The Bunker, Belfast | 20 November 2005
The night is billed as one of pure, unadulterated slowness and heaviness, and feeling the rumbling bass of Khanate's soundcheck through one's feet upstairs in the enue is a heartening experience. Having only heard the band very recently, I was excited to hear the news that two Irish dates were planned, and bought my ticket well in advance.
Slomatics were first up to face the crowd, and their brand of slow, sludgy doom went down a treat, warming the crowd up nicely. Their bass-heavy fuzz was powerful enough to be felt rather than heard, and the assembled metalheads lapped it up, particularly "Running Battle".
It's rare to hear of a Scald gig, the band being of the hermit persuasion, and this is perhaps a double-edged sword. It's great that they are such cult legends in Ireland, but bad because performances are few and far between. Tonight's performance was, in a word, apocalyptic. Assaulting eardrums with "Larva" and "Cocoon" (two new songs from a top-secret project) Scald started off incredible. Equally, "Spiracle" goes down a treat, but it is modern metal classic "Maggot Farmer" that has everyone's head banging. Having recently signed to Code 666 records, possibly the most respected label in the metal underground, and with the forthcoming "Vermiculatus" album imminent, Scald seem destined to join the ranks of the world's cerebral metal elite.
Following such an act will always be hard, and although Stephen O'Malley's Khanate play to perfection, something just doesn't work. True, the music is heavy enough to actually make your clothes shake, and Khanate obviously know what they're doing with creating bleak and crushing sonic soundscapes, but they completely failed to capture my imagination. Perhaps if one were to be more in that style of music, they would "get it". Unfortunately, it was not for me. Scald: band of the night by far.
Reviewer Donal Mcbrien
Khanate + Scald + Slomatics | The Bunker, Laverys, Belfast '05
With their excellent "Flooding The Weir" cd having now had time to assimilate its way into numerous headspaces, Slomatics' support to Khanate tonight is as good a chance as they're likely to get to play to a clued-in crowd. Using an array of bespoke vintage amplifiers in much the same way as their hosts tonight, this three piece achieve both the tone and volume they need for their music to do its work. Thus tracks like 'I Mean You No Harm' and 'Running Battle' garner the required concentration and attention from the audience. Despite the band's affable natures and unthreatening aesthetic, it is clear from listening to their recorded work that a distinct unease is the basis for their music. It is apparent tonight, with the sustained, almost nervous melancholy suffused through their morose doom really coming to the fore. Good use of dynamic as well, but more vocals still would be pleasant.
Scald, a bastion of permanence and outright difference, play tonight one of the most caustic and brilliant sets I have ever seen them play. Having attended or been part of almost every one of their gigs in the last seven years, I have rarely seen them so virulently aggressive and darkly creative. The guitar tone is nothing short of coruscating, while Dempsey's vocals are as acerbic and out-there as ever. New material debuted tonight displays the control of pacing and leading that they are beginning to call their own, with hypnotic sections of drone leading into palsying explosions of blastbeat driven anger. Unsurprisingly, it is Voivod that really spring to mind during this set, with the unorthodox guitar work reminding of all things alien. An absolutely ball busting "Spiracle" is a certain boon, but it is the revisiting of all time classic cut (though now admittedly prehistoric in their continuing development) "Maggot Farmer" that really hits home: thunderclaps of double kick drumming, rampaging scuzzed out bass and a delivery that could have taken paint from the walls. This was one of the very best gigs Scald have ever played here, and two years from their last, it was worth every minute of the wait. Lavery's middle bar was recently re-christened the Bunker. Well tonight it was at the centre of a nuclear fallout, and Scald were the button men.
