If you’re preparing for a slot at Bloodstock, you do a warm-up show with your half hour of songs that you have prepared. Right? You don’t crank in a two-hour plus show with material selected by fans…
STORMZONE, in preparing for Bloodstock did exactly that. 20+ songs, all requested by fans – when they played their final warm-up at the Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill in Northern Ireland.
Opening the proceedings were Northern Ireland band DONUM DEI, who were making their début at the Diamond Rock Club.
For such a relatively youthful band they pounded through a metal set that had punters raising the horns, especially for their anthemic Justice Fails.
Thomas Marshall is at ease as frontman and lead guitarist, showing passion for every second of every track. Even, when a harmony solo with lead guitarist Stuart McLoughlin fell apart with technical difficulties they showed poise in recovering quickly. Star of the night was bassist Dean Kane, who was locked into Alastair Marshall and delivered every line with manic movements, thrusting the headstock into the faces of fans and contorting both his body and his bass in strange patterns…
While Donum Dei performed at a high level, undoubtedly winning new fans, most were there to see Stormzone. This is a band that has journeyed through the years with ease, producing fine albums, and delivering each song with a stylish charm.
Local heroes and European festival favourites, their presence is steadily growing in the minds of a lot of people who like classic metal with melodies and searing solos.
They were relaxed and rampant, with front man Harv smiling throughout, as he bantered with the crowd, handed out goodie bags to those who had requested songs, and led his bandmates through two hours of sheer metal fun.
After their Sonisphere slot, it would have been easy to kick back a little, but the band were going for it big style, with guitarists Steve Moore and Dave Shields telepathic link leading to a feast of riffs and solos.
Title track of their most recent album, ‘Three Kings’, was a stand-out, but when they played the tracks ‘The Pass Loning’ and ‘Cuchulain’, drummer Davy Bates was to the fore, with bassist Graham McNulty overcoming a mid-set problem with his rig to keep everything locked down.
Bates was the conductor behind the kit, atop drum stool leading fans to clap along, smiling and playing with a fury that drove each song, whether it was epics such as ‘The Legend Carries On’ or the melodic riffing of ‘Tugging At Your Heartstrings’.
This was a set showcasing a band in its prime. Despite the classic metal tag, this isn’t retro rock; its a storm front of metal talent – what could be clichés in other artists hands have become contemporary for 21st Century audiences.
If you catch them at B.O.A., you’ll be in for a treat!
Review by Jonathan Traynor