Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gig Review-Mongolia @The Lower Deck, Portobello, Dublin- 15/07/11

“This next one goes out to all the lovers in the audience”

Mongolia are an instrumental three-piece from right here in Dublin. Not terribly active over the last while (when I discovered them I was convinced they had split), they are now making the effort to get back onto the circuit and if this gig was anything to go by then this shouldn’t take long for them. This night saw them share the stage with a cross section of local Hardcore and Crust bands and despite the predominantly punk audience Mongolia seemed to make the biggest impact.

We got to The Lower Deck a little late (blame ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ for that), so we ended up missing Zom, the first of five bands on this night. We did catch the last half of Vagrants set which I would’ve been glad to review had I caught the entirety of it. I’ll have to catch you lads another time. So, pay the fiver in, head straight to the bar for a quality pint of Guinness and grab a good spot while there are still any left. The Lower Deck has proven itself over the last few years to be one of the hubs for underground heaviness in Dublin. With the recent uproar and bad vibes that may end up toppling Fibber McGee’s as ‘the’ metal bar in town, we could be looking at an interesting shaking up in the scene and no doubt The Lower Deck will want to come out the better.

We enjoy a conversation about the scope of the hardcore genre and enjoy a bit of Mastodon between sets. After a full energy set from Crows during which the pub filled up nicely, Mongolia start setting up their stripped down, no bells and whistles gear. 70% of the crowd is outside for a smoke between bands but the sound of thoroughly distorted guitars brings them reeling back in.

The instrumental nature of the band’s output makes song titles difficult to pin down, as far as I can tell, the opener does not appear on the band’s ‘Black Leaf’ EP. A nice traditional doom stomper that Trouble wouldn’t turn down if you gave it to them to put vocals over (although I never did like Eric Wagner: I’m sorry Eric, you have a cool name but you just won’t rhyme). Bassist, Tob, maintains a very Geezer Bulter style rumble to his bass tone, striking the strings with all the strength in his right hand, and guitar player Damo’s big ass Soldano amp has a sickly sweet blend of grit and fuzz that is perfect for their kind of sound.

“This next one goes out to all the lovers in the audience”, says Damo. “All five of ‘em!”, someone shouts back. And the five lovers are given ‘Black Leaf’ to get cosy to. An aggressively delivered track, chugging like Stepehenson’s Rocket and making Bison BC proud. “This one is about taking a road trip down the Pacific Highway.” Such brings us into another one absent from the EP; ‘Specific Highway’. A hard driving down/up rhythm guides this track after a brief cheeky guitar lick opens her up. More speedy than the band’s usual M.O. but lacking none of the doomy goodness.

Next up is ‘Stoned Nomad’, one of the highlights of the EP. Drummer Dunchee has a look of sheer delight whenever he goes for his cymbals, as if nothing could bring him anymore pleasure. He also looks deeply stoned, but that’s neither here nor there. At the same time, Damo gets into some serious power chord worship before the track really breaks out at about three minutes in with some rolling riffing. A few moments of deathly drone brings this one to a satisfying end and the crowd that has slowly grown in number has really begun to dig the music. One good thing about hardcore crowds is they tend to be open minded when it comes to heavy live tunes.

Another standout track from the EP brings this set to its conclusion and makes way for Crust headliners Twisted Mass. The starkly titled ‘II’ is an excellent choice to wrap things up, a heavy storm of a trad doom assembled with intelligent melodic guitar that seems to bend the rules of a single guitar band. The front row of people is a picture decorated with dreadlocks, patches and tattoos and they’re all moving to the sullen groove of ‘II’.

For an instrumental band, keeping the crowd’s attention without vocals will always be a challenge. Mongolia rose to that challenge and bested it, reinforcing the fact that they are a must-see for Irish doom heads. Check ‘em out somewhere on the Dublin circuit whenever you can and in the meantime, you can download the entire ’Black Leaf’ EP at their band camp. Go there now!

Mongolia, supporting Twisted Mass
Live at The Lower Deck Dublin July 15th 2011
Rating 8/10
For fans of: Trouble, Black Sabbath, Sleep
Get ‘Back leaf’ here: http://mongolia.bandcamp.com/
By Edward Gerard Brophy
For Born Again Nihilist and Fuzzed Out on Rascal Radio, 2011
Filmed by Stephen O ' Connor

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