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Dublin Doom Day 2010: Pagan Altar + Hour Of 13 + More

There has been one hell of an amount of anticipation, speculation and excitement about Dublin Doom Day.

So much in fact that to avoid everyone exploding with the thought of being there to witness Hour Of 13’s first ever gig, local promoter Mairtin MacCormaic has wisely elected to give the crowd a warm up to the Day itself, with a stellar lineup of rocking bands.

However, thanks to the wheel actually coming off the bus on the motorway down to the gig, resulting in an unexpected and awkward crash off the road (to mass hilarity and nursery singsongs about the wheels on the bus from local wags in the venue later on), MI is a latecomer to the gig, and as such misses BRAINS and COUNCIL OF TANITH to much annoyance. Rumours of the Council feeding pages from a dictionary to the crowd set the tone for the messy night to come.

First off, The Pint as a venue is a great spot for metalheads to hang out, with reasonably priced drink, and it doesn’t take too many people to make it feel comfortably full.

In saying that, it also doesn’t take too many people to pretty much obscure the view of the stage due to the narrow layout of the bar, which is why one must push right down to the front to be afforded a clear view of the mighty NIGHTBITCH from the USA.

Featuring the redoubtable Phil Swanson of Hour Of 13 having his own warm up to tomorrow, they play songs off the recent Sex & Violence demo.

With songs such as ‘Ritual Of Self’ and ‘Bloodmoon’, they go down a storm with the crowd, as much for the pedigree of their frontman as the actual songs. Swanson’s voice comes across as mumbled and murky due to poor sound which reduces the impact somewhat – a curse that will afflict several bands tonight.

Germany’s MOUNTAIN THRONE take the stage next, and the crowd are surprised to see our very own Elaine Carroll (she of the awesome painted artwork for bands such as Procession) on drums. The band play a well received set of doom metal, hampered somewhat by instrumental difficulties towards the end.

ARKHAM WITCH from England are up next, featuring Simon Strange and Lady Pentagram from The Lamp Of Thoth, and as expected it’s a slice of occult metal with a tinge of humour. More serious than their main band, and with a more rock than doom sound, they get heads banging mightily, with several people hailing them as the band of the night.

But it’s somewhat premature saying such inflammatory statements when Irish metal legends OLD SEASON are on the bill, and when they get up to enthral the crowd, the reaction is nothing short of astounding.

People screaming along to every word, fists in the air, and due to it being a doom day warm up, the old traditional opener ‘And Sands She Turned For Time’ gets played, to a sea of fists and claws in the air. Storming through the set with the traditional Frank Brennan humourous banter towards the crowd, the set is incredible tight, and perfectly timed for the maximum effect of set closer ‘At The Hollow’ which leaves the crowd bellowing for more.

More, that English rockers ASOMVEL supply in spades. It was a smart move on the behalf of the promoter by putting a band that rocks as intensely as Asomvel in the headlining spot, because their unrelenting metal assault in the early hours of the morning wakes the entire place up, and all you can see is a flurry of hair and the occasional fist coming up to meet the chorus.

Asomvel have mastered the difficult art of embedding each chorus with a massively catchy hook, and tracks such as ‘Stone Cold Stare’ and ‘Kamikaze’ are easily the most rocking of the night. Ending the set with the double whammy of ‘Full Moon Dog’ and ‘Kamikaze’ fairly level The Pint and its inhabitants. It’s a great end to a stressful day and a fun night, so the best move is a stagger back to the hostel to collapse into bed in a drunken heap to prepare for tomorrow and to ignore that loudly snoring foreign bastard in the bottom bunk. [DMcB]

(For many in the audience this will be a show tinged with sadness. MI pays its respects to Jay Jay Winter, Asomvel singer and bassist, who has died tragically in the month following the show. RIP.)

Dublin Doom Day – Chapter II

Fibber Magee’s, Dublin – September 18th 2010

As the rain patters down on Parnell Street, it’s heartening to see that the previous night’s warm-up gig hasn’t affected the early turnout of patch jackets and morbid t-shirts today, or dulled the Guinness supping enthusiasm that was so on display last night.

A throng of metallers of all nationalities are drifting about the innards of Fibber Magee’s as PEOPLE OF THE MONOLITH set up and it’s nice to see that many of those who travelled from abroad have come in early to catch some of the homegrown talent that kicks the day off.

As the wind and wet blusters through car park / smoking area outside, it seems that the Godz of Doom have heard about the bigger profile of the gig this and provided correct weather. The truth is they were embarrassingly off the ball with a day of glorious sunshine last year.

POTM are more and more resembling a band that have found a concrete and powerful sense of themselves these days. Long gone are the flaws of that first hesitant demo, instead the group that fill the stage today work confidently through a set of new numbers and material from the ‘No Hand To Comfort You’ EP.

