Urban Assault is a one-day festival showcasing the talent on show in Ireland’s metal scene. Now in its second year, the Cork-based festival took place at An Spailpín Fanach with 12 bands playing over a 12 hour timeframe.
The day began with five-piece God Alone, who despite their young years put on a flawless display. A cross between Queens of The Stone age and Foals with half shouting, half screaming, their performance set the bar for the day. However, it was the quieter moments where they truly flourished, with each instrument jumping perfectly off one another to create an ambient atmosphere, before turning things up to 11 and setting off an explosion of sound. With a skill set larger than their youth (16-18 years old), this is very much a band to watch for in the future.
Following The Signs delivered their very first live performance at Urban Assault. But while they are clearly talented, their singer’s decision to play the set with a hood over his head really prevented him from creating a connection with the crowd. The drumming was really the highlight of their set, with syncopations throughout. A guitar solo leading into their final song really showed the band’s potential to be expansive. It’s clearly early days for the group and as you’d expect there are a few issues to iron out.
Partholón took to the stage to show off their ’90s inspired sound. Elements of classic rock acts (and Queen in particular) could be heard at times during their set. The sense of togetherness was clear from the moment they set foot on stage, with the lead singer/guitarist often turning to his fellow band members in order to maintain this camaraderie.
The sleeveless Conjuring Fate took to the stage later in the evening and it was easy to assume that the evening was back to posturing power stances and needlessly extended solos. However, with a combination of pulled faces, kiss blowing, finger poking (into ears and eyes), each band member did what they could to distract the other. This was a band setting out to entertain you while keeping a high standard of music. The crowd joined in with air guitars strumming and chorus singing. The band’s confidence and bravado even led guitarist, Phil Horner, to do a lap of the bar, axe in hand, entertaining those who can’t make it to the front row.
The evening truly reached its peak with Na Cruithne, whose members took to the stage in kilts, with faces covered in woad. The sound was predominantly Celtic-influenced, and the vocalist kept everything to a guttural shout and conducted the entire show from amongst the crowd and dedicated almost every song to the city of Cork, clearly knowing his audience. Both the tin whistle and the Bouzouki made a strong appearance throughout the set, and the group ended with a cover of The Parting Glass, opened by violinist Ana Carolina Hatschbach, Cardon’s haunting vocals silenced the bar – showing a level of respect for the musician which isn’t often found in other genres.
Belfast’s Overoth delivered a dramatic performance with backing tracks of strings, choir, and fairy-esque electronics. Behind a cloud of fog and incense-scented air, the band started off with a bang. However, as their set progressed, it seemed that they were beginning to lose the crowds interest, as the somewhat typical stand-and-watch Cork audience only nodded along. With nothing overly discernible about their set bar the backing tracks, they left making a name for themselves only among those who arrived already knowing their name.
Dead Label was the final band of the evening, and created a sound unheard of across the day, with vocalist/bassist Dan O’Grady urging the crowd to go wild, the place flew into up roar. Their drum-driven sound was louder than anything heard previously, and the bands’ experience of a venue such as this showed as they blended the perfect mixture of skill, crowd-control, and decibel levels. With the evening winding to a close, everyone packed into the crowded room was more than happy to let loose one final time. It was a fitting end to what was almost a perfect day for metal fans.