|Overkill / Vader / One Machine - Belfast, Limelight 1 - 9th April 2016|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Wednesday, 20 April 2016 03:00|
Thirty-six years. Thirty-six fucking years. That’s how long it had taken, until this evening, for Overkill to grace a Belfast stage and sate the hunger of thrash fans here to see the last of the original thrash bands to perform right in front of their very eyes. Needless to say, expectation was high - but, deep in the darkest recesses of our darkened metallic hearts, we knew it was going to be worth the wait…
Due to the earliness of the hour, the crowd is still filtering into the room when openers One Machine take to the stage to deliver their technically progressive, thrash-edged blend of power metal. Nevertheless, the band simply ooze confidence, and play as if they were doing so to a packed gigant-arena, with Chris Hawkins immediately endearing himself as a charismatic and expressive frontman. The band live up to their name, as they are a well-oiled mechanical delight; the, the downside is a slightly muddy sound and Hawkins' efforts to whip up the small crowd have little effect on all but those on the barrier and one or two lone moshers dotted around the still fairly empty room. Make sure you catch One Machine play Thrashersaurus, at The Brickmakers in Norwich, on Sunday 1 May and the Sophie Lancaster Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Metal Festival on Saturday 13 August.
The crowd has started to swell by the time Polish legends Vader take the stage - but, the reaction is still strangely largely apathetic, Which is a real shame, as the veterans deliver a set of old school death metal that simultaneously caves in your chest, crushes your spine and rips your spleen straight out your arsehole! It’s a sound built on James Stewart’s punishing yet precise double kick work, with dense, melodic guitar patterns, complete with some searing solos, and topped off with suitably menacing vocals from Peter. They make great use of sonic atmospherics, which in turn produce a fantastically and beautifully brutal death metal assault during a fluid set which is delivered at a relentlessly frenetic pace with little room for niceties.
“I’ve never been able to say this before… Belfast is Rotten To The Core!” exclaims iconic Overkill frontman Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth as he bounds on stage with the energy of a man half his age, immediately acknowledging that the length of time many in the audience have waited to see the New Jersey mob in their hometown. He then goes on to lay down the law: “There’s one rule: I’m in charge… coz I say so!” And nobody is fucking arguing with him as the band proceed, over the next 100 minutes, to deliver a masterclass in the art of thrash.
‘Electric Rattlesnake’, ‘Hammerhead’, ‘Feel The Fire’: it’s chest-thumping, fist-pumping, neck-snapping thrash anthem after chest-thumping, fist-pumping, neck-snapping thrash anthem. Led by Ellsworth’s long-time sparring partner D.D. Verni, who does as much as his friend to cajole the audience into action - strangely, as with their two predecessors on the stage, the reaction is largely static, until the second half when the first crowd surfers come over the barriers - the band are tight and at ease in the fury and intensity of the set, which is drawn largely from the ‘Feel The Fire’ and ‘Horrorscope’ albums (in preparation for a subsequently recorded live DVD).
Blitz himself is shaking with the pure adrenalin, which is oozing from every fibre of his battered 55-year old body. My old friend T-Bone describes him as being like “that angry yappy little dog whose gate you were afraid to walk past as a kid”… and he’s not far wrong, as Ellsworth is defiant in his continuing ‘Fuck You’ attitude to all the haters and doubters - of which, of course, there are none in this room, as everyone present is absorbed and enthralled by a sublime performance from a band who may be in their fourth decade laying down their particular metal assault but are clearly very much in their prime and thrive on feeding off the unbridled, cathartic experience of club filled with heaving, dirty metallians.
Photographs by The Dark Queen © 2016.