Flying halfway around the world to play to a handful of people on your debut gig in a strange country must be entirely disconcerting and disappointing – to say the least. But, there is an old showbusiness about the show having to go on, and despite various unexplained (and unexplainable) external factors which led to an extremely piss poor turnout – especially considering it’s a Friday night – New Zealand thrashers Sinate made their Norn Irish debut in fine style… but we’ll come to that in a moment!
Openers Axial Symmetry also epitomized the veracity of that old showbiz adage, as they had their own problems – mainly deriving from the sudden departure of bassist Davey Doyle just a few days previously… given that they don’t actually have a drummer either, this left the Dubliners in the position of offering the meagre ‘crowd’ the prospect of “two amigos and a laptop”, as guitarist/vocalist Gavin Doyle (pictured left) puts it! Now, your reviewer has seen quite a few bands who employ drum machines or similar technology, and the experience generally has been one of being a somewhat clinical experience – and it does somewhat limit the opportunities for both interaction and improvisation… To a degree that is true this evening, but the two remaining lads (Matt O’Brien being the other guitarist) manage to deliver their blackened technical death metal with maturity, accompanied as it is by some pretty impressive if initially impersonal shredding – and Doyle does manage to instil some degree of angered passion into his delivery.
Fellow Dubliners Syphor were a band I had been looking forward to seeing for quite some time – and especially the incredible ‘For What Remains’ album hit the death decks here at PM’s Belfast HQ last year: and they certainly don’t disappoint, as their old school death/thrash is tight, solid and packed with great melodies played with aplomb and assurity. They have a great stage presence, with a lovely line in choreographed moves – especially by lead guitarist Daragh Brennan, who smiles, poses and grooves in between producing some incredible solos. With Dan Golding (pictured right) particularly intense, both vocally and physically, Syphor are definitely a band made for bigger stages – and definitely bigger audiences than the handful of people smattered around this tiny pub room.
If traversing the planet to play to less people than you could cram into the average Mini disconcerted them in any way, then Sinate didn’t show it as the Kiwis launched into their set with the ferocity of a Tomahawk missile heading for its designated target.
Their traditional thrash sound is mixed with a modern technical death metal edge: but there’s something else in there – a classic (almost hair) metal sensibility evoked by (German) second guitarist Alex, who writhes panther-like stage right in complete contrast to the almost stoical presence of frontman Matt Sheppard and US-based bassist Shawn Griswold. With his brother Sam making full use of his kit behind him, Sheppard combines with Alex to deliver crunching but melodic riffs, whilke at the same time delivering vocals which sound like they have been dragged through the very core of the globe to get from the land of the hobbits to that of the Wildlings. They suffer from issues of feedback between the songs, but that doesn’t detract or distract from the trans-global impact that Sinate make, as they deliver a confident performance to a handful of new found fans.
Sinate’s UK tour continues in Dublin tonight and then heads across to England on the following dates:
Thursday August 28 – Manchester, Satan’s Hollow
Friday August 29 – Liverpool, The Lomax
Saturday August 30 – Birmingham, Scruffy Murphy’s
Sunday August 31 – London, Dublin Castle
Photographs courtesy of Darren McVeigh / Metalplanet Belfast.