Lurking in the shadows of Northern Ireland’s music culture is a healthy and vibrant extreme metal scene, showcasing the best doom, death and black metal that the province has to offer. These bands plug away determinedly, recording and gigging and honing their dark crafts to a loyal and knowledgeable audience.
One such band is Lisburn’s The Crawling who emerged in late 2014, created by three veterans of the extreme metal scene: vocalist and guitarist Andy Clarke, who fronted metallers Honey For Christ; bassist and vocalist Stuart Rainey from death metal legends Severance; and drummer Gary Beattie, who still plays with death metal whizz kids Zombified. Within a year they had enough material to record their debut EP In Light of Dark Days, which was released on Grindscene Records in October 2015. Then, to cap off a near perfect year for the band, they won 2016’s Metal 2 the Masses here in Northern Ireland (you can read about the final here) and played the hallowed grounds of Bloodstock Fes…
Dense billowing smoke and the sound of Gregorian chant fill the air, marking the arrival of The Crawling, fresh from their decimation of Bloodstock just a few short weeks earlier, before the first power chord from [Gary’s] Andy's guitar proves more than enough to rip the heads off the under-dressed smiks queuing for the nightclub next door – never mind those of us just a few feet away in the confines of the same room!
The trio’s massive trainwreck-inducing rhythms hit harder than thon so-called hurricane that was supposedly bothering Florida around the same time, and clearly demonstrates just how effectively they levelled the aforementioned New Blood stage with their absolutely titanic performance at Catton Park.
They’re so brutally tight that the only crack of light they display between their constituent parts is induced by their strobes… it’s a thoughtfully and tautly created and presented set which delivers a genuine feel of malice stalking the venue while at the same time gen…
A smoky and atmospheric intro heralds the arrival of doom/death metal headliners The Crawling,
who – once the smoke clears – are instantly engaging, particularly vocalist/guitarist Andy Clarke, who is all intense glares and mesmerising charisma, with a voice straight from the bowels of Hell.
Their richly textured songs combine both slow and fast sections – doom and death – with the faster sections simply commanding the crowd to headbang, which they do, ecstatically.
They play a mix of both current songs such as 'Catatonic' and, excitingly, new tracks from their upcoming, as yet untitled album, such as 'Violence, Vanity and Neglect', which has a thick groove and an almost stoner metal feel.
There's a real symbiotic relationship between the crowd and the band, with Clarke in particular feeding of the waves of applause and relish washing over the stage. And when they close their set with the magnificently creepy 'The Right to Crawl', with its buzzing fly …
Prior to their darkly sprawling set on the New Blood Stage, we spoke to this year’s NI winners of Metal 2 the Masses about the band’s past, future, and why they were drawn to the music they play.
►Chordblossom: Congratulations on winning the contest! You were early favourites but it was a very tight competition, wasn’t it?
Stuart (bassist): it really was! The first round was a very hard round to get through. All the rounds were hard, though; there were no bad bands this year.
►CB: Are you looking forward to playing later? It must be a pretty spectacular feeling to know you’re playing at Bloodstock!
Andy (vocalist/guitarist): Yes! We’re very excited.
►CB: For people that maybe don’t know that much about you, can you tell us a bit about the band?
Stuart: Well, we’re a slow death metal band, with elements of doom in there as well. We’ve been going for about two years now. We’re recording a new album now which should be out by the end of the year, and we’ve got quite a lot of live stuff coming …
Yet another quality Irish band The Crawling broke the mould from the largely Death/Thrash of the New Blood stage by bringing some Doom to the New Blood stage.
Starting off to a smallish crowd they were incredibly good, and as they played their audience grew and grew. The doom side of their sound was excellent, causing the ever growing crowd to nod along appreciatively to their tone.
The doom sound was punctuated with some furious death metal blasts with buzzsaw guitars and barked dry vocals. The way they switched between the two allowed their sound to ebb and flow their intensity almost hypnotically with the crowd.
Their stoic stage presence showed their confidence on stage and this was a commanding performance. Their set was another personal highlight of the New Blood stage over the weekend. Get Your Rock Out
First of the Northern Irish acts was this year’s Metal 2 the Masses winners The Crawling(you can read about their victory here), whose doomy death metal proved to fit the style of Bloodstock perfectly.
Their commanding half hour set on the Friday drew a large crowd into the New Blood stage tent almost immediately, and those lucky enough to witness them were mightily impressed by their darkly pulsating songs.
Vocalist/guitarist Andy Clarke is a true showman, with a snarling voice that drips with venom and a penetrating glare that pins the crowd into place. They play an engrossing mix of both slow and fast music which keeps the crowd hooked, and by the time they arrive at final track ‘The Right to Crawl’ it’s clear that they’ve smashed their set right out of Catton Park. Magnificent. Chordblossom