If ever the phrase ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ was an appropriate description of a day – Saturday 3rd August exemplified it for the local Belfast metal community.
In the Limelight 2, you had the UK hardcore outfit Sworn Amongst delivering riffs with special guests Victim Royal, Cursed Sun and Ketos courtesy of The Distortion Project. Meanwhile, and running concurrently upstairs in Voodoo, native deathcore gang Death of a Salesman were saying their heartfelt farewell (with plenty of bree bree) closing ten years of activity with their brothers-in-slam No Great Loss and Rupturation courtesy of Shizznigh Promotions. The division was clearly expressed on social media through witty memes (looking at you, Wayne) and lengthy “civilised” debate. If that wasn’t enough to keep everyone on their feet – Belfast also had an incredibly busy event schedule as the annual Belfast Pride was in full swing and rainbows galore, whilst other punters (and some metalheads) were getting ready for the big Conlan fight hosted in Falls Park in the evening. Safe to say, this group weren’t down in Boucher Playing Fields for Billy Ocean and company, but I dare say it would’ve been a decent day out for 80’s fanatics.
What baffles me is that both promoters didn’t take the opportunity to make a dirty riff-fest to sate the appetites of the eager local metal enthusiast – merging the shows together to benefit all involved. As a promoter, I do however understand that it isn’t this simple especially if contracts and fees are involved, but it’s always worth a shot! Nothing ventured, nothing gained – right?
Alas, choices had to be made and so this review looks at the activities occurring in the Limelight. Thankfully, I was able to make it around for Death of a Salesman’s final performance which can only be described as incredibly powerful and devastatingly heavy. The quintet were relentless in their delivery, ceasing to pause for a single moment and injected all their energy into delivering one final blow to end their career on the perfect high. Their set mixed tracks old and new across a decade’s worth of creative outputs including loyal follower favourites ‘Danger Close’ and ‘Heretics’. In my native West Belfast tongue, it was proper ‘leffal’ [lethal]
First up in the Limelight was Victim Royal who have recently undergone a change in format – dropping one of their signature three guitars in favour of a roaming vocalist. Their last performance at Voodoo for the Metal To The Masses competition exemplified this young outfit as uncompromising and as a band who balance a big chorus and technical ability with plenty of heft. The band’s set was loaded with groove and punchy riffs, dual guitar attacks, and hammering drums and low-end. Praise must be given to drummer Andy who didn’t let a serious shoulder injury stop him from keeping the beat and the band as solid as a rock. Victim’s sound is very akin in character to heavyweights such as Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying (sans the more aggressive vocal stylings) particularly in songs such as ‘Umpire’ and ‘Glass of Water’. Another excellent performance and very suitable opener for the evening’s proceedings!
Following Victim Royal was everybody’s favourite metal outfit – the ever-talented and feisty Cursed Sun who just keep getting better and better with each performance I see. Jones and the wreckin’ crew not only know how to work a crowd effectively with no fear of getting in people’s faces, but also how to dispense ferocious deadly blows and ripping guitar solos along the way. With songs such as ‘Crawlspace’ drawing disturbing inspirations from sickening serial killers like the infamous John Wayne Gacy Jr, to paying tribute to cult movie classic Demolition Man  with the anthemic ‘Murder Death Kill 187’ – you’re always guaranteed to get a solid and abrasive performance from Cursed Sun.
In the last two years, I’ve seen Ketos progress from their first ever show to the band they are today. Following the release of their first album ‘First Strike’ via Hostile Media – Ketos accentuated that they are ready to take it to the next level. On all occasions, including this set, the band bring their sheer thrash-inspired aural assault to the ears of who’s standing in their path of destruction. Moreover, their songs feature some of the best and smoothest guitar playing I’ve came across originating from the nibble fingers of their guitarslinger Keith. It was also great to hear their headbanger neck workout ‘Chaos Theory’ being reintroduced into the set amongst songs such as opener ‘Escape The Chains’ and the sonic sledgehammer ‘Harmacist’.
To close proceedings, Kingston-Upon-Hull metalcore mob Sworn Amongst took to the stage during a subtle intro track before kicking into the pulverising ‘Enslaved’ with its thundering drums matched by their loud bouncing beatdown low-tuned guitars and snarling vocals and driving cleans. Songs including ‘Believe’ and the more frantic and gang-vocal laden ‘The Resistance’ kept the energy levels high and the vibe extremely belligerent throughout their 6-song set, with frontman Darryl reciprocating with swift and menacing movements conquering the stage. The band’s sound is high reminiscent of early Parkway-Drive and contemporaries Northlane and Architects.