Saturday, 5 April 2014

Story time: Violence, extreme metal and three pints total.

Blurry eyes, smouldering headache, and a mouth like a pensioner's purse. Ah yes, the Maynooth Thursday morning, it's been a while my darling. This blanket feels like a cuddle from Mr. Blobby in an opium den, I don't want to emerge from underneath it but I'm also terrified that I've over slept. I wonder for a moment where I am, then I hear two of my friends leaving for college, bidding me farewell as I stare up at them with bloodshot eyes and a jaw-torturing smile. Of course, it's Neil's house. This place is ordo ad chaos. You couldn't meet a more welcoming group of sweethearts if you tried, but each and every one of them have uncontrollable demons that enter stage left as soon as the party starts. I am grateful to have them as friends, but so terribly frightened of what we become when a drink is taken. Our Hitlers and Mussolinis are in league.

I peel myself off of the couch like a wet bacon strip, trip around a motorcycle that's been parked in the sitting room, and do as best I can to clean myself up before exposing my goofy face to the unforgiving sunlight and chirping college girls.

A chicken roll and a fistful of painkillers sets me up when I return to my own apartment and while reclining on my bed (which also serves as both couch and desk) for an hour, I begin to feel somewhere close to tippidy top. However, as you know, during this period of tenderness, you begin sifting through your mental inbox and it's not long before you come across some guilt mail. Luckily, I hadn't fucked up immensely on this occasion (gold star for avoiding Buckfast for this long), with the exception of trying to lay foundation with this tiny club chick who obviously wanted no part of a slobbering bearded schmuck singing Hulk Hogan's theme song all night. However, I did remember something of great significance;

Tonight is Gorgoroth night.


I've made the horrible decision of wearing my leather jacket on a day like this, but black metal dress code demands it. No matter how hot and uncomfortable one becomes on a commuter train under the rare Irish sun, one must always feign misanthropy and bleakness, because nothing says 'grim fucker' like a black leather jacket in shorts weather.

I love livin' near the city

I arrive at Temple Bar where I meet long-time friend and temple of doom brethren, Man Man. We exchange a manly embrace and make our way to the venue. We've been waiting for this gig for a very long time now and have spent many a conversation circle-jerking over Gorgoroth and how dreamy they are. Truth be told, I'd fallen out of love with black metal a year before I met Man Man (I'd become one of those post-rock chimps), and when the music had begun to corrupt him, I found myself once again on the molested end of its skeletal fingers. Anyway, it was only fitting that we see Gorgoroth together, despite being one brother down.

R.I.P. Julian Palmer, gone but never forgotten.

Ageless Oblivion

I don't think I've heard an opening band sound as though the venue they're playing can hardly contain their energy. Without moving too much on the stage, their sound alone bounced off the walls, slapped faces, dump-tackled trophy metalhead girlfriends and downed over-priced pints of Stella. Vocalist Stephen Jones cuts a Jekyl & Hyde figure on stage, part charming gentleman as he addresses the crowd, part flesh-eating wendigo as he hunches over the stage. Ageless Oblivion aren't my usual cup of tea, but as mentioned above, they set a very high standard for their main acts. Pint one, Stella, finished. 

Vital Remains

Were it not for the incredibly violent climax of Gorgoroth's set, Vital Remains would easily have stolen the show. Throughout their time on the stage, I was reminded of why I fell in love with death metal in the first place. They brought me back to 2004, hearing Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel for the first time, listening to a music that was both exciting and confusing, like your first time watching porn. You don't know what the fuck is going on, but you love it. Stage presence, turret rattle tunes and the first wall of death I've seen at an Irish gig in three years. Vocalist Brian Werner (Who had been instigating mosh pits all night) launched himself on top of the bar and brought an end to their vicious, nostalgic, and genuinely inspiring set. Death metal is most certainly alive. Pint two, Stella, though a Jagerbomb was considered.

The Gorgoroth Prick, or "that guy"
Not actually The Gorgoroth Prick, but you know the type.
Moshing is great. It is the ultimate in fan participation and conducts at least half, if not all, the energy of a good gig. I myself rarely participate in a pit unless the body is pumped but the brain is nowhere to be found, but when I do participate, I'm sure to keep to mosh etiquette. There aren't many rules to the game, really, they're not that difficult to fathom. 1) Do what you have to do in the pit, 2) Don't go out of your way to try and hurt people that don't want in on the pit. 

