Cursed Sun/Scimitar/Drakonis/Neamhni – Belfast, Limelight 2 – 21 January 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 20:17

In my last live review, I wrote about the joys of discovering new bands. Well, tonight it is a bunch of more familiar acts on the menu, as Cursed Sun finally get around to giving their brilliant new EP ‘The Amygdala’ its official launch… and what a supporting cast they have brought to the party with them for this special return of The Distortion Project’s ‘RocKD’ showcase…


However the reference to new bands remains relevant, as I had only seen openers Neamhní for the first time just a fortnight earlier: then, however, their performance had been ruined by technical problems and an absurd sound mix. But, the newest addition to Belfast’s (albeit small) black metal scene have no such worries this evening, as the precise mix brings out every nuance of a sound that is brutally nihilistic yet expansive and embracing. It’s fast, furious and extremely tight, reflecting the experience of the collective members.


Neamhni - Limelight Belfast 21 January 2017


The guitars of Steve Martin and Peter Gilliland bounce off each other with unerring precision, each as generous as the other in the space collaboratively given. The sound is built on the precise percussion of John Laithbhertaigh, which is turn is complemented by Mike Largey’s dense bass work, while Alessandro Rocco’s vocals are suitably menacing and undecipherably growling. It’s a feast of brutal yet beautiful blackened artistry.


Neamhní still have a way to go, though, to challenge for the title of kings of the Belfast BM scene, as that title is proudly held, for the time being at least, by Drakonis, and they once again demonstrate why… Their huge, bottom-ended sound are led by drums (courtesy of the deceptively agile Lee McCartney) which sound like the armies of purgatory on the march to yet another infernal conquest.


Drakonis Limelight Belfast


The dark dynamics of their interweaving melodies are hypnotic, while while you couldn’t squeeze a betting slip between McCartney and bassist Stephenie Dickey: they’re robust and precise yet suitably brutal, as Drakonis prove once more that they have everything right in every department. They make the technicality of what they do look so simplistic with the ease of their performance, while Cass Cassidy’s snarling vocals evoke the necessary level of animosity. The overall result is a set of songs that grabs your ribcage from behind, rips it through your spine and then re-inserts it via your anus, sideways. Which only leaves one final comment to make: having released UR’s ‘EP Of The Year’ is 2016, can you please hurry up and get the album out? Ta.


The mood changes slightly, but not the intensity of what is happening on stage, as Scimitar deliver their old-school death-infused thrash with the emphasis very much on passionate speed, furious riffs and dynamic percussive beatdowns. Once again, they are tight in every department, from the synergy between Chris (Baird – bass) and Ryan (Atkin – drums) to the precision of John (Thompson – guitar)’s riffs and melodies through to Johnny (Gray)’s alternately yelping and growling vocals.


Scimitar - John - Limelight Belfast


Remember that ribcage? Well, the ferocity of Ryan’s drumming smashes its way through its already decimated structure and beats every ripped sinew underneath into complete and utter submission and Scimitar show no mercy in the lightning fast workout with which they lay waste to the eagerly baying warriors of the sword gathered before them. It’s always exhausting watching these boys, but always rewarding…


No matter what had gone before, though, tonight was about one band and one thing: Cursed Sun and their ‘The Amygdala’ EP respectively. Amid the deep, throbbing, glacier-melting riffs and dense, melodic grooves, frontman Jones is in great form (despite being somewhat confined in his usual climbing the furniture antics by being tethered to a corded mic), joking with the assembled photographers: “have you all signed your bits of paper?” he asks, in an unveiled dig at events at a certain other gig next door…


Cursed Sun - Jones - Limelight Belfast


The EP’s opening track, ‘Breeding From Bleeding’ sounds immense live: huge and pumping, with blood spitting from its castrated throat. The title track shows the band’s darker, broodier side, with Jones treating us to more clean singing than normal while retaining the deep intensity, especially in Monty’s massive bass refrain.


It’s a strong and confident performance, as befits the occasion, perfectly nailed in every regard, from Chris’ precise percussion through the taut bass to the brutally melodic guitar harmonies. They even show off their nonstop work ethic by unveiling a new song, ‘Replicant’ before Steve from Neamhní joins for an utterly rabid rendition of ‘Redneck’ to bring the curtain crashing down on another crushing evening of intense and rewarding heavy fuckin’ metal…


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © The Dark Queen/Uber Rock.


Check out tracks from ‘The Amygdala’, and our chat with Ciaran and Jones from Cursed Sun, on the most recent edition of the Uber Rock Sunday Brunch.