Casting an imposing, maniacal presence onstage are show openers, Death The Leveller. Taking us on a dope-fuelled trip through Danzig’s mind, frontman Denis Dowling’s slow, menacing movements, lock in with rhythmic, trudging, heavy but memorable riffery.
Echoing an Electric Wizard-esque psychedelic fuzz infusion, guitarist Gerry ‘Ger’ Clince channels mystical humming feedback in between repetitive and driving passages, generating formidable vibration throughout the room.
All the while Dowling leans on his microphone stand as if a preacher at an alter piece, casting damnation upon those in attendance, strobing lights and billowing dry ice add to an atmospheric purple haze later on in the set. It is here where Dowling demonstrates a diverse and captivating vocal range, at times reaching for Bruce Dickinson like heights, rounding off a sound that feels like classic metal but with a particularly dark side.
Slowly building up momentum with a jazzy-psych intro, Senzar quickly change the game by u-turning into ferocious, threatening but immediate extreme metal. Frontman Trevor McLave’s (ex-Coldwar) vocals are treated to some excellently applied reverberation, leading to verses resembling horrific whispers of damnation, floating through the room, sounding like bone chilling howls on a winter night.
Many songs performed have the unique quality of at once being slow and devastating, whilst coming across painfully aggressive and thrashy. With McLave circling the stage like an enforcing shark in a bomber jacket, he sounds like Neurosis’ Scott Kelly at his most visceral. The unit 4 piece Dublin unit generate a sonic hybrid of Stoner/Doom laden Black Metal; evoking notions of street toil, yet similarly, murky Scandinavian landscapes. Indeed, Senzar are a shining example of Ireland’s talent in producing artists comparable to those of Scandinavia’s extreme metal scenes and are an act not to be missed!
Lisburn’s very own The Crawling are up next, with big boots to fill and with audience anticipation at a high for tonight’s headliner. The Crawling demonstrate considerable musical chops and feature a real snarl with Andy Clarke’s biting but sensitive yet contempt filled lyrics and vocals.
The band and audience are bathed in strobing lights and dense fog throughout the set, adding dramatic effect particularly during their pummelling breakdowns.
The three piece’s set closer is preluded by the irksome sound of a buzzing fly in stereo around the room, bringing on the sensation of being amidst rotting materials, those lain waste by The Crawling.
With Primordial making their way to the stage, there is a feeling of something very special in the making. Indeed with it being “some time” since Dublin’s finest metal export’s last visit up North, the band have a treat in store.
Setting the scene, off the bat with the epic “Where Greater Men Have Fallen”, the room is charged and engaged, especially captivated by frontman Nemtheanga’s militaristic command. Primordial’s own brand of folk tinged black metal has taken on a form of aiming for the epic, and hits the mark regularly, with tracks like “To Hell or The Hangman” and “Gallows’ Hymn” early on, preluded by menacing but thought provoking introductory speeches.
Nemtheanga’s seismic performance takes form as commander in chief vocally, but in twisted and authoritative motions, on aforementioned “To Hell of The Hangman”, he navigates his way on stage in mechanically, rhythmic movements: eye catching and simply terrifying, given the apocalyptic attire and cryptic corpse paint adorning him.
A highlight of the set strikes early on, with back catalogue rarity and gem, “End of All Times (Martyr’s Fire)” – a point of interest not lost on many in tonight’s avid audience.
Building up a sweat on “No Grave Deep Enough”, Nemtheanga’s eyes run teary and extremely bloodshot. With a cocktail of char and corpse paint streaming into them profusely it is little wonder. This does little to expel his fury, if anything fuelling the fire, as he and the band spit out words of vengeance “I was never one for redemption!”
Primordial’s appeal is not just aesthetic, there is a clarity and focus to each and every song, fusing in classic rock sensibility and riffage into dark and visceral lyrics and execution. Their near quarter-of-a-decade making and recording music together has no doubt led to such flawless amalgamation and cohesion as a unit, and is documented somewhat sorrowfully on the track “Stolen Years”. Tonight’s performance of the song being the most introspective moment of the evening and really, the only chance much of the audience and band get for a breather. Evidently a tune with significance to each and everybody in the band, detailing “all the years we’ve been doing this”, it respects fists up from every band member on closing, in response to a rapturous applause – truly a heartfelt metal tune worthy of any road trip voyage playlist.
Following this, the bombastic drum lines of “As Rome Burns” lead the way for the biggest crowd chant’s I’ve ever heard inside the intimate but legendary Limelight 2, the epic and ferocious “Sing To The Slaves!” call and answer.
Primordial close out the night, giving us one more opportunity to ensure our voices have been lost for the coming week, launching into classic, Empire Falls. “Where is the fighting man” cry the crowd. Evidently, just down the road in Skerries Co. Meath, and boy can they fight.
Primordial will be taking their Exile in Europe Tour around the continent this year and are an act not to be missed at any headline event or festival stage.
= PRIMORDIAL SETLIST =
- Where Greater Men Have Fallen
- Nail Their Tongues
- Gallows Hymn
- To Hell or the Hangman
- End of all Times (Martyr’s Fire)
- No Grave Deep Enough
- Stolen Years
- As Rome Burns
- Upon our Spiritual Deathbed
- No Nation on this Earth
- The Coffin Ships
- Empire Falls
Review and Photos by Mike Lockheart