The Gorgoroth prick was some fat German troglodyte in (of couse) a sleeveless denim jacket covered in old school patches, most notably a giant (of course) W.A.S.P. patch. The Gorgoroth prick was essentially the pause button on the craic. Everyone was moshing, moving, headbanging, having a damn good time, and this complete wad of festering shit just insisted on launching a blubber assault at everyone, whether they were in the pit or not. At one point, after trying really hard to contain my frustration, I grabbed a handful of his hair and pushed the pig out of the way. He stands up, gets in my face and asks me why I did it. I explain to him that he's a fat fuck and that he's been knocking over pints and pushing over girls all night, but he keeps whining "Whai Choo Pull Mai Hayor?".

To Gorgoroth Prick, I will remember your face, and if we ever cross paths again, I am going to ignore and probably pretend I don't remember you because you're bigger than me. But if I get totes swell by the next time I see you, you're getting a pink belly, a purple nurple and a face full of Liam.

Gorgoroth, and Hoest tries to kill a guy.

There was a hush just before Gorgoroth took the stage. No drunken howling, no laughing, no swearing or beer spewing, hardly any talking. It was the most silent I've ever heard a packed venue full of metal fans. Maybe it was atmosphere created by the smoke, maybe it was the haunting organs droning over the PA system, but there was a genuine feeling that something brilliant and terrible was about to happen. And something brilliant did happen, followed by something very terrible.

The band were cold and taunting from the moment they took the stage. Their nefarious figures disappearing and reappearing behind the thick veil of fog that surrounded them, it was nearly impossible to take your eyes from the ritual going on in front of you, unless of course when Gorgoroth Prick's blubber was slabbing off your shoulder. Simply put, Gorgoroth were everything I'd expected them to be; harsh sonic abuse without a heartbeat of warmth to their presentation.

Hoest makes a fantastic front man for this kind of music. His stage presence fills in for the long moments between his vocal movements. He is both reptile and early man combined. We would soon learn that he is more than a performer, however, as by the end of the show he proved himself to be just as violent as the character he portrays, if you can really call it a character. Pint three, Stella, €15 lighter.

A fan standing front row had been messing with Hoest all night, according to one group of onlookers, while others claimed that the attack was completely unprovoked. Either way, that fan left the venue bleeding profusely and leaving a trail of blood behind him on the floor. He'd been struck with a microphone, kicked in the face and eventually cracked over the head with an empty bottle of wine. A young woman standing near the front suffered a vicious gash to her wrist following the attack with the wine bottle and had to have her wounds dressed immediately. There was a lot of blood, a lot of fog and Gorgoroth got right the fuck out of dodge.

Man Man and I were completely ecstatic by the end of the gig. We'd hadn't seen anything like this in years. The return of the wall of death, the old school death metal vibes, the indiscriminate violence, it was magic in many ways. But the metal concert is a space with which these activities are acceptable. It's simply sociology. You are one kind of person among friends at a specialist event such as a metal concert, and you are another kind of person in a wider space where etiquette is more stringent and odd. While we were practically sporting boners among all the blast beats and bloodshed, when we left The Voodoo Lounge, we were ready for normality. Unfortunately for us, the conflict wasn't over yet.

While waiting for the number 2 at Busáras, Man Man noticed a young woman crying as she passed us. We asked her what was wrong and explained that she had been fighting with her boyfriend and had lost him in the process. Man Man and I, the pious individuals that we are, tried to help her out by calming her down and looking for her boyfriend. Eventually, we spotted a man fitting the description she had given us and she called him over. At first I was pretty happy that she'd found him, until of course he started eyeing me up as though I'd just been caught with my hands up her skirt.

What followed next was a completely uncalled for tirade of pushing, pulling, and constant threats of "I'll have both of you shot!" and "Do you know who I fucking am?". Man Man and I, of course, had absolutely no idea who this guy was other than he sounded like the most convincing Dublin gang banger/general knacker we'd ever encountered, so we decided to (must like Hoest) get the fuck out of dodge. Not satisfied with our explanation that we were trying to help her find him, he followed us up and down Busáras, screaming abuse, punching windows and threatening us with bullets to the heads. Needless to say, we were pretty freaked out.

Worried that he may have been on the phone to some mates (pretty sure that was one of his hundred threats too), we walked to the other end of the bus station and chilled back with some old Northern Irish men who seemed a little too excited at the concept of beating up a black dude, but we were happy to have their company at the time anyway,

After a serious verbal dissection of what had just happened, the black guy appears from out of nowhere, eyes now full of empathy and hands extended. He apologized profusely for taking out an imaginary hit on us and generally screaming abuse at us for helping his girlfriend, we shook hands and he left. Man Man and I have never been as sober on a night out in our entire lives and we ended up on the very cusp of three different physical altercations with the possibility of varying outcomes of bodily damage.

Overall, the night gets a 7/10. Not enough sixers and shredding.

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