Review by Richard Henry for MPM
We are really getting treated well at the minute in Belfast, with some great gigs and lineups happening nearly every week and tonight is no exception, Spiritbox bringing Liverpudlians Loathe and fellow Canadians Brand of Sacrifice with them!
Brand of Sacrifice
Dawn – A real deliberately dragging riff from the start of this one, before it kicks in with the double bass part then screaming into a breakdown, few blasts before the riff hits again and the drummer is flying on this, frontman Kyle is an imposing figure on the stage, just going back and forth screaming away, really short track, less than two mins!
Demon King – Yeah, the drummer is working back there, straight in with the flying kicks and an absolutely brutal riff from the start of this one, there is a bonkers section with blasts and straight stops that come up into a really bouncy riff and drum pattern and the crowd happily oblige joining in, the sound is excellent, really clear from the desk, some real gutturals in there as well as high screams, really slams!
Lifeblood – Speaking of slams, this first riff certainly does, that’s like a middle section of a Suffocation song, so brutal, I love the way they are mixing the straight section and throwing in the blasts, that next breakdown section where the double bass is following the riff is awesome, the slows right down for the chorus before the real blast beats hit in before a more thrash section, good crowd reaction to these guys, loving the orchestral part and then when it all joins together at the end of the song, really well done!
Altered Eyes – These guys sure do love an intro part, an almost techno style riff, then in it kicks, more relying on the groove in the most so that when the blasts do happen, they have more impact, the chorus part of this really relies on the groove then into a more breakdown part with atmospherics before it hits into the groove section for the chorus, I love the way the song is constantly moving in both parts and drumming, it’s really interesting the way they have put it all together!
Exodus – New track, this was released as a single last year, again we have a lot of atmospheric parts going along with the track, with really adds to the overall sound, really black metal sounding parts on this one, which I particularly love, and clean vocals which I thought really lifted the song away from the vocal delivery that we had for all the other tracks, that breakdown near the end is absolutely brutal!
Between Death and Dreams – Another new one, this is again another single, this one was released this year, another intro, again very industrial, that’s a sick riff that comes in, again really more focused on the groove and then bang, a wall of noise and the blasts before we hit a syncopated drum and riff section, loving the double bass section over that moving riff, very Slipknot, back to the blasts and the drummer is getting it tight back there, before it slams into a brick wall and into another slamming riff, I am hearing so much of Iowa era Slipknot in this one!
Eclipse – Last track and the oldest song, everything else has either been a single or from the newestalbum 2021s Lifeblood, this track is from 2018s Interstice Ep, again we have an intro, very sci fi sounding, really deathcore sounding, not just with the intro but the riffs and the screaming whammy pedal part, to me it nearly sounds like a different band compared to what all the other songs sounded like, massive change in their sound from this, I loved the kids choir in this, great song really short and that’s it, the guys are done!
The crowd really enjoyed them and for my first time seeing and hearing them I thought they were excellent, highly recommended, go check them out!
Aggressive Evolution – So what if Meshuggah had a love child with the Deftones and Korn, well I think that is these guys, immediately I though Meshuggah and then it hit the chorus and it went all textural and mellow, the song is constantly changing in feel and also vocal style, it’s just really interesting what they are doing on this one, that chorus is so Deftones, even the way the guitar gets more textural instead of just hitting out a riff, looks like a good few people in the place know these guys already, I just wasn’t expecting this, it’s so so interesting!
Dance on My Skin – Again it starts with a really Djenty riff, the drummer is just grooving away back there, despite what I can hear is definitely a polyrhythm type part, again it just changes from a straight groove to another part into an almost hardcore sounding part with the riff and drums and then the drums start to change from downbeat to upbeat patterns over the same riff, then into a slow deliberate section that rides the song right out to the keyboard wash at the end!
Screaming – Now this one I was like, its nearly like an indie rock sort of thing when I heard it start, and to be fair it really does have that vibe to it with the cleaner guitar and the more laid back vocals, then the chorus came in, yeah ok, schizophrenic would describe this one, but it’s the juxtaposition that makes it such a cool song, that middle section riff, sort of reminds me of a stoner rock vibe, although a lot heavier, again it’s just another feel to a song that keeps switching around genres at the drop of a hat!
451 Days – Now I should say, we have two keyboards on the stage and both the bass and guitar player play them, so we get a dramatic wash of keys to start this song, I really love the way these guys are so all over the place but yet so totally cohesive!
New Faces – As on the album, this one is up next, a lot heavier but with a really bouncing drum part, yet again the crowd are getting into this one, circle pit in full affect, then you hit the chorus and yet again I just think Deftones, the way it lays back and the vocal delivery, it’s so chilled out, well I mean as chilled out as it can be with the screaming along with the clean vocals, that breakdown at the end, that is savage!
