When Belfast metal veterans Cursed Sun put on a gig, you can always guarantee it’s going to be a hell of a show and tonight was no exception. The guys have been a prominent name in the Irish music scene for over a decade now, and while it definitely shows in terms of the experience they still somehow manage to keep everything sounding both fresh and filthy all at once.
From the start they pummelled the eager crowd with relentless energy, giving the fans absolutely no time to catch their breath before they steamrolled onto the next song. Vocalist Andrew Jones Cassidy climbed onto almost every flat surface available, hopping from bar to table like a man possessed all whilst delivering his signature brand of powerful screams without skipping a beat.
Whilst the entire show was fraught with technical issues (more on that later) thankfully Cursed Sun’s set went off without a hitch, something bassist Steve Martin attributes to them keeping things “simple”. Now they certainly can’t attach that same description to the songwriting, but the sheer flawless delivery of the entire headline set on the night was definitely a strong argument for straightforward stage setup.
First to take the stage were Belfast doom metallers Gravepath, who despite being the first band on and with an early start at 7 pm, managed to engage the crowd brilliantly from the beginning. Their second song of the night “Penance” was plagued with mic cable issues causing some quite obnoxious popping from the speakers, however, to their credit it didn’t faze them in the slightest and they played on without a second thought. Rarely when an opening act calls the crowd forward does it actually work, but the heft these demons were dishing out certainly backed their instruction up, and this crowd had no choice but to move at their command.
The second act, Spirit Ruiner had no drummer for their entire set, although with closed eyes this was barely evident. The second act of the night took the stage with a mere two man lineup consisting of vocals, guitar and bass played to a drum backing track. This certainly may have looked strange to the crowd initially but when the music started playing the same deep, primordial sludge the band have become known for came through as hard as a cinderblock. One of the downsides of playing to a backing track though is not being able to adjust the set for issues and technical problems. Sadly this meant that for a brief amount of their time onstage bassist Jamie was inaudible and the level of meaty chunk on show was temporarily halved. Thankfully quick cable replacement managed to save the day without more than a few seconds passing and they both kept the show alive by playing though the issues and some more distracting mic popping.
If you had thought that was going to be the worst of the technical issues, you were sorely mistaken. Special guests and Irish metal chart-toppers Words That Burn had the biggest technical failure of the night, resulting in a lengthy delay to their set which sadly only consisted of 4 songs by the time the issues were resolved.
For the first song, the microphone that had previously been used for lead vocals during the first two acts was completely dead, seemingly sent to its end by whatever was causing the popping heard previously on the night. Not to be deterred in the slightest by this, vocalist and consummate professional Roni MacRuairi simply grabbed the other microphone from the guitarist’s stand and began bellowing into it loud enough to shake the entire room, and this time it did. The issues plaguing the band had let up entirely by the time the second song had finished, allowing them to drop pure bombs of melodic heft with the song “Arise” from their 2019 album, Pyres. Finally able to showcase what this band are really capable of, the energy on stage and in the crowd was electrifying when the band brought their time onstage to a close with another one from their latest album “Riptide”. The biggest disappointment was that they weren’t able to play their full set, however as seemed to be the theme of the night, the show must go on.
Finally, without any delay and an ominous introduction to the stage, headliners Cursed Sun blasted straight into an atmospheric powerhouse in “Fallen City”. The first song to be showcased from their latest EP “Vendetta” set alight a room filled with fans wearing eerie blood-spattered masks handed out by the band before the show. Despite being played for the very first time live that night, Cursed Sun laid down the eerie dissonant guitar sections and rousing vocal passages like they had been playing it for years. Guitarists Ciaran McKeever and Johnathan McCleery maintained a relentless pace throughout classics like “Psychopath” and more recent additions such as 2017’s “Primordial Chaos”, while drummer Chris McMullan channelled the power of a stampede with the band’s surprise rendition of Gojira’s “Silvera”.
Following an inimitable performance of another new song from their EP “Crawlspace”, the band’s penultimate offering was another new song in “Replicant” which had more than enough energy left in it to leave the crowd almost literally salivating in anticipation of a song so popular that it had actually been demanded earlier that night. Bringing their set to a seamless close, vocalist Andrew called everyone with a mask to the front of the room to prepare for the final song by shouting “MURDER, DEATH, KILL” several times at a sea of blood-spattered masks to hear the same repeated enthusiastically by their fans. The band closed their set perfectly with the last remaining song from the newest EP, “MDK 187”, and while Cursed Sun had absolutely no technical issues to dampen their set, the only thing almost as loud as the band was the crowd screaming along with them.
Despite a horrific number of problems with cables, faulty microphones and other tech-based setbacks, the entire supporting lineup that were affected played like professionals throughout the night and turned what could otherwise have been a show-stopping number of problems into a shining example of playing through the pain that any band would do well to follow.
Cursed Sun brought together a fantastic night and certainly did not fail to deliver with the launch of “Vendetta”. The band have always been known to put on a phenomenal stage show and really show attention to detail when they present themselves as musicians, needless to say, fans are waiting with bated breath on what they come up with in 2020, this one will be tough to top!
Review // Michael Scott
Photography // Wayne Donaldson