Date: October 8th, 2016
Venue: Voodoo Lounge, Dublin
Line-up: Akercocke + Zealot Cult + Mortichnia
Progressive death metal legends surprised a lot of people earlier in the year when the group announced that they were to re-unite after a four year absence. With the release of a new single (‘Inner Sanctum’) and a slot at this year’s Bloodstock festival, a club tour of the UK and Ireland was also on the cards marking the bands return to the country for the first time in almost 10 years.
Opening tonight’s show was Dublin based black/doom outfit Mortichnia. As you’d expect from a band whose member’s names use initials only; they were shrouded in a mysterious air. The smoke filled the stage and a roar of shrieking feedback served as the group’s entrance to the stage. The music was raw and suffocating relying on repetition and atmosphere to carry their set. Vocalist I.D spent much of their time hunched on the ground letting loose his ghostly wails and harrowing screams. Their performance wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, they was no crowd interaction and feedback was let ring even between the tracks, but this reviewer was enthralled by them.
For those who weren’t a fan of the previous atmospheric, drawn out approach Limerick’s Zealot Cult provided a good contrast with the crushing death metal. Rooted firmly in the golden days of “Florida death metal”, guitarists Mick Carey and Jay Quigely delivered lots of heavy groovy riffs with quite a few tasty solos thrown in. The sound mix was quite muddy to begin with but evened itself out before long, although Jay’s vocals were still quite drowned out. For much of the set my eyes were fixed on drummer Declan Malone, not relying on simply brute forcing double bass the whole time, he threw in lots of cool and interesting fills pulled off with a little flair.
The guys from Akercocke had only entered the stage for mere seconds before the crowd had erupted in a chant of “welcome back!” an spectacle they were more than chuffed with. It wasn’t surprising since the band is a cult act with more than a handful of devotees here tonight who’ve anxiously waited 9 years for their return.
As the bands frontman, vocalist/guitarist Jason Mendonca was seriously impressive. I already knew from studio recordings that he had an impressive arsenal of vocal styles but to pull them off the way he did was an amazing feat. ‘A Skin for Dancing in’ was a good showcase of everything he was capable of in seven minutes flat, the demonic rasps, the brutal lows and his baritone cleans. He was also very humbled for the crowd which had amassed for them here tonight; very grateful that so many passionate fans had come to see them after such a long absence. Throughout the night Jason was going toe to toe with his fellow guitarist Paul Scanlan delivering brutal riffs and spine tingling chaotic guitar solos.
The rhythm section were certainly no slouches either; bassist Nathanael Underwood is the latest addition to the band but he fits in so naturally that it seems as if he’s been there for years. Drummer David Gray had a set-up unlike anything I had seen before, using some sort of electronic bass drum instead of the traditional skins. From the beginning of their set right up until its conclusion the man was an absolute animal behind those drums all the while it didn’t even look like he was breaking a sweat.
The set was filled with a nice selection across the bands whole discography, ‘Marguerite & Gretchen’ from their debut straight, ‘The Dark Inside’ from Antichrist up to their latest single ‘Inner Sanctum’. The crowd were bustling with excitement hearing the songs, even the new material mixed nicely into the flow of things without breaking the momentum. Both fan and band alike left tonight with a smile spread across their face.