You immediately know you’re in trouble when you walk into a metal gig and not only are you twice as old as the rest of the audience put together but your hair, despite a few (but increasing) grey threads, is longer than same, with the exception of the barmaid. We should have known it was going to be one of those nights!

Openers Once Before Takeoff are in full flow as your humble reviewer hands over a small portion of his hard earned dosh to the kid behind the cash desk and heads to the bar. They’re on their last two songs (the gig having actually kicked off on time for a pleasant change), and are frankly quite mediocre, although they are trying hard and are sweating a lot to prove it. The up side is that it gives your truly time to check that all of the females in the room are with partners (of whatever sex), so as to avoid any nasty propositions on this leap year night – well, none could be nastier than the one overheard in the pub down the street when your faithful hack stopped for a libation, or three, en route to the gig!

The Fourth Exit are in dire straits before they even begin, as guitarist David is suffering major problems with his equipment (at least, that’s what his girlfriend told me in the toilets afterwards! as if!), which results in their set being cut to just three songs. But, they prove to be an excellent young band playing hard-hitting suvern blues metal over rumbling bass lines and accompanied by tobacco-smoke vocals, much in the vein of Black Label Society covering Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Any band with a Southern Cross emblazoned guitar is immediately all right in my book – and even more so when they hit the stage as hard and heavy as Stand With Heretics. The fact that singer Donal is emblazoned in more TapOut logos than a reject from a David Haye sparring session is forgiven by the viciousness of his vocal onslaught. However, the set quickly descends into chaos as they become the second band to suffer major technical problems, this time in the form of a broken string: for some reason, yer man Gerard doesn’t seem to have a spare with him and there is a lengthy delay while he retunes a guitar borrowed from one of the other bands – but the whole incident is seen through with humour, not least by those of us standing at the bar (well, any excuse for another Guinness!)! Problems sorted, the band return with the hardcore vengeance of Suck My Glock (as the reviewer said to TFE's guitarist’s girlfriend) and finish their set with an in your face, ‘fuck off’ performance of the highest order – despite the false intro to Déjà Vu proving it’s definitely not the guitarists’ night – with closer Snake In The Grass, dark in its subtle brutality, really showcasing the skills of drummer Darren.

So, after an interesting hour or so, your reviewer wanders back out, still feeling decidedly old (and here apologies to the last two acts on the bill, ABandCalledBoy and Limerick’s We Came In Pieces, but when you’ve done a 14 hour shift and have a 6am start…) but strangely fulfilled…

• A slightly different version of this review was originally published on

Authors: Monk

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