Rabid Bitch Of The North - Belfast, Voodoo - 16th January 2016 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Thursday, 28 January 2016 03:40

Rabid Bitch 2


It’s a cold January Saturday and for the second evening in a row your intrepid Uber Rock Belfast team are braving the elements to head to a local hostelry for a launch. Twenty four hours earlier, it had been for the latest album by local punk stalwarts The Defects: however on this occasion, we are heading in the opposite direction, to one of our favourite venues, for the official unveiling of the new single by one of the city’s hardest rockin’ trios - the mighty metal machine that is Rabid Bitch Of The North.


Called in to the opening slot at a couple of days notice, Erosion may be a new name on the local scene, but their members certainly are familiar faces. And this experience shines through as the band deliver their traditional hard rock with a classic metal edge and an underlying doomy edge, especially the rhythm section. With drummer Mark Stewart (formerly of Baleful Creed) also doing lead vocals, it is initially difficult for the audience to find a focal point, but the quartet’s tightness and commitment keeps all eyes focussed on the stage as they win over many of those previously unfamiliar with their dark, dense yet melodic rhythms. (Erosion return to Voodoo on Thursday 18 February, when they play the second heat of the Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Northern Ireland competition (alongside Skypilot, Baleful Creed and So Long Until The Séance).




Astralnaut take the amplifier setting marked “heavy as fuck” and turn it up a level or two, with their thick, chunky, doom-laden grunt and grind. Dense hypnotic melodies mix with darkly punctuated staccato jabs of riffs, while Thomas Mallon’s vocals are equally intense and enervating as overtop the beautifully bass-heavy, downtuned soundscape, and moments of dark introspection blend easily with furious doses of neck-snapping bravura. The Tyrone quartet even through in a cover of Motörhead’s ‘Iron Horse’, delivered in their own characteristically sludgy mien.




Just before the headliners take to the stage, they premiere the video for the new single that they are officially launching, via a makeshift screen at the front of the stage. When they eventually kick off their set, they do so in fast and furious style, with the screamfest that is ‘Sisyphus’ - it’s hard, driving rhythm epitomizing the Rabid ones’ approach to their tributary NWOBHM. The rallying call of ‘Defending Two Castles’ and the acerbic vitriol, mixed with the trio’s vibrant, ever so slightly tongue in cheek attitude, of ‘Slave To The Man’ gives Joe McDonnell free rein on his impressive vocal range, which swoops from soaring falsetto to Lemmy-like growling with swift ease.


By the time ‘Green Eyes’ itself - which combines a dark grunt with a thrash-edged classic metal vibe - comes around, the engineer has got somewhat carried away with the dry ice machine and the room is filled with choking smoke (forcing some to retreat to the cold night air outside): this combined with the wall of red lights at the back of the stage makes it impossible for all but those at the very front to see the band, who are just silhouettes moving through the fog. The band also cannot see the audience, which obviously makes interaction difficult, but they battle on in time-honoured r’n’f’n’r style.


With their three-piece line-up and Joe doubling up on bass and vocals, it’s inevitable that they include a tribute to Lemmy, and they recognize that “he would like this” as the tear up the floorboards with a suitably adrenaline-fuelled ‘Die You Bastard’. With the intensity of the smoke easing slightly, the audience need no prompting to join in the singalongs for two of the perennial set favourites - ‘Help I’m Trapped In 1999’, driven by its furious bass line and maniacal double kick from birthday boy Chris Condie, and the early Maiden-esque volley of ‘Us Against Them’, which threatens to raise the roof but definitely blows away any of the residual fog.


Rabid Bitch 1


This is likely to be the last local audiences will see of RBOTN for a while, as the boys lay down their touring plans for the rest of the year. They will, however, return south of the Irish border to play Dublin’s On The Rox as main support to Argus on Sunday 13 March.


You can buy your copy of ‘Green Eyes’ HERE.


The anthology CD, ‘From The Kennel To The Castle’, featuring all of Rabid Bitch Of The North’s recorded output to date - including a remastered version of their debut ‘Outta The Kennel’ EP, the ‘Defending Two Castles’ single (previously only available on cassette) and the long-lost ‘Heavy Metal Sessions’ demos – is also available HERE.


Photographs by Marc Leach.