Live: GOJIRA w/DEAD LABEL @ The Academy, Dublin (28/08/2015)… Posted: 11/09/2015 by John O'Brien
When I was asked to review this gig if I’m honest, I hadn’t heard of Celbridge band DEAD LABEL before, so off I went to the internet to do some research. First thing that caught my attention was that DEAD LABEL are a 3-piece Trash/Death metal outfit. As a lifelong RUSH fan (“a Rush fan reviewing this gig? the horror, the humanity, won’t somebody please think of the children?” I hear you say. Thankfully I’m not a one trick pony, neigh not I!) What interests me is how a 3-piece band fills that space in the audio spectrum left vacant by the absence of a second guitar player (in a standard two guitars, bass and drums format)? There are so many recording techniques that can make up the shortfall in the recording that the only way to really judge such a band is by seeing them play live, to see firsthand how they filled those spaces in a live environment.
Quick read through their bio reveals DEAD LABEL formed in November 2008 (Dan O’ Grady: Bass/Vocals, Danny Hall: Guitar, Claire Percival: Drums), support slots with Machine Head touring in Japan and Europe and extensive touring around the UK, Europe and the US. It would seem that DEAD LABEL aren’t a band satisfied to just rest on their laurels or any other type of vegetation for that matter. So with my curiosity well and truly piqued, it was off to The Academy to see DEAD LABEL support GOJIRA.
As is customary in these situations the lights dimmed and the introductory music begins, which in this case was a two minute cut (in or around?) of a piece of music by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman called “The Kiss” most recognizable from the film ‘Last of the Mohicans’ which is not a bad piece of music to use for an intro in my opinion. So with a hi-hat count in DEAD LABEL open up their set with “Salvation in Sacrifice” (in fact, this was the first Dead Label song I found online which is accompanied by a video) and grabbed my attention straight way. From the outset it was obvious that DEAD LABEL were aware of the possible limitations of the 3-piece set up and compensated perfectly in how their tracks are written. Subtle hints of some of the bands they list as being their influences and some they don’t, but never to the point where they could be accused of sound exactly like any of them. The next two songs up are “Throne of Bones” and “Ominous” which I’m assuming are relatively newer than “Salvation in Sacrifice”, from what I can gather is a newish song itself. “Bloodletting” is the next song, which I know is even newer than the previous songs because Dan O’ Grady informs us that “it’s so new, it’s not even on their yet to be release album” (or words to that effect ) and finally they finished their set with “Void“.
I began this review not knowing very much about DEAD LABEL and I finished it wanting to know more. Their songs are well structured with heavy, powerful riffs, with some memorable parts and songs that you won’t grow bored of listening to after several listens. DEAD LABEL‘s live set is evidence of a band that’s played together many times and enjoy playing and writing together. Although their set was short (as support slots dictate) it was a flawless and professional performance from start to finish. I can’t recommend this band enough, check them out online and if you get a chance go see them play live, you will not be disappointed. Overall I can honestly say I was very impressed by Dead Label and I’m not easily impressed (uhhhhh look, a cloud).
When you think of France, you automatically think of things like The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and “that handball incident” (Grrrrrrr). What you don’t necessarily think of is extreme metal, well I didn’t anyway. Off the top of my head I couldn’t think of one French metal band without having to resort to searching online (I know there are plenty of underground metal aficionados that could school me proper on this particular failing of mine and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all in advance). After hearing GOJIRA I think that might need to change.
Some of the people I spoke to about GOJIRA (in the boozer, obviously) before their sold out show in The Academy, were talking about how they had seen them the last time they played Ireland 7 years ago and how great they were on that occasion. Now I don’t really put much stock into that sort of thing because a die-hard fan of any artist or band is bound to say that anyway, right? (As one such Metallica fan tried to convince me, with plenty of conviction I might add, that “Lulu” was actually a pretty good album. No, just no, stop that, we’ll have none of that around these parts!) I know from listening to their albums that GOJIRA are an exceptional studio band, so with that in mind, it was only a matter of time before I would see whether my new baseball cap wearing friend was right or not about how good they were live? ( You know who you are) Turns out, he was right!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with GOJIRA, they are made up of brothers Joe (guitar/vocals), and Mario (drums) Duplantier, Christian Andreu (guitar) and Jean-Michel Labadie (bass). They are tough act to classify… progressive and technical with no difficulties mixing mellow atmospheric songs with blast-beat laden, down-tuned heavier stuff. Recording 5 albums over a period of almost 20 years (including their demo years as GODZILLA) it’s obvious that GOJIRA have no problems spending time perfecting their material, quality over quantity is pretty much always a good thing and this is most definitely true in GOJIRA‘s case.
They kicked off their set with ‘Ocean Planet’, ‘The Axe’ and ‘Heaviest Matter of the Universe’ and it became immediately apparent why GOJIRA were handpicked to open for the likes of METALLICA and LAMB OF GOD! Their set was comprised of songs from 3 of their 5 albums; “The Way of All Flesh”, “From Mars to Sirius” and their most recent album, “L’Enfant Sauvage” ( the rest of the set : Backbone, Love/Remembrance, L’Enfant Sauvage, The Art of Dying, Toxic Garbage Island, Flying Whales, Wisdom Comes, Vacuity. Encore: Oroborous, World to Come, Gift of Guilt). It was a pity they didn’t play more recent songs but it seemed like the set list was geared towards the heavier songs from their catalogue of material. They didn’t disappoint, it was a first class performance and the additional highlight of Mario Duplantier’s drum solo showcased what unbelievable talent he is.
It was a blinding show for two reasons, firstly to use the term “blinding” as in “brilliant”, which it most certainly was and secondly because I think I may have suffered temporary retinal damage from the lights. If I was to have one criticism of the whole show it would have to be that, although that’s not the band’s fault, I think the venue might’ve been too small for the type of lighting rig GOJIRA take on tour with them, or maybe it was down to bad positioning of the lights or a combination of both? Thankfully I recovered and quickly dismissed my earlier pleads to contact Roy Keane at once for a guide dog (…in my defence, I had just experienced a rather traumatic vision of my future, excuse the pun, and it wasn’t bright, excusing the pun once again).
With great performances from both DEAD LABEL and GOJIRA, a great crowd and brilliant atmosphere, a €22.50 ticket price definitely qualifies as value for money. It was easily one of the outstanding gigs in the Academy over the past few years. Let’s hope GOJIRA don’t leave it for another seven years before they return to these shores? Also worth mentioning, although not directing related to the show itself, was the 3 lads that travelled up to see GOJIRA, thought they were going to Club Hell, heard the Backstreet Boys playing and literally thought they were in Hell, their reaction was priceless. We salute you lads, you topped off in hilarious fashion, what was a brilliant night.
Thanks to Bren Philips.