Live: CONAN – Cyprus Avenue, Cork (17/08/2018) Posted: 13/09/2018 by Philip Morrissey
I think there was a collective rolling of our eyes when this show was announced. Nothing regarding the choice of band of course. It was more regarding the night it was originally meant to happen. It was scheduled to be on a Monday or Tuesday night originally in Dublin and Belfast back in May. It certainly would have prevented many from attending it. When it transpired they were returning for a second round, there was a sigh of relief. Time to get loud, nasty and downright heavy.
Tonight’s show was part of a wider Irish tour for the headliners. They had played with the likes of TEN TON SLUG and GOURD the previous evening up in Galway. They are also set to be part of the main attractions for Bad Reputation’s ten year celebrations. Many from Cork had been seriously tempted to venture up to Limerick to also catch FULL OF HELL on that lineup. The addition of strong support acts perhaps persuaded many to come along here. Even before doors opened, there was already many mingling around downstairs and outside. A sign of a busy night ahead.
It fell to COROZA to open up on proceedings. The Cork stoners are relatively new on the scene but have been extremely busy in the couple of years since forming. A well received demo last year was added to a strong work ethic on the live front. Already this year, they have reached the final of Mammothfest’s Irish competition, Walpurgis Night up in Galway, a double set on Easter Saturday in Cork, plus a number of other dates here and there. I arrive in not long after they had started up. For someone seeing them for the very first time, it is clearly evident they are fond of a riff or twelve. There is a few moments at the beginning which doesn’t show them at their best. A couple of isolated ropey spells aside, they quickly settle into the feel of it. A band definitely inspired by the likes of SLEEP. Plenty of weight and thrust behind their playing. Although only two tracks are performed, they are both fairly lengthy. ‘Iron from the Sky’ contains a healthy level of feedback before it develops into more of a propulsive section. Vocals from Ciaran Coughlan seem to be more on the hardcore side of the spectrum. Considering the roots of the likes of NEUROSIS, TORCHE, KYLESA and MASTODON, it is not entirely surprising. The more sorrowful sounding backing from Jonny Canning makes for a decent contrast.
‘Iosis’ is unadulterated worship of the riff. Substantial weight behind the bass of Canning and Oliver Cunningham’s drums. That low end powers the band forward to create a create of ugly beauty. It may be fairly simple music but it is certainly being performed extremely well. They clearly have a grasp on the music they want to play and how to play it. A jam section sees all players lock together wonderfully. It gradually slows down to that of a primitive sludge. Shows their flexibility. There is not an awful lot of interaction between band and audience until they eventually depart the stage. I would attribute that to concentration on the task at hand. Definitely a band going places. Seemingly they are in the studio recording a full length album at the moment. If it can follow the imagination displayed in the artwork posted on social media. it will be one to behold. Looking forward to catching them again.
PARTHOLÓN are a band who never fail to disappoint. Even if you’re not a fan of THE MAGNAPINNA or previously of FIVE WILL DIE, you cannot help but to be drawn in by their performances. Their opener ‘Light’ displays typical bug-eyed fury courtesy of Daniel Howard. He remains a strong front-man but is backed up well by those behind him. The hooks from himself and Cian O’Callaghan are tight and meaty. The playing spirals into a whirling instrumental segment with everyone on top form. Naturally, it piles on the power and meat as it develops. Quite how they manage to keep up with such pace with the heat generated is something else. ‘ To the Stars’ was a high-point of their primary release. It contains the slow paced build up beloved by the likes of CULT OF LUNA. Howard’s vocals are backed up by drummer Alan Setter. There is definite understanding between the two. An epic sounding segment as the band continue their voyage skywards. A hypnotic drone develops as vocals and beats meld as one. This gradually increases in weight as a solo develops. Riffs are peeled off before another piece emerges to a bass led piece accompanied by the drums. All lock in with stunning results.
‘Jerusalem’ is more of a hardened beast. A considerable toughness in the drumming and menacing chug in the guitars. It is one that perhaps harks back to their hardcore roots more than the others. It continues in a slow and foreboding fashion even as the vocals arrive. For those who may deride the lack of power displayed in post metal at times, this is one to make them think differently. The chants of ‘This is no Jerusalem’, get increasingly frenetic as it develops. They close out with the track from their recent split release with SOOTHSAYER. ‘All We Are’ may have garnered an indifferent review recently but tonight it is stirring. It contains a slow and pensive build up with a dedication to the organisers. This gains in weight and power as it grows. For all that bombast, it still manages to retain a sense of shimmering elegance to it. There is a slight issue with feedback on occasions with the lads manage to power through it. It builds to a full-on explosive section as we reach our climax with all players involved on top form. They are able to play up to the reaction of the ever building crowd with a display of showmanship. A few winks and nods here and there among the solos. They leave to roars of approval and back slaps from various well wishers. Despite them being soaked through!
