23 May 2019

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Bulletbelt - Bulletbelt @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 19/05/17

20 May 2017 // A review by Sarah Sampson

Helgorithms were on stage first, which is always a difficult slot to fill but they get straight into it playing like the room is filled to bursting. They are a Heavy Metal band that every metal head in Auckland has likely seen and I have indeed seen them before, many years ago now. The band I saw last night, compared with that band, was a totally different experience and if it has been a while since you have seen them then I highly recommend getting out to see them again. It’s not that I didn’t like them when I saw them last time, but you can tell that in the years in-between, this powerful 3 piece have been crafting their sound into a unique, powerful and bruising set. They are polished, tight and their love for their music and instruments comes across in their stage presence and personas they portray on stage. 

I loved each individual solo they all played – my notes for the drum solo just say EPIC with a whole row of m/ after it. Luke is a phenomenal guitar player and watching him perform takes you on a journey to another world. Helgorithms are definitely a band to keep an eye on and I am most definitely going to make a point to see them live again sooner than later! Watching and listening to Helgorithms live is an experience you won’t forget quickly and I definitely recommend getting out to their next show.

Melbourne’s Cryptic Abyss were up next and these two shows with Bulletbelt and Arc of Ascent in Auckland and Hamilton are their first two shows overseas. I have been wanting to see these guys live for over a year after discovering them online last year and being sent their last release Feed ‘em to the Sea which I was super happy to hear my favourite songs from the album live last night – these being Throne of HatredLet's Get Smashed (which reminds me every time I hear it of Hamilton band D.I.C) and Reduced to Bones. Like Helgorithms there was no easing into it, right from the first note it was a powerful set full of high energy. 

Cryptic Abyss’s performance sets them apart from so many Heavy Metal bands I’ve seen by synchronizing their head banging and movements on stage. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not but I love it when bands think about their performance as a whole unit, rather than just the music as sometimes the music alone isn’t enough. In Cryptic Abyss’ case this is not the case at all and these elements combined with their music makes for one powerful performance! I sincerely wish these guys lived in New Zealand, for the purely selfish reason of being able to see them live more. I look forward to them coming back to New Zealand in the future.

The third band to take the stage is Hamilton band, Arc of Ascent. They are a recent find of mine, being last year at Biddy Mulligans was the first time I saw them live. In the last year I’ve been lucky enough to see them perform a few times in Hamilton and at various venues around Auckland. They are another New Zealand band that I can’t get enough of and will go out of my way to see again and again.

Four of my friends came with me to the show last night and for all four of them it was their first time seeing the band. At the end of the set they were all buzzing as much as I was the first time I saw them and they couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed. One friend said she felt like she was in a trance, another one said he felt like he wasn’t in the room while they were playing, he was somewhere else in his head. 

In fact in my notes I made a note that for one song I had to stand back to the side of the room and just observe the powerful effect the music had on the crowd. They were all totally mesmerized, some had their eyes open, some had their eyes shut, some were head banging slowly, some were standing barely moving but each and every person in the room was totally mesmerized. Arc of Ascent are co headlining some of the tour with Bulletbelt and are touring their 3rd release entitled Realms of the Metaphysical which is also available on Vinyl for all the Vinyl collectors out there. They have four more shows left to play around the North Island so make sure you get to one of these gigs to see what you are missing out on. They are playing tonight in Hamilton with Bulletbelt at Nivara Lounge, next weekend 26th at the Cabana in Napier, 3rd June in New Plymouth at Mountain Sound Studios and the 10th at Valhalla in Wellington. All the support bands and times are on Arc of Ascent's Facebook page. 


Finally it was time for the headliners, Bulletbelt! They have been one of my favourite NZ Black Metal bands for so many years and I’ve been excited for their new release since I heard they were recording last year. Bulletbelt are a regular support band for a lot of international acts and I know why. Every time I have seen them perform they have never, ever had a ‘sloppy’ show. They are tight, polished, unique and oh so powerful. From the moment they took to the stage and the backing track started with fire being projected onto the screen behind them I felt the energy in the room change and I felt like I was being drawn into a black magick ritual. 

I struggled to stand back and make notes for the first few songs because every time I see Bulletbelt all I want to do is head bang and move to the music but I made myself stand back for the first two songs. In my notes by their second song Thou shall Not Suffer a Witch to Live I was ready to get up the front of the crowd and head bang, and this is when one of my friends came to the back and literally dragged me up the front. I had to stop and take notes in-between my head banging as Bulletbelt’s music never fails to move me. I had the sense that a Demon was on stage with the band and that they were excising our demons. All my notes after this point put emphasis on their various solos and every single one of them were powerful and unique. Steve is one of my favourite drummers to watch, as is Tim on Bass and Ross on guitar. Together with Seth and Jolene they combine to create one of the best Black Metal bands in New Zealand. They are still on tour and are playing tonight at Nivara Lounge with Arc of Ascent and Cryptic Abyss but also joined by Spiteful Urinator. There other dates are 26th May at the Darkroom in Christchurch, 27th May at the Factory in Timaru and they are supporting Dragonforce at all their shows 28th June at The Foundry Bar in Christchurch, 30 June at San Fran in Wellington and 1st July at The Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland. Get out and catch them on tour!


About Bulletbelt

"...brutal, harsh black metal with a punk twist." muzic.net.nz

There are two types of metal bands in the world today: those who innovate and those who are content to merely imitate. Bulletbelt have risen above the hordes of imitators to firmly establish themselves as innovators, successfully straddling the divide between thrash and black metal.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Bulletbelt


Nine Centuries
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Rise Of The Banshee
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Down In The Cold Of The Grave
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Live And Ascend
Year: 2012
Type: EP
Writhe And Ascend
Year: 2011
Type: EP
The Black Army Stands
Year: 2010
Type: EP

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