Published on January 2nd, 2016 | by Brian Coney0
Zlatanera w/ Slomatics & Bad Boat @ Limelight, Belfast
Hail Satan! After four years, Belfast’s premier groove/stoner devil-worshipping metal band Zlatanera have finally put together their debut album Lergerdemain (literally ‘sleight of hand’, or trickery) and of course launched it in fine fashion in their spiritual home, the Limelight in Belfast. Both they and their two support acts also rather brilliantly showcased the many facets of stoner metal to boot.
First of these supports is Bad Boat, who have been kicking around the local scene for the last fourteen years (“we should probably get an album together ourselves” quips frontman Tom Clarke). Tonight they are in outrageously superb form as they produce downtuned, sludgy stoner metal from the very bowels of the earth, nearly levelling the Limelight in the process. It’s a bit Sabbath-y, a bit Clutch-y, even a bit Mastodon-y, with the slower pace interspersed with catchy as hell faster sections, all heavily laden with teeth rattling bass. Clarke often seems in a world of his own, taken over by the spirit of their soaring and expansive music; the huge applause they receive would suggest that they took the crowd along for that same ride.
A heavy reverb heralds the arrival of second support act Slomatics, who turn out to be at the more ponderous and meandering end of stoner. While the trio certainly have the ‘rock star’ poses down pat, musically they’re simply not as captivating as Bad Boat tonight. They certainly tick all the stoner metal boxes – a bassline so deep it threatens to vibrate glasses off tables; we’re talking ‘sonic boom’ low, trippy and unstructured songs, a sort of ‘Sabbath at their most (ahem) self indulgent’ vibe – the combination of slightly off key vocals, rather drawn out tunes and few gaps in between means that the audience connection just isn’t as strong as the previous set.
Luckily that certainly isn’t an issue with our headliners; a deliciously silly ‘Strangers In the Night’ intro later and they’re off, blazing straight into their hour long set of balls-out heavy, groove laden stoner metal.
Does that description do them justice, though? Well, no actually: it’s stoner metal in that the songs are rather loosely structured and heavy on the low end, but there’s so much more going on. From frontman Andy Campbell’s rasping rock n roll voice to the sinuous slither of bassist Anthony McKee’s groove, sheathed in in the raw rock of duel guitars and beefy drums, this is the dirty, slinky side of stoner metal.
The crowd duly go nuts, headbanging and bopping in place, roaring lustily with approval at the end of every single song, and generally lapping up every moment. Tracks such as ‘Bad Case of the Devil’, ‘Holy Man’s Crook’ and ‘Advance of the Clodhopper’ from Lergerdemain, are set up and knocked out of the park, all rib-rattling beats and just a hint of ass-shaking blues. Campbell has grown demonstrably in both ability and confidence in the short time that band have been performing; tonight he is a charismatic and commanding figure, tempered with just the right amount of humour and humility.
Three bands, three different aspects of in your face stoner metal: the perfect Saturday evening, really. Melanie Brehaut
Photos by Liam Kielt