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Review: Mastodon – The Ulster Hall, Belfast

Both Luke Harris and Aaron Milligan of Brand New Friend recently dubbed the Ulster Hall as their favourite venue to play in and attend. It’s not difficult to see why. The iconic building, all wrought iron posts and high ceilings, is one of the most imposing in Belfast.

The only building in the world to have banned both Winston Churchill AND The Ramones, it adds another notch to its belt tonight with the return of psychedelic heavy metallers Mastodon, who are accompanied by some of the best headbangers in their field.

Mutoid Man

First on stage is Mutoid Man, who play a buzzing and electric set. Free flying and aggressive, the thump of the drums could be felt in our collective chests, while the electrifying guitars and ferocious riffs were enough to whip the hall into a frenzy.

Kvelertak

The second band of the night, Kvelertak hail from Norway, and brought some Scandinavian fury along with them. Sounding like a Viking invasion, their employment of four (!!) guitars and fives (!!!!!) vocalists was one of the more entertaining sights to grace the alcoves of the Ulster Hall.

Reminiscent of Iron Maiden with their dual threat of schreeching guitars and vocals, their searing sound was matched by a threatening, energetic stage presence. An electrifying performance with a ferocious, razor sharp bite.

MASTODON – Ulster Hall, Belfast – January 2019

The headliners take to the stage soon after. My companion for the night warns me to keep my eye on the bassist, who reportedly “looks like a druid” (side note: bang on the money, he could have been sacrificing goats to the sky god prior to the show and no one would have been shocked),  and as we chatted the arrival of the group was announced by a combination of psychedelic imagery and prog metal madness.

Several small screens buzzed to life behind the stage with images picked from a death metal voodoo encyclopedia as Mastodon started their formidable live performance. With their prehistoric distortion and monster riffs, their long hair and limbs swinging, Mastodon sheer manic pace was a sight to behold.

Scorching solo’s and a stampede of percussion ensures the heavy machinery of their metal pedigree was alive and kicking, but the spacey interludes throughout allowed for the introduction of a thick, psychedelic lick. With a constant sense of crescendo, a frightening seriousness and hulking exuberance, Mastodon displayed full why they are one of the premier live acts in the world.

Noise enthusiast. Poor sleeper. Enjoys sushi and is a bigger fan of Florida Georgia Line than he'd like to admit. Indie rock exterior with post-punk hardcore heart.