You can take or leave Khanate. My own opinions on them vary with mood and situation: live, like sister band Sunn 0))), it is undoubtedly an intense sonic experience, and a challenge to conventional notions of time and structure. But is it interesting? Is that even the point? It is certainly compelling, and remains so on record. But only at specific times and for specific purposes. Feeling the pressure of pure sound, in its waves and its vibrations, is thrilling in the most disconcerting of ways. But after one or two bouts of pressure induced hypnosis - because that is what it is - the effect wears off. All it takes is for someone to ask you 'do you want a drink?' and the spell is broken; reality sets in, the real world reasserts itself, and you realise, actually, that what is going on really isnt that brilliat. Much is made of vocalist Dublin's insane and demented delivery. In truth however it's nothing on a really special Black Metal album, and actually quite predictable (something that Sunn 0)))'s excellent 'Black One' confirms). Dynamic is used well, but to no real end save pure exhilleration through volume. And after that, what is left? Obviously not enough to engross, because by the half way stage people have made up their minds and vote with their feet accordingly. Much of the venue is empty mid way, with Khanate failing to retain interest even among fans of the genre. By no means bad, and indeed quite an experience. But how special really is this stuff? Answers on a postcard, because I still havent decided. An equivocal response from everyone else in attendence begs the same question.
-Ciaran Tracey ::: 01/12/05.
Scald + Lesshelp + Standup Guy + Hexxed:
Limelight, Belfast, June 2002
I know nothing about Death Metal and even less about Black Metal. Hexxed are my only point of reference within these genres, and over the last three years I've developed a worrying liking for this band. I say worrying as I'm afraid to delve deeper into this brand of music for fear of blowing ridiculous amounts of money on related CDs. They began with familiar opener "Nails That Pierce The Soul". This song has been on constant rotation in my brain for the last three months. I simply cannot get it out of my head, and tonight's rendition of it was probably the best I've heard. The band then proceeded to impress with a mixture of old and new tunes, and I was probably among the minority of punters who didn't know the immense "Perish the Sacred" that closed their set. I love watching Hexxed. I particularly enjoy the complex guitar solos, as most bands I listen to these days avoid such technicalities. Their enthusiasm for the music is plain to see, and I look forward to their future recordings and live shows. (4/5)
I've seen Stand Up Guy a lot over the last year and have enjoyed every one of their performances. Each band member goes ballistic, and for the most part of tonight's set they maintained a familiar level of aggression on stage. The music was very good as usual especially the instrumentals, but it didn't pummel me as previous performances had managed to do. The sound was good, but the band appeared to be unhappy with the way things went on stage. The crowd responded well, however they just didn't quite do it for me tonight. Maybe I've seen them too many times recently and need to take a short break from their performances. I should be ready for their sonic assault again come the Warzone Festival. (3/5)
Lesshelp was the most eagerly anticipated band tonight and with good reason. Half a dozen gigs in ten years is sparse to say the least, but judging by this performance I doubt they'll be allowed to hibernate for long periods in the future. They came on to a 2 Unlimited hit that fucked up a little more than intended, and then blasted into the obscenely grindy 'Pummeled With A Paving Slab'. 'I Won't Settle For Less Than Metal' was the second song, and already they had the audience won over. How could anybody with a sense of humor and a liking for grindcore fail to love this band? Classics such as 'The Spide Must Die', 'I Can't Reason With The Non Metal Fool' & 'Afraid To Drink Buckfast' were aired along with about thirty others, and the band encored with a specially selected song that they'd already played - 'Spideyman'. They even managed to squeeze in my personal favorite 'Your Severed Head'. This was Lesshelp's second gig in about five years and they were as tight as fuck. The bright lights shining from stage floor level added to the atmosphere, and you couldn't fail to bang your head while watching singer Baggy's moves. Legendary performance and roll on the next one. (4.2/5)
