Bulletbelt blasted into the New Zealand metal scene back in 2009. Their first album, Down in the Cold of the Grave, debuted in 2012 and brought their blackened thrash sound into homes around NZ and abroad. After a variety of tours around NZ and Australia, performing with a horde of international metal acts, and a slight change in line up, Bulletbelt returned better than ever with their second album, Rise of the Banshee.
Opening with an ominous storm leads straight into some brilliant guitar work that becomes a key feature of the album. Catchy, unforgettable, guitar licks. Guitarists Ross ‘Rots’ Mallon, and Evan Short bring some serious riffage and heavy metal force to the album. The kind of riff and rhythm that gives you neck strain after a show, irresistible head-banging action.
Most of time people don’t really notice the drummer and the bassists but this album simply could not be without them. Bassist Tim Mekalick understands a fundamental feature of a good bassline, it doesn’t have to follow the guitar, and its makes a gut-punching addition to the end result even if some listeners won’t realise. Throw in some blast snare and perfectly timed cymbals from drummer Steven Francis and you’ve got a recipe for pure metal.
Their first album with new vocalist, Jolene Tempest, she just carves up the lyrics in a brutal aural assault of acidic vocals. Undeniably a different sound from original vocalist, Fergus ‘Fear’ Nelson-Moores’, more crushing vocals Jolene still carries a skill and talent that a lot of New Zealand vocalists will envy.
With brilliant recording and mastering from STL Audio in Wellington, Rise of the Banshee, will go down in as history as an album of pure kiwi metal. Tracks like ‘Tarawera (Burnt Spear)’ and ‘Minnie Dean’ make the local references undeniable and ensures a story and a sound unique to New Zealand. Complete with a throwback cover of The Nod’s 1992 song ‘Sniper’.
Heavily featured in Jason Lei Howden’s splatter comedy ‘Deathgasm’ this will no doubt bring Bulletbelt further into the international eye and remind the world that NZ can produce metal to rival northern Europe. Don’t miss your chance to see Bulletbelt live near you. No Kiwi metalhead’s collection is complete without a copy of this album.
– Vince Clark