Zia Regime with support from Mandala Skies and Bakken
Saturday 5th January 2013 – Masons Bar
Upon entering Masons, one of the first things that strikes me is the already impressive turnout and the sheer amount of enthusiastic rockers who are either already vigorously warming up their neck muscles or are clearly preparing to do so within the next few songs (or perhaps drinks). This is obviously a greatly anticipated launch, and thankfully not one of the acts disappoints.
First up is progressive rock quartet, Mandala Skies. Considering that this is their first show in a while, they waste no time in getting the crowd warmed up with their invigorating blend of progressive metal and palpable excitement. While remaining technically impressive, they maintain a certain sense of presence. They really get into their stride with the powerful ‘Abort The Mission’ and from that point onwards are seemingly unstoppable. The finale of ‘Serendipity’ and ‘Bernard’s Watch’ mean that they leave the stage on a triumphantly epic note and set the standard unenviably high for their successors.
The already established classic metal four piece hailing from Belfast, Bakken, are greeted with a certain fervour, which is unsurprising- I even spotted a few of the crowd wearing their Bakken shirts with pride, and understandably so given their performance. Opening with ‘Darkest Day’, their set is a brilliantly tight knit, non-stop assault of full on power metal. Although their set-list consisted entirely of songs carefully selected from their debut album, Death Of A Hero they still manage to reflect their versatility of influences and have the crowd fully on their side by the time they reach the almighty ‘Sasquatch’. Ending with the classic thrash influenced ‘Get Back To Your Feet’, there is a real danger that they might have stolen Zia Regime’s thunder.
However, it is very evident Zia Regime is the band that everyone has come to see tonight, kicking off with the ambitiously vicious ‘Thorns’ from their new album ‘For Neither God Nor Master’, drawing even the most inhibited wallflowers into the already head banging crowd. Leading into ‘Shadow Games’ and title track ‘No Gods, No Masters’, the audience responds with an energy generally unseen from either the sober or even the slightly intoxicated, which speaks volumes in itself for Zia Regime’s ability to put on a fantastic set. Just before launching into the riff heavy ‘Time Forgotten’, vocalist David McDonough pauses to thank the crowd- and his parents, who were in attendance- for coming out and supporting them. Finishing up with two extremely well received, if slightly unusual, covers- ‘Who Invited The Russian Soldier?’ and ‘Invaders Must Die’, originally by Every Time I Die and The Prodigy respectively. During these covers bassist Conor Somers decides to play from within the crowd- no one leaves in any doubt that Zia Regime certainly know how to do one of the most important things that any metal band worth their salt should be able to do; put on an amazing live show.