Using the barbaric noise of obnoxious underground metal to illustrate our nation’s grim past, one in which lore walks hand in hand with real-life violence, brutality and murder, Coscradh barge forth, wielding a blunt weapon of death and doom.
The four songs on the band’s imminent demo release displays an appreciation and understanding of the deeper corridors of musical depravity.
By merging ghastly sound with ominous tales, the quartet manage to not only sidestep the more polished and romantic trappings of our myths and legends – they also manage to carve an exciting niche of their own.
Suffice to say, Andy Cunningham’s curiosity was piqued. Photos by Paddy Kelly.
Your demo has gone online today and it sounds utterly Goddamn ferocious. It’s primal, heavy and full of atmosphere and the production is pretty much perfect for the style. Everything is drenched in filth but the music remains clear and has great impact.
First off, tell us a bit about how the band came together and what your intentions are. Personally I can hear elements of Zom, Archgoat and Witchrist in your sound, would that be an accurate summation of your influences? I’m presuming most or all of you have been involved in bands in the past so what are your histories there?
‘It was important for us to create a strong introduction that we would be completely happy with putting out. We wanted to write music that consolidated a certain number of things that we most favoured in the sphere of black and death metal in a way that didn’t sound out of place or inconsistent.
Certain parts have been influenced by old Slayer or Morbid Angel, other parts by bands like Root or Torr. Beherit/Blasphemy and their ilk have been big influences in terms of the actual playing style of riffs, drum patterns etc.
Some of the slower, doomier sections have been borne from being big fans of Cultes des Ghoules, Goatlord and Hellhammer. Such characteristics would not be hugely apparent to anyone outside of the band, but have been integral to shaping our sound thus far.
Zom are one of the best death metal bands going in our opinion, but we wouldn’t cite them as a direct influence, probably more a case of there being an overlap in terms of influences. Same deal with Witchrist and Archgoat for sure!
What would become the basis of the demo tracks were first written in early 2014 in Belfast before a member relocated to Galway. With the later addition of the bass/backup vocals at the end of the year and drums in early 2015, it created a different direction in the sound.
Further rewriting and restructuring then changed the dynamic enough to open the option of studio recording. We would only have been happy with a sound as filthy as we were originally inspired to create. Currently the band is based in Dublin but we reside between Galway/Dublin/Dundalk/Belfast.
For some of us this is the first proper band we have been involved in, others have played in a few different bands’.
It’s interesting to note, particularly if you consider the article about the decline of Irish metal, that there are actually a lot of really good bands operating out of Ireland right now, just many of the practitioners seem to be well into their twenties at least.
A positive side to this predicament is that with age comes a level of maturity and that is apparent in the songwriting on your demo, not least of all in your lyrics. They are colourful and rich with character.
Who wrote them and where does the inspiration come from? Do you have a background in archaeological studies? What lyricists, authors, poets, artists etc. get your creative juices flowing?
‘Knowledge into the subjects in the songs are not in any way academic. Experience with writing is pretty basic. In school an early fascination with the horror and negativity and hopelessness of Hopkins and Plath and especially the negative Gaelic tales of Padraic Ó Conaire.
Beyond this there was no real endeavor into writing, literature or poetry worth mentioning beyond reading books on war, history and murder.
Growing up rurally in the likes of Connemara, Irish culture, music, and conversation with elders from an age passed were always an interest. One could easily pass by an Irish tune and feel uplifted, but there is a wealth of horror in some songs that depict brutal snapshot of their time, and had they not been carried through the generations of trad musicians the stories would not have arrived to us today.
Irish stories and history have their fair share of tragedy, but lyrically for this demo, a few subjects were chosen to create an atmosphere similar to the sound we were striving for: a cold emotionless void, focusing in on the aspects of violence and death emanating from this island without any reference to drama, tragedy or humanity’.
Maybe you could offer us a blow by blow account of each of the songs and what they mean? Why have you interspersed the lyrics with occasional lines as Gaeilge and what do these passages mean?
‘The overall concept lyrically was always going to focus on a few choice cuts out of the wealth old Irish stories of death, whether they be factual or simply bear historical context.
The use of the Irish language is only dotted throughout to reflect the sporadic use of the language in modern Ireland, but going forward, there may very well be a use of an Ghaeilge more often if the subjects and concept is appropriate.
‘Buried’: Bog bodies that the Pagans left behind are relics of brutal violence from our ancestry. If a harvest fails the king is blamed for the bad yield.
Bad weather, blight or plague; none are acceptable enough an excuse, and the King is deemed unworthy of his kingship, tortured and brutalized, before being buried in the bog.
The lack of oxygen in the bog, preserves the hair, facial features, wounds, and creates a leathery skin. We also wanted this imagery for the artwork.
