Conjuring Fate (‘Valley Of Shadows’ album launch) – Belfast, Limelight 2 – 10 December 2016 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Thursday, 15 December 2016 06:30

It seemed fated (sic)… and so it proved to be. Back at the tail of August 2015, Conjuring Fate were one of two bands to play our wedding… no, not the reception, but the actual ceremony itself. The five lads formed a guard of honour as herself walked up the aisle (to the strains of Metallica’s ‘Orion’, natch) before playing a blistering headline set – which, of course, just had to feature a guest appearance from the Dark Queen… and, now, here we are and the band finally get around to releasing their long-awaited debut album: and, guess what? It just “happens” to “coincide” with Mrs A’s 50th birthday! We couldn’t have planned it better if we’d tried… or could we?


A Little Bitter


For a trio, openers A Little Bitter create one helluva big noise, built on hard crunching grooves which peak in a series of deep crescendos before easing back and then returning for another sonic wave of power and intensity. The lads use the opportunity to unveil a trio of new songs of their own, which are characterised by the first to be offered forth, ‘Feathers’, which possesses a rapturous harmony and melody mixed with a complexity to the bottom end which shows exactly why Seamy Donnelly is quite possibly the best bass player on the Northern Ireland scene.


The other two boys – frontman Jonny Armstrong and drummer Darren Pilkington – are no slouches either, the former’s catchy guitar hooks combining with the hard edge of the rhythms to produce darkly dramatic classic rock with balls of steel. The new songs are tight and dramatic, and aided by a terrific sound mix which elevates them to their natural level, and if this show is a precursor of what is to come then 2017 is going to be a massive year for ALB.


Selene 2


The first time I saw operatic metallers Selene was on this very stage, way back in February 2015, when they well and truly jumped in at the deep end, making their debut live appearance competing in the annual Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses competition. To be honest, they were somewhat ropey, a situation which was compounded by some serious technical issues. But, they’ve come along way since then, as epitomized by their show-stopping performance at the Siege Of Limerick this past Easter…

However, despite their commitment and professionalism on every level, this evening’s performance does highlight one issue – at least to these ears: it’s probably about time they considered recruiting a second guitar player to help John Connor fill out his sound. The backing tapes do their job, but can only go so far (and always beggar the question of what is actually being tracked), and a beefier bottom end to the highly complex harmonies and melodies would definitely help take them to the next level. Over the past two years, this band have moved on faster than the Millennium Falcon with Han back at the controls, but personally I think it’s time for them to take a bold and decisive step along the road of progress.  Having said that, it is a tight and controlled performance - if a little bit too much of the latter from Shona, who gave the very strong impression that she was holding back in the vocal department.


Conjuring Fate 1


With vocalist Tommy Daly taking to the stage wearing a gas mask, before casually producing a microphone from his hip pocket, Conjuring Fate immediately live up to their reputation as one of the most solid acts on the Northern Ireland circuit.

Very much schooled in the power metal-meets-sub-thrash tradition, the twin guitar harmonies of Phil Horner and Karl Gibson wind ‘round and bounce off each other in classic metal interactions that are counterpointed by their superb use of vocal harmonies on the bridges and choruses.


If the band were from a few more miles up the road, comparisons to possessing the tightest (sonic) wallets known to Norn Iron would perhaps be simplistically apt: as it is, the synergy between particularly Gibson and bassist Steve Legear is almost psychic, while Bogdan Walczak holds down his percussive duties with his usual aplomb as the band race through the album – and the three “bonus tracks” (their 2014 EP ‘House On Haunted Hill’ is tacked onto the end for those who missed it first time around) – in order, taking no prisoners along the way. Set highlights include the immense ‘Chasing Shadows’ – one of THE best pure metal songs written in many a year, with its huge melody and completely memorable hook – which sees DQ herself lead the choir from the barrier. ‘Trust No One’ is acerbic and taut, with a brief and good-humoured pit opening up and the singalong chorus section threatening to raise the roof as Horner takes his characteristic walk around the venue.


Conjuring Fate 2


If you’re gonna launch an album – especially one which has been more than a decade in the making – then this is the way to do it: and, believe us, they certainly can back up their electrifying live sets with a damn fine piece of product, which is now available through their webstore as well as all usual digital outlets.


  • Conjuring Fate are currently looking for festival dates on the UK mainland next year. Interested promoters can contact them through their Facebook page.


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Darren McVeigh / Uber Rock.