Friday 13th was not a day for metal heads to fear black cats, walking under ladders, opening umbrellas indoors or even for us to fear a deranged killer inhabiting the woods. Rather, it was going to be the day Nile and Ex Deo, as well as their other guests, would unleash an aural assault on us and probably save us colonoscopy expenses until we’re well into our sixties.
It was an early start on Friday which meant that the count of tumbleweed to physical bodies was slightly disproportionate. This meant a disappointing turn out for first band Pestifer. Now, the guitarist and I were wearing the same Death t-shirt so I was instantly expecting great things. It also lead me to believe that we are possibly soul mates but that could be pushing it a little. They opened to a small audience but that did not seem to deter them. They had a good energy on stage but at times they sounded sloppy and disconnected. To start, I thought I was going to have to gear up for a generic, heavy as possible, ignore the content just be loud, band but was relieved to hear some solos which managed to slice through monotony. They have a good vocalist who has that ‘demon in the drainpipe’, kind of tone – sinister and guttural. Although there was a poor crowd at this early stage of the night, the band lacked any kind of originality to provoke any real reaction or response from the crowd. Shining moments were few and far between.
Svart Crown were next on stage. This French band was playing to Dublin for the first time on Friday and judging by the reaction of the crowd – they will be welcomed back. They set a dark, gloomy mood upon mounting the stage, capturing the attention of the crowd immediately with their blasting drums and sombre riffs which. They had presence and charisma as they embraced their songs like a fan would – wholeheartedly. Each member participated with the crowd and the band interacted with each other as a whole. The incorporation of sub drop or- as its also known as the brown chord- added to the inventiveness of this performance. Overall, there was a great symbiosis and unity of instruments during the whole set which is the mark of a great band. However, the sound was poor at times which is no fault of the bands’. Even with the challenge of the sound, the talent and style of Svart Crown was undimmed.
Ex Deo for me was a band I had heard a lot about but didn’t really know all that well. I had seen and heard the phrase ‘side project’ being thrown around then I immediately thought of Lulu and then I gagged, choked back tears and coughed out ‘don’t do this to me Maurizio’. Then on Friday I saw what Ex Deo were about and my initial thoughts and reactions were solaced. As they came out in their Roman Gladiator attire it was difficult not to scream ‘eat your heart out Russell Crowe’. Thinking about it, where else would a band like Ex Deo fit in more, than in Europe? We love our themed metal and anything with historical influences. We’ve given birth to the likes of Amon Amarth, Primordial, Immortal, the list is never ending. It was also Ex Deo’s first time to perform in Dublin and to a crowd that has probably been anticipating their arrival since they first emerged out of the cocoon of Kataklysm in 2008. In Ireland we’ve been pretty left out of the Roman loop. The only thing remotely roman about us is our fondness of sandals…with socks of course. Some might argue flowing water and roads were a present but I think its sandals. So when Ex Deo arrived on stage we were no longer left out. They’re a heavy, heavy band but this does not jeopardise their style or genuine talent. Each member is exceptional with every member having their moment to showcase their spirit and technique. The light hearted, comical interactions with the crowd kept everyone entertained and enthralled. Song like Romulus could be considered therapy for those of you who hate your brothers…or…motive. Romulus was a definite high point of the night. The incredibly thunderous drums along with some unreal guitar sections were truly arrestive. The ethereal interludes juxtaposed with powerful breakdowns demonstrate variety and skill. Ex Deo is one of those rare bands that can restore your faith in Metal and quash any growing ambiguity one might have towards metal at times. Definitely worth looking into if you haven’ already and see this band before you die!
Now the titanic Death Metal force that is Nile were due to take the stage. This is always the point in the night when you see the change in the crowd. They become restless, and tired of waiting around and worshiping other bands for hours – they’re ready for the real gods of the night. Even before Nile stepped on stage you get that sense of something colossal about to take place. As I looked at the drums being set up, I was intimidated – that kit could have auditioned to be an extra in War of the Worlds, and I swear to God it told me to buy some merch! There are few that can match up, to let alone surpass Nile in heaviness, skill or inventiveness. Nile have a serious reputation that they have no problems living up to. As they came out on stage there was an instant ritualized feel to the affair, with chants starting and hair flying to show support and appreciation for this behemoth that is Nile. At one point I think everyone was thinking the same as me was which was: ‘OK, just give me the papyrus so I can sign my soul away already!’
Playing tracks like Kaffir and Hittie Dung Incantation from their 2009 album Those Whom the Gods Detest, were definite crowd pleasers. Kaffir, with its ancient, ‘wrath of the gods feel’, was an early feature on the set list and it provoked an eruption in the crowd with that smashing guitar intro. Hittie Dung Incantation one of those songs that incorporates the ancient Egyptian, don’t rob my gold when I’m dead and buried in my pyramid or else, feel. Those wiry, tumbling riffs add to the quality and heftiness of the song. While Nile are fundamentally heavy they do not sacrifice accessibility for heaviness and have some slow drawn out sections and even slightly hookier parts in some of their work. Tracks like Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame and The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh from 2012’s At the Gates of Sethu, really make evident why Nile are still here and probably will be for a long time. Robust tracks with unrelenting capability and originality. Without a doubt Nile are a band with longevity, and legacy to follow. I highly recommend everyone try and see these guys at some point or at least invest in some albums!
Overall, it was a great gig and a night of many firsts for the bands and the crowd. Definitely have to hand it to the guys working hard in DME Promotions to bring us these incredible bands from both near and far and putting on great shows.
Below is a selection of images from the show. Photos by Steve Dempsey of Down The Barrel Photography