It always amazes me how certain social media channels are always filled with whinging, so called “rock fans” who complain that there are never any gigs on… I don’t know what sort of cloud cuckoo land they live in, because this, the official launch of Zlatanera‘s debut album, ‘Legerdemain‘, was something like your PM Belfast team’s 25th gig in less than 60 days… Not that we’ve reviewed them all, but you can’t beat the atmosphere of a live gig… or supporting your local metal scene… which is something which is obviously shared by the goodly proportion of non-keyboard warriors who have come down to support the band’s “special day” \m/
It has been quite a while (the guts of 18 months?) since we last caught openers Bad Boat live – a period which has seen them undergo yet another of their consistent line up changes and subsequent re-evaluations of their status: but, it has to be said, it’s good to have them back. Their dense, crunching doom is characterized by huge, concrete slabs of sound, with growling guitars, thunderous bass lines and dense, solid percussion, topped off with Clarkey’s maniacal, malignant vocal. In the words of our own Dark Queen, Tom has “his thunder back” as the band deliver a taut and dramatic, tight and acidic set which is a definite statement of intent that they are back in business. Hell, 14 years into their stop-start career, we might even still get that album Mr Clarke once again promised us!
The twin downtuned guitars of Slomatics deliver an avalanche of slowly-building proportions, before its density washes over you with its pummeling nihilism. It’s dark and gloomy but also ethereal and entrancing, and has an hypnotic, centrifugal force which wraps itself around the listener with an apocalyptic inevitability, its depths evoking nocturnal enlightenment which wash over you with pleasuring dissonance and really set the scene for the nightmare evocations to come.
Zlatanera deliver huge horn-raising, demon-summoning riffs right from the off. Anto McKee’s dense. rumbling bass rhythms intermingle with Andy McCallister and Willie Caulfield’s dark guitar melodies, and the band exude confidence from every pore. with a dynamically tight showcase, while at the same time possessing a laconic manner which belies the power and intensity of the material. The overall effect is much more dynamic than a million bands covered in face paint and fake studs.
One of the set highlights most definitely is ‘Bad Case Of The Devil’, which exudes a swampy delta blues vibe in the midst of its dense tale of drink-fuelled regret and redemption, while the immense and epic-sounding ‘Holy Man’s Crook’ is a crunching cross between doom and thrash, vibrant and soulful, yet vicious in its condemnation of its subject matter. The rich sound mix accentuates the dense bluesiness of the material and, especially, Andy Campbell’s luscious vocals, while at the same time drawing out the depth of the bass, the bottom end of the rhythm guitar and the punch of Keith Coffey’s precise double kicks.
Over the past few years, Zlatanera have developed into one of the best live bands on the Northern Ireland live circuit. They deliberately keep their live appearances to a more minimal level than many of their counterparts, but this evening’s show proves, once again, that their star is very much in the ascendancy, and it is only a matter of time before they break out of this little corner of the planet we call Mosh and cast their spell wider (but we can’t tell you about that yet…). Hail Satan \m/
- Photographs by The Dark Queen.
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