Review: Fuzzed Out Sessions XII – The Cellar, Galway (16/09/16) Posted: 04/10/2016 by John O'Brien
It almost seems clichéd to see rock and metal fans from far and wide gathering in a basement to enjoy a live act. But then again, perhaps it’s quite simply a classic set-up. As an easy listening band set up their gear upstairs in a well-respected bar and restaurant just off of Galway City’s Eyre Square, preparing to engage the crowd with popular radio-friendly covers, beneath their feet the Cellar’s dimly lit aesthetic excellently played host to Fuzzed Out Sessions XII. The tight architectural structure of the venue made it instantly feel full and gave it an air of intensity from the get go, leading the evening into its first of four acts; Tension Head.
Hailing from Ballina, County Mayo, TENSION HEAD are a stoner rock band with a grunge overtone and a suitably dirty guitar sound that perfectly delivers their signature drive. It’s all quite reminiscent of mid-90s era rock. The 5-piece suffered one or two false starts, but when they got going there were some stellar lead guitar segments carried by some excellent riffs that simply whisked the listener away. The occasional runaway melodic chorus that felt easy to digest acted as memorable portions of the show. Unfortunately, for all of their drive the band’s static on-stage presence left their set feeling somewhat cold. Lead vocals sounded a little uninspired and although the band displayed a lot of potential, their overall performance needed to be tightened up a little bit.
As the evening progressed, Galway based prog rockers BETWEEN THE LINES took to the stage and instantly engaged in what can only be described as a jaw dropping set! Toying with enormous grooves and unusual time signatures, BETWEEN THE LINES brought with them a deep, captivating, and often powerful sound which moved and forced the crowd to their command. Elongated sections allowed for the each bar to sink in for maximum damage, giving the listener time to enjoy the complexity of each riff. The tribal drum-style was the perfect companion to the band’s heavy, brooding guitars, creating an intoxicating mix topped by gritty vocals. Although the booming basslines propelled the sound along fluidly, the more passive side of the band also shone through fantastically. One particular track seemed somewhat proud of its own patience as it began with a light ambient jam, taking its time and building a thick atmosphere within the room before dropping into a mammoth groove, filled with energy. The transition from melodic and thought provoking to hefty freight train riffage was absolutely flawless. Even during the heavier segments, BETWEEN THE LINES never truly unleashed the beast, but they constantly reminded you that it’s there… waiting.
The evening’s showstoppers came in the form of Galway’s powerhouse TEN TON SLUG. Hot off their set at Bloodstock Open Air festival in the UK, this four piece act hit the stage running with the adrenaline and ferocity of a juggernaut. To say TEN TON SLUG’s bass filled sludgy sound was a formidable force would be an understatement. It is, without a doubt, some of the heaviest music you could possibly wish to hear. Waves of sound filled the room with each slow power chord they struck, resonating off the walls and making both the floor and the ceiling tremble before them. Like a crossbreed between CROWBAR, DOWN and SOULFLY, their deliberately filthy sound trudged along, dragging the crowd and whipping them into a frenzy. The sheer weight of this band could be felt throughout the venue due to the slow, hefty riffs provided by Adam Trakumas and Sean Sullivan, the ground rattling drums of Micheal Sullivan and the low concentrated howls of Rónán O ‘hArrrachtáin’s vocals… all thickened by the dense pulsing bass of Eoghan Wynne. Put quite simply, TEN TON SLUG sound exactly how a band with such a name should sound! Although their faster sections packed a solid punch, it’s the slow steady beating that makes these guys the incredible crowd pleaser that they are.
MOTHER MOOCH took the headlining slot providing the night with an entirely different style to what had been heard thus far. Taking elements of grunge, mixing them with a heavy 70s rock influence and a side of turn of the century stoner rock, this five piece from Dublin could be creating something entirely new. With a laid back vocal style from lead singer, Chloe Ní Dhúada, akin to acts like mid 90s’ L7 and riffs that could fit perfectly amidst a DEEP PURPLE record, MOTHER MOOCH were thundering through experimental lands where other bands wouldn’t dare to tread. Integrating some flange and other guitar effects during the band’s ballads added a phenomenal psychedelic twist to their sound. However, it seemed like it was too little too late for MOTHER MOOCH’s set on this particular night. The calmer sound, when compared to earlier acts, just didn’t hold up and much of the crowd had dispersed following TEN TON SLUG’s set leaving the venue feeling hollow. There were times when MOTHER MOOCH really worked and the tracks took off, but oftentimes they seemed held back by the songs’ structures. There were certain riffs that started off with a punch, but were then played to exhaustion; losing steam with each bar and making the songs feel undisciplined.
Galway’s Fuzzed Out sessions XII was an absolute treat. From the amazingly constructed tracks of BETWEEN THE LINES to the light sway of MOTHER MOOCH, the Cellar’s dark interior came to life for a matter of hours, acting as a platform for a tremendous show of musicianship. As the crowd climbed the stairs back to up to street level, it proved that some elements of rock culture are considered classic for a damn good reason.
Reviewd by Eoghan Murphy.
“Eoghan Murphy is a Galway City based music and gaming journalist. Born and raised on 1980s thrash metal, this ex-vocalist also enjoys a touch of hard rock and hip hop. When not banging his head to extreme music, he can usually be found knee deep in piles of video games, competing at tournaments and writing for www.Hit-Start-Now.com or spinning chiptunes on Flirt FM at 2pm each Thursday as the Galway Gamer”