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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

EP REVIEW: Finsterfrost go mad in fun release #Yolo with added Miley Cyrus

OKAY there are some releases that leave you scratching your head and wondering what the hell is going on, are you tripping, hungover or still drunk.

Such was the case when Finsterfrost's ep '#Yolo' descended into metal mansion. After their impressive 2015 release 'Mach Dich Frei' we had high hopes for this ep from the German folk metallers.

Five new tracks and four cover versions and a trad song really means this ep is more a min-album than an ep, so with much stroking of the chin we dived in...

Well it was not what we were expecting...

Sure the new songs are what we would expect, with mad but great instrumentation. Surging, rolling tracks that are infused with folk sensibilities. So far so folk metal.

We like that.

But...but what the heck is 'Wrecking Ball' doing on here? For those, like most of the Belfastmetalheadsreunited team we had to do some research. Death metal corr, Zakk, reported that this was a Miley Cyrus song that had been subjected to much internet piss take.

We them embarked upon that thing called 'googling' and found loads of songs of the same title but we braced ourselves and listened to that Cyrus version. Reeking of auto-tuning Finsterfrost take it, play with it and well....it is okay; one for parties with a smattering of pop fans as well as metallers.

Equally, a beefed up 'Beat It' is one for drunken party revellers. There's also a cover of a German hip-hop act called K.I.Z. but the less said about that the better.

It all ends up with a cover of 'Wild Rover'. With the guitars on first listen this turns this song into something resembling a dirge. Second listen and we get it. At the end of a raucous party, as things are winding down, some are dozing and the taxis have been ordered this is 'Wild Rover' sounds like to anyone sober enough to actually hear what the fading revellers are 'singing'.

So where does this leave the ep? The new songs are as good as you would expect from Finsterfrost and the covers are insane, yet close enough to the originals to perk interest.

What this does come across as a placeholder. Something in between albums, something to cop a few tour dates. We may not forgive them for having to listen to the godawful Cyrus woman, but when this review is published we'll be cracking a beer later in the evening and toasting #Yolo. We'll, however, skip 'Wrecking Ball' lest we be further contaminated.

Review by (a confused) Jonny

Monday, August 29, 2016

NEWS: The Distortion Project fundraiser Number two - be there...no excuses

RIGHT you feckers,  sit up and pay attention. No slouching at the back and no hiding yer sleeping eyes with yer long hair because this is important.

Here in Norn Iron we have some tremendous promoters bringing the rock and metal from far afield and close at hand, Derwin brings the hard rock to The Diamond Rock Club, Philip with SO:NI, Ciaran bringing eclectic bands, and Jonny at Shizznagh with even more eclectic acts.

If you want to keep up to date with what they are doing Mark Ashby has a Facebook Group (NI Rock and Metal Bands) in which he keeps us all up to date on what is happening. [And, it would be remiss of me to mention that he and his wife Carolyn celebrated their wedding anniversary by taking control of Uber Rock - good luck people!]

But, let not your attention wander...

One promoter who continuously takes risks to keep our wee metal hearts beating is Mr James Loveday. The Distortion Project keeps us occupied on Saturday evenings and is bringing acts such as Buckcherry, Meshuggah and Napalm Death and coming up fast, Raging Speedhorn.

But with all this risks means The Distortion Project is holding a second fundraiser to keep the metal tearing up our senses, ears,  necks and livers..

Put Saturday, 17th September in your diaries, write it down in blood. Be there at 4pm. Hand over £6 and buy some raffle tickets. Your reward? You'll help The Distortion Project bring more acts to our wee shores.

And, you'll have your teeth rattled.

For from 4pm until the heady hour of 9pm you can watch Neamhni, Fuckhammer, Shrouded and Bad Boat (and one more yet to be announced).

Value for money? Five bands is value for money.

I see that has got your attention, you've pencilled it in blood in your diaries (those using their mobiles and tablets are excused from using blood on their tech, but carve it into a visible part of your anatomy) and you'll be there, Right?

And, because Mr Loveday is a nice guy you can recover from any hangover the next day by catching Raging Speedhorn at the Voodoo with our own hardcore heroes By Any Means and Dublin's Dead Label. See we told you he was a nice guy. Until then we'll this coming weekend you can catch The Crawling, Shrouded and Valpurga at Limelight2 in a DP show and bomb up to the Diamond Rock Club to see Chariot and Terminus afterwards...

You may find one of the Belfastmetalheads team wandering about, but DON'T forget 17th September.... 

NEWS: Attica Rage release new single and bonus live track ahead of autumn tour

ATTICA Rage descent upon Belfast’s Limelight2 on October 22nd in a power line-up that includes Donum Dei and Conjuring Fate.

Ahead of the UK and Ireland tour the band have released their new single ‘All Summer Long’ via Off Yer Rocka Recordings along with a bonus live track of fan-favourite ‘Crazy Horses’, a rocked-up cover version of The Osmonds' 70's chart hit.
Watch the video below:
You can buy on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/all-summer-long-sin…/id1148029101 or the full digital catalogue: https://atticarage.bandcamp.com

All Summer Long is the second single taken from the new Attica Rage album Warheads Ltd, available in CD Digipack & digital formats from Amazon, HMV, iTunes and all major music stores worldwide as well as direct from the band at http://atticarage.bigcartel.com

The video for ‘All Summer Long’ was filmed on location at Ardeer Beach, Stevenston in North Ayrshire, Scotland on one of the hottest days of summer.