‘Lynch’: Most people from Galway will know the story of Mayor James Lynch FitzStephen from the 1400s. The Lynch Family was one of 14 tribes of Galway, a family who traded successfully with the Spanish, to the extent whereby a son of a Spanish Trader stayed with the family and became close.
This young Spaniard became more popular than Young Lynch among the townspeople. A love rivalry had also come between them, leading Young Lynch to murder the Spaniard and dump his body in the harbour.
Word of this deception soon caught wind, and the son went into hiding in Lynch’s castle. The townspeople soon gathered demanding for the son’s execution, and before long Mayor Lynch gave into the pressure, took his own son to the window of the castle and hung him in front of the town. The lyrics ‘A justice stern and unbending’ are words taken from the memorial seen on the same window in the town center today.
‘Drowned’ is based on the old Irish song ‘An Bhean a Udtí Thall’. It’s either an upbeat, or haunting sounding Irish song depending on what version you’re listening to. It’s about the murder of a young pregnant woman by the jealous wife of the father, forced into drowning in bonds and with weights tied to her hair.
It is from the perspectives of both women. ‘A shí ógó’ means ‘That woman yonder’, but could also be interpreted as ‘haunted woman’ in the context of the song. It’s the name given to the murderous woman by the victim’.
There seems to be a strong focus on nature and the natural elements within the lyrics, ‘Drowned’ dealing with water, in ‘Coscarṫaċ’ you mention a soul of magma and there are mentions of sand and plagues, ‘Lynch’ has mention of fire and ‘Buried’ again refers to the earth.
Am I reading too much into this or is there some kind of theme here? And what does the powerful image of a soul of magma actually represent?
‘Bearing witness to modern Irish life, it is an internationally, uniformly cultureless and languageless society. The land is covered in roads and industry, with rivers, sky and shore polluted.
Older Irish generations will die off and, along with them, our ancient stories.
‘Coscarṫaċ’ tries to encompass the other three songs. It is about the metaphoric desire to return to the olden times presented in ‘Buried’, ‘Drowned’ and ‘Lynch’. It’s is written from the bog-buried Pagan’s perspective on the modern Island.
The want to overturn it all, back into its original form with an apocalyptic, druidic curse of the natural forces. The words ‘cruthadh mallacht ó sceon ársa, a scaipeadh garbh-ghuais agus coscarthach’ loosely translate to ‘a curse is formed from an ancient terror, which spread extreme agony and destruction’’.
Tell us about the recording process. How did you manage to capture this wall of sound? It really is stunning.
‘We wanted the sound to be big and abrasive. The many hours of misery Shauny Cadogan (Last Light Recordings) put into the release are the product of this.
To make it even more difficult for him, all of the mixing was all done by email, because all four of us live in different corners of the country. His relentless work is the result of this sound. We were very happy with the results and we hope to put him through the same torment again for the next release’.
Who wrote the noise interludes? Is this an area you see yourselves expanding on in future? Have you any plans for new songs yet and do you have a vision for where you see your sound going from here?
‘The interludes were created through the use of various bits of old junk, guitars, effects and a shit microphone. No synths. We’ll definitely do more of this on future releases and whilst it has been discussed there’s no real plan to incorporate atmospherics into the music any more than it already is.
New songs are in the works so we should be playing some new stuff live in the next few months. What we wanted to do after the demo was to concentrate on a more morbid, and hopefully, more deranged sound than previous. The songwriting is better.
A bigger emphasis on slower sections and maybe more of a dissonant feel in places too. In saying this, the core sound is still the same’.
Matt Salters is responsible for the striking artwork. What instructions did you give him?
‘Since we are all familiar with the great work Matt has done over the years we contacted him because of similarities in his previous work to our idea of using a bog body for the cover.
We sent the lyrics, early versions of the tracks and photos of bog bodies. He came up with the very appropriate brutalised bog body piece called ‘open up the ground’, words from ‘Buried’’.
I caught you live a couple of weeks ago and while it still seems like early days regarding stage presence, the gig was tight and focused. You have a few more gigs on the cards locally but I suspect you intend to push things out further afield as soon as possible?
‘Half of the band have had little or no previous live experience before Coscradh. With three gigs now under our belt, we are finding our feet. We are looking into the prospect of gigs abroad currently’.
How did you end up working with Invictus Productions? I know Darragh is very picky about which bands he will work with and has a short enough history of dealing with local bands in a professional capacity so what are your expectations from the label?
‘Darragh showed an interested early on, having heard an early rehearsal recording, and later one of the first studio mixes. We understand that there are very few Irish bands on the roster, and are very grateful to be given the opportunity to represent one of the best labels of its kind in existence at the moment. As we are longtime fans of a lot of the bands, we hope to keep writing music worthy of the label.’
– Andy Cunningham ::: 13/06/06
– Photos by Paddy Kelly