Cork Scene Report : Part 2… Alive And Kicking!!! Posted: 11/01/2016 by John O'Brien
It really was beginning to look pretty bleak. But despite the loss of so many quality local Cork acts, particularly during 2015, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There were rumblings coming up from the underground as a number of new promoters took up the cause and put on more gigs than the city had seen in the previous few years. Pyre Promotions, Pethrophile Promotions, Hear The Noise and Luchador have all been regularly hosting metal and alternative gigs and events. And the Cork Community Print Shop has been steadily building into a vital centre, venue and resource for bands and artists. As has the Camden Palace Hotel Community Arts Centre (now looking for a new home) and Room 101 radio station, with it’s Gigaholics card scheme giving door discounts for gigs put on by all four promoters mentioned above. But most importantly! A brace of newer and more recent bands have now stepped up to the plate.
Christophe Erpelding’s departure from Cork not only meant that [r]oas finally called it a day. It also meant that Irish/French/Polish/Italian hardcore grind machine BISECT had to take a short hiatus to re-assess, before eventually deciding to regroup shortly after with Phil Langero now handling all lead vocals for the band. The band have already played a couple of gigs with the reduced line-up and will be taking part in this years Bloodstock M2TM competition. So hopefully they will keep things rolling and hit us with another slab of new material to rival their pummelling debut, “We Are The Migrants”.
Doom outfit SOOTHSAYER evolved from the smouldering embers of ÍWERIÚ and have been developing and honing their sound and style for the last year or more. They have noticeably improved each time I’ve seen them perform and are now a seriously impressive live act. Each song is lengthy and arduous, building rhythmically into a heaving swell of riffs, topped off with an array of vocal effects from frontman Liam Hughes. Off stage he always has the biggest grin planted across his face. Yet when he takes to the stage his persona completely shifts and he transforms, becoming someone else… someTHING else altogether. Whether he is climbing the walls with SOOTHSAYER or swinging from the rafters or blood streaming down his face with KAWTICS, it’s a captivating performance that simply needs to be seen to fully appreciate. SOOTHSAYER‘s debut release ‘The Soothsayer’ was one of the most eagerly awaited here at the Archive and absolutely lived up to that expectation. Be sure to check it out!
A band that has been lurking around for many years, but biding their time and waiting to strike is SEBEK. With their perfect take on the Swedish melodic death metal sound that falls somewhere between classic DARK TRANQUILITY and AMON AMARTH. Their debut “Into The Maelstrom” EP has been out since the Spring of 2015 and has been a regular on the IMA playlist with no sign of being replaced any time soon. There is very little dead weight on the EP with each track as enjoyable as the next. Guitarist Dave Lordan churns out an array of riffs, solos and finger tapping melodies as vocalist Alex Skrzypczak delivers the goods in more than convincing style up front. But top honours on this release has to go to former 5WD and DAYS OF NIGHT bassist Colin Crowley for his incredible bass work. Check out the clever bass solos during ‘Into The Maelstrom’ and throughout ‘One Step Closer’ as well every single note bass played on ‘Insurrection’. Fantastic stuff!
Equally impressive is the West Cork horde, CORR MHÓNA. The band showed massive improvement and progression from their earlier output and pulled out all the stops for the release their debut album “Dair” in late 2014. Channelling the classic metal gods of old, they crafted an atmospheric doom masterpiece that harks back to the genres formative days of the 90’s while also keeping it firmly rooted in contemporary territory. Without a doubt one of the best metal albums to come out of Ireland in recent years. And all in our native tongue, ‘as Gaeilge’, no less! This album is essential and needs to be heard by all.
Guitarist and vocalist Paul Quinn was also involved in KATATONIK and the upcoming new doom project spawned from it. His bandmate, bassist and brother Steve Quinn also handles bass duties for SOOTHSAYER and FOR RUIN, as well as vocals for the aforementioned upcoming new doom project.
Among the fresher faces now making a nice bit of ruckus are PETHROPHIA. Originally going under the name MONOLITH, the band have been hitting the stage more frequently all throughout 2015. Their rough and ready aggressive style is still in it’s early stages and has a healthy dose of humour at the forefront while the band find their footing. And with a frontman like Chris Daly, and track titles like ‘Piss-Soaked Retard Party’ and ‘Testosterone Bear Trap’, I can only presume and hope that they keep their honest and engaging approach to performing gigs. But through all the humour and antics there are some definite signs of progress and more serious songwriting coming into play as is evident by the tracks like ‘Dead Mans Hand’ and ‘Defiler’. PETHROPHIA have been recording material for their debut release, slated to surface around the middle of 2016.
Metalcore may have seemed like the latest fad or trend a few years back, but it’s not showing any signs of passing just yet with a vast sea of bands all taking their queues from the mainly youth driven genre. Most bands sound pretty similar, but occasionally a band comes along that seem to do it just a bit better than most. HERE WE STAND have been steadily building a name for themselves within Cork’s metalcore crowd. Their debut EP was released pretty quickly and has been out since 2013. Relatively safe and true to the metalcore style, but well played and shows enough promise from a young band to warrant some attention. New material has been recorded and when played live, I have to say sounds streets ahead of their debut.
Check out the music video for ‘Juxtaposition’, released ahead of their much anticipated second release entitled “Incipience”, due in the coming weeks.