INTERVIEW: Maverick front man David Balfour looks forward to bright future for the band as Big Red launches

MAVERICK stormed Limelight2 on Saturday 27th August to officially launch their second album, the stormer slab of rock that is 'Big Red'.

Shortly before he took to the stage we caught up with vocalist David Balfour to discuss the album, live shows and the bright future ahead for Maverick. Worth a watch for Maverick fans...


Sunday, August 28, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Maverick go large for Big Red launch with spikey Kildare metal crew Stereo Nasty

WHEN you have a 'product' that is a massive step up in terms of everything you have done before then you might as well make a big deal of it - and Maverick went large when it came launch their new album 'Big Red' on 27th August.

Rock and metal luminaries from across Northern Ireland were among the healthy numbers crammed into Limelight2 to celebrate the massive Maverick release.

To help the occasion kick off with a bang the County Kildare metal crew Stereo Nasty, who have been faithful visitors to Northern Ireland.

They have become more poised since their first tentative steps and their presentation has upped the stakes. From the first days with spikes through denim jackets now to spiked armoured shoulder pads and spiked leather.

All would be for naught were it not for the songs and the ability of the band. Mick dominates the stage, and sings as if his life depended on it. Adrian is an accomplished player, ably assisted by Rud's bass playing, who commands his side of the stage as if there was a legion of Roman soldiers about to storm it. They'd have no chance.

Fran sits behind his kit, headphone monitor and shades, a picture of concentration.

What Stereo Nasty have in proverbial spades is a succession of songs, with massive riffs and massive choruses, traditional heavy metal played well.

Maverick have grown up in front of many in the crowd at Limelight2 who turned out on to see what is close to being a band who can challenge many of the so-called big names across Europe and the US who are re-treading licks and producing samey songs.

None of what Maverick does is samey. Nothing they perform - live or on album - is a re-tread. Yes, there is homage to their influences of the 80s, but there is no sense as the 10-legged rock monster is living in the past - even if they did one cover version that harkens back to 'the day'.

Sure, the 80s heyday is celebrated, but the tightrope of hard rock and metal sensibilities is walked with sure feet and balance to give each track the sound of 2016 rock.

Not only are the songs strong, but the performance is superb. The dynamic stagecraft sees them move constantly, working every inch of the stage - and David grins like a hyperactive Cheshire Cat at every opportunity.

However, it never comes across as contrived - rather this is a band who understand that we listen with our ears but watch the performance. And, it is clear that they are fans of the bands that use that same principle.

The new songs may be unfamiliar to many, but they work superbly on stage, and instantly garner support and unanimous approval. 'Forever' is so much stronger live to what was already an impressive recorded track.

The party anthem 'Whiskey Lover' sits a well in the set as the detailed storytelling of 'Beyond The Gates'.

Ryan has developed more tricks to his already impressive array of licks, but with the flash there is form and structure. As always Richie and Mike are formidable holding the songs together, but the addition of Terry to the line-up had enabled them to step up even further live.

Of course, Maverick are great at the little twists in the set and the aforementioned cover version of 'Get The Funk Out' has the Limelight complex bouncing.

'In Our Blood' from Quid Pro Quo is a statement that resonates with everyone in attendance no matter the age. Yes, quality rock 'n' roll is in all our veins - and when Maverick play we feel that pure musical joy course throughout our bodies.

The boys "done good" in the past,  but this was men who strode on to the Limelight stage, they were great, and we believe they can only get better still.

Review by Jonny
Pictures by Jonny and Lizzie Torbitt
Big Red is out now - Maverick play The Diamond Rock Club on October 15th
































Saturday, August 27, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Scimitar, Donum Dei and Midnight Force bring metal to the Eglantine

IN a shift of venue The Distortion Project upped sticks from its normal Limelight residency and brought a tonne of heaviness to the Eglantine Bar on Belfast's Botanic and the locals may now understand the metal - or be totally confused by it.

It was a night of sheer excellence from three bands, in relatively civilised surroundings - at least civilised until the music came raining down.

Openers Scimitar are evolving with every show. Their hyper speed thrash is a wall of noise, with Jonny growing with each show as front man, capable and using all of the small stage.

Ryan and Chris are a titan sized rhythm section, a thunderous noise that at times threatens to overpower John's lead work, but when he kicked in for solos there was no doubt about who was leading the charge.

All the shout outs from Bloodstock were there for the night but the humour never threatened to overshadow songs such as 'Behead The Beast' and the always awesome 'Act of War'.

Donum Dei were rerturning to live shows, this time with new bass player, Neil Toal. Having taken some time off gigging to get the new line-up settled.

Their core songs and attitude remain unchanged, and even though the set was a bit ragged in places the presence of Thomas manages to help carry them through - even  mounting the fixtures and fittings of the room á la Joel O'Keefe.

