In Solitude & Beastmilk In Dublin: Live Review

By on 21 October 2014

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Last Friday, In Solitude and Beastmilk descended upon Dublin to unleash their own distinctively dark sounds. Our very own Dean Brown was in attendance, and here’s what he thought of the experience…

IN SOLITUDE
+ BEASTMILK + VENUS SLEEPS +DANIEL BAY
THE VOOD LOUNGE, DUBLIN
OCTOBER 17th, 2014

Despite the sterling work of Dublin Metal Events, the turnouts at recent metal shows have ranged from respectable to disappointing, with few sell-outs. So it’s heartening to see a large crowd gathered at Dublin’s Voodoo Lounge tonight to bear witness to Beastmilk’s debut on Irish soil and In Solitude’s first headline show in Dublin, following their March 2012 appearance in support of Amon Amarth. Both bands rose in prominence over the past 12 months and their paring as touring artists make perfect sense since they each take inspiration from the music of the 1980s; bringing post-punk, goth and metal together and making their individual amalgams sound fresh and exciting for the 21st Century.

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Photo: Fran Geoghegan

Tonight an eclectic support line-up greets those who turn up prior to Beastmilk’s set. Standing alone centre-stage, obscured by a mane of curly hair and armed with only an acoustic guitar is singer/songwriter Daniel Bay. Bay, who is unknown around these parts, doesn’t take long to catch the attention of the growing crowd in attendance; his approach to playing is percussive and primal and he hacks at his guitar with the touch of a butcher. Vocally, Bay’s gruff baritone betrays his age and he sounds more world-weary than he looks – think Tom Waits trapped inside Jim Morrison’s body playing folk music that’s more Ancient VVisdom than Nick Drake. After a short set, Bay leaves the quite the impression on those watching.

With the release of their album drawing near, Dublin’s own Venus Sleeps have plenty of poise, musically-speaking. Reverberations of Yob’s astral doom rise around the room as hypnotic, psychedelic riffs wash over the crowd in waves, with guitarist Sie Carroll’s snarling punk-flecked vocals growing more determined with each churning swell and downward collapse. Unfortunately though, the band’s live performance borders on static because their bassist and second guitarist are rooted to the spot the entire set, appearing detached from the music they’re playing. It’s left to Carroll to be the focal point for onlookers and he cuts a presence not unlike Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick; the spit flying from his mouth and the intensity etched across his face throughout.

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Photo: Fran Geoghegan

2013 was a great year for Beastmilk who released their full-length debut, ‘Climax’, to universal acclaim – hell, even non-metal publications like the NME “discovered” the joys of the band’s apocalyptic post-punk. It’s unsurprising then that when the Finland-based quintet walks out onstage they’re welcomed like returning heroes. The anticipation bristles across the crowd comprised of hardened metalheads, indie-types and the odd goth, and when Beastmilk kick into ‘The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls’ this effortlessly cool act have the crowd enraptured from start to finish.

It’s an odd sight to see people visibly dancing at a metal show; especially when some of those shaking their arses to ‘You’re Now Under Our Control’ and the Danzig-indebted ‘Surf The Apocalypse’ happen to be grisly dudes in leather jackets. But that’s the beauty of Beastmilk: they unite disparate sides by channelling the spirit of metal and combining the dramatics and dark hooks of seminal bands such as The Cure, Joy Division, The Smiths, Bauhaus amongst others.

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Photo: Fran Geoghegan

Vocalist Mat McNerney (Hexvessel, ex-Code) is a superstar and his vocals are pitch-perfect during each anthemic song aired this evening. His shamanistic stage moves and wide-eyed glare compliment the addictive melodies of ‘Death Reflect Us’ and ‘Genocidal Crush’, and the rest of the band provide the booming base upon which this end-times party is founded. Finishing with ‘Love In A Cold World’ gives the crowd one last chance to sing along with the rush of the song’s phenomenal chorus, and Beastmilk leave the stage to loud cheers. If there’s any justice in music Beastmilk will outgrow our scene, because this band have everything it takes to crash through the mainstream to grab the hearts of the masses.

While you can still audibly hear where Beastmilk siphon their sounds from, In Solitude drenched their inspirations in obscurity on their fantastically gothic third album, ‘Sister’, released in the autumn of 2013. In Solitude have grown in confidence and quelled the endless comparisons to Mercyful Fate since ‘Sister’ stunned those who heard it last year. Therefore tonight what you get is a young band with a greater purpose – a band who have found their resting place and are fully comfortable in their own niche.

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Photo: Fran Geoghegan

There has always been something special about In Solitude, evident on record but more so for anyone who has caught the Uppsala, Sweden five-piece live since their 2008 self-titled debut. Vocalist Pelle Åhman is not of this world, and while his performances in the past were undoubtedly passionate – the corpse-painted frontman cornering the stage with a fox pelt draped around his neck – now that he has found his own voice he has become an complete enigma; evident tonight by his entrancing performance sans fox and make-up. The rest of the band exist in a plane below their vocalist in terms of magnetism, but each member gives their very all: they furiously headbang as a gang while bathed in green light as the sweet smell of incense wafts around the room.

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Photo: Fran Geoghegan

At times, the sound interferes with the romanticism at the heart of the songs carefully chosen from ‘Sister’; yet regardless of technical difficulties outside the band’s control, the emotional longing of ‘Lavender’ is evident for all to experience and ‘Horses in the Ground’ and ‘A Buried Sun’ are magical tonight. The set-list is consciously paced as In Solitude bring newer songs to the fore, starting with ‘Death Knows Where’ and finishing with an electric rendition of ‘He Comes’, with the galloping Fate-isms of ‘Demons’ – a highlight from second album, 2011’s ‘The World. The Flesh. The Devil.’ – ramping up the tempos as the band thrash violently around the tight confines of the Voodoo’s stage.

Like few bands before them, In Solitude possess a genuine otherworldly allure and the black heart of their singer burns bright. With a decimated bunch of white lilies strewn across the stage post-show, the evocative image it brings sums up In Solitude’s music precisely: the duality of intoxicating beauty and grim darkness left bare.

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Photo: Fran Geoghegan

Words: Dean Brown

Photos: Fran Geoghegan

You can find In Solitude and Beastmilk on Facebook

 

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