What is Ireland seriously lacking? That’s right, a proper metal festival – and some other stuff Tickets There doesn’t deal with. Unlike continental Europe and the U.K., Ireland lacks a serious metal festival despite obvious popularity for the genre. Perhaps M*D and @iken (I disguised their names ;)) are too flooded with Hip Hop/Hipster D4 elitists who lack the skills to see that almost every single metal show they host sells out, unlike many of their other ill-advised follies. So it falls to metal fans themselves to start things up and tonight, EHT have made a massive step in the right direction.
The Unleashed Festival is the first of what will hopefully become a much bigger annual festival. Three days boasting some of the best home-grown talent on offer. One day of the purest thrash from the meanest streets, one day of extreme metal and one day for the under-agers who need metal too. In essence, three days of metal that caters for everyone’s taste. Unfortunately this old fogey only managed the first night, but what a night.
Animator are first up for me tonight. It’s a special show for these guys as they officially launch their debut album, Blacklisted (review coming this week). Anyone that’s heard the record knows it’s bursting with instant classics and on stage, Animator have the chops to belt them out in perfect form. ‘In God We Trust’ steals their short set and sets the perfect tone for the night.
Exzeltic are up next and it’s special show for them tonight as well. Long-time guitarist, Connor Eustace has sadly parted ways with the band and has been replaced by Jamie Power. Despite this being the first major show for the new line-up, they pull it off with flying colours. Jamie steps up to the plate and delivers both new and older material with amazing technique. ‘Breaker of Nations’ and ‘Agents of Chaos‘ truly stand out and with new material now appearing, you can expect to see more of Exzeltic over the next year. Connor’s presence will be missed, but the lads prove tonight they’re not going anywhere but forward.
The cavalcade of who’s who in the world of Irish trash metal continues with Edenfire. The lads from Edenfire have been building steadily over the last couple of years, landing prominent support slots (including an opening slot with Exodus earlier this week) and raising their profile with every show. Live, they’re tight, focused and each one of them knows what they’re doing, a quality that is essential for thrash metal to work. Tonight is no different as they plough through a mix of tracks from their debut EP as well as other favourites. Edenfire are in the process of writing their debut album these days and it’s one well worth looking out for.
As the night rolls on, the large crowd swells, the pints turn to shorts and the terrifying, yet exciting sign of Buckfast begins. That perfect cocktail of merriness and early stages of ridiculous drunkenness serves as the warm welcome for the next band, Psykosis.
Taking the stage to a packed house, Psykosis produce a hail of riffs, aggression and fun for the gasping, sweaty crowd. Along with Exzeltic, Psykosis are also playing tonight with a slightly adjusted line-up as Rats from Dichotomy fills in for Tony Corcoran on guitar. Fans fear not – it’s just temporary, but man; Rats can certainly play. It’s incredible just how good these guys are. They blend everything that’s great about thrash metal and deliver it with youthful passion and fun. No sooner are the band on than the pit begins. Slowly at first before encapsulating the entire standing area. I’d love to give you the set they played but amongst the haze of Jameson and active pit participation, all I remember is bashing, ‘Toxic Fugitive’ and the best craic of the night. What a band and what a night. There’s only one thing left to do, enjoy tonight’s headliners GAMA BOMB.
Gama Bomb have long reigned supreme as the heroes of the Irish thrash scene. They have international acclaim, a massive arsenal of material from their four albums including this year’s incredible output, The Terror Tapes. On stage the band are on fire. They tear through their set with unrelenting power to a packed house. Build-up of quality throughout the night has been jaw dropping, but Gama Bomb display those additional years of experience and bring the night home in awe-inspiring glory. Moshing, stagediving, celling climbing and madness are this writers final memories before the madness spills into Club Carnage downstairs. A long awaited, but very welcome return to Dublin for Gama Bomb and hopefully they’ll return before the ringing notes of ‘Terror Tapes’ and ‘Hammer Slammer’ fade out from my ear drums.
Well done EHT Promotions, what a triumph of a night! All the bands outdid themselves and showed the how strong the Irish metal scene is. With debut albums pending for most of tonight’s line-up, you can expect a very exciting few years on the horizon!