The Celtic Connection – Scottish and Irish Tunes, Eh

It’s been awhile since I knocked out a Best of British feature for you, the dedicated Heavy Blog reader. This isn’t because there has been a lack of quality content coming outta the island, actually far from it. Being “British” doesn’t really mean anything anymore though. You’ve got yer English bands and then there’s everything else. Because I feel like our two nations have been poorly under represented elsewhere, I now give you The Celtic Connection. I’m gonna rant and rave about the best music coming out of Scotland and Ireland, leaving England and Wales (sorry Wales) to the side, because they get plenty of coverage as is. This isn’t me being a nationalist or picking a fight, I’m just keeping it in the family. And who else is closer to us Scots than the proud, fighting Irish. Pour yourself a beverage of whatever variety you fancy and strap in for some hearty dispatches of ginger, pale skinned sounds.

Bailer

One of my favourite acts around just now, I’ve covered Bailer as much as possible because I love this band and everything they stand for. No political motives or profound, global statements here; just Buckfast, riffs and the literal bag of cans with the lads. Their new EP PTSD is fresh as a recently cracked tin of supermarket lager and arrives with my favourite music video of the year so far, below for your viewing pleasure is said video. Don’t be poor craic, watch it.

“In For A Penny, In For A Pound” is the perfect ETID meets Beastie Boys homage with riffs, spills (yup) and a groove snappy enough to open a bottle of tonic from a mile away. PTSD also has an atmospheric segue track leading into “Malevolent” which is addled with more of that dirty, noisy Bailer shenanigans. Hardcore shouldn’t groove this hard but this new EP just goes to show that the lads from Cork know exactly how to make this shit fun again. The remaster of “The Benefit of Doubt” from their Shaped By The Landscape EP closes things off, giving the older material a new lease of life with a reinvigorated mix and a clearer, more crushing guest vocal.

I can’t think of another band, Euro or Yankee, that crams house party spirit into floor show mayhem quite like this lot. Handled in the studio again by Aidan Cunningham of Murdock, the tunes are gnarled and gritty, but they sound like a dream to this recovering alcoholic reprobate. It’s a perfect combination and Cunningham brings out the best from the boys. I can’t fucking wait to catch these guys at a show.

Tiberius

While slightly out of my wheelhouse, the bombastic progressive metal of Edinburgh’s Tiberius has caught my attention and chipped away at my cold, broken heart. As a fan of Protest The Hero (don’t tell anyone, I have a reputation to keep up), the instrumentals on The Beautiful Ones ring that bell in a way I thought only the Canadian riff wizards in Protest could. This isn’t your auld da’s progressive metal either. The grandiose, masturbatory nature of Dream Theater et al doesn’t feature at all, instead there is just maniacal string play and a percussive backbone that pushes every riff forward with clinical dexterity.

“Without Hesitation” does exactly what any opening track should. It sets out exactly what Tiberius set to show on this record. Precise, punchy poly-rhythms and let’s say boisterous lead vocals dominate the fray, building into a frenzy of prog metal that I normally would never appreciate. The titular closing track has more of a direct approach than the rest but again, impresses me where 99% of prog metal fails to. Through the first few listens I thought I was guilty of applying national pride to music that I wouldn’t regularly find myself enjoying but nah, repeat listens have solidified Tiberius as a new favourite. The capital city has a new player in town and they are a delight.

The Beautiful Ones is another example of fantastic production too, with this type of music often found languishing in muddy mixes; I don’t care how long you spend on your fancy guitar tone, other prog bands, you still have to work on the rest of the record. Mixed by Pedram Valiani (Frontierer, Sectioned) and handled finally by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (like Bailer above), this is a raucous progressive metal record that doesn’t fall into the usual pitfalls of the genre. Peep that artwork too!

Hornets

We’re back to my regular area of sexpertise with some crusty as fuck, frill free frolics from Belfast’s Hornets. No clean vocals, no time signatures for calculus students, no bother. The recently released Witch Hunt stacks fourteen tracks of blackened, pissed off punk into the time it takes to boil the kettle, make your tea, drink it and realise you’re late for a job you hate; surrounded by people you despise and with nothing to look forward to once you’re finished except the sleep that precedes the repetition of this process. Yes, this is bleak stuff. Oppressively depressing even. But it’s filthy and super fun so it’s obviously a favourite of mine.

Witch Hunt sounds like it came out on Deathwish a decade ago. That’s about as big a compliment as can be delivered from these lips (fingertips). It’s got an evil swagger that early Converge morphed into. The blackened touches are more reminiscent of Young And In The Way in parts but without an over reliance on black metal riffing. Some of this is straight up punk from the garage band cookbook. Forever teetering on the edges of being detuned, the guitars and bass gargle nails while the vocals are actually being delivered while gargling nails. Obviously not but it’s a full bodied and totally driven performance from the bottom of the lad’s lungs.

I feel like I might not quite be cvlt enough to cover this kind of band because I still like deathcore. I think Hornets would suss me out and kick me in the throat for wearing a Thy Art Is Murder shirt to one of their shows. Probably not, I imagine they’re all actually really good boys. That’s just the impression I get after a listen through of this savage blast of Irish attitude. Solid stuff. Terrifying though.

Godeater

Back over to Glasgow now for some fucking death metal, eh! Skirting the lands of modern techdeath, with it’s sci-fi sounds and themes, Godeater bring all of the riffs, licks and blasts one needs. Outerstellar is their debut EP and although it only runs for three tracks, shows exactly why they are already lining up support and festival slots nationally. It’s hot off the presses and it’s hot for teacher. The science teacher, obviously.

Without falling into the traps that a lot of new technically proficient death metal acts seem to with increasing ease, Godeater meld some traditional melodeath sounds into the space opera of phantoms that is Outerstellar. I hear odes to The Black Dahlia Murder and Sun Eater-era Job For A Cowboy in the twists and turns of “Ethereal Majesty” while the symphonic break and subsequent slow bang passage in “The Silent Prophecy” owes as much to Cynic as it does to Cannibal Corpse. That’s a lot of high profile names to drop on a young band but these are great reference points for a band that not enough people know about. This particular subgenre of extreme music is loaded with bands right now and it takes something special to make one stand out. Godeater have that something.

Rather than just a collection of cool riffs and spots, the material on Outerstellar is the total package. Each track is paced well and every passage is sequenced to a tee while the natural movement between tracks makes it feel like this is a complete piece of work. The production is much and such the same as other bands of this ilk, with the usual cybernetic style drums that I loathe, but am willing to forgive in this instance. The future is full of alien technology and wild live shows for Godeater. I hope they’re hungry.

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