The sound is punchy and more than loud enough, a good omen for how the sound will play out for the rest of the day. The gruff backing vocals seem to be a card up POTM’s sleeve today, punctuating the dark and sombre vibe of their newer material very effectively.

Not one to stay put, vocalist Eamonn grabs the mic and does his usual stretch around the floor in front of the stage, a move that seems nicely in tune with the sense of collectiveness that all the arriving bodies give to the room. This was always going to be a short and sweet set from the Cork men, but a solid and impressive showing of their melodic side is what stands out from today’s show. [LA]

Up next is a group that seemingly found their way onto the bill thanks to no small amount of people power™. DE NOVISSIMIS are an anomaly of a group, too weird and grinding for the hardcore yoof, but too punk and crusty for the Metal brigade.

Nonetheless, numerous suggestions for their inclusion today were posted by forum members on this very website, and the organisers seemingly listened. You can tell from the way the band slowly make their way through a soundcheck that they are DIY as they come, having little truck with sound desks and eying the smoke machine with mistrust.

Forget all that though, as such is the sound that takes off once they get going that everyone in earshot has to pay attention. The band always seem to play tiny venues that understandably don’t do much for sound clarity, and the powerful set-up that Fibbers has rigged up today does wonders for them.

The group mix thunderous passages of doom-ridden grime with the type of tolling doom that everyone in attendance can enjoy. The sound is nothing short of apocalyptic. Vocalist Ed packs the sort of wheezing scream that adds real character to the mix, while the guitars churn out total ugliness with abandon.

Even a snapped string and a sampler deciding not to work couldn’t dampen the impact, and the size of their sound has the room quickly swelling with bodies. A sudden end to proceedings has everyone looking around and murmuring much praise. [LA]

BRIGANTIA pack a punch that is much more familiar territory for those in attendance. Looking around once I returned from a food run down a monsoon-hit O’Connell Street, the group are in full swing and are looking much the power trio.

The Tipperary men play Doom Metal that’s as much about hip swinging groove as droned out chords, and this afternoon they’re firing on all cylinders. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, and they wear their influences on their sleeves, but the Lee Dorian-esque “Ooooh!”s and “Come on!”s add a nice dose of relaxed rockin’ to the atmosphere as the group air tracks from ‘The Chronic Argonauts’ demo.

One gets the impression that if they swung themselves about a bit more on stage, they’d get an even stronger reaction than just the long row of nodding heads that they generate, but it’s hard to fault what are strong and solid tunes.

The highlight is predictably the final doom boogie of ‘Time Machine of Doom’, when the jams are kicked out and the band display their choicest of riffs. They’re still not at a level that has you doom-dancing from the bar to get down front, but the group look at home and in command on stage -the excellent sound continuing to boom out.

You could hardly ask for a better band for the earlier part of the day and the crowd gives them a long round of approval as they troop off. [LA]

Things are now beginning to get going in Fibber Magees. Everyone’s had at least two pints, there’s a constant rumble of conversation and the smoking area is heaving as the rain trickles in through cracks in the plastic roof. The stalls are up and doing some tidy business, with particular interest in the Nightbitch / Hour of 13 material being evident with everyone seeming to be carrying around one of their releases under their arms. The time has also come for the first of the foreign bands, and after some delays that resulted in Brigantia playing before them, Greece’s WHY ANGELS FALL fill out the stage with their numerous members.

This reviewer’s only experience with the group came from their interesting contribution to the Skepticism tribute album, so it’s no surprise to hear the keyboard emerge as the primary instrument in the opening few minutes.

Funeral Doom is their game and long, movement based tracks is their style of play. What’s striking about the Portuguese band is that their guitarist / vocalist provides some really strident clean singing to accompany the growls and slow, velvety chords.

They manage to produce a completely enveloping sound, with the sweet spot in the room being right in the centre of the room near the sound desk. As was pointed out by several attendees, the centre of the day has a trio of bands playing music that’s of a similar funeral style, but while Why Angels Fall hold a smaller crowd in thrall than the familiar local bands did before, they produce a wall of sound that’s much more imposing than their slightly gick name suggests, replete with tasty drumming and lots of subtle changes in the sonic current.

It’s a single long song, one big tapestry of sound that the group bind together effectively. On the strength of this, further investigation into their recorded material could be very fruitful. [LA]

It’d be wrong to class SHATTERED HOPE as your average bunch of Gothic doomers. Admittedly, the sight of the ubiquitous female keyboardist and another big line-up setting up onstage had those who’d never heard of them turn back to the drinking and chatting, but it’s the aggression from the stage that strikes from the get go.

