Metal As F*ck Gig @ Auntie Annie’s, Belfast

14th September 2011
Review & Photography by Mark Ashby

If ever a gig had a billing to live up to, it was this one, with a combination of two of Belfast’s up-and-coming progenitors sharing a bill with two of the city’s more established acts.

Openers September Cross started proceedings in fine style, with a solid set of good mid-league mid-paced Euro-inspired thrash (as evinced by their daring mid-set choice of a Helloween cover), featuring tightly meshed twin guitars. It was a tough early gig for the quartet’s new drummer, but he fitted in well and filled his stool with panache.

WarCrux are very much the young culchies up in the big smoke, with their fiery brand of Megadeth/Metallica inspired classic thrash and, like the opening act, they’re left struggling with a bass heavy sound.

But, that niggle aside, it’s their set’s last two songs – ‘Ties That Bind’, with its gentler edge and technical, accomplished soloing, and the so-new-they-haven’t-even-recorded-the-demo-yet-but-nevertheless-highly-promising ‘Leave Me To Crawl’ – which show that, despite their comparative youth, the ‘Crux lads are quickly maturing. In both their attitude and sound, and growing up fast, determined to rise through the ranks of the fiercely competitive Belfast music scene.

September Cross
By Any Means seem a somewhat incongruous choice on a bill dominated by thrash bands, but they nevertheless deliver their usual solid and dependable set of old school New York-style hardcore in a way which wouldn’t have sounded out of place in CBGB’s – and most definitely does not in modern day Belfast.

Once again, the four piece show why they have a reputation ‘Built On Respect’ – something which was demonstrated earlier this year when all their equipment was stolen from their rehearsal room and every other act on the local metal scene rallied round to get them back on their feet.

Headliners Sinocence rightfully deserve their place at the top of the bill: after all, they are the ‘Big One’ of the Northern Ireland thrash scene, now entering their second decade of pummelling audiences both here and further afield into submission with their heavy, chugging riffs and sledgehammer shredding, as shown on crowd favourites such as ‘Two Strikes’ and ‘Eviscerate’, which easily would leave the likes of Evile lying quivering on the floor.

Tonight, they preview a track from their next album: ‘West Of Eden’ is built around a swirling classic metal-inspired riff and a pounding rhythm, and is most notable for its absence of guitar solos. This is soon rectified, however, as the band return to plough the furrow of their back catalogue with the powerful ‘Perfect Denial’, before closing with the fastest song of the evening, the high-speed adrenalin-fuelled nightcap of ‘Metal Box’.

Hopefully, the young guns further down the bill took the opportunity to witness close hand how it’s supposed to be done: they certainly seemed to paying attention – which hopefully means that, a few years down the line, the headliners are going to have to be doing likewise to those coming up behind them!