Deathcrusher! Well doesn’t that just speak for itself, and needs no further explanation, as Belfast was well and truly battered in pure unadulterated brutal fashion, which is, just how we like it! Fans of grind, death and rage, slowly but surely filtered their way into a sold out venue, and it didn’t take long before there was wall to wall bodies gearing up for what was dubbed, the gig of 2015 which was held in the Limelight 1. And for many fans, it was!
Herod was fast, snappy, young and happy? Definitely not; ‘Sad Hill’ opened proceedings and raised all heads north towards the stage, as a deep denseness of progressive sludge filled the atmosphere and the silence. The audience looked somewhat stunned for a while, when the menacing and visceral vocals of David Glassey broke out ‘Betraying Satan’, which sounded like Satan himself was actually on the stage having his organs removed with a rusty, blunt instrument. It took the crowd a while to warm up to this band, but by the time they reached the last song of their short set, ‘The Glory North’ heads were nodding in approval. The four piece from Switzerland may be an acquired taste, and take a bit of getting used to, but they were definitely worthy of a spot on the Deathcrusher Tour, as Pierre Corraz, Fabien Vodoz, and Bertrand Pot gave their hearts and souls to their performance, leaving the stage drenched in sweat and to a thunderous applause from an appreciative gathering crowd. Well done Mr Walker. What an opportunity these lads were given. Touring and playing 34 dates with the heavy weights. Check them out, definitely worth a listen through head phones.
“Belfast! Are you ready?” asked front man – Denis Belanger (Snake). If ever there was a silly question asked of Belfast metal heads, that was it! Of course we were! And ready was the ultimate understatement of the year also. A tight and exciting drum intro from Michel Langevin (Away) got an awesome set from Voivod underway in fine old school fashion.
Denis had to be one of the happiest looking front men I have ever seen, a very entertaining man who paced the stage constantly, flashing a huge grin and tongue throughout the set, looking somewhat mesmerised at times, at the reaction he was getting from an ecstatic crowd. Many fans of this band had waited a long time to see their heroes, and it showed; the crowd singing and screeching along and filling in for Denis when he felt like smiling some more and holding out his mic to the audience.
What followed was a fast, heavy and anthemic performance with lots of thundering tribal riffage and band theatrics as they played up to the adoring audience – to which was generating a mosh pit that was bubbling up nicely by now. Their set was a little too smokey and a little too heavy on the flashing lights at times. However bass from Dominique Laroche (Rocky) and guitar from Daniel Mongrain (Chewy) were eloquent and harmonious to say the least. Almost punky and vicious one minute and delivering blistering solos the next, as they dished out new material proving they were gonna be around for some time to come. They were a well seasoned and comfortable band to watch, pleasing everyone in front of them.
Next up, what looks like a post man walks onto the stage, has a nice wee chat with the audience, but then starts showing his true colours as he isn’t please that the audience didn’t answer him loud enough. Then the postman turns into what was described by a friend as, ‘he’s like a toddler with ADHD that has missed his last 5 Ritalin doses!’ For true fans of Napalm watching Barney stampede around stage belting and screeching out mini songs, while trying to dislodge his head from his shoulders, may have been an awesome sight, but for Napalm virgins such as myself, I can only say that the whole set was mentally disturbing, exhausting and epic all at the same time. Mitch Harris on guitar duty and Danny Herrera on drums looked mean and hell bent on totally annihilating Belfast. The crowd however, were mimicking the bands every move and absolutely destroying the venue, as a ‘mosh pit’ took on a whole new meaning, and became a swathing entity of fans that had by now, lost the plot entirely. ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ and ‘Scum’ were undoubtedly what the Belfast crowd wanted to hear, and after some heckling from an over enthusiastic crowd, they finally got what they wanted, much to the delight of Barney, as he rattled them off with the vicious intent of bursting a few ear drums! This band are awesome live, Shane Embry plucked that bass like his life depended on it. I reckon a few necks were actually broken at the end.
Death metal arrived in the form of Florida band Obituary. After a long instrumental opening first number, John Tardy makes an appearance as an intense, screeching mop of hair that bellows over the audience causing an almighty eruption. Not a man of many words, as there was no banter between songs, it was a pure and simple delivery of no nonsense ‘we are gonna crush your skulls now’ set. Tardy’s menacing stage presence is second to none and riled up a few extra bodies to the barrier that felt like it would give way at any second. Donald Tardy who was my drummer of the night, pounded away like a mad man that was holding serious contempt for his kit. Their set was a deep melodic attack which installed madness and surfing from the crowd, Terry Butler on bass completely nailing it, as personally the deep chugging appeals to me. However there were a few tasty solos and speed riffing from Trevor Perez and Kenny Andrews that make this collective an awesome sight to behold.
Jeff Walker walked out on stage, took up his position and with swift, brutal and unbelievably heavy sound coming from the monitors, threw his head back and crunched the crowd into top gear. Bill Steer, Ben Ash, and Dan Wilding join the force that is to be reckoned with – Jeff, to launch the main aggressive assault of the night. Jeff Walker seemed genuinely happy to be back in Belfast and reminded the audience that the first appearance of Carcass was back in 1988, when times were a little less pleasant. After two more gut busting songs from 1989, funny man Jeff announced that he loved the Belfast crowds, calling them “crazy bastards” as all fists were in the air, not holding phones, but still clutching their pints and head banging!
Lead guitar duties shared between the formidable Bill Steer and young Ben Ash were a breath taking display of harmonies, leads and joint masterpieces. Jeff Walker commanded the stage and took every opportunity to insight psychotic violence in the mosh pit that was by now wreaking havoc with the very foundations of the Limelight. Body after body flew over head launching themselves into the arms of the rather pissed off looking bouncers, giving them plenty to do escorting the brave ones outside. Carcass definitely stole the show, and made a lot of people goddamn happy to be there, including yours truly.
And with that, it has to be noted, that from all five bands that played on this night, maturity is still clearly leading the way when it comes to writing and delivering real metal at its best. There is just something quite feral, raw and authentic which develops between artists and fans born of a by-gone era that demands faith, loyalty and respect from both. There is just no denying the true talents of the bands I’ve just had the privilege of watching. They have been around for a while and know how to get the job done correctly. Too many young bands in modern times have jumped on metal escalators and are churning out tripe that has neither an ounce of talent substance nor longevity such as was witnessed in Belfast tonight. Good luck with the rest of the tour guys!
Words by Brenda
Photos by Liam Kielt