If you’ve never set foot in Dublin’s fair city then you may suffer from the misapprehension that everyone sits around in the evening drinking outrageous quantities of Guinness while watching a small man with a giant ginger beard dispense tuneful ditties on his fiddle.
While to be sure, this scenario can be found most nights in some of the city’s acclaimed tourist traps, Apostate Viaticum are here to show that not all Irishmen dance to the same tune.
As its very name intimates, Before the Gates of Gomorrah is a journey into dark and evil waters but if you’ve the appetite for savage stormy seas then you’ll want to climb on board.
Although Apostate Viaticum is a new musical project, the four figures that make up the band are no strangers to the Irish extreme metal scene, several having performed under the name of Morphosis since the 90s. They impressed plenty of first time watchers at the hallowed Siege of Limerick Festival back in October when many got their first visceral taste of the newcomers.
Before the Gates of Gomorrah is a tempestuous black metal onslaught with ‘In Articulo Mortis’ providing a suitably intrepid instrumental scene setter before the serious business begins on ‘Anathema Inherent’. Atmospheric and addictive help paint the picture although barely scratch the surface of the song’s ear screeching riffage and strident drum attacks.
The tempo is measured which merely helps build the overall feeling of impending doom while singer/bassist George Thomas has a great growl which he controls very well.
At just over seven minutes ‘Anathema Inherent’ gives a perfect introduction to Apostate Viaticum and this positive impression is further bolstered once ‘Moloch the Sanguinary’ takes over. A guitar buzzing like a swarm of locusts pierces the cold air before Thomas starts snapping, the drumkicks begin to hit their targets and the guitars begin a duel of their own. The effect is a blackened twister that proceeds to tighten and turn as the punishment starts to be inflicted with increasing desperation until an almighty riff wave opens up and threatens to swallow you whole.
By now any weathered black metal aficionado should be grinning like The Joker. ‘In the Shadow of the Monolith’ slows things down, and mixes up the grooves with a stop-start kick as though the Irish quartet are having an internal dispute as to which direction to take next.
‘Bastards of Cain’ is more of a short sharp shock treatment but that soundscape of carnage and chaos is quickly eclipsed by the much more substantive and fulfilling title track. ‘Before the Gates of Gomorra’ comes at you at marching pace rather than a full on gallop, and military analogy is not misplaced as the feeling of suspense and trepidation that steadily builds the deeper you go.
The last of the seven tracks is ‘Beckoned by the Callous Dead,’ an altogether more feral composition although even here Apostate Viaticum show their prowess as songwriters by injecting a bloodied slab of guitar solos and rampant beats. The tail end of the song is a gift from the blackened gods, with every sinew strained and riff racketed up until eventually the plug is pulled on a dynamic debut album.
Invictus Productions generally know the real deal when it’s under their nose and they probably took less time to to snap this lot up than it takes to down a pint of the black stuff.
Oh yeah, and if you are planning on a few days in Dublin soon then you can catch Apostate Viaticum supporting Dutch death metal legends Asphyx at the Voodoo Lounge in Dublin on February 11.
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