The band play with a serious bite and crunch going on, manes whipping around the stage as the singer unleashes a growl that has a lot of people nodding in respect. The sight of the energetic band is compounded by a photographer deciding now is the time to strip off his wet runners and go barefoot, snapping shots from the front row and underlining the relaxed vibe the venue now bathes in.

The keyboards are really secondary here, just adding a slight touch to songs that are really metallic to the core. The group are still recognisably Doom, but they have a bite and vigour to them that gets heads banging and the first fists of the day aloft.

Not a bad reaction for an unknown group from Greece, and they pack a great sound. At this stage the production crew deserve a lap of high-fives around the venue they’re doing such a good job. [LA]

It has been almost six years since OFFICIUM TRISTE played to approximately 12 people (in Belfast anyway), and any worries they might have had about another unenthusiastic Irish crowd are swiftly allayed once they start playing to a nicely full venue.

The insider’s tip of the day, the Dutch doomsters play an absolutely spot on set of dark, deathy doom. It’s a passionate performance, with vocalist Pim constantly engaging the crowd with an intensity of delivery that can only result in the crowd rocking out even more than they already are.

Helpfully, the sound is quite loud for the band, which drowns out the inevitable talking during the set that metallers are wont to do with drink in them, which during quieter parts of a doom gig, can be totally off-putting.

Officium Triste don’t have this problem tonight, and in fact don’t give the crowd time to do much else other than quickly cheer between songs and bouts of headbanging. A great step up from the already rocking Shattered Hope, and a perfect primer for the upcoming crushing from one of doom’s hottest underground bands… [DMcB]

Even non-fans know something special is coming up next when GRIFTEGÅRD set up a pulpit at the front of the stage and start an ominous choir playing over the speakers. It’s a fitting intro from the Swedes, all dressed for a mediaeval church funeral, with frontman Thomas Eriksson garbed in a monk’s robe.

The band, currently riding high on the amazing reception their latest release ‘Solemn, Sacred, Severe’ received both here and abroad, take their positions in no hurry at all, and launch into the crushing and terrifying album opener ‘Charles Taze Russell’.

Featuring a very different take on Christ’s opinion of mankind, it’s an oppressive and forceful song that garners a huge singalong from the crowd. The band don’t pick up the pace at all from here on, the set full of “endtyme sermons of doom” slowly grinds the crowd underfoot with the sheer weight of the bass and the downtuned guitars and the impassioned singing.

Very little crowd interaction occurs throughout, and it’s as much a preaching session as a killer show. Ending with the sorrowful and regretful soul-losing tale of lament of ‘The Mire’, they leave the stage with the minimum of fanfare, but the maximum of cheers.

A hell of an impression has been made, and it doesn’t take long for the remaining 7” splits with Count Raven over at the merch stall to get snapped up. They’re barely off the stage two minutes, but already long overdue for a repeat Irish date. [DMcB]

And so to the Irish headliners, MOURNING BELOVETH. It’s no small point of order that, amidst from the obvious draws of the Hour of 13 debut and everything else on offer today, it’s an Irish group that are ruling the roost along with the best of them. And rule is what the group certainly do tonight, with an aura and power about them that’s close to mesmerising at times.

Even though he punched out a huge performance last night fronting Old Season, guitarist Frank Brennan nails all the soaring vocal harmonies today, and the stygian decrepitude of the band’s guitar sound slowly seeming to invade every nook and cranny of the venue. It’s a special night and the group respond in kind, with the grandeur of an early gem, ‘Autumnal Fires’ being aired to much applause.

This reviewer had the chance to see this band in many different settings over the past couple of years, from festival shows to big indoor events, and it’s testament to their power that they captivate whatever the environment.

The set is one which reaches into all eras of their existence. ‘The Apocalypse Machine’ sounds especially biting with the harshness of the call and response calls echoing around the packed venue. They keep the best until last though, with the poorly kept rumour that they would play it being confirmed, their version of Nick Cave’s ‘The Weeping Song’ gets the only airing it probably ever will.

It’s a charged end to proceedings for them, and as ever their set seems like it’s a slow unveiling of totality, with this cover being a very satisfying end to a performance that drains while empowering. The very finest of Doom Metal is glimpsed tonight, and it’s hard not to march off into the smoking area and chastise those who elected not to catch them. An institution in their art at this stage, it’s a full-on performance that’s difficult to fault on any level. [LA]

Despite Mourning Beloveth’s status as headliners, there are still two more bands to go, and the next one is the most anticipated gig of 2010.

Way back in May with the announcement of HOUR OF 13, the metal underground fairly shat themselves in excitement as they desperately dashed to book flights, buses and hotels. This was certainly evidenced in the wealth of countries represented tonight, from far away as the USA, New Zealand and Canada, doom metallers have came to witness the first gig of one of the hottest bands in the underground.

