What always interests me in Irish rock and metal is how committed metallers tend to stick around.
They may go away for a while – but sooner or later they’ll resurface in a new band unable to get the monkey off their backs. There are many examples.
And the point is that having been round the block a few times, they usually make incrementally better music.
Marty Robinson is formerly of Lesshelp, Spindrift, Devilmakesthree, as well as running a small recording outfit.
A staple of the Belfast scene, basically.
He’s been away for quite some time, but is now back with some music that for the most part is very different from all of what went before: doom. Not just doom. Instrumental doom.
Is this because Serpents Eve is a fundamentally studio effort, destined to be a tweaked and teased labour of bedroom love?
Or is it rather an effective audition tape for proper band members and a statement of intent for the beckoning live circuit?
I don’t know which, but either way, it’s strong.
A Nagging Question
Let’s get the first thing out of the way – this material is currently sans vocals. So there’s a big question there. Has he put it put too soon?
Doom isn’t really a genre where the instrumental form flourishes, in general. There’s a nagging question as to why a crooner isn’t mourning his guts out over the top of it. But let’s get past that on the basis that this is early days.
To the music. As I said earlier, it’s very different (mostly) from Mr Robinson’s prior musical output, which mainly consisted of downtuned, mid-to-late Carcass influenced guitar.
So when ‘March Of The Ancients’ opens up all Solstice, Trouble and Solitude Aeturnus, eyebrows are raised. It is extremely like those bands, right down to the solemnity of the riffing and the steeley intertwining of the beautiful anglicised riffing.
It does yearn for vocals, if only for completion. But the main vamp is excellent.
Epicus Doomicus Potentialus
The next one is trouble, but not with a capital T. To be brutally honest, ‘Beware Of The Moon’ sounds like a track that didn’t make a Devilmakesthree EP – a detuned, Cathedral-bouncy and groovy riff with OK lead guitar over it. It just doesn’t fit into all this quite like it should.
It’s quickly remedied with a wonderful title track.
It’s brooding, slow, and in an odd kind of way has the atmosphere of Slayer’s ‘Divine Intervention’ about it (‘what have I done… what’s become of me‘ lurks in the mind over the main riff), though of course that’s probably a million miles from the intention.
The simple, melodic riffing however is great, and the dirty, growly bass is a pleasure.
The dark, clean-but-gnarly guitar at the start of ‘Sons Of Nothing’ opens out into a fantastic homage to Candlemass, throbbing along and let down only by a rather grim snare texture on the old drum machine.
As a hark back to that early and mid Candlemass however, it’s great. It just needs vocals. Where those aren’t available however, the two contrasting lead guitar breaks – one a delicate Richie Kotzen turn, the other a wailing Gregor Mackintosh wah affair – give it vibrance.
So what’s Marty going to do with this? I don’t know. But it’s definitely floor filling stuff, and is good solid doom.
For what it’s worth I’d say that the groovy Gazz Jennings style of riffing on here should probably be left to a different project. It’s just too generic when Doom is the focus.
As far as the Doom goes, you can’t beat twin guitar heraldry as evidenced in ‘March Of The Ancients’. So in my opinion that shouldn’t be diluted. Because if Marty makes that the focus, we will have some superior material next time round.
For now though, it’s a superb audition tape for a talented singer. So who will heed the call?
– Earl Grey ::: 26/04/16