On the hardcore side of things EMIGRA are finally starting to find their stride again. After a few years of struggling to keep a suitable vocalist the band have recently returned to the gigging circuit with Xander Coughlan now upfront and centre. The band recently played their first Cork show with Coughlan in Fred Zeppelins at the beginning of June, almost six years to the day that they played their first ever gig in the same venue. Playing some familiar tracks from their previous self-titled EP and a majority of their set showcasing all new material, they have obviously been keeping themselves good and busy behind the scenes.
BAILER have literally exploded onto the Cork music scene over the last year and features former EMIGRA vocalist Alex O’Leary and current EMIGRA bassist David Cleere. Incorporating a vicious and focused heavy style of hardcore metal, the band have only released a two tracks to date. ‘Animosity’ and ‘Call Of The Unknown’ with a music video for the latter. And recently had a very limited radio only preview of a brand new track called ‘Venom’, which will feature on their upcoming new EP. BAILER are a seriously impressive live act to boot, nearly blowing the upstairs roof off Dolan’s at the Siege Of Limerick last year. Easily one of the loudest bands I’ve ever witnessed. My ears were a pure mess for the remainder of the day. The band are currently rounding of tracks for their first EP with MURDOCK frontman Aidan Cunningham producing at his Forbidden Zone Studios. Can’t come soon enough!!!!
Ambient Post Rock/Metal band EALADHA are also making some waves in their respective corner. EALADHA have been slowly honing their craft since their inception, gigging frequently and with only brief recordings samples being teased throughout 2014. They released their debut single ‘Dive’ earlier this year in March 2015. A sweeping and heavily emotive track that reminds heavily of the current direction that ANATHEMA are taking. Not rushing into things the band took their time in recording it’s follow-up ‘Hurricanes’, which follows on nicely in a similar vein.
HORSE are another recent addition to the hardcore crowd and another of Mini’s (Ian O’Callaghan, on vocals this time) bands. Along with guitarist Kieran Hennessy (GHOST OF MEDINA, HARBOURED, MORDANT SOUL), drummer Wayne Dunlea (WAITING ROOM, CRAYONSMITH) and James Coady on bass. Not as direct as other hardcore bands, HORSE are hard to exactly pigeonhole. But there’s definitely some alternative elements with a bit of sludge, some atmosphere and even a a touch of MASTODON ‘prog’ to some of the tracks. The band are pretty savage on stage too, which you can hear in the live recordings linked on their IMA profile…
As mentioned in part one, THE MAGNAPINNA and PARTHOLÓN rose up from the smouldering embers of FIVE WILL DIE‘s demise in the last months of 2015. And with [r]oas and KAWTIKS now out of the way, Noel Lynch has revived the legendary EL BASTARDO, who has already reared it’s ugly head with a couple of gigs notched up during 2015. Progressive rock/metal instrumentalists REST are prone to extended periods of quiet and so have kept their heads down during 2015. It’s already been three years since they released the amazing “I Hold The Wolf”, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer before they re-surface again. SIORAÍ GEIMHREADH may have ditched their black metal roots, but they are still churning out ambient noise rock with their latest effort “Not A Room” released in November 2015 through tape label Fort Evil Fruit.
Mitchelstown rockers MINDRIOT will be releasing their full length album “Brothers” which they’ve been building to over the last year or more. THAT FALLING FEELING, BRAINS, INHALE THE FALL, PEOPLE OF THE SUN, BONE CHINA, UNDERBITE, INCISER and WRAIN (or is it RAIN…??? Not sure the band have even settled on that yet! :-p ) featuring members also in BRAINS and SOOTHSAYER have all been active during 2015. XENARTHRA are another new name on the Cork scene, but they have been knocking around for a while now under their previous moniker, TOXIC FROST, and have been readying their debut release over the last year, which should see the light of day in early 2016.
MOCKINGBIRD have been consistently delivering solid live performances with their brand of blues rock always a welcomed treat to any stage. And their frontman Ian O’Sullivan’s instrumental metal project IANOS, who released the brilliant “Enter The Unknown” EP back in 2011, returned with a new track ‘The Chase’ during the 2015 and should hopefully have some more new material coming during 2016.
Ian also play’s guitars for German metallers GOD’S ARMY, with metal veterans John A.B.C. Smith and Mark Cross, who are currently in the process of finishing off their second album which is expected for release during 2016. Fan’s of classic IRON MAIDEN style heavy metal should definitely go and check them out!
And lastly! On the totally extreme and heavy side of things, PYEMESIS… A one-man recording only project by Eric P., has been churning out grotesque, head-fucked goregrind for years under various guises such as HYDROPNEUMOTHORAX, FLY-BLOWN FOETUS and CORPSE DREDGER. Most definitely NOT for the faint of heart, this music will test the limits of even the most hardened extreme music fan.
All the bands listed above are the Cork bands who the Irish Metal Archive have noticed to be among the most active in the last year. And no doubt there are plenty more to mention, but we could be here all day. It’s been a long time coming, But it finally looks like Cork rock and metal is after dragging itself out of the mire it’s been wallowing in since the countries economic downturn. There’s finally a breathe of new life back in the city and surrounding towns that has been manifesting in new bands, more gigs and most importantly new music.
Long may it last!