Despite releasing two modern classics of doom metal, and singer Phil Swanson’s regular gig appearances with side band Seamount, the opportunity never arose for him and co-songwriter Chad Smith to get a band together, but thankfully Ireland get to be the lucky recipients of the first ever show.

It’s impossible to fully relate the sense of expectation at the minute, friends are standing in groups down the front chattering with anticipation, and even people standing on their own are grinning with speculation of what’s to come. And when the band kick off with the incredible ‘Call To Satan’, it’s hard to see anyone in the crowd that isn’t singing along to the lyrics, or bellowing THAT line in particular.

People are headbanging in unison along to the music and every now and again a burst of fists get thrown up to certain killer parts; of which Hour Of 13 have frankly loads, despite only having two albums. Also prevalent is a storytelling theme running through the set detailing the ‘Missing Girl’ of the debut album and her unfortunate fate on the second album.

It’s a nice progressing timeline that adds quite a bit of structure to the set. Following the standard-setting opener is a nice mix of tracks off both albums, including ‘Grim Reality’, ‘’Possession’ and the epic ‘Crawlspace’. All too soon, after ten tracks the set is over, and people are simply buzzing with the thrill of it. Expectations have been fulfilled, hopes are high for future HO13 gigs, and the set is already going down as a “were you there?” moment. [DMcB]

And the night’s not even over yet. Irish favourites from England PAGAN ALTAR are the closers of the Doom Day, even though it’s now well into the Doom Night. Surprisingly, considering the late hour, there’s not that many people electing to fade out early, and the band play to quite a large crowd, who quickly manage to shake off the shell-shock they suffered from the previous performance, and get right back into the thick of it, singing along to such doom classics as ‘Sentinels Of Hate’ and ‘March Of The Dead.’

The band are on typically spellbinding form, and despite having three new members (with brothers Terry and Al being the only two original members left), the set goes with the minimum of hiccups.

Due to the short time since the new guys joined the band, crowd favourite ‘Armageddon’ has been maddeningly dropped from the setlist, but in all honesty, with a 2-hour set full of tracks such as ‘The Cry Of The Banshee’, ‘Lords Of Hypocrisy’ and ‘Satan’s Henchmen’, we can’t really complain. Plus as a bonus, for the first time ever, ‘The Crowman’ gets played as the set closer, and we are treated to a new song called ‘Dance Of The Vampires’.

It’s a friendly, relaxed yet rocking set and the perfect closer to one of the most anticipated Irish nights of the year. With over 300 people bunged into Fibbers, the second Dublin Doom Day was a massive improvement on the original one.

The lineup, organization and fun was easily on a par with the longer-established overseas festivals such as Doom Shall Rise or acronym-sharing Dutch Doom Days, and it’s quite clear now Mark has created something special.

Plus with the large number of foreign heads present, hopes are high for a similar showing next year. Suffice to say, Dublin has been resoundingly put on the international Doom metal map. [DMcB]

– Donal McBrien & Lorcan Archer ::: 21/10/10

  1. Good review folks.
    We didn’t play The Apocalypse Machine by the way…

  2. LOL…it wasn’t a dictionary either…

    Great read all the same…

  3. dark stranger Says:

    Ha, I wasn’t there yet for that bit Crow, but the un-named Nordie forumite who ate the pages told me it was a dictionary!

  4. open face surgery Says:

    good review’s elaine cooney though not carroll.

  5. ah yeah, interesting to see the point that it is already on a par with the european festivals… hopefully thats the case. wont be dropping the ball on sep 10th 2011 though. some ideas for it coming to fruition.


  6. dark stranger Says:

    “it’s elaine cooney though not carroll.”

    Ha! I’ve always called her Carroll, she’s been too polite to correct me!

    Of course Matt, I blame the appalling BBC-standard editing.

  7. Eoin McLove Says:

    What a weekend.

  8. Session.

  9. I’m still hungover.

  10. Thanks for having us, it was great to be a part of it!

  11. Nekroculchie Says:

    That review is fairly spot on. One of the best weekends I’ve ever had in Dublin. Hopefully there will be a third edition. Cheers to everyone involved in making it happen.

  12. There is mate, some bands confirmed already, see facebook for details.
    Also, you are welcome Terry and co……..

  13. As you know, the Irish only have to shout and not even particularly loud and we’ll be there, we love playing Ireland!

  14. The best time I have ever had at a gig and the best show I’ve ever been a part of. The magic of Ireland is no joke. The BEST place on Earth. Miss and love all you guys.
    Chad Davis

  15. I was only listening to Hour of 13 this morning. That was a ripper of a gig!

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