AYE, this aul rock and metal is just class, as it might be put in the vernacular… but there is no doubt that the current crop of Northern Ireland hard rock and metal is taking the classic formula and turning out some ‘class’ tunes.
While we might have recently seen a slew of acts from across the world in Belfast plying their own take on the genre – Viking Metal from Iceland’s Skalmold, folk metal from Swiss act Eluvietie, pagan metal from Russia’s Arkona, doom metal from LA’s St Vitus – in the heart of every rocker and metaller there is a classic metal fanboy/fangirl.
Witness the scenes as Y&T played Belfast as ages from 18 to those in their 50s yelled out lyrics to songs dating from that ‘classic’ era in the 80s when hard rock and metal ruled the roost. And here, in this wee corner of Western Europe, with the Atlantic Ocean lapping on it shores and membership of the European Union precarious at best, bands have managed to carve out a niche of rock and metal that has ears pricking up across the music world. Breaking through from this isolated – in musical terms – little patch of land is nigh on impossible; but the talent is here.
Take the Screaming Eagles for example. Signed to Off Yer Rocka records, they have managed to eek out a sound that harkens back to the heyday of DC and Free with much more added in. If you want to see for yourself they play the Diamond Rock Club in December. And, earning plaudits from audience and Y&T themselves, Maverick are about to unleash their début album ‘Quid Pro Quo’ on November 28th on German label Massacre Records. But this being ‘Norn Iron’ the album launch is being celebrated with a party….27/11/2014 at Belfast’s Empire.
That night, as well as a performance from Maverick featuring tracks from the album, will be new(ish) classic rock outfit Dead Addiction and Co. Antrim’s Conjuring Fate.
Resurrected last year from the doldrums, Conjuring Fate take the New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound, give it a swift kick in the arse, and proved recently their prowess when they came close to blowing Dragonforce off the stage. Their ‘House on The Haunted Hill’ EP is surely the foundation for a full-scale release soon. At the time of writing veteran thrashers Sinocence are putting the final touches to ‘No Gods, No Masters Vol 2’ ep – the second in a series of three EP releases – and have proved that their modern take on old school thrash is both refined and mature.
With Million$Reload, Stormzone, Rabid Bitch Of The North, Terminus (NI), Villanova Junction and many more, the fires lit by The Answer should surely mean that the breakthrough of classic rock and metal from these shores is imminent. It might be forlorn hope in these days of X-Factor and shoe-gazing indie numpties, but it is a hope with some foundation. If the mere reference to X-Factor means you reach for metal with more of an edge there’s always Overoth, Fuckhammer, 7.5 Tonnes of Beard, Scimitar, Cursed Sun, Zombified, Putrefy, Nomadic Rituals, War Iron and the like to cull the sound of Cowell’s crassness from your ears.
But what is sure, is that all the bands mentioned above first put their blackened fingers in the pool that Sabbath spread like a flood of evil intent across the world. The difference here in Northern Ireland is that while others lapped at the pool, we grabbed a pint glass and guzzled that metal elixir…after all, it is said rightly or wrongly that we can handle our drink!