Heavy is the Head – Now I am going to be honest, I wasn’t expecting blast beats at this point, but I was indeed wrong on that one, it’s a real wall of noise, but you can hear the melody, almost like a really old school black metal track from the early 90s, then a slamming riff comes in at you, then it drops right down, that chorus is however pure Meshuggah and the vocalist has definitely stolen some of Jens stage moves with the head rocking and the arms swinging back at the monitor, I have seen Jens do the very same thing in pretty much the same spot, just like that this one is over into a droning keyboard part!
Love in Real Time – Again we have a keyboard intro to this one, again it really is unique the way these guys have the set, with the really heavy stuff, the more indie tracks and then the soundscape interludes!
Two-Way Mirror – This one is a really slow just rocking groove with a slow riff played over the top of it, the crowd just swaying to this, really laid back in the verse, again very indie rock in nature, is so subtle in delivery, again it’s one of those real mellow Deftones choruses with an almost ambient guitar part in nature instead of a riff, with the bass player and drummer just driving this one along, the middle section goes half time from the already slow groove and it’s a really uplifting part that comes in, very atmospheric but just really beautiful, then the song builds back up into that majestic chorus!
Is it Really You? – Gotta love the keyboards, bit of an electric piano intro on this one, the bass player and guitarist both able to stand facing each other playing piano before coming back to their main role in the band, this one again is definitely more indie rock vibe from the start, it’s a fantastic setlist, which really showcases everything this band can do, massive chorus on this one, again I am going to say uplifting, it’s hard to describe unless you have listened to them or seen them live, really cleverly arranged and put together tracks!
Gored – I knew by the start of this one we were not getting laid back, that is so groovy despite the fact it’s so god damn heavy, slow grinding groove then you get little bits of double bass coming in over the next part, then a lot of double bass, the guitar player and singer trading screaming, now this is where security started to earn their money as we seen a good lot of crowd surfing starting happen, then we get a bit of a thrash beat before we hit the slowest breakdown I have heard all night and the pit properly gets opened up!
I Let it in – Moody slow clean guitar figure to start this one, clean vocals to start off, then an almost trip hop drum pattern comes in, it’s so hypnotizing in sound, then comes in a heavy riff that is peppered with some dissonant notes, then the screaming starts! Polyrhythms have started and we are in Djent land, when these guys do heavy, they do slow heavy, the sound is crushing as well!
Just like that they are done, first time over here for these guys and I hope from the reaction of the crowd it won’t be the last, I had honestly never heard these guys before tonight and I was floored with how good they were and how the set was just so interesting all night, definitely go see them if you get the chance!
Rule of Nines –Now that’s an aggressive opener, the sound is crystal clear with the band, additional synth parts are on there with a track that I could see playing from the MacBook, then out comes Courtney, starting with a low clean vocal, this one is a track showing her voice off, warm and melodic, climbing up during the chorus, everyone round me knows every word, then verse two and the screaming starts, now I will say, it was easier hearing the screaming as some of the really quieter vocal parts where getting a bit lost in the mix, good use of the simple clean stage with the LED screen running behind it, the sound live though really comes across as massive!
Hurt You – Track two from Eternal blue, that riff just slays live, with Mike headbanging away at the start of it, then we have the synth backing with just the drummer Zev and Courtney, before Josh on the bass comes in as well, that is just a massive chorus, lots of crowd participation singing away with the band on this one, little synth break before Courtney screams us into that breakdown where the pit certainly enjoyed themselves, then we break to the synth and vocal and into that huge chorus again!
Yellowjacket – As with the album, this is the next track, again the backing tracks and the band make the sound, all tying in what you hear on the album but in the live format, it’s so much heavier live! When we get to that chorus riff it really kicks off, next up is the part Architects Sam sings live, which the guys cover themselves, bassist Josh really sings a lot during the course of the set, that breakdown just absolutely kills live, circle pits are back in action for this bit!
The Void – New single is up next, this one was put out this year, and it’s a really cool guitar figure to start this off before we jump straight into a riff that has the whole place jumping up and down to it, love the clean verse with the delay on the guitar before we kick in for a huge pre chorus and then a little breakdown before we hit and absolutely massive chorus, everyone is getting in singing with this one, it really is a massive pop chorus and that is not a bad thing because it will absolutely stick in your head which let’s face it, a lot of bands struggle to do, not these guys!
