Last week was the beginning of a seriously music-heavy few months; Wednesday and Thursday saw the ICC 10 festival, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Irish Composers’ Collective. ICC are a wonderful organisation I’m involved in, allowing Irish composers the opportunity to have music performed by some the country’s top contemporary music performers. The festival was a great celebration of the past decade of new music, and it was a really wonderful experience to see so many members past and present in attendance, proving just how strong and vibrant the Irish new music scene is.
As well as ICC 10, there is a huge amount of metal happening in Dublin over the next two months, and this season was kicked off last Thursday at the Voodoo Lounge. This was a rare gig where I came away without any band t-shirts; I missed Fallujah, I wasn’t quite impressed enough by Malevolence to buy merch, and the other two bands I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing in polite company.
Malevolence hail from Sheffield, and deliver a somewhat bro-y brand of metalcore. Their songs aren’t written with the normal verse-chorus structure of most popular music, but rather as a succession of breakdowns. It was really quite ingenious – dropping to a half-tempo breakdown section, then somehow gradually increasing the complexity of the music until it’s effectively at full tempo again without the audience hearing it, then following up with another breakdown. Repeat that formula several times for each song and you’ve got a surprisingly effective formula for catchy and crowd-pleasing tracks. If I overheard someone in the crowd describing them as “Breakdown City”, I don’t think that was intended as a criticism.
Goatwhore play a intensely riffy variety of black metal, more akin to Venom or Bathory than later, more atmospheric interpretations of the genre; with the important difference that Goatwhore are extremely accomplished musicians. They’re very tight and ended each song ending in perfect sync; whether it was simply repeating the riff one final time or introducing a complex fill, they were flawlessly locked together. Their frontman has an impressive stage persona, as though he’s taking the music seriously but is aware of how fun it is. He delivers the titles and lyrics of songs such as “Apocalyptic Havoc” and “FBS” with utter conviction, the same deadpan delivery he uses to theatrically air-guitar each solo – which he does with complete accuracy, of course. Overall, they just write really good riffs and really evil sounding music.
I’d also like to say thank you to that one guy in the Goatwhore shirt who fell over at least three times in the pit, that was hilarious.
Goatwhore would likely have been the highlight of any gig that didn’t include Dying Fetus. This was my fourth time seeing this Maryland death metal act, and I am convinced they get better each time. I managed to get a spot up front right in front of John Gallagher (though he didn’t sweat on me). While being so close to genius was obviously great, the sound overall was rather poor, as it often is at the very front of crowds. I moved back after a few songs to enjoy the sound (and the pit), and found it a much better experience. They played a set reasonably well balanced between old material and songs from Reign Supreme. As I’ve said before, they are a frighteningly technical band on record, and if they don’t deliver 100% of that live, their 98% is still far beyond what most bands can achieve. If the occasional pinch harmonic went unarticulated, that’s a minor issue in a set that ends with “Your Treachery Will Die With You”. Listen to this band. If you get a chance, go see this band. And if you meet this band, ask them to maybe produce some merch I could wear in front of my mother.