Belfast’s RBOTN live and breathe British metal of the NWOBHM era, it’s certainly evident on some of the tracks. Whilst others, especially the first two ‘The Missionary’ and ‘Chance’, have an epic metal flavour. They certainly sound ready to go into battle armed with the patches on their jackets.
As a trio, the warmth is pretty good, in some place there’s double tracking, in others there is not. Now each time I listen to say ‘Gilded Men’ I get something different from it. The solo stands out for both bleakness as it is missing a second guitar, but also a warmth. This comes from the way it’s played and that is cool and very imaginative as there are different textures displayed from the guitars (the real palm muted riffing makes you turn up the volume louder only to be blasted when standard picking is resumed!). The timing at the beginning tests your timing recognition too, for me this is the stand out track on the album, as it has so much more than straight ahead heavy metal. A clever track that lets talent shine.
The mix of the album is pretty good. I do love the snare sound of the drums, it has a lot of “space” it’s not tinny and dense as a lot of bands seem to tune into, I’m reminded of the Running Wild snare sound actually on this matter albeit no relation musically. ‘Demon Mind’ is another killer tune, it just fits, and again the guitar work is spectacular and infectious. From the first listen of this album you should get it, you get more the further you repeat. An older track ‘Defending Two Castles’ makes a refreshed appearance and the closing ‘Trapped in 1999’ is cool, although I would prefer to be trapped a decade or two earlier ha!
RBOTN are one of those bands that really have a cult following, it’s about time the rest of the world had a stab at these barbarian NWOBHM inspired warriors. I can think of a few festivals where they would fit perfectly too. They’ve developed themselves on this full length album, if you have their earlier material you will not be disappointed. But for a new fan, well, this is an essential start, then you could work backwards in their discography. The album is titles ‘Nothing but a Bitter Taste’, well, I’ll be coming back for more, bitter or not, this is a very comprehensive metal combat boot in the face for a scene that will surely be shaken up by the quality within these Belfast chaps.
(8/10 Paul Maddison)