live review ~ volume control ~ the empires, serotonin & making monsters ~ oh yeah centre, belfast

Tonight Encore NI found itself in the Oh Yeah Centre for another finely tuned night of rock and roll, led by it's ever reliable Volume Control team. Here Taylor Johnson gives his verdict...

Angst pouring from every riff and crashing cymbal, The Empires certainly wear their hearts on their sleeves, a precious trait in a live capacity no less than explosive at all times. Tearing through a repertoire of inventive covers and passionate originals, front man Danny Smartt's confidence was never in question, as the Hollywood trio unleashed a torrent of heavy malice and intricate guitar work. It was the bands ambiguous liaisons between the deafening roar of their metal chorus's that saw them truly in motion, at times with the raging intensity of an early Muse or Radiohead at Thom Yorke's most introspective. A hit with the gathered crowd, The Empires are a band with potential in a metal scene devoid of any major breakthroughs in recent years.

As The Empires left the stage in a typical storm of channeled aggression, local stalwarts Serotonin returned once more to reclaim a venue they're well acquainted with. Having worked tirelessly to amass a back catalogue of impressive, atmospheric rock songs and fans respectively, (indeed, several members of the front row cheer deliriously at the very mention of their debut EP) expectation for the five piece has risen dramatically over the past year. To have achieved what they have in a considerably short space of time takes a desire and dedication which many simply lack and ultimately, becomes their undoing. All the while these five, headstrong as ever, have consistently went their own way and thankfully this comes across as impassioned live as it does on the compelling Gestures EP.

New, unreleased track 'Pain's punky undertones and infectious hooks mark it out as a real anthem, whipping the rapidly growing crowd into sporadic fits of fists in the air and reckless dancing. An alt-rock stripping of Britney Spears 90's pop chart topper '...Baby One More Time' see's vocalist Lucy Loane's powerful range in full flight, justifying the bizarre choice with trademark Serotonin enthusiasm. It's Gestures spell-binding 'Cold Coffee' that really elevates this quality performance to one worthy of the memory banks, as it's beloved riffs spark new levels of spontaneous insanity. It may be a very long time before another song ignites such a floury of abandon, emotion and for some, (in the words of Blink-182...) the unrelenting need to take off their pants and jacket. Okay, perhaps no undergarments were removed, but shirts were thrown and heads did bang. Just as well, Serotonin's energy deserves such stark admiration. Goodness knows they've worked hard enough for it.

Headliner's Making Monster's have had no problems in earning the respect of their metal peers and fans alike, however for the first 15 minutes or so of their et they had to fight to win back a crowd heavily dispersed after Serotonin's live-wired performance. Songs like 'Instinct' with it's dark ambiance and reverberated solos commanded the venue, years of experience showcased through the bands perfectly sequenced time signatures. It is this meticulous edge which may prove to be Making Monster's finest quality; beneath vocalist Emma Gallagher's impressive screaming and the ground shattering breakdowns lies a focus that continues to tie the set together. Listen closely to songs like 'Limits' and there lies an unmistakable precision that many metal bands lack. As the final heavy riffs ring out to the crowd, it is Making Monster's definitive professionalism at the eye of their heavy storm that leaves the lasting impressions.

Overall, it was a resounding success for what is increasingly becoming one of the capitals major gigging hotspots. For a venue only opened in 2007, that is no mean feat and one that surly lies with it's brilliant Volume Control team. With nights of this quality, long may it continue.

Taylor Johnson

For all official news from The Empires, follow the links below...

Official Website

For all official Serotonin news, follow the links below...


For all official Making Monsters news, follow the links below...


& finally, for all official Volume Control news, views and updates click here.


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