@ Button Factory, Dublin
Saturday February 9th 2013
Review by Mark Ashby
Photography by Jamie Hunter
Curated by Primordial lead vocalist, Alan Averill, the purpose of this inaugural Redemption event in his home city of Dublin was to bring together half a dozen of Europe’s top black metal outfits under a single roof in a way which the Irish capital had never seen before.
Opening proceedings are another group of hometown heroes, Mael Mordha.
Despite going on at the ridiculously early time of 3pm, build the suspense with a overlong intro combining monks chanting and an Eastern-tinged flute, before frontman Roibéard Ó Bogail sounds the warhorn and the first crunching riff rolls from the speakers.
With their doom metal sound steeped deep in the Erin’s bloody history, the quartet bring the ancient tales back to life with venom and vision, with set highlights including the classic ‘Curse Of The Bard’ and the stunning ‘All Eire Will Quake’, which bodes extremely well for their forthcoming concept album about the Norman invasion of Ireland.
With Ó Bogail revealing that Mael Mordha have just inked a two-album deal with Candlelight Records, it was somewhat appropriate that they should be followed by new labelmates Winterfylleth.
Even if their respective minings of Irish and English nationalistic identity may seem somewhat at odds to the discerning ear.
However, metal is about bringing people together, and so the Dublin audience (actually, locals seem to be in the minority, if the diversity of languages and accents is any indicator as to the truly international attention this gig has attracted) welcome the Manchester black metallers with open arms.
The band respond with a pummeling set, characterised by a wall of blastbeats and an excellent sound mix, especially on the two guitars (it’s just a pity that the lighting isn’t as good as the audio).
Occult death crew Grave Miasma are a totally different kettle of fish.
Getting their set off to not one but two false starts: first of all, their intro tape starts to roll before the band have even made it as far as the side of the stage – and then, when they do get as far as the boards, they play one song and inexplicably walk off (it turns out a broken guitar string is to blame), before returning ten minutes later to start their set from scratch again.
Unfortunately, many people have decided the delay has provided an opportunity to visit the bar or the merch stall, or pop out for a smoke: they don’t miss much to be honest, as the London quartet’s set is formulaic, uninspiring DM and the low point of the day.
Thankfully, Iceland’s Sólstafir are on hand to restore order, and they do so extremely quickly, with an hugely impressive set of hard-hitting desert/stoner-infused metal mixed.
With elements of darkly gothic black ‘n’ roll – sort of like a cross between Grand Magus, Amon Amarth and Fields Of The Nephilim, their sound is both deep and dark, and immensely rhythmic.
With the highlight of their set being the epic, doomy finale of ‘Goddess Of The Ages’.
Rotting Christ had promised something very special for their return to Irish soil, and that is exactly what they delivered.
With a set drawing exclusively on their early demos and first three albums, with the emphasis very much on 1994’s classic ‘Non Serviam’ opus. The Greek quartet were obviously were revelling in playing this old-school material, and you wouldn’t have thought that it had been 15-20 years since some of these songs were last played in public.
They sounded as fresh and as energetic as first time around – but benefiting hugely from new ‘clean’ vocals which really helped to bring out the melodic aspects of the songs.
Highlights are the towering ‘King Of A Stellar War’ and the title track of ‘Non Serviam’ which appropriately ends the set by sending the crowd into a total, appreciative frenzy.
As organizers of this first Redemption festival, Primordial perhaps can be forgiven for giving themselves the luxury of a two-hour headlining set, and certainly their hometown crowd does worship them as returning heroes.
Frontman Averill certainly is on a par with the likes of Tom G Warrior and Nergal in terms of his ability to entrance his audience, and band’s overall performance is completely faultless, their “greatest hits” style set played with aplomb and enthusiasm, which is picked up by the almost manically devoted congregation, who the frontman holds in the palm of his hand throughout.
Very much viewing themselves as the leaders of Irish anti-culture, and evoking the spirit of rebellion which engulfed Ireland this time a century ago, Averill mounts venomous and vicious attacks on the modern Irish state, and the all-encompassing power of the church in particular.
The set rattles along at a cracking pace – before we know, they band are passing the hour mark with the thunderous ‘The Traitor’s Gate’, as Primordial emphasize their place at the forefront of the re-emergent Irish metal scene by bringing redemption to the putrid heart of their native city.
All in all, it must be said that this was a well-organized festival, with a great bill (with the exception of the shambolic mid-bill nonsense from Grave Miasma), in a good venue blessed with a terrific sound and atmosphere. It would be a real shame if it was a one-off…
Primordial set list:
No Grave Deep Enough
Children Of The Harvest
Lain With The Wolf
Let The Sun Set Of Life Forever
Bloodied Yet Unbowed
As Rome Burns
The Traitor’s Gate
The Mouth Of Judas
Gods To The Godless
Cities Carved In Stone
The Coffin Ships