There may have been more than just a few ‘ghosts to bust’ from the Preston thrashers, as it had been around 24 years since Xentrix graced a Belfast stage; So it was only fitting that they came back armed and dangerous with an unholy arsenal that consisted of Shrapnel and Acid Reign. A six date tour saw all three bands desecrate venues throughout the U.K and Ireland.  The Belfast gig being extra special as it was the 15th anniversary of the ‘Distortion Project’, run by Northern Ireland’s very own ‘James Loveday’ on his rock and metal powered escalator ‘To Hell and Back’; and world domination, I reckon!

XENTRIX/ACID REIGN/SHRAPNEL - BELFAST LIMELIGHT 2 - 17/10/15The tail end, but obviously the high light tail end of proceedings, saw Shrapnel mark the end of a 13 band line-up, of the cream of the crop – local talent, and the beginning of the oversees helping of this monstrous feast of metal, to fill all bellies and  hearts until everyone exploded with the sheer excitement. Shrapnel looked like they were on a seek ‘n’ destroy mission, in an all out attempt at giving the Limelight a face lift, as they got stuck in with ‘Braindead’ thus enlightening us that they were anything but, and shredded the very air they were breathing! An awesome band, that was as tight as nails in a coffin. Delivered with fury and raw energy from every member of the band as they bombarded a delighted crowd with ‘Warhead’, ‘Titan’ and slam dunked us with the closing number ‘Pseudocommando’. The boys put on a boisterous display and delivered a fist fighting set.

Acid Reign, newly reformed after a 25 year break, return with feet firmly planted on a stage where, and I can tell you, because I was there – they belong! Howard ‘H’ Smith – front man, had the audience in the palm of his hands within minutes, as the much anticipated show got underway withAcid Reign opener ‘Chaos’ which sounded like it does exactly what it says on the tin! This is a thrash band that knows how to entertain, gathering the crowd to the barrier with an energetic and full on rippage of riffs and banter in between each song from Howard, who enjoyed supping on a well earned Guinness mid set! Acid Reign clearly enjoyed themselves as much as the crowd, busting balls and brain cells. Cooky, Paul and Pete Dee rampaged around the stage like a bunch of delinquents, as they tore through a high voltage set. Marc Jackson on drums played with the vigour of a mad slasher that had just escaped from some horror movie, creating the Acid Reign atmosphere this band are famous for, with hits such as ‘Blind Aggression’, ‘Creative Restraint’ ‘and ‘Goddess’. They also whet the appetites of the audience with the new and wonderfully neck breaking ‘Plan Of The Dammed’. The all too short set, much to the dismay of Belfast fans old and new, ended with the bands ‘Norman Bates’ inspired anthem ‘Mother Love’; definitely not one to drop a tear to, but show cases why this band have been missed!

Xentrix – the headliners came out to find a highly charged an infused maniacal room full of bodies, just biting at the bit to get going again after the lethal first two courses of Shrapnel and Acid Reign. Not much chit chat from a very serious looking Chris Astley as the band go head long into ‘Dark Enemy’ setting ‘Dennis Gasser’ off in fine style with a furious flurry of blasting beats, followed by ‘Balance Of Power’ in a sweet display of sheer mechanical precision from the dynamic duo on guitars, rhythms and harmonies executed viciously and without remorse.   Both Chris and Kristian Havard proving why Xentrix have the word ‘Legend’ firmly attached when anyone in the know is talking about the premier league of British thrash metal bands.

YZ3iFgIcdF1cYodMiowbiRQ3uIrDeYT1O5Xla-ZzMMIA truly enthused and appreciative Belfast crowd move forward as ‘Back In The Real World’ and ‘Questions’ see bassist and absolute mad man Chris Shires lose the plot, playing up to the front row head bangers by flailing hair and bass in unison. Such a delight to hear and see this band back in Belfast after a 24 year absence, and the reformation of the band in 2013 is surely one of the best decisions they have made in a career spanning 3 decades. As the night all too quickly progressed, Xentrix seemed to puff out their chests, dig deeper into the small stage and suck up the energy of the packed venue as they let rip and belted out thrashing new beauties ‘World Of Mouth’, ‘Red Mist’ and this author’s favourite of the night ‘There Will Be Consequences’. Showing off solos that are in a totally exquisite level all of their own, or as one friend put it so eloquently to me recently, “could blow your underwear into a different dimension”. Chris finally looked like he was having fun and had a wee banter now and again with his metal head fans as the up and very close venue made it feel absolutely personable and one big party, the way it should be. ‘No Compromise’ sent the crowd into a mini frenzy of moshing and into an all out wind-milling competition, as I guess they realised the end was nigh.

An amazing show from beginning to end, leaving hoards of people to deal with sore necks for a few days to come I expect.  But the music itself was truly epic and memorable with loads of fun. Bob Marley says it better than I can; “The one good thing about music is, when it hits you, you feel no pain”.

Words By Brenda

Photos by Mark McGrogan

(Untitled new song)
Hollow Earth
Red Terror
Red Terror
The Virus Conspires

Plan Of The Damned (NEW)
Blind Aggression
Creative Restraint
Big White Teeth
Mother Love

Dark Enemy
Balance Of Power
Back In The Real World
World Of Mouth (NEW)
Reasons For Destruction
There Will Be Consequences (NEW)
For Whose Advantage
Black Embrace
Red Mist (NEW)
No Compromise

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