Review: DIAMOND HEAD – Dolan’s, Limerick (24/09/16) Posted: 03/10/2016 by John O'Brien
The increasingly darker skies that greeted my arrival in Limerick for this triple-header did not fill me with a lot of confidence. The expected turn-out was not my main concern, but rather whether I would get soaked on the way down to the quayside venue. Thankfully, following a quick stop to get a late lunch/early dinner, things looked more promising. I called in for a pre-arranged interview with the headliners, and after meeting up with one of my friends, it was time to get going.
First up were TWISTED WRATH. The Galway/Mayo band are making their trip down to Limerick for the last time following their recent decision to call it a day. This is set to be their penultimate gig together before finishing up in Fibber’s next month. And they aimed to go out with a bang in front of small but appreciative crowd. Heavy metal has been the primary inspiration since their early days under the REBORN monicker. A noticeably darker and tougher sound has been in evidence over the past few releases, and it is on display again here.
Kicking off with fresh material in the guise of ‘The Jackal’, makes the break-up all the more disappointing. It certainly was not for the lack of good ideas. ‘North Titan’ and ‘Hath Fury’ keeps up the pace and intensity. Bassist Patrick Fitzgerald pulls out his most convincing James Hetfield vocal impressions and urges support from those gathered. ‘The Devils Three’ is an unfamiliar tune to these ears but comes across well. Himself, Colin Dunne on lead and David Mahony on Drums, have built themselves into a tight unit from constant gigging and support slots. They finish with one of the first songs that wrote for their debut EP, ‘Forever Known’. Recollections of rushing down to play the siege at the last minute are recounted amongst memories of playing here. Hopefully it will not be long before we see them in another guise.
As one band takes its leave, they are replaced by a band very much on the rise. Kildare based, STEREO NASTY, have had an extremely busy year or so. Their debut album, Nasty by Nature, was released last year. This was followed up by slots at festivals such as Forta Rock and Metal Magic. And there is a clear level of interest in seeing them by those present. Visually, they incorporate face paint and spikes which brings to mind the early nineties wrestling combo, The Road Warrior. Their sound is a reminder of some of the best of eighties metal. WASP meets JUDAS PRIEST, you could say. Most of the material from the set came from their last release. Numbers such as ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Out of the Fire’, are designed to make people pump their fists and chant along.
This is interspersed with fresh songs which they are working on at the moment. Whether it is an EP or a full-length, there is going to be a big demand for it. ‘Kill or be Killed’ and ‘Becoming a Beast’, do not stray away from their template and fit in nicely among the more familiar numbers. As much as vocalist Mick Mahon, wishes to appear to be tough and mean on stage, his obvious grin in response to all of this gives away how much the band are getting out of it as well. Unfortunate drummer, Fran Moran, is hidden away at the back where he is barely visible but bassist, Rud Holohan, and guitarist, Adrian Foley, are able to soak in the energy of the crowd as well. Finishing off the set with a one-two of ‘Black Widow’ and ‘Death Machine’ sets the masses away happy and towards the merch stalls.
Anticipation is really building now for the main attraction. And it is great to see such a wide variety of ages present. Some who recall seeing them back in 1983, others who are witnessing them for the very first time. It is perhaps, reflected by what Brian Tatler had said in the interview beforehand. A combination of fresh additions to the band, with better promotion, has seen the band elicit glowing reviews for their latest self-titled album and live shows. There is a confidence and a swagger from the band from the very beginning. And kicking off with ‘Speed’ from that new album is a clear example of that. New frontman, Rasmus Anderson, is one of those fresh faces to the band. He understands the need to take front stage at times and let the band leader assume charge at others.
This new material feels like classic DIAMOND HEAD and is woven effortlessly in throughout the set-list. Early highlight ‘Lightning to the Nations’ is followed up by ‘Diamonds’ without a drop in quality. The band are clued in enough to know that many present are here to relive the first three albums. A storming version of ‘The Prince’ segue into ‘Helpless’. This is followed by a blistering rendition of ‘Borrowed Time’. Tatler has stated that he found it curious that they were constantly paired with heavier metal bands through their association with METALLICA and MEGADETH. They have always placed the strength of their songs and their hook, above speed and heaviness. This is shown through the emotional power of ‘Star crossed (Lovers of the Night)’ and ‘In the Heat of the Night’. I did not expect to hear a song from the underrated ‘Death and Progress’, so that was a pleasant surprise. Musically wise, it is far from being a one-man band either. New bassist, Dean Ashton, fills the vacancy left by Eddie Moohan impressively. He has built up a great understanding with long-time drummer, Karl Wilcox, who really makes his presence felt on Lightning to the Nations stormers ‘Shoot Out the Lights’ and ‘It’s Electric’.
The obligatory encore encourages us all to ‘Shout at the Devil’ at another noteworthy new album track. If the band is to be stereotyped by one song, there are much worse out there than ‘Am I Evil?’ It has been the starting point for a whole generation of metal bands in the 80’s and still remains an inspiration for up and coming ones. The response from the audience shows how much they appreciate it as well. Tatler peels off riffs after riffs, assisted by Andy Abberley. It sees a constant flow of crowd surfers from the stage, some more successful than others. And they are surprisingly not finished there either. Fan favourite, and decidedly non-PC, ‘Sucking My Love’ is pulled out. A climax comes (pardon the pun) with ‘Streets of Gold’. The tour is set to continue back to the UK and then off to the States, before it comes to a close.
Hopefully the possible commencement of writing new material will see the band build on this momentum and that it will not be long before they visit our shores again.