The Button Factory was nicely full when we arrived for a night of riff worship and Doom with a capital ‘D’; a good crowd to welcome Sleep for their first visit to Ireland, and if the night was as successful as it looked, it won’t be the last!
The ever-energetic Wizards of Firetop Mountain took the stage just a few minutes after our arrival and wasted no time in diving into a full-on performance even by their standards. Wizards are gradually becoming one of the representative bands of the small but sturdy Irish Doom scene and no doubt this gig will earn them enormous credibility, I mean what band doesn’t want to support someone like Sleep?!? Wizards burst through a fiery set in what seemed like no time at all, crowd pleasing songs including ‘Sonic War’ got the open-minded even more on their side while signature track ‘Onwards Towards the Sun’ solidified the effect. Wizards’ party atmosphere brings a fresh buzz to the occasion and makes for a good way to begin the night. Frontman Dunchee stands proudly at the edge of the stage only a few feet from the crowd with his characteristic “I own you right now!” attitude and expression to match, while behind him the band bring the noise and don’t let up ‘til it’s over. If you’re up for a bit of rock ‘n’ roll craic, grab the opportunity to see Wizards of Firetop Mountain live.
Welcome A Storm of Light. The last time this band were in Ireland I went to see them in Whealan’s, and to be honest, I came out a little shaken. The noise was so intense and the projections so vivid that one couldn’t help but feel the impact. Since then I have been at the barrier at a Melvins’ gig during which Phil Anselmo appeared on drums, after that I could handle anything! On that occasion A Storm of Light played to about two dozen people, this time round they had a full house. Another new thing was the addition of Andrea Black on guitar. Again the projected visuals were stunning (founder Josh Graham is the full-time projectionist for Neurosis) and the music is as hard-hitting as last time, but I felt that even with the new addition to the band there was very little new about the performance. Nonetheless they played beautifully and A Storm of Light are one of the masters of that tightly refined energy characteristic of good Post-Metal, it can be as clear as a melancholy bell one moment and change to an utter torrent the next.
A brief wait before the headline act, during which we were given a lesson on the wonder of physics by Carl Sagan. Guitarist and comedic genius Matt Pike begins his stand-up act by stumbling around the stage playing with his pickup switch and feedback before launching into the slow beginnings of ‘Jerusalem’, possibly the heaviest thing ever committed to record. Above their heads is footage of the Saturn 5 rocket slowly lifting off its launch pad. Given the loose nature of Sleep’s performance, it seems unlikely that the projection and the playing were carefully synched, yet in the same moment that the bass and drums joined Pike in the riff ritual, the bright yellow flame of the rocket’s jet came into view and lit up the stage in a reflected amber hue. It was a perfect marriage of audio and visual; the most powerful machine ever built by man with the heaviest sound ever made by man. The band played well into Jerusalem Part 2 before moving into the ‘Holy Mountain’ album for some more groovy tunes. Fan favourite ‘Dragonaut’ raised a tremendous cheer from the crowd after those first four notes that mark its signature.
The note of low C will forever be audible in the heads of those who attended that gig, it was pure riff worship the likes of which Sleep do best. The bass was so much that tinnitus didn’t set in until hours later whereas usually is comes almost immediately. Instead there was this peculiar weighed down feeling at the bottom of the ear which I can’t say I’ve ever had before. Between the good time grooves of Wizards of Firetop Mountain, the contemplative shock of A Storm of Light and the journey to the outer limits that was Sleep, this was a five star, ten out of ten gig all round!
In case you didn't believe the comedic genius comment...
Edward Gerard Brophy,