Halcyon – Track ten from the Eternal Blue album, synth intro to start this one, before we get a slow bendy guitar riff, then straight into a quiet verse with Mike playing a tricky enough delay part on the guitar under it and then through the chorus, it’s so hard to keep in time when playing something like this, again when they hit the chorus the song just lifts up, then it gets aggressive for the middle section, bit of odd time on the drums and the riff really slaps you in the face before it just breaks back to a synth part, then boom you get hit round the face again with another breakdown!
Circle With Me – Yet again we follow with what is the next track on the album, this one from the start always reminded me of Periphery with that riff, lovely bass line from Josh on this one with the backing tracks filling in some of the synth sounds which again fills the sound out, huge chorus yet again and it really breaks the songs up having the difference between the verse and chorus, I also realized the screens where actually saying circle with me during this part of the song, that part after the break with those Gojira style rakes on the guitar is so good, and then before you know it, you have slid back into that huge chorus again!
Rotoscope – This one was released as a single last year in 2022, An almost dance beat to start with this one and drummer Zev is getting a bit of break during this one, again the way it builds into that chorus sliding up in pitch till you hit it, really well done, that middle section with the screaming vocals before the second chorus is just such a cool variation compared to the first verse, its songs like this that you can’t label this band anything, its equal pop, metal, plus whatever else they decide to throw in, and that’s the beauty of these guys!
Silk in the Strings – I love the drum and guitar riff dance around each other at the start of this one with Courtney screaming over it as well, it’s an absolute wall of sound, the little breaks with the hip hop beat and clean guitar parts between the screams and heavy guitars is so intense live, the bodies have begun flying through the air on this one and the pit is moving, the crowd are absolutely loving these guys tonight, not a surprise considering it was a sold out gig, I love that riff at the end with the bends and the quick guitar pattern that’s punctuated with the drums, awesome!
Secret Garden – Now if they did have a hit, this would probably be it, it’s such a blanket of sound from that bendy riff to Courtneys smooth and warm vocals, mellow would probably be the right word for this song, hard maybe to hear live but there is the synth part following along just in the background, subtle but again it fills up the sound, maybe subtly but it really does! If that chorus was in a pop song it would be huge and that’s the kind of thing you could play to a non-metal fan, and I am pretty sure they would like it, also really tricky guitar part under that second verse, everyone is singing in here with this one, massive singalong tonight in Belfast!
The Mara Effect, Pt3 – Think this is the longest song they play tonight at over the five-minute mark and also the only one from the self-titled debut album, clean verse but a really unpredictable drum pattern, I mean not for the drummer, he knows what he is doing, very different feel to this song compared to the new songs, the chorus is full of clean vocals but I think doesn’t have the same lift in the chorus as the newer songs seem to have!
Holy Roller – So this is the first song I heard from these guys, thanks to Dean Lamb of Archspire, who has a learns “four levels of Death Metal” on this channel and Mike was on it, it’s also probably the bands best known track, and most certainly it opened this place up, we have a circle pit, crowd surfing, it was all kicking off for this one, as well as everyone singing the words, its iconic from the intro right through to that bendy riff that sticks in your head, the thing I love is, it’s so not the most singable song on the album, full of screaming and that breakdown is sick, I love the way it goes from that right back into the riff and then out!
Hysteria – From the Rotoscope single, hitting off with a synth patch and the drums, before hitting back in with a soft quiet part, then into the chorus that modulates down, normally they go up in pitch to build, I love that break when it’s just Courtney and the synth part, again how good is that chorus, it’s so memorable and it’s so uplifting, I said it before, there are pop artists would love a chorus that good, the it just builds in intensity until that super slow heavy breakdown at the end of it!
Constance – Last track from the new album, slow drum intro with a clean guitar part and Courtney really laying back into a super warm low vocal delivery, it’s really a subtle song when you think about it, even the vocal part in the chorus, again uplifting is the perfect word so I make no apologies for using it so much, it’s just a bathing warm wall of sound the wraps round you like a blanket. Now it does build to a really heavy ending part, where the tempo starts to slow and slow before it stops, and you are left with the atmospheric synth part to play this one out!
Eternal Blue – It’s hard to believe you have just heard 14 songs from these guys, it has gone in so quick, the whole place was singing this one from start to finish, wasn’t expecting crowd surfers on this one but we certainly got them, that slow dragging chorus with the lovely warm vocal delivery, it’s so perfect, that middle section where it goes into that syncopated drum and guitar part, what’s maybe easy to miss is that droning part coming through on the track in the background, then into that huge chorus again and that is it!
Spiritbox live is such a different beast to the album, more subtle, but heavier, so much more dynamic, and I thought they were absolutely outstanding, I am hoping that they will be back again given the place was sold out and the crowd was so onboard with them from first to last song, amazing live act, if you get a chance to see them before they head home for a break then do it, highly recommended!
Photography by MPM