Review: GOD ALONE – “Intivim”… Posted: 28/01/2018 by Philip Morrissey
“Sure what would young fellas these days know or care about metal. They wouldn’t be even listening to it, never mind playing it. They are more interested in taking selfies, drinking naggins, chatting up young wans or playing video games. The hassle and commitment required in practicing and performing is not for them. Better off left to the experienced lads”.
Comments regarding a band of fresh-faced youngsters new to the scene. They should know better. After all, many of the finest bands around started at a frighteningly young age. Think Emperor, Enslaved, Dissection, Pantera, AC/DC, Decapitated, Children of Bodom, Death Angel, Possessed, Kreator, The Scorpions, Entombed and many more. And that is just referencing bands related to hard rock or metal. A new generation of bands are now beginning to enter the fray here in Ireland after a slack couple of years. Slung from a Tree, New Age Messiah, Imrama, Dirty Casuals, Third Island, Grey Stag, Crossfire and more are bands helping to reduce the age range at gigs.
Perhaps one of the best and brightest of these recent bands is God Alone from Cork. They came together in 2016 and went under the radar for a while. Concentrating on getting their sound crafted and a sufficient number of original songs to perform, it would be the following year that many would have encountered them first. They supported a number of bands around the city and brought out the initial run of this demo. Shows with Horse and Shithatt toughened them up. It helped them prepare for gigs later on in the year stepping in late to support Zealot Cult and Demeter when it seemed doomed to fall apart and also a New Year’s Eve appearance with Soothsayer. This year is the one where it all seemed to happen. They embarked on qualifying for Mammothfest where they came out successful at the end, played quarter block party, Seshtival, Urban Assault, Siege of Limerick, Ritual of the Evil Eye, Townlands, Dagda’s Eve in Limerick, Cosmonaut’s birthday show, Monolith Fest, an Easter show with Coroza, Parthólon, and Soothsayer. They also supported the likes of Zhora, Trenchknife, Coilguns, Bailer, The Magnapinna, and Sectile.
It is their association with Soothsayer which has been key to this being re-released. Subtle Beast (as they were formally known) helped with getting more pressings made of it. Obviously assisting the band with having physical copies of their material to sell at shows. How does it stack up though? Its title number ‘Intivim’ begins with the refrain from a female voice. It is a sample of a woman singing in Tralee taken from the Cultural equity website. It is of a mid-range level generally but still of a strong enough presence. Contains enough of joy within to stop it from reverting into a lament. Chords are strummed in a low-key manner, gradually becoming more into the background. The drumming begins, and it is tentative at first. It becomes more solid as it develops. The guitars by Jake O’ Driscoll and Séan Thompson are taking turns having their moment to shine. It is definitely more on the post metal side of affairs. It continues on in this vein for a while until a drum fill pre-empts an increasing toughness. The playing pattern remains, albeit with a greater volume. This switches back down. A few plucked riffs occur before the keyboard is introduced. The drum beats lock in synch with the keys being struck. This is repeated a few times before the guitars led us into a heavier and more dissonant piece. The pulsing signature of the of the synth meshing well with the complex patterns on display. A frantic bass guitar via Cian O’ Maoláin leads us into decidedly more abrasive territories. This is echoed again a few times before going back to the slower played guitars from before with the drums. It creates that air of apprehension before a soaring guitar solo. Great drumming provides the backbone for this to work. The other guitarist joins the contest. This sees a series of wonderful guitar lines. Events begin to spiral away. The hand is grasped on the lever, just ready to let go. The tempo switches again however whilst maintaining the same solo pattern with the synth alongside it. There is a bit of a jazzy interlude in the playing especially with the drums from Jack O’ Hanlon. Effects employed are akin to a piano played in the background of a hall off in the distance. Random echoes and voices leave an unsettling feeling at the end.
‘Samhain’ has a bit of a Gojira sense to it at the beginning. It contains delicately plucked guitar lines over a mellow sounding keyboard. The drums tap away in the background. This pattern continues even as the drums become more prominent. A sedate bass line sees the drums get heavier along with a melodic and subtle guitar line. All the players begin to join the fray before it explodes into life. It sees the first entrance of the vocals from O’ Driscoll. They are harsh on the most part. At the beginning they are quite noticeable, before slipping back underwater. A taut bass by O’ Maoláin competes with brusque drums in a little dance between the two. A cymbal crash by O’ Hanlon and the ferocity returns. The title is screamed repeatedly over loose drumming. It develops more rhythmic and more of a structure against the synth by Matt Corrigan. A few guitar notes peep in and out. A wonderful shuffle is unleashed as the backing gets steadily more claustrophobic. Akin to falling away into nothingness. Some powerful bass and guitar lines punctuate this as the drumming gets progressively more frenetic. Suddenly, we are back to the plucked guitars. The mood and tempo switch is quite disconcerting in the best possible way. It builds up again with the drums which are excellent once again. A great guitar solo emerges from all of this as the harsh vocals crop up again. A funeral march, led by the drums, commences as it reaches its end.
‘She Was the Sun’ starts with gently strummed guitars and faint echoes of waves breaking. The synth responsible for creating the atmosphere yet again. An audio piece is used of Matt’s voice for effect. Guitar begins to come into its own. Drums thump into action upon completion. The beats are strong and muscular to the refrain of haunting choral effects in the background. Definitely a moment to shine for the drummer. Sticks collide to introduce the vocals. They are very much of the black metal side of affairs and they again repeat the name of the song. It perhaps demonstrates their Altar of Plagues appreciation. Who of course released their band name in their final Surprisingly, the guitars by O’ Driscoll and Thompson are relatively low-key for most of this. A bouncing bass-line demonstrate their passion for traditional Irish music with a great guitar line over the top. It is quite astounding to see a young band display such an aptitude in melding the best of Ireland’s musical past with their own. It is entirely modern and ancient at the same time.
Because despite their age, most of the band members have been knocking around in various other bands for a number of years. Indeed, I spotted O’ Maoláin playing in fairly nondescript blues outfit in Bru hostel prior to seeing him in God Alone. He stood out even then. The others have also played around the circuit. I would not get too carried away with the response to this demo however. Not because of a lack of talent, songwriting or musicianship. They have that in spades. Taking away their age, it is a scintillating piece of extreme metal regardless of your particular tastes. Undoubtedly they have taken their inspiration from bands before them but imprinted their stamp upon it. Purely because it is merely a glimpse into the band at their most embryonic stage. They are eager to push forward and look towards the future. Since its recording, Corrigan has left to be replaced by Dylan Kelly.
Catch them when and wherever you can. A joy to behold.