This evening’s gig truly could be described as a night for the ages, with the veteran guardians of the Northern Irish metal scene joining forces with the movement’s young titans to fight off all comers and prove just why this particular corner of the world is a domain to be reckoned with.
I’ve been following the career of WarCrux for a little over a year now, and in that time have seen them mature in leaps and bounds, to become one of the tightest and hardest-hitting units on the local scene. Tonight, however, was one of their biggest challenges: not only were they opening for a band who are as close to legendary as it is possible to become in this part of planet mosh, but they were also doing so in unfamiliar territory and in front of audience who almost to a person had never heard them before…
Well, it must be said, that they rose to the challenge more than admirably. By the end of their second song, the complex ‘Spineless’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF9nPapUp8M), their classic rock tinged thrash had the majority of the crowd eating out of their hand: at the end of the third track – so new it doesn’t even have a title yet – Stormzone drummer Davy Bates (a veteran of nigh on 30 years in the business – and the man who inspired Lars Ulrich to pick up a pair of drum sticks) hunted down ‘Crux’s manager to whisper the word “awesome” in his ear. With older songs such as ‘Ties That Bind’, the towering ‘Pray For Ares’ and the acerbic closer ‘Leave Me To Crawl’ played heavier (and faster) than I’ve heard them before, and an extremely impressive version of ‘In My Darkest Hour’, the quartet delivered a powerful, passionate and tight set and won over many new fans (as their post-show CD sales testified).
How The Mighty Fall / Spineless / New Song / Ties That Bind / Instrumental / Pray For Ares / In My Darkest Hour / Leave Me To Crawl
WarCrux play Highway To Hell 3 at the Classic Grand, Glasgow, on October 19th/20th.
The first thing you notice about the audience while waiting for tonight’s headliners is the high proportion of women present – taking various band members out of the equation, they outnumber the blokes by at least two-to-one, and at one stage your reviewer and the band’s official photographer are the only males who seem to have dared venture into the female-dominated pit!
Certainly, frontman Harv has the charm, charisma and – oh fuck it, let’s say it – the sex appeal to attract such a hefty following from the fairer sex (even if he does joke that half of them are his sisters!). But, these attributes merely serve to enhance the fact that Stormzone are one of the best classic heavy metal bands around: and, to be honest, tonight also does have something of a family atmosphere about it, with the intimacy of the surroundings and nearly everyone present seeming to know each other with almost familial familiarity…
It doesn’t stop the band engaging in some trademark histrionics, such as making their final preparations behind a curtain – but, it all adds to the atmosphere of what is always a special night when Stormzone take to the stage… which they do in typically ebullient style with the opening salvo of ‘Where We Belong’ and ‘Immortals’, two songs which sum up the quintet’s attitude and style.
Hang on a sec, did I just say, quintet? Yes, indeed: after a brief period as a four-piece – or ‘quadcore’ as the band described it – SZ are now back up to their full complement, following the recruitment of David Shields to the second guitar slot, and you most definitely would not have known it was the Belfast man’s first gig with the band, as his performance was effortless and seamless, his riffing and soloing both spotless in their perfection and precision.
The band used the opportunity of blooding their new recruit to perform some tracks more rarely played live, such as ‘The Final Journey’ and ‘Labyrinth’, the latter specially dedicated to an 18-year old fan, who had virtually stalked Harv into playing it. With the band on stunning form throughout the set, Harv also displayed his trademark humour, even having a swipe at recent events in the band’s career by introducing ‘Death Dealer’ with the line “Hey Sebastian – one, two, fuck you…”
Another great night, once again displaying the strength and diversity of the Norn Iron metal scene, from one band in the ascendancy and another very much at the top of their game…
Where We Belong / Immortals / Fear Hotel / Memory Never Dies / The Final Journey / The Secret Gateway / Empire Of Fear / Chosen One / Jester’s Laughter / Beyond The Grave / Labyrinth / Wasted Lives / Cu Chulainn’s Story / World Of Sorrow / Death Dealer / The Legend Carries On
Stormzone support Furyon at the Diamond Rock Club on November 24th and Little Angels at the Limelight, Belfast, on December 9th.
Photos by Robbie Rooney
Videos by Nigel Jackson / N I Rocks
Watch out for an interview with Harv and new Stormzone guitarist David Shields, coming soon on Planet Mosh.
You can watch Stormzone performing ‘Empire Of Fear’ below