The Northern Irish music scene was well represented at Hard Rock Hell VII. I’m not sure what they do differently over the Irish sea, maybe something in the air, but there isn’t a comparable area anywhere else in the UK that seems to have as many kick-ass rock’n’roll bands emerging.
Based on the testimony from our ever reliable mates over the water, the name to look out for from the 2013 array of Norn Iron talent was Stormzone, and after sampling their Belfast built brand of melodic heavy metal before the festival (gotta love YouTube) they were pretty much right at the top of our “must see” list.
Stormzone’s slot on the second stage was pitched against Michael Monroe over on the main stage, but a load of expectant punters had chosen Harv and the boys over the Finnish legend, and the arena was just about as packed as we saw all weekend as the band arrived on stage.
So the scene was set, could Stormzone live up to the hype ?? Not just praise from mere mortals too, speaking to the legendary guitarist Pat McManus earlier in the day he was singing the band’s praises.
That’s enough of a recommendation for us here at cackblabbath.online !!
Well, you know that thing where it takes you a while to decide if you like a band or not, you know, a few songs to really get “into” them ? Well that was entirely NOT the case with Stormzone. Sitting down the front in the photo pit it was clear from about 5 seconds into set opener Where We Belong that this was the real deal, and Stormzone are every bit as good as their pre-festival reputation suggested.
Harv is the consumate front man, every inch the classic metal singer he owned the stage form the off. Not to be outdone, the rest of the band displayed a musical ability and stage presence that made sure that your attention was held, and they didn’t release it for the duration. In Steve Moore and David Shields Stormzone have a razor edged twin guitar assault that is every bit as integral to the band’s sound as Harv’s voice (no mean feat considering his vocal talents). Lay that over one of the tightest rhythm sections of the weekend in Bassist Graham McNulty and drummer Davy Bates and you have all the ingredients for truly great heavy metal.
The band seem to have an inexhaustible supply of great tunes too. A lot of “classic metal” can sound pretty similar, but Stormzone provide a much needed breath of fresh air and touch of originality to genre that can often seem a bit, well, samey.
There had been a load of really great bands on the second stage over the course of the weekend, but for me Stormzone were just about the pick of the bunch. They saved the best ’till last, signing off with with Legend Carries On, and leaving the by now packed room baying for more. Festival time constrains meant that there were no encores, but the good news is that we don’t have to wait too long for our next Stormzone fix, with the band supporting Saxon on their tour early next year.
See you down the front.