20 years and grinding...
Let’s face it, nine times out of ten when it comes to live shows in Ireland, the support band(s) sucks. Unlike the UK/US where a number of high profile bands roll into town on a nightly basis and the competition to sell tickets is rife, Irish tour packages usually consist of the main attraction rounded off by at least two meagre local bands that end up onstage frozen in the spotlights. It boils down to lazy organization and the Irish gig-goer deserves more respect and entertainment for their money.
Tonight, however, is not one of those nights. Dublin Metal Events (DME) have been working tirelessly to bring the metal to Irish shores and keep tours as appealing as that of our neighbouring island. And tonight’s show—Rotten Sound with support coming from Martyrdöd and Enabler—is a one of the strongest tours we’ve had visit Dublin in recent memory.
Unfortunately, these bands arrive on what has been a surprisingly busy week for live metal in Ireland. Grand Magus, half of Sumerian Records’ roster, and Belgian black metallers Enthroned have all played The Pint in less than seven days. So maybe it’s down to these three gigs that, disappointingly, The Pint is only two-thirds full tonight.
Nevertheless, this is no concern for openers Enabler, who arrive loaded with a wealth of destructive hardcore; mostly taken from last year’s killer All Hail The Void LP. Guzzling a crusty can of Bavaria in between roaring and riffing through “The Heathens” and “Fuck Today”, Enabler vocalist/guitarist Jeff Lohrber finds himself plagued by technical difficulties early on. The string on his guitar snaps twice, but to Enabler’s credit, the Milwaukee-based four-piece never miss a d-beat and rampage through “Speechless” with Lohrber just handling the coarse screams.
Unexpectedly, the song sounds just as heavy, and even though Lohrber is clearly uncomfortable without the safety of his guitar, the grit of the band’s performance receives cheers of encouragement from the crowd. With the technical difficulties taken in their stride, “All Hail The Void” rounds off Enabler’s determined set and poses as a furious finisher.
Enabler’s Southern Lord label-mates, Martyrdöd, hit the stage next. With their backdrop held in place with duct tape, these bullet-belted veterans of the crust scene (with former members of Miasmal and Skitsystem in the ranks) sound even more volatile live than they do on record. Last year, Martyrdöd released Paranoia— which Popmatters crowned, “The crust album of the year”—and the songs aired tonight off Paranoia get the crust contingent down front swinging their greasy heads to every caustic riff and pummelling d-beat that the Swedes throw at them.
If you strip back the hardcore-punk and the scalding black metal screams of Michael Kjellson on “Nog Ar Nog”, “Overkom Er Radsla”, and “Ett Harata Ar Eld”, at the roots of these songs you will find pure, unadulterated rock ’n’ roll. This impression is cemented once you see Martyrdöd play these songs live. Amongst all the grime, the ripping guitar licks channel classic rock at its best, and not only that, these four Scandinavians display the type of showmanship not normally found in a crust band—all of which leaves the crowd baying for more.
“We are just waiting on our guitar player to finish taking a piss,” booms the voice of Rotten Sound’s vocalist Keijo Niinimaa from the stage. With the stature of a UFC fighter, Niinimaa cuts an imposing figure. Swigging from a bottle of white wine and flanked by guitarist Mika Aalto and bassist Kristian Toivainen, with drummer Sami Latva seated at the rear, Niinimaa leads Rotten Sound through a celebration of 20 years of grinding it out.
The grind ‘n’ groove of Cycles trio, “Days to Kill”, “Victims”, and “The Effects”, make their mark early on. But it’s when the band announce that they are filming for a music video of “The Solution” and “Salvation”—two prime slices of their latest EP Species at War—that the front of the stage goes decidedly ape-shit: ramping up the head-banging and moshing wildly in the hopes of making it onto a music video.
These scenes really increase the energy levels inside this mine-shaft venue, and from here, Rotten Sound tighten their viperous grip on the crowd. The double bass bombardment during “Nation” rattles the beer-stained floorboards, while Cursed pairing of “Power” and “Plan” drop Dismember-worthy grooves one minute and blast incessantly the next, as Niinimaa dominates the stage and screams himself bug-eyed.
Revisiting their first demo, 1994’s Sick Bastard, Rotten Sound, to the crowd’s surprise, steam through “Köyhyys”, “Koiranyrjö”, and “Lottovoitto”. While before the d-beat onslaught of “Blind”, Niinimaa demands a circle-pit, and mid-song, jumps down off the stage to join in and show the sweaty revellers how it’s done.
The Finns of Rotten Sound know how to put on a concentrated show, and in the process of doing so, leave you feeling like you’ve just been mugged. The serrated grooves of “Alternews” finishes a career spanning set which, like all great grindcore, is a short, sharp shock on the senses. Outside of Napalm Death, is there a better live grindcore band around today? After this display, Popmatters thinks not. Here’s to another 20 years!