LIVE: Onslaught, Artillery & Donum Dei – Limelight, Belfast

DonumDei3 Artillery3Onslaught3 Onslaught5Donum Dei are currently the hot name on everyone’s lips in Northern Ireland rock circles. The band are regularly touring and honing their classic thrash inspired set. However this was my debut viewing of the band in a live capacity. While in this support slot to classic eighties thrashers Onslaught the band seemed to have acquired their own following of fans.

Despite being around since 2011, it is only in the last six months that things to have picked up for the band. Increased live shows has certainly helped as getting out on the road and playing for local audiences is surely the primary method of making local rock fans sit up and take notice. Their set seemed to fly by, which in itself was a sign of satisfaction served and delivered to the audience. Influences clearly belying the bands collective youth, they served a modern twist and approach to the classic thrash metal genre. Through songs like “No Escape” and “Justice Fails”, they engaged and entertained the relatively disappointing numbers of early doors fans. Sadly a growing trend of audiences seem to be to remain in the bar next door instead of supporting fine local support bands.

Artillery themselves like Onslaught have been around from the classic era of metal bands in the eighties. Despite their longevity this was their debut Belfast visit. Chatting to original guitarist Michael Stutzer pre-gig, he explained that they were keenly anticipating playing to a Belfast audience. Unfortunately due to illness his brother and fellow guitarist Morten was unable to join the band on this trip.

Showcasing songs from latest album “Legions,” along with classics from their back catalogue, the band appeared energised and delivered a solid and enjoyable set. Many diehards lapped up the old songs such as “Terror Squad” from the self-titled album from 1987. Latest vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl has given the old timers and band veterans an adrenaline surge and fully reinvigorated Artillery as a band.

The band delivered a longer set than originally intended, as they had been promoted up the bill due to the withdrawal of Hatriot. They stepped up to the mark and succeeded in winning over many of the Onslaught fans present. Great audience reaction was inspired by the ferocity and passion delivered by Artillery onstage. A quality performance and highly entertaining solid support set from the thrash metal veterans.

Onslaught are a band that have a long affinity with the city of Belfast. I recall seeing two semi-legendary performances from them in 1987 and 1988 both at Queens University. In recent times the band have continued that relationship playing the larger Limelight on their last album tour. Another year, and another album, rolling into town to promote “VI“. The band had produced a release with some new and untypical elements into the Onslaught characteristic sound. I was particularly keen to see how the new songs with different elements and soundscapes would transfer into the live setting.

Fronted by Sy Keeler, vocalist from the first two classic Onslaught releases, many fans were also keen to hear the classics aired. In a well balanced set the band fused new songs such as “Chaos is King” and “Destroyer of Worlds” which transferred well from their studio contemporaries. Old school metal fans were also served well with a fair sprinkling of classics like “Metal Forces”, “Shellshock”and their namesake anthem “Onslaught (Power from Hell).

The band seemed to have triumphed over recent discord with their former band members. They appear fired up and enjoying what they do. A true triumph in the eye of adversity which had threatened to sully the bands legacy. Circle pits, widespread headbanging – the only thing missing from those classic gigs of yore were the steady influx of stage divers – sadly health and safety has intervened on that score. Nonetheless maximum satisfaction was served up in a great night of old school thrash metal music. Mark Dean, GiggingNI.com