God Mother at University College Cork’s New Bar, 18th January 2018

Of all the venues in Cork in which to run a gig, UCC seemed the most unlikely to host a collection of local, national and international heavy metal bands, but on the 18th of January, such an event did occur, as the Swedish metal band God Mother came knocking on the universities door. The band did not merely knock however as, thanks to their never-ending energy and enthusiasm, they blew the whole door off.

Four bands in total played the evening, with local band Worn Out starting kick-staring procedings. This was, according to vocalist Xander Coughlan, the groups very first gig, but nothing from their performance would have given it away. Coughlan commanded both stage and floor admirably with a very energised and passionate performance. All members of the band gave it all they had, and as their forty minutes wound to a close, a disco light above them began to shine, and thus provided adequate reason for drummer Evan Prendergast to deem his shirt unnecessary.

Next up was Bailer, another Cork-based band, but with years of experience of live sets to lean on.  The band began, and continued, playing in a much lower tone than Worn Out, but instantly had the crowd on their side, when they decided to announce their arrival with House of Pain’s Jump Around. The change in tone allowed for much more aggressiveness and bite to come through the music. The crowd also played their part, with members of the audience throwing themselves at one another, with one man, in particular, flinging another man (hopefully an acquaintance at the very least) over his shoulder like a schoolbag, somewhat fitting of the venue. No audience member was harmed,  at least not adequately enough to stop anyway.

The final support act was the Galway band Ilenkus, a band featuring two guitarists, bass, drums, and vocals. Ilenkus offered the most audible vocals, with their singer sometimes speaking the words rather than screaming them, as is typical of the heavy metal genre. Their energy levels were equal to their counterparts, however, with the lead guitarist and vocalist taking a song to swap roles before the guitarist started to mount the surrounding tables. The attentive crowd gathered, like worshippers, into a tight-knit semi-circle, and began swinging their heads from side to side, and up and down with the music. Neither crowd nor band stopped moving for the duration of the set, and both left excited for what was next to come, the headlines God Mother. They were not to be disappointed.

God Mother put on the most immersive, heaviest and the most energetic performance of the evening. Straight from the off, singer Sebastian Campbell was weaving between members of the crowd, who were delighted to be in his presence. Within the limitations of the forty minute set, Campbell was jumping on chairs, crowd surfing, screaming in the audience’s faces, running across the venue and even hanging from the rafters, sparking the only moment in which security deemed it necessary to intervene. A combination of powerful drumming and rhythmic bass-playing ruled the music, but Campbell was such an energetic enigma that you get the sense that while watching him, the band could have stopped playing and the crowd would not have realised. This was a performance of endless energy, with only the mic-lead (under which he held a limbo-competition) holding him back.

As the evening wound to a close, you wondered if any such occasion would be held again in the county. UCC is so rarely used for gigs, especially gigs of this nature, that there was a sense, as the audience whittled out of the venue, that the likes of this evening would never be seen again. Most importantly, however, the evening proved the strength of the metal talent available and the turnout proved that the demand for such evenings was there. Hopefully, for all parties involved and the striving scene, this will not be a one-off.