@ Voodoo Belfast
May 10th, 2015
Review by Melanie Brehaut
Photographs by The Dark Queen
Belfast has a thriving and vibrant metal scene…unless it’s a Sunday night, when, presumably, most metalheads’ minds turn to work or school in the morning, and very few venture out of their pits for gigs.
Thus it was a fairly low turnout for Grimegod, Agamendon and Negură Bunget in Voodoo last Sunday night (with Northern Plague falling victim to those pesky ‘travel difficulties’ and having to drop out of the lineup). Small though the crowd may have been, they certainly weren’t lacking in enthusiasm as openers Grimegod took to the stage. With no drummer to be seen (they use a drum machine) the curiosity factor was also high: what would they sound like? The trio all rather theatrically turn to face us one by one then kick off their set, and the answer is an immediate “heavy”! Their doom-laden melodic death metal flows from the tiny stage and envelops the audience; it ebbs and flows and has a rather drone-y feel. This is heavily atmospheric yet accessible death metal, without the sense of impenetrableness that the genre often suffers from.
The one factor that goes against them is that niggling drummer issue; the pauses whilst waiting for the drum machine are long and – frankly – a bit weird. Apart from that, they are a tight and vigorous act, and do a great job of getting the old blood pumping.
Second support act Agamendon are a different beast altogether: they introduce themselves with the theme tune to ‘The Godfather’, stride onstage suited and booted and looking very swish, and come out fighting with a crash of cymbals and an unearthly scream from vocalist Dugi. Goodness! The crowd blink in astonishment, then move as one closer to the stage.
The change in pace from the first act to the second is as startling as it is complete: this is proper headbanging stuff – if you can keep up! There are surprising flashes of NWOBHM here too, as if Judas Priest decided to try death metal, just to see if they liked it. Voodoo’s cramped stage is a writhing mass of bodies and energy throughout, as Dugi roars, growls, screams and screeches his way through the band’s set of hooky as hell death metal. It’s heady, joyous stuff; metal that makes you smile, and move, and bang your head.
Final track ‘Devastated Empire’ covers Voodoo like a hail of bullets, with Dugi belting the lyrics out like a man possessed. The band, who all seem genuinely moved by the applause they receive, farewell the crowd and leave us all very taken with them! Very, very good indeed.
Then it’s time for headliners Negură Bunget who, upon closer inspection, prove to be the three members of Grimegod, only this time with a drummer in tow. Saves on touring costs, presumably…they play their folky, chanty intro and then fire up their instruments, which thankfully DOES include drums, and then some: there’s even a timpani onstage!
Less melodic than their earlier incarnation, they are a bruising, atmospheric battering ram of a band, with folky, pagan touches from their Transilvanian heritage, such as vocalist Tibor Kati’s occasional clean singing style and the almost wind instrument-like sound of the guitars here and there.
Their songs are loosely structured at best, meandering along in an almost prog metal style, albeit one with real brute force behind it.
Their set naturally focuses on their most recent release ‘Tau’, the first album in their ambitious ‘Transilvanian Trilogy’ series. Thus we hear tracks such as ‘La Hotaru Cu Cinci Culmi’, ‘Impodobeala Timpului’ and single ‘Nametenie’ (yep, they sing in Romanian), as well as earlier numbers such as encore (of sorts) ‘Hora Soarelui’, the ‘blackest’ song of this black metal set.
1/ Ceasuri Rele (OM)
4/ Tara De Dincolo De Negura
5/ Impodobeala Timpului
7/ La Hotaru Cu Cinci Culmi
9/ Dacia Hiperboreana
Despite the fairly humble turnout, all three bands played impressive and unique sets, crushing the crowd in their own ways. Hopefully next time these bands visit these shores it won’t be on a school night so they can truly sample Belfast’s legendary hospitality.