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Stormzone – Spring and Airbrake, Belfast – Saturday 28 April 2012

I’ve never been one to believe the weather forecast, so when the local BBC failed to predict a massive storm front breaking over Belfast on an otherwise un-seasonally cold late Spring Saturday evening – well, you just know that they simply haven’t got a clue….

Not that they hadn’t been given enough of them, because it had been brewing all day – starting in late afternoon with a threefold Celtic metal invasion (see here: https://planetmosh.com/darkest-era-mael-mordha-the-limelight-belfast-saturday-28-april-2012/) and then breaking, extremely loudly and violently, with three of the Northern Ireland’s top exponents of the fine art of heavy metal.

The storm broke with typically hurricane force in the formidable from of groove-laden preacher metallers Triggerman who proved, in their usual, admirable, floor-filling still that ‘The Riff Holds Sway’ (the video of which from this evening’s performance can be seen here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1l7dHZ1mIk&feature=relmfu)

Sinocence, widely regarded as Northern Ireland’s most progressive metal combo, also were on blinding form, especially on new tracks such as the hugely impressive ‘West Of Eden’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUkoHa7YF30&feature=relmfu), a complex track which has matured into a natural part of the quartet’s set.  Their new series of EPs is already shaping up to be the most eagerly anticipated NI metal release of the year…

But, no matter how good they were – and, believe me, both acts were devastating – the first two bands were strictly appetizers for the evening’s main course… and Stormzone certainly didn’t disappoint.  Kicking off, appropriately enough, with the opening track of their third album, ‘Zero To Rage’ (which this gig was, somewhat belatedly, providing the hometown launchpad for), the quintet quickly proved that they were indeed ‘Where We Belong’, with the rhythm section of Davy and Graham providing the most solid platform possible for the soaring twin axe attack of Steve and Andy – the latter having quickly settled into the band following his recruitment just a few short months ago, and, indeed, looking like this was the gig he was always destined to play (even if he still can’t get a hat that fits!).

Upfront, vocalist Harv is in stunning form – but, then, he’s never anything but:  a heavy metal frontman proud to have graduated from the old school, leading his troops into battle with a massive grin on his face and a posturing swagger that shows off his veteran confidence, be it delivering a hideously evil cackle on ‘The Jester’s Laughter’, taking us through the Saxon-esque ‘Secret Gateway’ to the hugely anthemic ‘Fear Hotel’ (as played here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTV9hF7RvUA&feature=youtu.be), recounting tales of derring-do in ‘Empire Of Fear’ or retelling the epic ‘Cuchulainn’s Story’.

For the second time in just a few short hours, this gig proved that the Irish metal scene – whether its proponents be from one side of the border or the other – is well and truly a force to be reckoned with.

Stormzone setlist:  Where We Belong, Immortals, The Jester’s Laughter, Secret Gateway, Fear Hotel, The Memory Never Dies, Empire Of Fear, Beyond The Grave, Zero To Rage, Wasted Lives, Cuchalainn’s Story, Death Dealer, The Legend Carries On

(Thanks to Nigel Jackson for sharing his videos and to Shaz for the photograph).

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff