Spiritbox // Loathe // Brand Of Sacrifice // Live Review // The Limelight // Belfast
So let me start by saying this little lady is super excited about this one! Not only the majestic Spiritbox are in my home city but they have brought fellow Canadian heavyweights Brand Of Sacrifice with them and the UK’s Loathe also making their debut on the island.
I have had this one marked in the diary for a very long time, I actually expected to see Spiritbox at the likes of Bloodstock before I’d ever see them on Irish/Northern Irish soil, but here we are, build it and they will come, isn’t that what they say, well fuckin A they just bloody well did!
Spiritbox’s stratospheric rise over the past few years has been hard to keep up with, they seem to be able to do no wrong and in this day and age that ain’t a bad thing, with only 1 full album release to date ‘Eternal Blue’ their fast ascendancy is absolutely justified with a stellar album behind them and a few EP’s constantly keeping their fanbase on their toes, an ever-evolving sound and the fearless nature to continuously take risks, Spiritbox are the epitome of what a modern metal band needs to be to survive in these turbulent times.
But up first we have the brutal Brand Of Sacrifice! All the way from Toronto Canada, they offer a gargantuan soundscape packed with EDM and Industrial vibes wrapped up in the most violent-sounding metal you can imagine. As they hit the stage the Limelight has been playing the absolute polar opposite soundtrack to get the party started, pop and dance tunes have filled the room to cleanse the pallet perhaps, or lure the Belfast audience into the worst kind of false sense of security! BOS get stuck right in with a blistering performance that decimates the Belfast crowd, it’s rare to see a band of this quality as a support act, usually, they are carefully picked to allow the headliner to shine but BOS have to be one of the best opening acts I I’ve seen on this stage In years! The guys are here supporting the release of their latest EP ‘Between Death & Dreams’ and trust me, you’re going to want to strap yourself in for this one! Listening to it on the way down in the car I felt the need to pull over, find a dark spot and crawl into the foetus position to recover, but then I remembered I have balls as big as cahones and here I am in the pit soaking it all up baby! #callme
Loathe up next, time to change the udder-pants. Now, the last time Loathe crossed my path was when I reviewed their 2017 album ‘The Cold Sun’ and my mind was blown! Their early work was mind-melting, crazy-beautiful stuff but I’ve lost touch since and tonight I and the lads are going to be reacquainted, how have these genre-fluid maestros progressed since then, will I dig it, let’s find out. The bands are due on at 8:30 but they’re running behind as techs clamber to get shizzle in place, the Belfast crowd is growing restless and is baying for blood 🩸
No sooner than I’ve written this down the lights drop and one by the band take to the stage, I realise one of the togs in the pit for BOS was Loathe’s bassist! Check him out the ambidextrous mo-fo! As expected Loathe still has that gorgeous, ambient, ethereal feel that just seems to change as the set goes on, these guys really know how to sculpt a set and then bombard Belfast with a barrage of riffage all interwoven with complex polyrhythmic patterns and killer vocals that only Loathe know how to deliver.
A stunning set by a stunning band, tight as you’ll find on the live scene these guys twist and turn when you least expect it, challenging the senses, and keeping you on your toes throughout, for anyone witnessing Loathe for the very first time you do have to wonder how they react without prior warning. Highly engaging onstage frontman Kadeem France doesn’t stand still, dancing like a man possessed moving to the beat, whilst bassist and guitarist keep that pummelling backline on point and the drummer slams their way through a savage set that Belfast can get their teeth into. As Loathe point out this is indeed their first time in Northern Ireland, but I’m confident it won’t be their last, Belfast just can’t get enough, their reputation precedes them. Both as a musical and live entity Loathe has delivered.
A swift turnaround leads us right up to the moment we’ve been waiting for,Spiritboxand their Belfast debut. As the lights drop the crowd goes wild and Spiritbox wastes no time getting into slamming the riffs. Their sound is huge, it’s hard to believe it’s one guitar, bass and drums, it sounds like an army coming over the top! The guys sound is tight, starting and stopping on a dime, Courtney planted front and Center but taking advantage of every inch of the stage as the pent-up energy overflows. The same goes for the crowd, as the first three songs fly I and we’re back in the room watching I can see the wave of enthusiasm across the room like a tsunami waiting to go off, when Courtney asks for vocals, she gets it and then some! I haven’t seen a crowd as animated in a long time as Belfast is tonight, clearly, they have bought into Spiritbox hook, line and sinker and why not? Their set is a rollercoaster of highs and lows taking their fans with them, from sultry intros with subtle vocal nuances to brutal guttural growls that would scare the bejesus outta ya! Courtney’s vocal range is a joy to watch live, the band are mighty impressive as a live entity, they bring the noise and then some, tossing in a mix of stuff from the earlier work and their full-length LP through to their more recent work like ‘Rotoscope’ with it’s ever-fluid style, Spiritbox know how to get the internets tongues wagging, but it goes down like a fine wine and Belfast is partying and shaking it’s ass long into the night tonight.
Tonight felt like it was never going to arrive and like a kid in a toyshop I could barely contain my excitement about this date in the diary, thankfully all three bands lived up to and beyond my expectations, Spiritbox played their first ever set in Belfast, only a few years into this crazy journey they are on, they made the leap across the pond and I hope they know how much that is appreciated by the Irish crowds North and South of the border, in these tough times we all need that escapism you get from music, live music especially as you feel the air move in a room to a band as powerful as tonights, the heat and sweat you get from a community joined together sharing an experience like that, is it worth the ticket price? You bet your ass it is, it’s priceless! A monstrous band with the world at their feet we can only watch with bated breath to see where this rollercoaster will take them next, the connection with the fans in the room and the passion they have for this band’s music is like nothing I have seen in a while, a community of brothers and sisters all in unison for the common cause, it is a powerful sight to see.