked venue how to so the heavy metal way.
While the band’s thrash assault centre’s around their appropriately monickered ‘VI’ opus, the experience which unfolds is one which winds the clock back more than two decades, to the time a much younger version of this reviewer first experienced the brutality of an Onslaught gig, as Keeler, Rockett and co deliver a full-frontal attack which certainly lives to the band’s name. Set highlights include ‘Rest In Pieces’, ‘In Search Of Sanity’ – which sees the night’s only stagediver return to the stage – the fast ‘n’ furious ‘Fight With The Beast’, main set closer ‘Metal Forces’ and the appropriately venue-levelling finisher ‘Thermonuclear Demonstration’, as the most primal force in British thrash metal ran riot and demonstrated how brutal and uplifting this music form truly can be when played by those with passion in their souls and fire in their innards \m/