Words: Brendan O’Mahony
Pictures: (C) Olga Kuzmenko \ Olga Kuzmenko Photography
“Good things come to those who wait.”, words written by Abe Lincoln and used in advertising by a certain brand of stout synonymous with the island of Ireland. Tonight, in the Voodoo Lounge fans of Exhorder, who have waited 29 years for their first ever Irish show, are finally rewarded for their patience. It is the culmination of the European Tour for their new album, ‘Mourn the Southern Skies’, recently released through Nuclear Blast Records. Providing support are two fine Irish metal exponents in Senzar and Crossfire.
Crossfire are first up tonight and, even with the early 6.30pm start, already have the front half of the venue filled. They have been steadily building a strong reputation around the country after the release of their 5-track E.P, ‘Bound in Skin’, in 2018 playing straight up Thrash Metal. The band take us through their most recent single, ‘Who Goes There’, alongside the as yet unreleased songs in ‘Lost All Control’ and ‘Switch to Reset’, which suggest another E.P or possibly an album are in the offing, before finishing with ‘Guns for Hire’ from the aforementioned ‘Bound in Skin’. Tonight’s set is so strong that I would suggest a slot as openers for the Testament, Exodus, Death Angel show in March wouldn’t go amiss.
Senzar are up next with some pummelling Black Metal, formed from the remains of the hardcore band ColdWar, who had been veering towards the more extreme areas of metal prior to their disbanding. Their non-titled E.P was released just over a year ago with singer Trevor McLave describing it as “Both interpretive and descriptive, it explores beyond the scope of the rational gaze to disclose the world, which, understood as a totality of all things, we are embedded in, and fundamentally related to in ways which are mystical.” Songs such as ‘Mirror of Demiurge’, ‘Portal’ and ‘Seer’ are indeed heavy but slow, creating an atmosphere of strange calmness before the storm of the headliners.
With a nod to their funk music upbringing in New Orleans, James Brown’s ‘The Payback’ bellows from the sound system as Exhorder get tuned up, however the contrast could not be starker as they kick off with the immense and intense ‘Homicide’ from their debut album ‘Slaughter in the Vatican’. There is absolutely no let up for the next ninety minutes, blending thrash and punk, as Kyle Thomas bounds around the stage showing off the obvious influence, both in vocal style and stage presence, he had on Phil Anselmo prior to the release of Pantera’s ‘Cowboys from Hell’. The majority of the set is actually culled from their debut including ‘Legions of Death’, ‘Exhorder’ and the title track while ‘The Law’ provides us with ‘Unforgiven’ and ‘Cadence of the Dirge’. Alongside these are the first two singles from the brand-new album ‘Mourn the Southern Skies’, ‘My Time’ and ‘Hallowed Sound’, which show us that Exhorder have lost none of their edge in the intervening twenty-seven years while they also perform a perfect cover of ‘Into the Void’ from Black Sabbath. As they close out with ‘Desecrator’ it’s a case of better late than never for the headliners on these shores. Here’s hoping it won’t take as long for the next tour.