When it looked like my tentatively planned trip to Ireland would actually become a reality the last thing I was thinking about outside of catching some traditional Irish music in an occasional pub was checking out a metal show. When the plans began to unfold and we decided to actually head north to Belfast I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hopeful that Slomatics were playing a gig. While it seemed Slomatics didn’t have anything planned I was still stoked that I’d be checking out Ireland for the first time. Even though Vertical Chamber Apparatus has been dormant for the past couple of months I still receive an occasional promo or review request. One that struck me was from Sie Carroll of Venus Sleeps—a psychedelic doom band from Dublin. I immediately downloaded the album and was simply blown away by the catchy riffs, the psychedelic/space rock nuances and Carroll’s soaring, somewhat monotone yet satisfyingly expressive vocals. ‘Dead Sun Worship’ has been in heavy rotation ever since.
Without a definitive address we set out early toward New Market Square to find the TenterHooks Gigspace. The plan was to circle the neighborhood keeping a keen eye out for metalheads—a strategy that was quickly rewarded. TenterHooks is a cool little venue marginally smaller than Lost Lake here in Denver. The crowd was small, friendly, and totally into the tunes.
Venus Sleeps was the opening act and the band, particularly Sie, had enough effects pedals to tear open a rift in the space-time continuum. Swirling noise and feedback kicked off the proceedings and the band settled into the hypnotic groove that is “Age of Nothing.” It was the perfect opener and flawlessly set the mood. The band was extremely tight and it was a treat to see the dual harmonies of Carroll and guitarist Steven Anderson—both of whom would trade off leads throughout the night. Another highlight of their set resides in the rhythm section of drummer Fergal Malone and bassist Seán O'Connor. The bass satisfyingly carried much more weight in a live setting and the drumming was much more propulsive. If I’m not mistaken the band played everything off of their debut, save “Golden Hair,” and a couple of newer tracks.
My twelve days in Ireland prior to the show were essentially backed by a soundtrack heavy on Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep, Lord Vicar, surprisingly some Martin-era Black Sabbath, and Pagan Altar, the latter of which really seemed to take on a new dimension and resonate even more with me as I explored the ruins and landscapes of Ireland. It was at this show that I learned of Terry Jones’ passing as Sie Carroll dedicated “Ether Sleeper” to the fallen doom legend. R.I.P. Mr. Jones.
While Venus Sleeps was melodic and spacey the following acts took the soundscapes to darker, uglier excesses. TOME took the stage next and they laid siege to the listener with a blackened form of extreme doom. For the uninitiated TOME (as well as Nomadic Rituals) peddle a similar brand of sonic terror as Fister or Primitive Man accompanied by a brutish heft not too dissimilar to what is heard on Conan’s ‘Horseback Battle Hammer.’ Incidentally, TOME and Nomadic Rituals have teamed-up for a like-minded aural assaulting split that was released in February of this year.
At that point in time it was difficult to conceive that things could possibly sound uglier than the noxious sonic brew unleashed by TOME, but Nomadic Rituals were clearly up to the task. Seriously, it sounded as if these guys had submerged their amps under three feet of mud before plugging in, turning their levels up to 11, and attacking their instruments like barbiturate-laden cavemen. Despite the shrieks and guttural howls rising above the pummeling cacophony Nomadic Rituals still managed to maintain a mesmerizing and rhythmic hold on the listener.
Venus Sleeps Facebook
Venus Sleeps Bandcamp
Nomadic Rituals Facebook
Nomadic Rituals Bandcamp