And so it was the turn of the headliners albeit playing second last. If that makes any sense. It was announced that there was going to be a switch in the running order to have CONAN playing before NOMADIC RITUALS. The Liverpool doomsters have been steadily building up an impressive body of work and an increasing army of supporters. I believe it is also a full six years since they last played at Freds, so it is definitely overdue a trip back here. Straight away it is clear that they are not here for messing around. The monumental weight on show is akin to being steamrolled at times. The opening one-two punch of ‘Throne of Fire’ and ‘Thunderhoof’ set exactly the right tempo we are expecting. All guitar fuzz, hefty bass and thunderous drums. It is a joy to hear ‘Gravity Chasm’ from 2014’s ‘Blood Eagle’. An album where they really refined all the best they produced and injected it with steroids. As they are touring a new album, it would be remiss of them to not include a few new offerings. “Existential Void Guardian” has been gathering quite a few favourable reviews since its release. They dip into it for ‘Prosper on the Path’. It would be a lie to claim I am overly familiar with them just yet but they certainly come across mighty powerful live. They then go all the way back to the beginning for ‘Satsumo’. It might be one of the shorter songs in their catalog but not lacking in riffs for it.
The band may not have been on this soil too often but a familiar face is present. Johnny King, formerly of ALTAR OF PLAGUES, ABADDON INCARNATE, SODB and currently also tub-thumping for MALTHUSIAN and DREAD SOVEREIGN, is their man with the sticks. His fills, patterns and technical ability is a joy to behold. A rendition of ‘Total Conquest’ displays this. He is a man who never looks out of his comfort zone. This track is sandwiched between a pair of ‘Blood Eagle’ numbers. ‘Foehammer’ and ‘Hawk as Weapon’ get dusted down and thrown into the battle. Certainly a high level of appreciation for the more low end nature in the playing within. The music on show by the scousers may not be entirely sophisticated but it is highly effective. When they lock into a groove, it is almost impossible to stop being sucked into the abyss. A few pedals are used to create some of the more trippier effects in their set. Some of these are incorporated into another new track in the guise of ‘Volt Thrower’. A nod towards a certain extreme metal band from Coventry perhaps in its name? They finish things out with another new one ‘Paincantation’. We would try and call for more but time is unfortunately pushing on. Always welcome to return though.
And to the band seeing out tonight’s proceedings. Northern Ireland’s NOMADIC RITUALS have been one of those bands who have astounded most of whom witnessed them. And for many, they were the band who they wanted most to see. Which is why their later scheduling is proving somewhat of a dilemma. Hang on and catch at least some of them or try and beat late night traffic. Decisions decisions. They perhaps first came to Cork’s attention via an astounding show in Cork Printshop and then at Mr. Bradleys. Both absolutely blew the place away. “Holy Giants”, their first album, captured all the promises of their demos. It is not a shock when they open with a track which emerged in their early days. ‘The Grey’ is an absolute powerhouse of a number and sets out their stall immediately. People are still shuffling back in following the completion of the previous set. This certainly encourages them to get a move on. Song cycles appear to meld into one but it is the first visitation from one of last years finest albums, “Marking the Day”. The ideas, imagination and heft merged into a seamless presentation. Doom and stoner bands can face the accusation of being slightly one dimensional at times. You certainly cannot make this claim about them. At times, it is a wonder to behold.
Further numbers from said album in the guise of ‘Narrowing of the Light’ and ‘Face down in the Sea of Oblivion’. The band are doing their utmost to push forward the limits of the genre they are operating in. Okay, Craig Carson’s vocals might be harsh and wretched at times, Mark Symth’s drums pound away and Peter Hunter’s guitar riffs are forceful and strong. As you can imagine with most bands of their genre. The splendid use of synths and effects differentiates them however. It allows them a decidedly more progressive and psychedelic vein. There are definitely nods to acts from previous generations such as HAWKWIND. The vibe is almost like that of a troop of interstellar bikers voyaging through a galactic and barren wasteland. A three-piece should not sound as enveloping as they do. Those in attendance have no choice but to ride along for the journey. Those who have stayed and watched, certainly left highly impressed if they did not know of them already. A four song set does not perhaps come across as awfully long. The length, scope, depth and brevity of their concepts remain enough to kept everyone enthralled though.
It is no shock that they receive a massive ovation upon finishing. It sees the end of yet another powerful night of metal here in Cork. Although generally all within a similar genre, they all provided different shades of it, helping to keep it from being overly familiar. Significant praise must be attributed towards Con Doyle and the rest of the crew of Paranoid Beast for putting such a strong bill of artists together. Their stall seemed to be doing decent business at the end which is always good. Their announcement of BELL WITCH playing here in December is another substantial coup. It is a credit to see such a crowd tonight as well. The music scene is not dead yet! In the meantime, plenty of other shows are planned. Hope they all go off as successfully as this one.