Neil and Stuart have stepped forward more in the backing vocals role than seen previously and Alastair seems more comfortable behind the kit.

The usual songs are on display and the likes of 'Justice Fails' has the crowd energised and baying in front of the stage - evidence of the faith that their fans have kept in the band.

Midnight Force travelled to Belfast from their hometown of Glasgow for a couple of dates on this fair isle and instantly they had those in attendance on their side with a smooth, well executed classic metal assault.

Vocalist John roamed stage and throughout the venue, cajoling the crowd, prowling ready to strike at any not willing to join in.

As well as the classic metal sound there is sufficient elements of power metal to make sure the sound is up-to-date and fresh. Ansgar and Brenden are tight, with enough to vary the pace when needed.

Pete is a more than solid drummer, adding backing vocals to strengthen the sound.

Midnight Force were unknown to the audience, but took little time to win over all. Speedy return please guys.

Review by Jonny
Pictures by Dave Kerr
Reproduction only by explicit written consent.



LIVE REVIEW: Packed Tennent's Vital rocks to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fall Out Boy



BELFAST’S long-running Tennent’s Vital festival is now a long-established fixture in the touring schedules of many bands, falling on the days before the Reading and Leeds festivals.

But, 2016 was the biggest Vital yet, with the first day alone seeing almost 40,000 people pack into the City Council Boucher Road Playing Fields, most of whom were there for headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers and for their top support slot, Fall Out Boy.

The demographic of the audience paid tribute to the period when the Chili Peppers and Fall Out Boy dominated the TV music channels with hits and after hits and were on rotation on Radio One.

However, before the top slots appear there were three openers scheduled. Dublin band Otherkin provide a bit of fuzzed up pop sounds as the crowd dribbled into the large open air arena.

With most unfamiliar with the act, a few hundred were at the front with the rest wandering around the concessions and bars and securing a spot to relax before the real action got underway.

Cage The Elephant benefit from being more familiar to many in the audience and front man Matt Schultz does his best to raise the energy levels.

With four albums under their belt – the most recent just out late last year – the airplay they have received draws more people to the front, and to their feet as the dribble into the arena grew more akin to a flood.

Overall a well-balanced set, for many they fall into the inoffensive type of rock that suits well for this slot on the bill, Cage The Elephant would probably be more entertaining in an indoor venue.

But what they did do was begin to lift the mood of the crowd…which unfortunately dissipated quickly with Labrinth’s appearance.

With the unlikely distinction of being one of the few non-reality show acts to sign to Simon Cowell’s Syco record label, Labrinth has been something of a darling amongst the pop cognoscenti, cosseted by the in-crowd with carefully crafted sounds.

There is no doubt he, and his backing band are talented, but the sound is more vanilla than vital. Also, his continuous call out to “Belfast City!” became a little irritating after the third time.

Any energy that dissipated during Labrinth’s set was quickly restored as the crowd moved purposefully forward for Fall Out Boy.

The pop punk/emo pioneers have a sense of presence that belies their relatively static stagecraft. Pete Wentz, however, knows how to get everyone moving, with a plethora of tracks all too familiar to the hardened fans to the casual observer.

‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’ ‘Hum Halleluja’ and ‘This Ain’t A Scene’ were among the stand out tracks.

 While Wentz is the cheerleader it Is Stump who provides the energy from the front, with trademark hat and easy banter.

The Chi-Town band may be derided by many, but there were few in Belfast who doubted they can deliver a super set.

The Chili Peppers have also been derided by many – recently one US outlet described them as the ‘worst band in the world’ – the person who said that obviously did that well away from fans.

In the darkening skies, and accompanied by a stunning light show, Anthony Kiedis is at ease chatting with the audience, but most importantly sings with an easy confidence, with no need to cajole the crowd to join in.

While opener ‘Can’t Stop’ drew most to the front, second song ‘Dani California’ brought dances and singalongs throughout Boucher Road.

There is still a distinctive whiff of being ‘Californian’ about the Chilis that can turn some off, but it does translate well to open air festivals, to such an extent that it attracts metalheads, rockers, pop fans and occasional festival goers.

Flea is a focal point, not just a bass player, but a star in both his playing and his hyperactive antics. At one point he and guitar player, Josh Kinghoffer faced off at the front of the stage, trading licks and grimaces.

Chad Smith is one of the most under-rated drummers at present, as much of what he does is under-stated excellence – there’s no need for massive fills when subtlety works as well.

‘Otherside’ is a song that compels everyone to join in, and even tracks from latest release ‘The Getaway’ go down well, including the second single, ‘Go Robot’

The band have an abundance of songs to choose from, but ‘Californication’ is the song that seems to have all humming and singing to, the memorable animated video still lodged in many of those there heads.

As the crowd dissipated into the Belfast night it was clearly a triumph for the band as they prepared for their Reading and Leeds show as part of a lengthy tour that takes them across 15 countries.

But such was the reception, and the confidence of the promoters the Red Hot Chili Peppers have already agreed to a date in December in Dublin.

Review by Jonny
Pictures by Darren McVeigh