Scald has slowly grown on me over the years. I wasn't keen on their music initially, but the last time I saw them they were very impressive. Since obtaining the CDs I've become a big fan, and I was looking forward to hearing a set by them and being familiar with the material. 'Confusexcremental' was first, and this was followed by my favorite from their Nematoid CDs 'Lower I'. During this song it struck me just how extreme these guys are. The vocals were insane with the bass player sounding similar to Alan Dubin of OLD and Khanate. I can't compare the guitarist's intermittent rabid growl to anything. About half way into the set a new song was played. Entitled 'Tap', this is easily the best thing the band has written, and I was mesmerised by its quiet interludes. This song is going to sound amazing on CD. Another new track 'Spindle' was aired, and they ended the night with 'The Meat Perfect' and crowd favorite 'Maggot Farmer'. This Scald performance illustrated how unique their music is. There is no other band in Ireland as harsh and uncompromising, and if like me you dismissed them at first, try again. They'll get their hooks in. (4.5/5)
Review by Corrupted --3/7/02
Scald + Hexxed Katy Dalys, March 2001
Another gig that was marred by dodgy sound, but that's just the nature of the beast in KDs it would seem. The stage setup was unusual to say the least, with one of the guitar cabs pointing towards the drumkit, away from the audience - perhaps the monitors weren't working or something, but it really didn't help the sound one bit. It looked more like a rehearsal room setup, but anyways. Hexxed were first up, and proved themselves to be the foremost death metal band in NI. The songs are all solid stuff (I had Sacrosanct going round my head all day) and the playing is spot on. The bass player has possibly the best white man afro I've ever seen too!!! :) The only thing I was suggest is that Ciaran and Owen need to boost the volume for their solos... you could see they were playing lead breaks, but you couldn't really pick out what they were playing as well as you might want to. If you want an example of this, check out Andy from my band RMG - if people's eyes don't bleed when he's playing a lead break, he'll turn it up more!!! :) Anyways, then there was Scald. I've heard a lot about this band for years although I'd never actually heard them. To be honest, the least said about them the better. They were possibly the single worst band I've ever seen. It's not the fact that they were just awful, they were obviously well rehearsed at being awful, if you see what I mean. If it was their first gig and they were a wee bit all over the show, you'd let them off with it, but these guys have obviously been around for a while and done a lot of stuff, so you'd think one of them would realise, hold on guys, these songs are shit and boring... seriously, there's nothing you can sing along to, nothing you can headbang to, nothing that even makes you want to tap your foot. As I looked around the bar, no one was even nodding their heads or anything... dismal stuff.
So a 5 for Hexxed, and -5 for Scald. (Contributed by Riffmaster Steve)
Scald Katy Dalys, March 2001
I actually disagree with Steve. To the uninitiated, Scald's music is very hard to fathom and indeed it may not suit the live environment as far as getting the floor filled is concerned. But is it not true that the best music is not always that which lends itself to the mosh? A Scald gig is somewhat of a rare commodity, adding to the mystique of the band, but when one comes along its an experience. I think the problem is that it needs familiarity with the material, because in the musical and technical sense of the performance the guys were tight and flawless. The pounding, strange time signature shifts and gear changes are entrancing and the eerie clean guitar tone was dismal and dark, coming through very well, especially on the pitch black "Meat Perfect". I would compare it to seeing Neurosis live - an experience to be had, rather than simply for headbanging. And headbanging opportunities were there to be had - "Confusexcremental" was brutal as fuck. Their sound was actually thick and quite rich, Pete's distorted bass doing more for them than another guitar would, and their minimalism works wonders. I thoroughly enjoyed their set and I find them a captivating listen for their sheer difference. They are the very definition of extreme music.
just out of interest heres a few anonymous forum posts that were made about that gig.
Anon web post 1 : 2001
Most people can’t stomach real originality. Look at the mighty Scald. Hardly anyone here knows them because their gigs are few and far between. They have been messed about by various record labels for ages but have kept plugging. Even Terrorizer magazine, renowned for its anal obsessions with classification and discovering new sub-genres could not even find a pigeon hole for them, and raved over their latest album, Nematoid, giving 8/10. That is how truly original they are. Their music is so off the wall and NEW that even most metallers here are too lazy to try and get inside their work. Their cds are more than just music, they are entire concepts taking in all the in house art ideas as well.
Anon web post 2 : 2001
I saw Scald last year. Guess what I thought of them. It begins with b.
Anon web post 3 : 2001
Scald. Hmmm. As I said somewhere else, I spent the longest month of my life listening to a 45 minute Scald set once.